NYC's Beverage Ban- a belt-bursting battle
To bring you up to speed, NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed a ban on the sale of "soft-drinks" in containers larger than 16 ounces at food service locations (like convenience stores, movie theaters, fast food joints, etc.) in an effort to help the city's population fight obesity. Running up to a September 13th vote on the matter, yesterday a public hearing was held to discuss the issue. Here's a nifty article about it:
The issue of obesity gets all of us Peeled Snackers riled up. The arguments made by doctors and specialists consulted for Mayor Bloomberg's plan entertain no scientific debate- sugary beverages make people fat and unhealthy, and that creates a cost to society. The arguments made by groups like ConsumerFreedom.com (which was invented to support tobacco companies, but now has new fat-cat clients, ahem), deserve some attention too- what's the role of government in determining diet and habit? When is enough enough?
But I contend that both sides of the argument hold no water. Bloomberg is trying to ban the sale of an item whose sale will eventually tax the government. ConsumerFreedom.com wants the government to stay out of personal choices. Neither of these sides bother to address the real problem, but luckily you're reading this blog, so you're about to know what this is REALLY about....
Sugary drinks exist because of federal subsidies to corn farmers, plain and simple. The government pays half of all costs for growing corn, making it the most profitable cash-crop for American farmers, and making corn-syrup dirt cheap. If Bloomberg wanted to really deal with the issue, he'd lobby the federal government to kill the corn subsidies. The argument that the government has no business sticking its nose in our business holds no water, given that the government stuck its nose in our business in the first place when they funded the cheap corn.
I believe that Mayor Bloomberg is coming at this with the best intentions (not so for groups like ConsumerFreedom.com whose intentions are to preserve value for stock-holders at the expense of consumers), but he's picking a fight that's far from the real battlefield. Perhaps Bloomberg's efforts will increase public awareness, but maybe they'll also distract from the real issues at hand. And the issue starts with the venerable federal pork known as the corn subsidies.
If you feel that your freedom is being violated by a city trying to ban the sale of sugary drinks of a certain size, fine. I offer that my freedom as a business owner is being violated by the federal government unfairly fixing the price on the WORST food commodity on the market. So whose freedom is more important? But honestly, I doubt you feel that your freedom is being violated. You probably just want to go see "The Avengers" in peace. Amen to that.
Peeled Skinny, who would like to see "The Avengers" in peace too