Less than 24 hours before New York City’s ban on the sale of soda and other sugary drinks in containers exceeding 16 ounces was to take effect, New York State Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling approved an injunction on the ban, which was proposed last spring by New York Mayor Michael “Nanny” Bloomberg.
Judge Tingling’s ruling reflected the popular discontent with the measure. Here is some of his refreshing common sense:
The loopholes in this rule effectively defeat the stated purpose. It is arbitrary and capricious because it applies to some but not all food establishments in the city, it excludes other beverages that have significantly higher concentrations of sugar sweeteners and/or calories on specific grounds and the loopholes inherent in the rule, including but not limited to no limitations on refills, defeat and/or serve to gut the purpose of the rule.
New Yorkers can drink to that — for now.
Alas, Nanny Bloomberg remains undeterred and plans to appeal the court’s decision. Bloomberg even invoked the Lord in his messianic zeal to restrict the sale of carbonated beverages:
We have a responsibility as human beings to do something, to save each other, to save the lives of ourselves, our families, our friends, and all the rest of the people that live on God’s planet. So while other people will wring their hands about the problem of sugary drinks in New York City, we’re doing something about it.
Now I don’t recall any biblical invective against carbonated beverages in either Testament. Could it be that Bloomberg is referring to a passage in the heretofore unknown Book of Beverages? Or is it that Bloomberg just could not contain himself?
But in all seriousness, Mayor Bloomberg is right. We have to do something. We have a responsibility to save lives. We have a responsibility to the planet. If someone orders a Grey Goose from a watering hole on the Lower East Side, the proprietor thou shalt make sure no cranberry juice is mixed with the patron’s drink. No New Yorker shall walk into a deli and get a 20 ounce Coke with his corned beef sandwich, although the grocery up the street can sell him all the corned beef and Coke it wants. We have a moral duty to our children to make sure that 20 ounce cups of Pepsi can’t be sold by a hot dog vendor even though they can go to the 7-Eleven and wash down their hot dogs with a 30 ounce Big Gulp.
Denis Hamill of the New York Daily News put the matter succinctly: “Bloomberg believes in a woman’s right to choose. But not in a construction worker’s right to choose a 20-ounce Pepsi?” You could say that Bloomberg is engaging in a War Against Welders.
In reality, however, Bloomberg is engaging in a war on individual liberty. Not only is he immune to the unpopularity of his policy but thinks it will be widely accepted in the five boroughs. Bloomberg said, “I think you’re not going to see a lot of push back here.” The three-term mayor is woefully out of touch with his constituents, who can barely bottle up their anger against him.
On a personal note, I have not consumed a carbonated beverage in more than eight months following a kidney stone attack. In fact, I have vowed to never consume soda (or for that matter iced tea) ever again. I have lost 30 pounds and do not want to gain it back much less experience the excruciating pain of a kidney stone. This is a choice I have freely made for myself. But my choices aren’t necessarily the choices other people would make under the same set of circumstances. People must be free to make their own decisions even if those decisions could end up harming their health. For better or for worse, people must have the inalienable right to make a mistake.
This country has survived two World Wars, a Depression, and a major terrorist attack. There was a time not so long ago when soda was the least of our problems.
For now New Yorkers (and those who believe in individual liberty everywhere) should raise a 20 ounce glass to Judge Tingling.