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All aboard the failboat, Bloomberg soda ban goes down the drain

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 12th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The Big Gulp got a reprieve yesterday from Mayor Bloomberg's hatchet, when a judge struck down his ban on large, sugary drinks, calling the ban "arbitrary and capricious."

NEW YORK, NEW YORK (Catholic Online) - The law intended to halt the sale of sugary beverages larger than 16 oz, was stopped yesterday, just hours before it was set to take effect in restaurants, fast-food establishments, stadiums and theaters.

The judge struck down the law, pointing out that it unfairly targeted some establishments, but not others. For example, the iconic Big Gulp which popularized large sodas starting in 1980, would actually be spared because convenience stores are regulated by the state.

"The effect would be a person is unable to buy a drink larger than 16 ounces at one establishment but may be able to buy it at another establishment that may be located right next door," Judge Tingling wrote.

Bloomberg said he would appeal the decision, citing a 60 percent obesity rate amongst adults and a 40 percent rate among children. Bloomberg added, "When we began this process we knew we would face lawsuits."

Bloomberg was opposed by the American Beverage Association, which filed the suit on behalf of small businesses across New York City that would have been impacted by the ban.

Also party to the suit, the National Association of Theatre Owners said the ban was motivated by power and that all New Yorkers had rejected being told "what to drink and where to drink it."

At the heart of the matter is the issue of how much power government should have over individual rights. Admittedly, the link between the consumption of sodas and health problems such as obesity does exist. After all, one cannot consume massive quantities of sugar on a regular basis and not expect to experience weight gain. Obesity in particular, is an expensive, life-threatening condition that is also preventable. It's costs taxpayers and those who pay for their insurance because it raises the overall costs of health care.

Not to mention obesity shortens life.

However, most people do not consume large sodas regularly, and even if drinking large sodas regularly is harmful, should the government be regulating it? Integral to a free society is the right of the individual to choose to do things you do not like.

There are a myriad of activities that we perform that someone, somewhere, can say is harmful. What we eat, how we commute, the time we spend watching television. All these popular activities can eventually be regulated on the basis of health, if health is the paramount value which trumps freedom. Yet, part of why America is so great is that the people are free. That includes the freedom to indulge now and then, and even the freedom to fail.

Unfortunately, there are those such as Mayor Bloomberg who prefer a different kind of freedom. They prefer freedom from. Freedom from obesity, freedom from hearing loss as a result of loud music, and so on.

Those are all nice, but freedom is a positive thing, not negative. If Bloomberg wants a free society he ought to stop fighting the basic choices that people have, and invest his energy elsewhere.

Perhaps he can start with education. He has a long way to go, and could spend a lot of time on that issue.

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