No place epitomizes the American experience and the American spirit more than New York City. Ironically, it is exactly because we are a city that embraces freedom, that welcomes everyone and encourages their dreams, that New York remains on the front lines in the war on terror.Eight years later, the mayor spoke to Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC about his proposal to ban the sale of soda and other sugary drinks in sizes larger than 16 oz:
"We're not taking away anybody's right to do anything," he told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell. "We're simply forcing you to understand."I do not live in New York City, but I must say that I find those words considerably less inspiring, unless inspiring derision counts. The mayor has taken on salt and trans fats, but both of those are behind-the-scenes ingredients that may cause businesses and restaurants headaches, but the consumer does not absorb the direct impact. He also imposed wide ranging smoking bans, which, considering the checkered past of that habit, was not met with much resistance from the general public. After all, who has had a meal spoiled because the next table was filled with people using lots of salt and trans fats and drinking enormous glasses of sugary beverages? Smoking can actually affect other people.
However, in his latest move, the mayor has taken things to a Hole. Nutha. Level. The arbitrary nature of the proposal is staggering. Sixteen ounces? Why not twelve? Soda? But not beer or wine? (Exactly how many "driving while full of Pepsi" arrests are made in the city each year?) The mayor has already been mocked for celebrating National Doughnut Day practically simultaneously with the announcement of his beverage ban. Will the "baker's dozen" be outlawed to prevent an 8.5% increase in sugar consumption that occurs with every purchase of a dozen doughnuts at many bakeries? Will there be a limit to the number of sugar packets one can add to a cup of tea or coffee? Will someone be allowed to buy two 16 oz. beverages without proof that a second individual will consume the contraband drink?
The mayor's penchant for banning behaviors he finds unwise could lead to a whole series of commercials like the Audi Green Police commercial that ran during the Super Bowl a few years back:
I consider myself somewhat of a TV commercial connoisseur (or I was back when I used to watch TV,) and I count that one of the best ever made. It is ironic that Audi was actually selling a "green" product while at the same time ridiculing the nannies. But the idea is ripe for imitation in Bloomberg's latest attempt to save New Yorker's from themselves. Who will be the first to strike back in the public relations war that is sure to come?
If government is permitted to engage in this level of micromanagement of citizen's lives, what activity is safe? (Besides abortion, which is, of course, untouchable and guaranteed by the Constitution.) They came for salt, they came for sugar, can Fettuccine Alfredo be far behind with its nearly 1000 calories and 60+ grams of fat per serving? (One can almost sense Mayor Bloomberg shuddering at the thought.) In less than a decade, the enemy has gone from al-Qaeda to al-Fredo. And the loser is freedom.