Bloomberg, Soda and the Nanny-State

Bloomberg, Soda and the Nanny-State
Mayor Mike Bloomberg caught a good deal of flack about his proposed ban on big soda. And for good reason. After all this is (or is supposed to be) a free country isn’t it? If someone wants to drink gallons of soda, boxes of donuts or smoke pack after pack of cigarettes that is their right… Right?
To many, this is a huge blow to their sense of freedom. A step forward in the installation of a nanny-state that not only invades our bedrooms but also our dining out.
But maybe Bloomberg’s ultimate goal was to get debate going. If that is the case, it worked. As a New York Times article noted…

The plan has galvanized a national debate over runaway obesity rates, and New Yorkers who agree with the ban pointed to its potential health benefits, particularly in combating obesity.


…those opposed overwhelmingly cited a sense that Mr. Bloomberg was overreaching with the plan and that consumers should have the freedom to make a personal choice — the exact same points used in an aggressive marketing campaign led by the national soft-drink industry in an effort to beat back the proposal.

What is most striking in the discussion is this infogram from this month’s Mother Jones magazine. It visually shows the explosion in the size of “soda delivery systems”. Not surprisingly it tracks quite well with the explosion in the size of … Americans. The most telling part of the infogram? This one…
Bloomberg, Soda and the Nanny-State
Yes, when you went to get a burger at McDonald’s in 1955 the largest size soda you could get was 7oz. If you wanted more you had to, heaven forbid, get up and go buy another. Today, a Kid’s Happy Meal includes 12oz of candy… I mean… Beverage.


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About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him. Dan is married to Raina Goldberg who is also an avid user of Apple products. They live in New Jersey with their golden doodle Nava.

5 Comments on "Bloomberg, Soda and the Nanny-State"

  1. Drew Guttadore | August 26, 2012 at 11:18 am |

    Hmmm… I guess the real corollary to the nanny state is social responsibility.. Each corporation needs to do that as well.. When I listened to Coke defend its products a couple of months ago, it reminded me of the cigarette companies in the 70s and 80s.. After listening to that, I won’t even consider any of their products, including bottle water.. Selling this sort of product is obviously beyond the pale in that regard.. Perhaps a tax, similar to cigarette tax might make the freedom of choice a bit more difficult on the road to obesity as it did for lung cancer..
    What’s it going to take to learn.. The least common denominator still doesn’t have ‘common sense’ to take care of themselves.
    Perhaps its up to us to take up the initiative ourselves and reject these drinks just like cigarettes..

    • If you avoid everything that Coca-Cola makes, that would include Minute Maid and Simply Orange. If you also want to avoid everything that Pepsi makes, that would include Tropicana. Mott’s and Snapple are part of the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group. The three companies have run joint ads opposing Bloomberg’s proposal.

      • I didn’t know that about them running the ads to fight it but I’m not surprised. They want to sell as much as they can… the bigger the delivery system the better. The only way they would change on their own would be if they were charged part of the bill for anyone whose health deteriorated because of their liquid candy. And we know that will never happen.

  2. There is a definite cross-over between freedom and social responsibility. And I truly believe in the libertarian ideal of self-directed versus other-directed actions, where we should have absolute freedom over that which impacts only us. Excessive consumption is NOT one of those things – because a HUGE amount of our out of control health care costs is that we have a national obesity rate higher than 50% than the next developed country … and 400% higher than China/Japan/Korea …

    And as has been shown, removing trans-fats has helped cholesterol, and removing junk from schools has helped with obesity levels (a bit) in some areas …

    • Mike- I completely agree. I tried to keep my opinion out of the post as much as possible (although I have strong opinions on it so I couldn’t go completely there). Companies are in it for profit. If consumers will buy it they will make and sell it. Consumers, as we have seen will buy it if the companies make it. It is a loop that feeds on itself. All the while people become more obese, less healthy and the costs to us all skyrocket.

      Personally I think Bloomberg wasn’t wrong BUT he picked the wrong windmill as his means to start the discussion. That’s a shame because it is a discussion we need to have.

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