Tuesday, March 12, 2013

New York judge stops Michael Bloomberg from going all "arbitrary and capricious" on your beverage-guzzling freedom

By Michael J.W. Stickings

From the Times:

A judge struck down New York's limits on large sugary drinks on Monday, one day before they were to take effect, in a significant blow to one of the most ambitious and divisive initiatives of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's tenure. 

In an unusually critical opinion, Justice Milton A. Tingling Jr. of State Supreme Court in Manhattan called the limits "arbitrary and capricious," echoing the complaints of city business owners and consumers who had deemed the rules unworkable and unenforceable, with confusing loopholes and voluminous exemptions. 

Which is amusing, because "arbitrary and capricious" pretty much describes Bloomberg himself.

Look, I'm all for sensible efforts to improve public health, and America's endless appetite for massive quantities of shit is deeply disturbing (and damaging both to health and to the economy), but this never really made sense to me and always seemed like a possible thin end of the wedge for similar bans (like, should there be a ban on the density of pizza toppings or on the number of scoops you can have on an ice cream cone?)

What is needed -- and I say this not as a libertarian but as one who respects the limits of government action -- is better education, better habits, and better preventive care, not more rules and regulations, particularly when the application lacks consistency and the target makes little sense. Yes, these drinks are bad for you, particularly in such large quantities, but it's not like a sugary drink is heroin and I don't think we really want government regulating our food intake. To the extend that it does, or should, the threshold requiring action should be very high.

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