Earlier this week Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of the City of New York announced his plans to implement a ban on large sodas and other sugary drinks in virtually every place but the home. His administration wants to ban the sale of these beverages in containers that are more than 16-fluid ounces. If the city's proposal is approved, the ban may take effect around March 2013 after the Board of Health gives the go signal. Bloomberg has already implemented a ban on trans fats in NYC restaurants, and a rule that fast food and other chain restaurants publicly post the number of calories in their meals.
While I understand that child obesity is an issue across the county, it's hard to understand where Bloomberg or any government official for that matter, gets the right to ban giant sodas. The ban on sugary drinks and baked goods in public schools (carrots for classroom birthday parties?) misguided as it is, at least takes place in a school system run by the city in buildings owned by the city (their house--their rules). But there is something disconcerting about a government deciding what I can drink and that before eating at their local fast food joint, one has to be subjected to a sign saying something like "Hey this crap is going to kill you!). For the fast food aficionado this will have little (if any affect).
I wondered about Bloomberg's motivation. Perhaps the diminutive Mayor was worried that he could fall into one of the bigger cups? Even more of a concern was does the Mayor with the Napoleonic complex have additional nanny-state-like regulations up his sleeve.
As I usually do in situations like this, I sent my Cousin Ben (the spy) to find out if the Mayor was about to hit New Yorkers with anything else. Ben was the perfect man for the job. When he was in college, he spent his summers looking for extra virgin olive oil (from ugly trees) at a secret site near the Mayor's official residence, Gracie Mansion. Ben is no longer a full-time spy; he does favors for me as payment for allowing him to be first on-line for chicken at my summer barbeques.
Within an hour I got a text from Ben, telling me he was hiding in the Gracie Mansion men's room where the mayor and his staff usually congregates at around 7am, Ben's spy training taught him that that people talk more freely when they are trying to avoid looking at the guy at the next urinal.
No dice this time, Ben sent me a text message saying that there was nothing going on in the "potty," so he would try to break into the Mayor's office as soon as he left the mansion.
About 10am my phone rang, I knew it was Ben (well, either Ben or my wife calling me at work telling me to run errands during my lunch hour).
Ben was all excited, "I found it," he said, "Bloomberg is planning new rules! I found them on his desk right next to a framed picture of Darth Vader with the caption, "NYC I Am Your Father." I will fax them to you"
After I finished reading the new rules I phoned Cousin Ben to ask. "Are you sure you got the right paper? Did you look at it? This list is totally ridiculous" "Jeff" Cousin Ben countered, "are they any more ridiculous than trying to ban salt?" I thought about it for a second, and as usual, my Cousin Ben's analysis was spot on. As ridiculous as some of these items seem in the world of nanny-state progressive thinking, they are totally logical. Take a look at the list below:
FROM THE DESK OF MICHAEL BLOOMBERG
MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY
EMPEROR OF ALL THE EYES CAN SEE
(when on a step-ladder)
From: Emperor Bloomberg
We have decided to add additional regulation once the 16+ ounce ban is approved (and trust me, it WILL be approved). Below is a list of the items needing regulation. We wish you to begin work on the formal language and get back to us by next week.
- Running with scissors will now be punishable with hard prison time.
- As the newly appointed director of environmental protection, Sheryl Crow will have "police powers" to regulate the use of toilet tissue. Anybody using more than one square at-a-time will be prevented from making purchases of toilet paper for a period of no more than one year. Families that re-use their paper will get a break on property taxes.
- Ms Crow will have the power to break into your home and examine the toilet contents before they are flushed.
- Any coffee or other hot beverage (decaf of course) must be consumed in a cup holding no more than 10 ounces. The cup must be brought to one's mouth via the right hand, with the outside digit on that hand extended outwards.
- It is our order that fans of the NY Football Giants who live within the NY City limits will no longer be able to paint their faces and bodies blue--heck, we saw what happened to the lady painted gold in the James Bond movie Goldfinger.
- Fans of the NY Jets will still be allowed to paint themselves green as they are promoting the correct environmental policies.
- All Manhattan roads will be forever closed to traffic with the exception of 34th, 59th and 125th streets as they exit the Midtown Tunnel, Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge (a.k.a the 59th St. Bridge) and the Triborough Bridge [that last bridge is now called the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, which is a bit ironic when you note that Kennedy's younger brother had a famous difficulty with driving over bridges.]There will be no stopping or parking on those streets as drivers will only be allowed to go from Queens to New Jersey and back (for those of you who have never been to NYC, Queens is the borough with tons of cemeteries and a dead baseball team).
- Economically disadvantaged people with squeegees will be allowed to wait on the Manhattan side of the above river crossings as well as the Lincoln and Holland tunnels. They will be allowed push drivers into allowing the "cleaning" of their windshields as long as their squeegees are sterilized each evening with distilled water.
- All Bars, Pubs and Taverns operating within the city limits must display a large banner with the following words. “In case of bar fight, PLEASE, no hitting near the mouth. Your mother paid a lot for the orthodontic work!”
- Stores selling meats will no longer be allowed to sell packages of chicken with only white meat breasts or dark meat wings. We want to ensure that this city remains diverse and inclusive.
- When the temperature falls below 50 degrees, all buses, trains and taxis operating in the city are prohibited from allowing people to board their vehicles if they are not wearing the proper hat and overcoat. Instead they will be sent home for the proper attire. Umbrellas and galoshes will be required on rainy days. Otherwise those people will catch a cold and/or flu, infecting the entire vehicle and driving up medical costs across the city.
- Abortion because of gender selection is allowed in our city. There is nothing worse than trampling on women's rights by barring them from killing female fetuses.
WOW! Ben really did it this time. I can't believe Bloomberg left this on top of his desk where anyone (like Ben) could find it.-From The Office Of The Royal We
One look at his rules makes me long for the days when Bloomberg simply railed about salt. It's obvious the Mayor is a bit full of himself.
Obviously the rules above are not real (but I do have a Cousin Ben) they are simply the product of a somewhat warped mind (mine). But consider this--based on what he has done so far, is it that inconceivable that Michael Bloomberg has other ridiculous rules in store for New Yorkers?
I didn't think so.
And please don't tell me Bloomberg is setting the rules to save money because that's simply not true. As Jonah Goldberg explained in his latest book, The Tyranny of Cliches (a must read):
Think about it--nearly every person who dies before they retire saves society money, because that way the government gets to pocket their Social Security and Medicare tax payments without paying anything back out. Moreover, the older you get, the more medical costs accumulate. From a purely actuarial perspective, all of these people...who claim that our health-care system needs to be reformed because our life expectancy is too low (its not) miss the point that if we dramatically increased life expectancy in this country we would lose money on the deal, because that would mean dramatically increasing the length of time old people collect retirement benefits and increasing the number of claims they make on the health-care system.In other words "the state" has no interest in keeping us healthy. The only reason for these rules is that Bloomberg's progressive policies direct him to tell people how to live their lives. That is not what this country is about.