How much government intervention should we tolerate?

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s attempt to ban large sugary beverages has been thwarted yet again by a state appeals court Tuesday.  Personally, I don’t think it would do much to solve the problem he was targeting, but I suppose his heart is in the right place.

(AP via Yahoo News) —  New York City’s crackdown on big, sugary sodas is staying on ice.

A mid-level state appeals court ruled Tuesday that the city’s Board of Health exceeded its legal authority when it voted last year to put a 16-ounce size limit on high-calorie soft drinks served in restaurants, theaters, stadiums, sidewalk food carts and many other places.

In a unanimous opinion, a four-judge panel of the state Supreme Court Appellate Division said that while the board has the power to ban “inherently harmful” foodstuffs from being served to the public, sweetened beverages don’t fall into that category. Soda consumption is not necessarily harmful when done in moderation, the court wrote, and therefore “cannot be classified as a health hazard per se.”

This was, in my opinion, an unnecessary overreach of the Mayor’s in the first place.  It isn’t the role of the government to save us from our own bad decisions, for the most part.  Not in this fashion anyway.  But there are many who believe otherwise.  They would agree that it is the government’s place to regulate food choices whether it’s moderating for us our salt, sugar, or fat intake.

Would a ban such as this really moderate poor food choices?  Even if it would, is it something the government should be involved in, or should we have the liberty to choose for ourselves the foods we eat?  How much control over our lives should we allow the government: what kind of light bulbs we can use, limited flush toilets, energy efficient windows and appliances, mandating calorie counts on menus, minimum mpg on cars?

Regardless of whether you think these particular regulations are trivial, doesn’t this kind of minute intervention set a precedent which could lead to a slippery slope into other facets of life?

big gulp


  1. Keep the government out of lives as much as possible. Let us choose to be gluttons if we elect to do so, let us eat ourselves to death if we choose to do so. However, I think there should be increased health insurance premiums for those who live high-risk lifestyles which cause many health problems.

  2. paynehollow says:

    I agree with you on this one: It was a bad idea. As a rule: we use laws and regulations to protect us from others’ actions, not to protect us from our own. This was/is overreach and a mistake and the Court has recognized this, it appears.

    Two agreements in a row. People will start to talk…


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