I hate the fact that my primary source is the New York Post, but credit where it’s due: while we were all out and about enjoying our weekend, the Post‘s Brad Hamilton and Susan Edelman broke a news story about how New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has pushed forward with the latest phase of his plan to strip the right to make basic decisions from New Yorkers.
That’s right: the Bloomberg administration has put forward new regulations that will ban restaurants within the Five Boroughs from selling 2-liter bottles of soda. This means that you can’t just pick up a pizza and a bottle of Coke any more if you’re looking to treat your family, and if you’re hosting a kid’s party at a place like Chuck E. Cheese’s you won’t be able to order a couple of pitchers to share with a few tables full of children. Instead, you’ll have to buy individual servings of any soft drink or other sugar-sweetened beverage that exceeds 3.125 calories an ounce in a 16-ounce or smaller container, despite the fact that you can go down to the local supermarket and purchase larger-sized bottles with impunity.
The move is an absolutely baffling one, considering the consequences are more than just an inconvenience; instead of just spending a couple of bucks on a bottle of Cherry Pepsi to split among your friends and family at a cost of around $3 or so, you’re going to have to spend extra cash on a per-drink basis. On top of that, Bloomberg is actually encouraging higher levels of waste, considering you’ve now got four plastic bottles or aluminum cans going through recycling centers or local landfills instead of just one two-liter bottle (or no waste at all, in the case of a place that serves drinks by the pitcher). It’s completely backwards and will doubtlessly create more trouble for everyone, including businesses that no longer have the option of buying bulk beverages at wholesale; while revenues will be up from higher per-drink prices, overhead will skyrocket – and there’s a very palpable risk that fewer people will eat out now, considering the Draconian beverage laws that they have to deal with, driving overall sales down.
However, the most egregious part about these new regulations is the fact that Bloomberg and company seem to think that they have the inside track on what New Yorkers need and don’t need. While it’s true that nobody can argue that soda is probably one of the worst things to put in your body, considering its main ingredient is high-fructose corn syrup, but just because it’s bad for you doesn’t give local authorities the right to ban it outright or turn it into a controlled substance; despite this, Mayor Bloomberg is adamant in enforcing his own personal opinions in a public venue, even though there are so many other more important issues facing New Yorkers.
Bloomberg has a proven track-record of meddling in the day-to-day operation of his city under the guise of social reforms, only to lead to deleterious consequences. The public education overhaul for New York City is an unmitigated disaster, as the focus has gone from actually teaching children and instead reducing each student to a collection of test scores and behavioral data; my mother-in-law, an elementary school teacher with 20 years of experience in the public school system, has regaled me with harrowing tales of how she is now so tightly regulated when it comes to her classroom that the majority of her time is spent in data collection instead of instruction. She’s become so absolutely sickened by these nonsensical teaching regulations that she’s decided she has no choice but to retire, despite the fact that she used to absolutely love her job; now she finds it a struggle to derive any joy from teaching at all, as she’s harangued within an inch of her life by her school principal if she deviates from the City-approved teaching regulations even marginally.
New York City and its mayor have become not just a local embarrassment but a national one. It sickens me to think that Mayor Bloomberg is getting away with his actions and is steadily transforming a city that earned a reputation for being the center of commerce and culture for the world into a nanny state where you’re no longer allowed to do things as simple as indulge your sweet tooth from time to time. While Bloomberg would argue otherwise, you have the right to decide what to put into your own body, even when it’s sugary junk food that will most likely give you diabetes if you swill it down enough. We’re all adults here, and we’re entitled to make our own damn decisions; who does Bloomberg think he is in treating the 8 million people of New York like unruly children?