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    Criminalizing Choice Is 'Leading The Way' - When It Is Your Pet Belief
    By Hank Campbell | June 13th 2012 01:02 PM | 22 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Hank

    I'm the founder of Science 2.0®.

    A wise man once said Darwin had the greatest idea anyone ever had. Others may prefer Newton or Archimedes...

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    Do you want to ban cigarettes and legalize marijuana?  Did you cheer when a judge in one state broke the law regarding the Ten Commandments and hissed when a judge in another state broke the law regarding gay marriage?

    Freedom is a moving target, as is social authoritarianism, and how people seem to come down on one issue often shows how they think on a whole raft of other ones. 

    Social authoritarians exist among every political group - anyone who denies that is simply denying an uncomfortable truth about their fellow voters. Social authoritarians are creepy when they are in conservative camps (banning gay marriage) and they are creepy among progressives too (banning golf) but if you are okay with one and not the other, it basically just tells people how you vote. 

    New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg oversees a realm that is more liberal than progressive yet he is a kooky progressive through and through. Being rich does not make you smart. His latest big government bender is criminalizing what size soda people can buy. Some laws make some sense, even if they solve a problem no one has - when I was a kid, I could go into a store if my mom was waiting in the car and buy her a pack of cigarettes but you can't do that now. I didn't know any 6-year-olds who smoked cigarettes but in today's instant news world someone somewhere can find some crazy parent who made that happen and get a law passed. It's not a bad law to say 6-year-olds can't buy cigarettes but when I was a kid, if an adult saw a 6-year-old smoking a cigarette, it was going to be a big deal and a whole lot of neighbors were going to talk to the parents.  They did not passively sit around and wait for the government to pass a law so they did not have to be members of society directly.

    But banning stuff is popular now. Want to ban goldfish? Go to San Francisco. Plastic bags? Go to Los Angeles. You get the idea. Everyone likes to ban stuff, progressives just want to ban stuff that reads like an April Fool's joke - like Happy Meals. Oddly, both sides claim they care about freedom more than the other.


    New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg does not think this man is smart enough to make an informed choice.  Come to think of it, neither do I.  There is no sausage on his pizza.  There should be a law requiring sausage on any NYC pizza. photo: Shutterstock

    Will we get claims of death due to second-hand soda consumption, too?

    Mayor Bloomberg is in that self-belief-about-freedom camp.  He is not 'banning' anything - in the progressive social authoritarian sense - he thinks he is 'leading the way' in the freedom sense. He is the same mayor who banned smoking in bars - rather than do the obvious and require a ventilation system - banned trans fats, legislated calories counts in foods and wants to control salt. Yet he loves freedom, he contends.

    Like all good progressive elites, he says he is doing it for stupid people - namely the poor and Republicans, who lack the sophisticated understanding of nutrition it requires to know that if you eat too much of something, you will get fat.  Apparently, Bloomberg thinks NYC voters are like goldfish and if you don't measure their food for them, they will eat themselves to death.  In defense of conservatives, they may think people are just as stupid, but they are at least willing to let people prove it, like with kids and guns.

    Even people you would expect to side with him are not doing so. New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat and actual liberal (not a creepy progressive social authoritarian) , told The New York Post, "We may be getting too close to Big Brother. I just think we ought to step back and look at the freedoms that we have been given in this country and reflect on them."

    Whaaaa?  Freedom?  How do I vote for that guy? But if people have freedom, won't it be a state full of 400 lb. people herded into forced gay porn zones where they have to shoot guns made from BPA plastics?  Freedom may be too risky for New Yorkers.

    But Bloomberg falls back on the 'disease' metaphor; a mindset that lobbies to have more government social services provided for people, like health care, so it can then turn around and force people to behave in certain ways, because 'society' is on the hook for their health care. He even compared soda pop to asbestos in an interview with MSNBC. You don't want your kids to get lung cancer, right? Then don't let them buy Pepsi in sizes greater than 16 ounces and they will be saved.  And if soda is as dangerous to kids as cigarettes, as he claims, it is only a matter of time before some charlatan produces a second-hand soda study, correlating children who are around people who drink soda with greater levels of obesity.

    Why aren't environmentalists lobbying against this ban?

    I'm not sure I have ever even bought a Big Gulp but knowing it might soon be banned - California has always been a little jealous of New York City so we are sure to outdo a city ban with a statewide one, if the NYC thing ever actually happens - I kind of want one.  

    I have seen people with them, sure, and they seem to have them a long time, they are not drinking them in 10 minutes.  One question an environmentally conscious, socially libertarian fiscal conservative needs to ask is, did anyone do any simple math for the mayor?   Since the city is not yet banning daily consumption of soda but rather purchase size, is there any evidence this will make people thinner?

    No, but it takes no thinking at all to recognize that someone who is determined to drink 32 ounces of soda per day will have to buy two containers - packaging is a big chunk of cost in packaged foods so now poor people will be paying more because they are buying two containers that may or may not ever get recycled in our lifetimes (the recycling backlog in most states is so long it is basically just a landfill) which means a substantially greater environmental footprint both in manufacturing and in the post-consumer cycle. Obviously the mayor is counting on the fact that his goldfish voters will not buy two but he relies on twin beliefs: That consumer marketing studies claiming huge taxes and bans reduce behavior fairly rather than just creating a market of rich "have's" and poor "have nots" and; fat people are too lazy to go to McDonald's twice.

    What do experts say?

    Social authoritarian progressives like Mayor Bloomberg love experts, especially when they agree.  No surprise that his hand-picked group, The New York City Board of Health, agree completely that banning the Big Gulp is a good idea.  But they may have a little too much enthusiasm, since at their meeting to rubber stamp his idea they endorsed the one thing he said he was not trying to do; micromanage personal choice across the spectrum.

    Board member Bruce Vladeck said popcorn should also be on the list, especially those movie theater tubs, which everyone knows poor people buy every day. "The popcorn isn't a whole lot better than the soda," he said.

    Dr. Bruce Forman, also a board member, wants to add in coffee and milkshakes because those poor people Bloomberg says can't understand simple nutrition can apparently afford a tub of popcorn,  a frappuccino and a milkshake every afternoon - "There are certainly milkshakes and milk-coffee beverages that have monstrous amounts of calories."

    Bringing this full circle, if you are okay with levying a $200 court fine for selling an illegal soda but think the $100 fine for selling that same container full of marijuana is too much, we know how you vote.

    If you are part of the 51% of New Yorkers who think the whole idea is ridiculous, the mayor of London says even Europe, which once declared that water could not be advertised as curing thirst, thinks NYC is being silly and disgruntled people should move across the pond. But to Bloomberg and his handpicked fellow believers, poor and fat people are too stupid to have read this article anyway, so they are not worried about a mass exodus.

    Comments

    MikeCrow
    I think I need to go buy a big gulp, the doobie i just smoked gave me cotton mouth..............


    Hank, how do, what on the surface appear to be smart people, become so incredibly dumb?
    Never is a long time.
    Hank
    I can give a longer answer when I get done strapping a 50 lb. child into an uncomfortable car seat and hoping the cap and trade law we passed will really lower fuel costs the way they claim it will, but the short answer is - "It's for the children".
    JohnK.
    Who would have thought that Big Brother would show up for Big Gulps.  This really should be a joke, but it is startling that it is a real proposal that would affect millions of people.  Of course a person can still buy a 2 liter bottle of pop or a 12 pack.
    Evolution is all about the survival of the fitest and I am ready to take the warning signs off of lawnmowers and hedge clippers.  Knee jerk reactions to each possible issue will never stop people from being stupid, it will just mean that they will pay even less attention to warnings that might be useful.

    As for guns, my kids know how to use them safely and they certainly enjoy using them.  They are also pretty good shots, not sniper grade yet, but getting there.  Teaching them resposibility while teaching them safety was a good lesson for them.  Freedom should be measured by the responsibility taken.  Bloomberg is trying to take away both.

    Hope you are ready in California for another doubling of your energy cost.  I know my state is looking forward to making buckets of cash from the people in your state.
    Gerhard Adam
     I know my state is looking forward to making buckets of cash from the people in your state.
    ... and no doubt they'll be at the front of line complaining when regulators step in and their practices give rise to governmental intervention.
    As for guns, my kids know how to use them safely and they certainly enjoy using them.  They are also pretty good shots, not sniper grade yet, but getting there.  Teaching them resposibility while teaching them safety was a good lesson for them.  Freedom should be measured by the responsibility taken.  Bloomberg is trying to take away both.
    I'm not opposed to guns, but this kind of reasoning doesn't make much sense.  What gun problem are you seeing that involves lack of safety or knowledge?  In my recollection none of the serious problems have been the result of kids being a bad shot.  So where is the responsibility then?

    BTW ... what is the need for kids to be "sniper grade"? 
    Mundus vult decipi
    "BTW ... what is the need for kids to be "sniper grade"?"

    Some people have this rapidly-declining belief that if you're going to do something, you should attempt to excel at it.

    Why teach kids to shoot if you don't intend them to eventually get good at it? If not, then what is the point?

    If a doctor was doing surgery on you, are you concerned whether he is or isn't a 'surgeon grade' doctor?

    Hank
    No Child Left Behind becomes All Children Have To Be Top 10 Percent Of Their Class?

    You realize that isn't actually possible, right? First, not all kids want to excel at every different thing?  They are not interested and so won't compete against kids that do. A doctor has already chosen to excel. Same with surgeons, they don't get the residency unless they already chose to excel at it.

    And statistically 50% of the doctors in America were in the bottom half of their class.

    Gerhard Adam
    ...if you're going to do something, you should attempt to excel at it.
    Sorry, but that's just naive.  Do you excel at driving?  Do you excel at cooking?  Doing one's personal best may fall far short of excellence, and yet it is adequate for our interest levels and the objective we're trying to achieve.

    Most individuals can spend a lifetime trying to achieve excellence in their particular area of expertise.  It would be a hopeless task to set such a standard for yourself in every endeavor, especially in those cases where it isn't necessary.

    You may claim that you only meant, doing one's personal best, in which case the question remains ... why the need for kids to be "sniper grade"?
    Mundus vult decipi
    Mega sized food, drinks and people are obscene to anybody who know of children starving in other places.............even in your own country.....end of story.....

    Hank
    Then obviously we should ban starvation instead of obesity.  All it takes is a law to make things right, yes?  Well, tell your representative to get it done.
    MikeCrow
    Maybe we should still sell mega sized food, but tax it back to normal size, and then give the excess food to starving people??????


    Tell me I'm not a genius!
    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    You're not a genius :)  
    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    Hoisted by my own petard.
    Never is a long time.
    John Stewart/The Daily Show have been talking about this a lot lately. 25 grams or less of weed will get you a $100 fine. That Big Gulp will cost you $200.

    It would be funny if it weren't so sad

    Where the starving live.....you cant grow food......bring em to where the food is.....
    Sam Kinison

    Hank
    Or genetically optimize food so it grows there.
    Or genetically optimize people so they dont eat so much...............why take it out on plants.......

    He is the same mayor who banned smoking in bars - rather than do the obvious and require a ventilation system 
    Would ventilation systems be efficient enough? According to a report from the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit at the University of Toronto:

    In 1981, the United States National Academy of Sciences assembled an expert panel to
    review a variety of indoor pollution and ventilation issues, including tobacco smoke in
    the workplace. For its time, the report of their work, entitled Indoor Pollutants, was the
    most authoritative scientific statement on indoor air pollution extant.  The report
    concluded that a ventilation system capable of completely removing tobacco smoke from the air did not exist.
    Sure, the above is forty years old, but the entire report(above link) is only from 2001. Does an adequate ventilation system exist in 2012?


    People can buy tobacco legally, smoke outside and in their own homes, where they don't infringe upon the freedom of others, except for that of their own children and guests.


    Isn't that good enough? Why should businesses be forced into buying ventilation systems?
    MikeCrow
    Why should businesses be forced into buying ventilation systems?

    They should get that choice though, ie you can allow smoking, if you provide adequate ventilation.
    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    Actually I'll go so far as to say a business owner should be allowed to run his business as he sees fit, even without adequate ventilation.  In other words, if this is a bar that has allowed smoking for the past 30 years, and suddenly the local government wants to dictate that he can't ... then that really is an imposition on the owner.  I have a problem with that.

    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    If the choice is buy a ventilation system or close, they have a choice.  My gripe is that California, which has referendums on everything, had no vote in the legislature and no vote by people - they knew it would fail.  So they tasked OSHA with creating a standard in a ridiculously short amount of time with the provisio that the law would become automatic if they did not.  

    Presto, we got a law and 1,000 bars and restaurants that did not have an outdoor patio were suddenly at a competitive disadvantage and closed within a year.  Some places basically ignored the law and were sued - because they had a competitive advantage in that people could still smoke there.

    30% of people smoke but even in California enough people care about freedom this would never have passed.  It was not 'leadership' to ban smoking, it was social authoritarianism. 



    It started with bicycle helmets?
    But long before Prohibition proved you can't legislate 'morality' and isn't one definition of insane to doing the same thing but expecting different results.
    "Liberals' want to protect us from bad things and "conservatives" want to protect us from making bad moral choices. A true liberal would be all accepting and a true conservative would be all tolerant.

    Hank
    I don't use the term 'liberals' for the reason you cite; I used 'progressives'.  Both conservatives and progressives are social authoritarians, while liberals and libertarians are not (though terms are self-chosen, so many progressives claim to be liberal which conservatives claim not to be social authoritarian also).   I agree that the two social authoritarians just disagree on different stuff; progressives like banning cigarettes and conservatives like banning drugs.  Progressives ban Happy Meals and goldfish while conservatives ban gay marriage, etc.