Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m getting a little fed up with the government trying to tell us how to live our lives. We’ve all heard the complaints that we’re turning into a “nanny state,” yet there seems to be little done by the public to change it.
The most recent example is in New York City where Mayor Michael Bloomberg hopes to ban the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces. He’s doing it to make your lives healthier. Presumably because we’re too dumb to make our own choices and live with them.
I don’t doubt for a minute that soda, lemonade, fruit punch and other sugary drinks are partly to blame for America’s problems with obesity and other health issues. I could stand to lose a few pounds, myself. Still, I’d rather try to lose that weight the old-fashioned way instead of being told how by someone who doesn’t even know me.
Besides that 32-ounce Pepsi isn’t the only source of obesity and other health ailments. What about red meat, candy, caffeine, alcohol and salty snacks? Yep, all bad for us. I wonder what would happen if it were suggested that all potato chips be salt-free, or that hot dogs could only be sold in portions half their current size?
Some may say “well, it’s only pop. Big deal.” Fine. Wait until they come after your Doritos or Sahlen’s hot dog. Wait until it’s mandated that no beer at a Sabres game can be larger than 10 ounces. Wings? Ban ‘em. Hey, they’re deep-fried, and that skin just soaks up that saturated fat.
People call Bloomberg’s proposal a “slippery slope” because of the very problem I just outlined. However, once a law such as his gets approved, the next one is easier to pass. And the one after that even easier.
Also, Bloomberg’s proposal appears to be based on the presumption that a person who purchases a large beverage, say 32 ounces, is buying that beverage solely for himself. It doesn’t take into consideration the very real possibility that two people may share that drink.
Anyone who’s been to the movies or a sporting event know that the larger the drink size, the less by volume you pay for a drink. Since no movie theatre or ballpark vendor is going to change their prices, Bloomberg’s proposal will actually force the public to pay more for a night out!
Several years ago, New York’s legislators, in their infinite wisdom (that’s sarcasm, by the way), voted to ban smoking in public places, such as bars and restaurants. Now, most restaurants already provided smoking and non-smoking sections before this ban was enacted. Yet that wasn’t enough for our elected officials, who say they’re looking out for our well-being.
I’m not a smoker, but this law ticked me off. I realized years ago — even before I was 21 — that if I walked into a bar I was going to inhale secondhand smoke.
I recognized that risk and I accepted it. That was my decision to make. Likewise, bar owners had the option of making their establishments smoke-free.
Here’s one that’s even more ridiculous, but fortunately the state courts system have put a temporary stop to it: Earlier this year New York State’s parks system tried to ban smoking in all its parks. I could understand banning smoking in and near playgrounds where children congregate. But this ban was systemwide. (Yet they were only going to enforce it in aforementioned children’s areas.
So, according to New York state, it’s bad to smoke in a state park, but it’s alright to sit by the campfire in Allegany or Letchworth state parks and inhale smoke from said fire. Don’t you love it when government talks out of both sides of its mouth?
Instead of big government rushing in to “save” us, why not let us control our own lives? Obesity is costing millions? Fine, allow insurance companies to charge more for those conditions, that we bring upon ourselves. A smoker? Fine, your life insurance premium doubles or triples. Can’t eat just one Lay and now you weight 450 pounds? Expect to pay more for that high blood pressure.
We don’t need the government there to protect us from bad choices.
Lord knows the government already makes enough of them on its own. And Mayor Bloomberg is listed as an independent, meaning that he doesn’t adhere to any one political party’s beliefs. He should follow his political leanings and apply it to life.
By the way, while you’re out spending more to let the government keep you healthy, you might want to counter their efforts by ordering the large tub of popcorn, with extra artificial butter.John Hopkins is the managing editor of the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal. His column appears Sundays. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.