When Mayor Bloomberg proposed his soda ban all those months ago, it was evident that the bill would receive some flak. Anything above 16 ounces of pop eliminated from storefronts and restaurants? New Yorkers didn't know whether to yell out "Communism!" or binge drink Big Gulps faster than always-bored teenagers who spend a majority of their day lingering outside of the local 7/11.
It was a public health proposal reminiscent of Bloomberg's 2002 smoking ban in restaurants and offices, except with a product that had a less shitty public image. Of course, that time, New Yorkers erupted at the then-new Mayor but gradually accepted the cleaner air. And restauranteurs shrugged off their old enemy as more customers came to restaurants, scared before of inhaling the secondhand smoke instead of the sirloin. Now, smoking inside public spaces is not even an after-thought for most.
The backlash against the soda ban, however, has attained a different feature; one that could possibly be linked to this confused conservatism of the present day. The anti-smoking-ban did claim to defend "the rights" of smokers but this opposition, symbolized by New Yorkers for Beverage Choices and other groups, has donned a mask of small government libertarianism. Across the country, the fight for Big Gulps has transformed into an ideological battle between those who view consumerism as a choice and others who view consumerism, like capitalism, as a system that must be closely regulated to prevent unwarranted side-effects.
And that's exactly what shouldn't happen.More »