Nanny state? Maybe so

By Baker City Herald Editorial Board June 08, 2012 08:32 am

There’s plenty of conspiracy theories based on the notion that the government has a voracious appetite and that its favorite meal is made up of our individual freedoms.

Most of these theories stretch our credulity to its limits; many are obviously the products of paranoia.

Yet once in a while some elected or appointed public official conceives a campaign which, though it doesn’t render the more fanatical theories any more plausible, at least makes a general distrust of the government’s motives seem reasonable.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s current offensive against high-volume, high-sugar drinks — think Big Gulps — exemplifies this sort of effort.

Bloomberg wants to ban the sale of sodas and other sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces in movie theaters, restaurants and food carts (but not grocery or convenience stores).

The pointlessness of such a maneuver is obvious.

Not only would guzzlers be able to satiate their thirsts at thousands of businesses, but even at theaters and other places affected by the ban, patrons could simply double (or triple) their order of the Bloomberg-approved 16-ounce cups.

More garbage for the Big Apple, in other words.

Proponents of Bloomberg’s plan contend the soda ban is akin to another of the mayor’s pet projects: A 2003 prohibition on smoking in the city’s bars.

Other than the restriction on freedom, the two have little in common.

Banning smoking in public places — as Oregon also has done — can be justified medically because science has established beyond any doubt that secondhand smoke can kill you.

But even if the guy in the next aisle downs a couple quarts of cola while you’re both watching “Men in Black 3,” there’s no effect on your health.

Bloomberg’s also responsible for a city ordinance requiring chain restaurants to list calorie content on their menus. Strangely, though, the mayor didn’t call for a ban on 1,000-calorie cheeseburgers.