“This amendment would prohibit federal regulation of the size and quantity of food and beverages,” the Texas senator’s office explained of his budget proposal, which was not adopted by the Democratic majority. [Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner]
As expected, the New York City Board of Health has gone along with a proposal from Mayor Michael Bloomberg and become “the first in the nation to ban the sale of sugared beverages larger than 16 oz. at restaurants, mobile food carts, sports arenas and movie theaters.” [Time, AP] Notes Scott Shackford, “the ban shouldn’t affect diet or sugar-free drinks, but as The New York Times reports, establishments with self-service fountains will not be able to stock cups that hold more than 16 ounces. So essentially, thirsty people will want to avoid the targeted businesses altogether even if they’re drinking healthy.” [Reason] Earlier here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
Related: “Soda Noir,” Owen Smith’s funny cover illustration for the June 18 New Yorker. And George Will reveals in his column that as part of its stimulus program the federal government spent millions of dollars on campaigns at the local and state level to crack down on sweetened drinks, a policy of dubious legality given that existing law “prohibits the use of federal funds ‘to influence in any manner … an official of any government, to favor, adopt, or oppose, by vote or otherwise, any legislation, law, ratification, policy, or appropriation.'” [earlier here, here]
The outrage goes on and on, and why shouldn’t it? “Researchers Whose Work Was Cited to Justify Bloomberg’s Large Soda Ban Explain Why it Won’t Work” [Ilya Somin] Paternalism advocates like Kelly Brownell see the drink initiative as a stalking horse for much bigger plans [Jacob Sullum, syndicated] And NYU lawprof Rick Hills deems it “silly” for libertarians to take a stand in opposition [Prawfs; response, Somin]
More: Federal initiatives to improve citizens’ thrift and parenting skills suggest the spirit of Bloomberg roams abroad in Washington, D.C. [Ray Hartwell]
London Mayor Boris Johnson on the Jon Stewart show. [Telegraph] Meanwhile, @pourmecoffee notes that “Each winning player gets time with Stanley Cup to do anything they want with it, except drink sugary drinks if you’re in NY.” Per Michael Jacobson of the CSPI, soft drinks are the “single biggest source of calories in the American diet.” Really? [ACSH] More: “Soda jerk: Bloomberg’s proposed ban is about power, not public health” [Shikha Dalmia, The Daily]
This just in: NYC Board of Health members also eye size limits on movie theater popcorn and milkshakes.
Caleb Brown interviews me in this new Cato Institute podcast, in which we discuss the futility of Mayor Bloomberg’s effort to turn NYC soda fans into two-fisted drinkers (that is, they’ll need to carry one in each hand); the role of federal grants from the Obama administration; and more broadly, the creepily intrusive ambitions of the New York City Health Department. If the embedded version doesn’t work, you can find it here.
Related: “The issue is freedom, not soft drinks.” [Jonathan Tobin, Commentary]. “Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign,” wrote John Stuart Mill [Patrick Basham, U.S. News] A new study finds restricting people’s junk food choices doesn’t help them lose weight [Reuters] James Lileks offers a helpful picture gallery distinguishing “Poison” from “Not Poison,” and classes a-burger-and-a-Coke in the latter category. Contrariwise, a ban backer at the Daily Beast is happy to contemplate future rules limiting hamburger sizes: “why not? Eight- and ten-ounce burgers are sick things.” And from earldean71: “If history is any guide at least one Atlanta suburb will pass an ordinance requiring giant soda drinks if NYC has a ban.” Earlier here, here, here, here, etc.
More: Watch me on the video version, just up on YouTube:
When you’ve lost even the New York Times editorial page on a nannyism venture, maybe it’s time to rethink.
When even New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver comes off sounding libertarian and vowing to overturn your jumbo-soda ban, maybe it’s time to prepare a retreat.
Oh, well. At least you’ll always have The New Yorker.
A Bowdoin professor named Sarah Conly has written a book called Against Autonomy: Justifying Coercive Paternalism, and recently took to the pages of the New York Times to argue (which sounds consistent with the book’s thesis) in favor of the Bloomberg soda ban and other interventions. Cato’s Trevor Burrus takes exception and perhaps indicating how extreme Conly’s positions are, even Cass Sunstein declines to get on board.
- Chicago city government joins Boston in threatening to use regulation to punish Chick-fil-A for its political views [Josh Barro, Eugene Volokh, earlier, Tim Carney]
- NYC hearing on Bloomberg soda ban “a pre-scripted event with a foregone conclusion” [ACSH, WLF] despite inclusion of Baylen Linnekin on witness list [Reason, Jacob Sullum] If calories are the point: “Hey, Mayor Mike, why not ban beer?” [Sullum, NYDN]
- California restaurants serving foie gras “can be fined up to $1,000…or is it a tax?” [Fox via @ReplevinforaCow]
- When nutrition labeling meets deli salads: the FDA invades Piggly Wiggly [Diane Katz, Heritage]
- “Raw Milk Advocates Lose the Battle But Win the War” [ABA Journal]
- “PLoS Medicine is Publishing An Attack On ‘Big Food'” [David Oliver]
- More signs that Mayor Bloomberg is eyeing liquor as a public health target [NYP, earlier] Oasis in the putative food desert: “In praise of the corner liquor store” [Katherine Mangu-Ward, Reason]
- Sued if you do, sued if you don’t: drugmaker faces lawsuits over failure to provide Fosamax warning that FDA told it not to provide [Jim Copland, James Beck on Merck Sharp & Dohme v. Albrecht, pending at Supreme Court]
- On new APA masculinity guidelines, Sally Satel cuts to the point: will they improve the success of therapy for people seeking help? [Washington Post]
- What does it mean to say the opioid litigation might follow the tobacco model? [Rob McKenna, U.S. Chamber] Citing fate of earlier gun lawsuit filed by city of Bridgeport, state judge dismisses four lawsuits filed by Connecticut cities against opioid industry [Daniel Fisher, Legal NewsLine]
- I do miss the days when leaders of the public health profession focused on communicable diseases like typhus rather than running after Bloomberg grants to promote soda bans [Joel Grover and Amy Corral, NBC Los Angeles]
- Cooking the books on infant mortality: about those Cuban life expectancy stats [David R. Henderson]
- As artificial intelligence begins to make inroads into medical diagnosis, liability issues loom large [Beck, see related linked earlier]