The debate incited by Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to outlaw supersized sodas in New York misses an important point. In the mayor’s words, “We’re not taking away anybody’s right to do things. We’re simply forcing you to understand that you have to make the conscious decision to go from one cup to another cup.” (Emphasis added.)
There it is. He wants to forcibly interfere with other people in order to achieve his objective. (Contrary to what he says, however, he wouldn’t be forcing New Yorkers to understand something — is that possible? Rather, he’d be forcing them not to buy and sell something.)
In light of this, the ensuing debate has overlooked something we all should have learned as kids: the end doesn’t justify the means. Didn’t Bloomberg’s parents teach him that when he was a child?
Lots of objections are raised against Bloomberg’s policy: for example, that it unfairly and arbitrarily singles out one kind of beverage ("milk-based" drinks like cappuccinos are exempt, as are fruit juices — which are loaded with sugar), and that the plan would likely have no measurable effect on obesity. But there’s something more fundamental:
How dare the mayor propose to use force against peaceful individuals? The end doesn’t justify the means.
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Sheldon Richman (photo)