Mayor Bloomberg is interviewed in this month’s Atlantic, and I found his discussion of paternalism problematic in a revealing way. You hear similar bad reasoning from other paternalists, so I think it’s worth discussing. Here is what he had to say about bans:
…I think it’s government’s job not to ban things but to give you information and let you make the decision. So calorie counts would do that. Portion control is a graphical or physical way of giving you information in terms of how much sugar you’re consuming, and whatever….
…We are not banning anything. All we’re saying is that restaurants and theaters can’t use cups greater than 16 ounces. So if you want to buy 32 ounces, you can buy 32 ounces, you just got to carry it back to your seat, or your table, in two cups. If the question is “Do you think they should be banning?,” that’s a separate question. That has nothing to do with portion control. We are not banning anything. And when you say “Wait a second — sure, you are restricting the size of the cups,” well, the manufacturer restricts the size of the bottle you get. Everybody does portion control. They do it with different objectives, maybe.
This is a popular way of viewing regulation, but there are a lot of problems with this line of thinking. First, in this view the government reducing choice is identical to businesses reducing choice. The most obvious problem with this is that when a business decides not to offer a particular container size it does not preclude others from doing so. If you find yourself puzzled by why people complain about government reducing choice more than businesses reducing choice then you should start here.
As a consumer, I think we should be able to buy a big soda without having to buy two small ones. But as a tax lawyer, I was persuaded by this: NYC’s Soda Ban Is A Good Idea, But A Tax Would Be Better. In a study published in Health Affairs, experts estimated that a 15 percent cut in consuming sugared beverages among 25-64 year olds would prevent staggering numbers of deaths and serious illnesses, not to mention saving billions in medical costs.
The numbers are impressive. To top it off, a soda tax would generate billions in revenue. What’s not to like? In fact, I’m lovin’ it.
Besides, our local, state and national governments like to tax things. We’re used to regulating by taxing. Everything else seems downright un-American. And taxes are big business.
There’s Botox, tanning, music downloads and more. Soda taxes are sin taxes, targeting what legislators view as socially irresponsible behavior. They have the dual purpose of raising revenue and decreasing the targeted bad conduct.
Walt Disney Co will stop accepting some junk-food advertising on its television, radio and online programs intended for children and launch its own “Mickey Check” label for food it deems to be nutritious.
The move by Disney, which owns the ABC–TV network and a host of cable channels, follows New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s proposal last week to ban sales of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces about half a liter in most restaurants, theaters, delis and vending carts throughout the city to curb obesity.
Nearly one-third of U.S. children are overweight or obese, and a 2006 Institute of Medicine report said junk-food marketing contributed to childhood obesity.
The media and entertainment conglomerate introduced voluntary guidelines in 2006 that prohibited licensing of Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters for foods that do not meet minimum nutritional requirements.
“We’re taking the next important step forward by setting new food advertising standards for kids,” Iger said in a statement.
“The emotional connection kids have to our characters and stories gives us a unique opportunity to continue to inspire and encourage them to lead healthier lives,” he said.
Strange Random Junk Food Quote:
“The journey of a thousand pounds begins with a single burger.” – Chris O’Brien
- Disney to nix junk food ads aimed at kids (eatocracy.cnn.com)
- Exclusive: Disney to stop some junk-food ads on kids’ TV, websites (dawn.com)
- Walt Disney To Cut Back Junk-Food Ads – Wall Street Journal (drugstoresource.wordpress.com)
- Disney is Banning Kid Junk Food Ads on Their TV Network (mevsgavin.com)
- Disney To Promote Healthy Foods and to Ban Junk Food Ads on Its Programming Aimed at Kids (pubcit.typepad.com)
- Disney Says New Health Initiative Isn’t Just A Public Service; It’s Good For Business (blisstree.com)
- Disney to banish junk-food ads from kid shows (articles.pikespeakparent.com)
- Motherlode Blog: What if the City Banned Sales of Junk Food to Minors? (parenting.blogs.nytimes.com)
Moody’s Investors Service cut the senior debt and deposit ratings of 12 U.K. financial institutions, concluding the government would be less likely to provide support for them if they became financially troubled. Moody’s also took rating action on nine Portuguese banks. Caroline Hyde reports on Bloomberg Television‘s “Countdown.” (Source: Bloomberg)
Vodpod videos no longer available.
Strange Random Banking Quote:
“In central banking as in diplomacy, style, conservative tailoring, and an easy association with the affluent count greatly and results far much less” – John Kenneth Galbraith
- We were on Bloomberg TV (theequitykicker.com)
- Bloomberg TV plays politics (latimesblogs.latimes.com)
- BLOOMBERG – European Nations Face Downgrade, Moodys Says (politics.ie)
- Media Decoder Blog: James Rubin Abruptly Departs Bloomberg (mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Bloomberg to testify in theft trial (politico.com)
- Tyrant Editor Sends a Reporter Off the Deep End [Bloomberg] (gawker.com)