World Magazine is a Christian publication and one of their writers, D. C. Innes, produced an editorial, “Why government belongs in our soda cups.” He defends Michael Bloomberg by name from the very first sentence.
I don’t have room in this post to say all that might be said about this article. It raises a host of issues, but mainly by presumption. It is too short to prove much of anything except that Innes thinks that, once you reject libertarianism, all sorts of totalitarian nuttiness becomes reasonable to consider. That is ironic since any dogmatic libertarian would argue exactly the same case.
On a pragmatic level, I think Innes claims about container size are junk science. We’ve heard claims for years about how we can fight obesity. None of these things work. This never proves that manipulating public behavior is a failure, but only that we need to give the state more powers to interfere in our lives. I also think all the hysteria about obesity is superstition, not science. A lot of science never sees the light of day as the media decides what it wants to tell us about.
Putting all that aside for now, consider Innes basic claim about morality and community:
“But is this also part of a larger cultural crisis of self-indulgence? Could limiting soft-drink cup sizes also be a means of strengthening citizen character? Habits of self-restraint are essential to our ability to function as a community. Now what is legitimate is not always what is wise. This may be a matter better addressed with a public education campaign. Less government coercion is generally better. But if conservatives as a matter of principle deny the mayor his right, they may find themselves with their liberal autonomy intact, but no moral basis for community.”
I answer: why shouldn’t Michael Bloomberg be the one who needs to learn some “habits of self-restraint”? He certainly isn’t teaching any by example. How on earth is that man, abortion advocate, promoter of perversity, the provider of a moral basis for community?
When I look at the monster Bloomberg, judging kids for their body mass doesn’t seem like a rational response. I think Bloomberg is the one who needs to set an example of cheerful self-restraint by allowing people to make their own choices and eat what they want.
The apostle Paul had something to say about the moral basis for community. Why not listen to him?
“One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another?”
“If I eat with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks? So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
“Let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink”
Throughout history, however, communities have based themselves on the unifying thrill of finding scapegoats to target, oppress, and marginalize. Mayor Bloomberg is tapping into an ancient force that has nothing to do with self-restraint or character development.