(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) named New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg its June 2012 Porker of the Month for proposing a ban on sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces at restaurants, food carts, movie theaters, and any other venues that receive letter grades from the city for food service. If the measure is approved by the city’s health department after a three-month comment period, which began on June 12, the ban will take effect six months after enactment and be enforced by the city’s regular restaurant inspection team, which will levy $200 fines for noncompliance. With this move, the mayor fully embraces the dubious distinction of becoming the national face of the overreaching “nanny state.”
Mayor Bloomberg, who already imposed bans on trans fat and smoking in parks, has made several forays on his misguided crusade to curtail the consumption of sugary drinks in The Big Apple, all of which have failed. According to a May 31 Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article, “The mayor has the power to enact the proposal through the city’s Board of Health, over which he has presumed control because he has appointed its members.” Several polls indicate that a majority of New Yorkers oppose the ban.
The mayor’s action is capricious and will increase costs to New York City taxpayers, who will be forced to underwrite the expansion of the size and scope of enforcement and inspection activities by the health department. New Yorkers can still buy large bottles of sugary drinks in grocery and convenience stores, order a refill in their 8, 10, or 12-ounce cup, and purchase a wide array of sugary foods in restaurants and other establishments. Nevertheless, Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal will serve as a bellwether for like-minded big-government acolytes in other cities and counties, who are already considering how to emulate the policy.
CAGW has long opposed efforts by the federal government to dictate the contents of Americans’ grocery carts; tens of billions of tax dollars, funneled through multiple federal channels to states and municipalities, including New York City, are already being squandered to regulate Americans’ personal consumption choices. For example, approximately $103 million has already been awarded to 61 states and communities via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to fund “prevention, wellness, and public health activities.”
As history has amply demonstrated, prohibition rarely achieves the goals set forth by scolds, and often invites a raft of unintended consequences. Brian Wansink, one of the scientists who carried out the studies that the mayor cited in defense of the ban, has stated that his group’s research was misinterpreted. In a June 14, 2012 Atlantic article, Wansink expressed concern that the ban “will be a huge setback to fighting obesity” and “poisons the water for ideas that may have more potential.” Corinne Krupp, a professor of public policy at Duke University, told the WSJ that the new policy is “silly,” adding that is not “an effective public policy to address obesity.” In fact, CDC data shows that even as obesity levels have risen, calories from sugary beverages are less prevalent in the American diet.
For becoming a national scold and slurping up New York City taxpayers’ money to fund the food police, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is CAGW’s June Porker of the Month. Mayor Bloomberg can be reached at the following address:
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
New York, NY 10007
PHONE 311 (or 212-NEW-YORK outside NYC)
Fax: (212) 788-8123
CAGW is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government. Porker of the Month is a dubious honor given to lawmakers, government officials, and political candidates who have shown a blatant disregard for the interests of taxpayers.