On Monday, a New York judge struck down Michael Bloomberg’s latest nanny bullshit:
On Monday, Judge Tingling struck down the soda ban in a sweeping opinion that does everything but hand Mayor Poppins his umbrella and carpetbag. This wasn’t just a temporary restraining order putting the regulation on hold for a few weeks. The judge struck down the ban permanently both on the merits (“fraught with arbitrary and capricious consequences”) and as overstepping the rightful legal powers of the New York City Department of Health — meaning that the board cannot go back and reissue the regulations on its own authority even if it should develop a better factual basis for them.
You should real Walter Olsen’s entire op-ed, which is both informative and as delicious as a super-size Mountain Dew flavored with the tears of Nanny Staters. This wasn’t just about big sodas and big waistlines. The Department of Public Health was asserting near-dictatorial power over the behavior of millions of New Yorkers, expanding powers that are intended for emergencies into every-day business (Hmm. That doesn’t sound familiar at all).
Of course, like all movements, the Nanny State can thrive without God, but not without a devil. If you can’t get what you want, you must demonize someone — someone rich and corporate preferably. NPR kicked it off by saying the judge “sided with the beverage industry” even thought the judge actually sided with the law, not the industry. And today you have this amazingly wrong-headed article from Ben Smith which attempts to argue that the soda industry is like the cigarette industry with the evil subprime mortgage industry thrown in for good measure. Seriously. After noting that some of the opposition came from minority groups, he goes down this road:
There are politicians, and causes, who have no trouble raising money. The politicos who represent Manhattan, mostly; causes, like rolling back the unionization of education, popular with people who work in finance. Politicians who represent poor neighborhoods in Brooklyn and the Bronx, however, struggle to fundraise; and organizations aiming to speak for poor communities are often struggling to keep the lights on. And so it was, for instance, that Brooklyn Rep. Ed Towns used to be known on Capitol Hill as the “Marlboro Man” — the industry’s staunchest ally in Congress.
This is a dynamic that many industries who prey on the urban poor capitalize on. The subprime mortgage industry, in particular, generously funded local advocates, who made the case for them (remember this argument?) that to bar what critics called “predatory” interest rates was to discriminate against people with bad credit.
Wow. That is one of the richest veins of bullshit I’ve ever seen. Never mind that cigarettes are fundamentally different from soda (no one ever died of second-hand Mr. Pibb or complained about the constant smell of Cherry Coke on their clothes). Never mind that whole fact-free diversion into the subprime market. Never mind that people in poverty often like the few vices they can afford. No, it’s Cigarettes! Subprime! Soda! 11!!!
This isn’t an industry shill thing, no matter what anyone says. This was about Bloomberg trying to impose rules outside of the normal process. This was about New York becoming a national punchline for the Nanny State. And, yes, this was about that thick stripe of anarchism that runs down the back of every American and makes them, every now and then, turn to their government and say those most American of words: “Mind your own fucking business.”