I am not fat and I don't drink sugared soda. If the Mayor of New York decided to regulate portion sizes for sugared drinks tomorrow it wouldn't affect my life in the least -the idea is typical of the Mandatory Betterment class, and I expect nothing less. It's all the people who are so gosh-darned impressed with the Bold Initiative who rankle up the humours.
Let's get one thing clear: when the TV talk-show people lavish praise on the idea, it has nothing to do with some abstract notion of the costs of obesity. They just don’t like fat people. Fat people, at best, are a rebuke their own finicky vanity - I look good, why can’t you? - and at the worst, aesthetically unpleasant. If they all went away, the trim pert types woudl miss them after a while, and realize that people no longer came pre-packaged in a style that made them easy to dismiss.
A thin woman with three children by three men who can't get by is an object of concern. A fat women with two kids who can't get by is a toad, and probably a smoker.
A culture that redefines food choices as moral issues will demonize the people who don’t share the tastes of the priest class. A culture that elevates eating to some holistic act of ethical self-definition - localvore, low-carbon-impact food, fair trade, artisanal cheese - will find the casual carefree choices of the less-enlightened as an affront to their belief system. Leave it to Americans to invent a Puritan strain of Epicurianism.
Business Insider on the rah-rahs:
“The panel on Morning Joe today was surprisingly positive about Mayor Bloomberg's effort to ban large sugary drinks at food carts, stadiums, move theaters, etc.
Host Mika Brzezinski referred to the drinks as "poison" for their sugar content and applauded the mayor.
Some helpful reminders seem to be required. Poison:
Oh but she has a six ounce glass bottle, and now we have redonkulous sizes! Yes. That's true. And I apologize for reviving the word Redonkulous. But if soda is poison, then portion size is irrelevant. The Mr Yuk stickers don’t say “call 911 but only if you drank a lot of bleach. A little is okey-doke, though." So it's not a poison unless you drink huge amounts all the time, which is also true of shampoo and vodka and sugary lemonade little kids sell at card tables on the corner in summer, and motor oil. Right? So it's not poison.
Unless you're on TV and want everyone to like you because you're concerned about the right things. Being concerned about fat people like being concerned about Tibet; it requries nothing but expression of the proper sentiment, usually containing sadness for The Children, but also some righteous anger for Big Food, which has tricked everyone into eating more. The idea thatsome kids are fat because they have lousy parents doesn't apply, because whoa whoa whoa now we're blaming the victims, the people who for some mysterious reason can't arrange a family meal and influence their progeny's ingestion. For those people, obesity just happens, somehow. But in general, it's because of soda, because everyone saw that YouTube clip with the stack of sugar cubes, right?
Yes, every time the TV talkers are in the store behind someone poor with a big arse packed in sweatpants buying Doritos and Little Debbie Cakes, the trim concerned commentaror thinks "it's a big problem that the cost of her health issues will be distributed among 300 million people." That's the issue, all right.
David Frum weighs in, and giving us a helpful hint as to the standards of contemporary thought, the headline calls the ban “visionary.” This is just nonsense:
Some object that the mayor's proposal to restrict serving sizes will restrict liberty. But the liberty restricted is not the liberty of the soda-drinker. If they wish, soda drinkers can buy a 2-liter bottle of soda at the grocery for about $1.70 and pour as much of it down their throats as they wish. The liberty that is being restricted is the liberty of the soda seller to manipulate known human weaknesses to the seller's advantage and the buyer's detriment.
The poor buyer! Detriment befalls those who have had their weaknesses manipulated thus, because now they have more soda than they need, or may want, or in any case should have. In his haste to huzzah a government decision regulating the size of your purchase - which is what this is about at the core - he notes that you can still buy a 2-liter bottle and “pour as much of it down their throats as they wish.” (Again, the overclass sniff at those Brobnignagian fatties.) So the law does nothing, except establish a wonderful visionary standard of desired behavior, and if it incidentally establishes a precedent that a voluntary transaction should be banned because the government doesn’t want you to consume 17 ounces but grudgingly admits you can have 16, that’s a minor pointt. Once conceded, surely it will never be exploited beyond its original definition.
Anyway, it’s worth a try:
But if a restraint on soda serving size will not do everything, it may still do something. Or possibly not. The idea may fail. The idea is an experiment, and most experiments fail. We learn from failure how to design a better effort next time. And when we do at least succeed in this difficult struggle for public health, we will all owe New York's visionary mayor our thanks for leading the way.
Translation: well, the Big Gulp ban failed, so we better ban sugary soda altogether. Because you people JUST DON’T LISTEN.
This point was also made by Frank Bruni, New York Times columnist:
While Michelle Obama focused on carrots, New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg brandished a stick. It's what we deserve. Cry all you want about a nanny state, but as a city and a nation we've gorged and guzzled past the point where a gentle nudge toward roughage suffices. We need a weight watcher willing to mete out some stricter discipline.
Send us a man on a horse, to keep us from eating like one.
It's in many senses an absurd and random gesture. A merchant could still peddle a 20-ounce milkshake with more calories than a Coke.
Noting that the ban is “absurd and random,” as well as unlikely to do anything, is a prerequisite for everyone who approves of it.
A customer could still buy two 16-ounce Pepsis, using tandem vessels and two straws to do the work of one supersize abomination.
Abomination! No word is strong enough.
There are many vendors unaffected by the proposed ban, and there's a wide world of caloric villains untouched.
That’s the moral world of these people: soda is villainous. The article is titled “Please save me from Sugary Big Gulps,” and a grown man actually put his name on it.
In another baleful gurgle on the matter by Michael Tomasky reminds us that hamburgers should be next:
Are bacon-cheeseburgers next? As a practical matter, no. Sodas are an easy target because there is nothing, nothing, nutritionally redeeming about them. But might there come a day when the New York City Department of Health mandates that burgers be limited to, say, four ounces? Indeed there might. And why not? Eight- and ten-ounce burgers are sick things.
Ah, but it’s not an infringement of any sort; you could buy two and eat them both. But I don’t want to eat them both. I don’t want to eat more bread or throw away the buns. I want a gol-damned eight-ounce hamburger now and then, despite the agony it might cause someone else.
Sick. Villianous. Poison. Abomination.
They're talking about a burger and a Coke. This must mean that the "American Graffiti" movie is the equivalent of "Triumph of the Will."
As I said, it’s not about health. If it was, no one would mention the cost of obesity. It’s an issue only because the rest of us have to pay for it? If that’s the case, then there’s no end to the restrictions we can conjure up and impose with equal parts of sadness and resolution. Smoking was easy because it stinks. Trans-fats was easy because no one knew what they were; it’s not like you go down the store to pick up some trans-fats. The soda laws appeal to the overclass because fat people are disgusting.
This might not do anything, but it’ll show them who has pull around here.
Oh, one more thing. As I've said before, I was a fat kid. My parents fed me well, but I ate crap at school, and I had absolutely no physical exercize whatsoever. I blimped.
There was no soda in the house. I had one can of pop a week. If that.