There was a political wrestling match last week between nanny state politicians and headline-grabbing pols. The news whore pols won handily and you lost. Again.
Mayor Bloomberg’s soda ban was effectively cancelled by a judge the day before it was scheduled to go into effect. Meanwhile Mississippi decided to introduce legislation to protect their residents’ right to drink and eat themselves to death. What the hell is wrong with people?
Mississippi is currently the fattest state in the Union, coming in at 34.9% obesity rate. That’s not overweight folks, that’s obese! As in over 30% body fat. The fact that the Governor and legislature want to protect their citizens’ right to drink large sodas outweighs any concern about the crushing medical issues the state is facing. From debilitating diseases — such as diabetes and heart disease — to equally debilitating medical costs which are putting Mississipians into bankruptcy and pushing up Medicaid costs.
Here I was believing I was making a ton of sense. Silly me thinking a sensible health care policy is more important than a blatant political stunt.
Honestly, I’m on the fence about the NYC soda ban. I thought there were just so many workarounds in the wording that it didn’t really matter. People would just start buying two-liter bottles of soda at home and filling up their coffee mugs instead, or whatever. But hey, Bloomberg is out there trying … some of his policies haven’t done a thing and some have actually worked. Childhood obesity rates have gone down (albeit slightly) in the City and some of this decrease is due to Bloomberg’s efforts.
At least the Mayor is willing to take the heat and try something, because apparently the rest of the politicians are too bone-headed to do anything about it. Yes, I said bone-headed.
Bloomberg’s soda ban is being seen as an insult to constituents, dictating to people what they can and can’t do. People kinda went along with his calorie counts on menus and a few other new policies, but on this one, they balked.
OK … let’s flip this argument.
Instead of a Big Brother attitude, how about we all just use a little common sense. Politicians, through policies and public service announcements (PSAs), could set the example to follow. It worked with anti-smoking campaigns, it worked with that Native American crying over garbage in the 1970s, and it worked with teenage drinking and driving. Why can’t we just do what we already know works?
The education of the country will lead to more pressure on food manufacturers to improve the quality of what they sell and we’ll gradually get to a better place. It’s not as fast but it works. Just look at the announcement last week that Whole Foods will begin labeling GMO foods. That’s thanks to pressure from grassroots efforts that started in California.
If the Governor of Mississippi started sipping water and going for a morning run with some constituents, he’d be setting a great example, prolong his own life, and show people that living healthy is best for the state. If he did a PSA saying the above, even better. But nope, he’ll go for the cheap thrill of being on the front page of newspapers and discussed by talking heads across the country for a day for opposing a soda ban.
So who won here? Americans who can now sip tablespoons of liquid sugar with a surly, righteous defiance? Or a handful of politicians who managed to get their pictures in the paper for an extra day?
What do you think?