Monday, June 18, 2012

Petty statism isn't petty

On June-14, one Peter Cousins wrote to the Lansing State Journal in support of NY Mayor Mike “Nanny” Bloomberg's ban on 32 ounce sugary drinks. In a missive titled Avoid unhealthy foods for a longer life, Cousins writes: “I would argue that society has a right to regulate activities that impose a heavy burden on the public treasury.”

Since the public treasury is always and only free citizen taxpayers, I would argue that those citizens have the right to reject such regulations and demand that the burdens be relieved.

If you believe government can establish a right to curtail individual freedom by overspending, you may be a Greek politician. You certainly have confused the public treasury with the public good. You likely are ignorant of d'Tocqueville:
After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small, complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.
Cousins is right to the extent that life will seem longer.

Finally, even if Mayor Bloomberg's policy was about health instead of control, the scientists he cites in his support say it won't work.

See also: Health Care and the Dynamics of Intervention and Unintended consequences

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