Have you ever done something stupid, and right before doing it, said to yourself, “Gee, this is really stupid” but then did it anyway? Of course you have, this is America, a country that’s not supposed to slap the cigarette out of your mouth, the fedora off your head, or the KFC Double-Down out of your big, sweaty mitts—a country that, like a mother bird (a mother BALD EAGLE bird), urges her chirping progeny to venture out of the safety of their nest, even at the risk of an early demise. What would we be without the freedom to tattoo stupid shit on ourselves, major in theater tech, or watch Dancing With Rabid Animals, or whatever’s coming next? I contend that we would be worse off for it, which is why I dedicate this post to Michael “DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MUCH SUGAR IS IN ONE PACKET OF SUGAR” Bloomberg, for trying to take away NYC’s big gulps.
Let’s address the counter-argument right off the bat. “This isn’t government overreach! Soda intake can be translated into real healthcare dollars, taken from you, the taxpayer, and given to fatso over there with his 64oz cola and a wicked case of die-a-beet-us! We’re saving you money!” Hey thanks! But no thanks. Do you mean to tell me that you’re 100% sure it was the soda that made this guy dependent on government healthcare programs, and not the six Baconators™ he had for lunch? Because if you don’t know, you should either be outlawing nothing, or outlawing everything. That’s the problem. “Well, it may not be the only thing, but it’s one of the things!” So is lack of exercise, I’m sure, but you can’t force the poor slob into a gym membership. Slippery slope. “Maybe it’ll encourage people to drink less of it!” You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. Or: You can lead a guy to a smaller soda, but you can’t stop him from buying three of them.
Honestly, I don’t have a dog in this fight. I have a 12oz can of Diet Coke every 3 days or so. But the point is that on some sweltering Thursday in August, I might want a huge fountain Fresca with my football-sized barbacoa Chipotle burrito, and that oughta be my damn prerogative.
Let’s do some comparative analysis. Above, I have listed some fairly innocuous activities that people in our society choose to participate in on a daily basis. Applying the Bloombergian nanny thought process, we’ll examine why some of them should be outlawed.
- Smoking – EASY!
- Tattoos – You’ve got a tattoo on your neck, or below your shirt-line on your arm? No respectable company will ever hire you; you’ll be a social pariah and a burden on society as you add to the unemployment rolls.
- Unmarketable College Major – What, are you kidding me? You’re gonna major in photography, in this job market? I think not, young man. My tax dollars are not funding your weed habit.
- [SIDEBAR: True story. I went to Spain in high school, and we asked our tour guide how she became a tour guide, and she said she was going to med school but the government told that year’s med school class that the state didn’t need any more surgeons, but that she should totes major in history instead. So she became a tour guide. I almost threw up in the Prado.]
- Shitty Reality TV – Dumbed-down programming that promotes a sedentary lifestyle filled with corn chips, TV dinners, and statements like, “Momma, when I grow up, I wanna be just like Bristol Palin,” shouted over the prattling of Tom Bergeron.
I suppose even I would be OK with getting rid of the last one, but the fact remains, that’s the wrong way to handle it. My guess is that roughly 30% of this country is fundamentally stupid. Make them smarter, and a lot of this stuff just goes away. Stop treating the symptoms, start treating the disease, and you’ve got yourself a great start. Or, continue treating the entire city like an overfed bedwetter, and watch it start acting that way. It is not the government’s responsibility to make sure Baby Huey gets his eight glasses of water, it’s his. This is what being an adult human is all about.