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FEE's Take on Mayor Bloomberg's Supersized Soda Policy

JUNE 13, 2012

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg explaining his intention to outlaw sodas larger than 16 ounces in restaurants, sports venues, and street carts:

 Everybody’s wringing their hands saying we’ve got to do something about [obesity]. Well, here is a concrete thing…. We’re not taking away anybody’s right to do things. We’re simply forcing you to understand that you have to make the conscious decision to go from one cup to another cup.

FEE’s Take:

 “Forcing” is the right word. The mayor’s policy would forbid eateries (but not stores)—under penalty of law—from serving regular (non-diet) sodas in cups larger than 16 ounces as a way to combat obesity. That does take away our rights. Leaving aside whether this would really address obesity, the mayor forgets something we all should have learned as children: The end doesn’t justify the means. The exchange of money for a supersized soda is a peaceful voluntary transaction, and hence no business of the government’s. It doesn’t matter that the mayor good intentions. They cannot justify the means: the use of physical force to prevent individuals from engaging in free exchange. The essence of a free society is that people may do, in the words of FEE’s founder Leonard E. Read, “anything that’s peaceful.” The mayor’s policy violates that standard miserably.

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April 2014

Around the world, people are struggling to throw off authoritarianism, with deeply mixed results. From Egypt to Venezuela, determined people build networks to overthrow their regimes, but as yet we have not learned to live without Leviathan. In this issue, Michael Malice and Gary Dudney discuss their glimpses inside totalitarian regimes, while Sarah Skwire and Michael Nolan look at how totalitarian regimes grind down the individual--and how individuals fight back. Plus, Jeffrey Tucker identifies a strain in libertarianism that, left unchecked, could reduce even our vibrant movement to something that is analogous to the grim aesthetic of architectural brutalism. The struggle for our lives and freedom is a struggle for beauty; it begins inside each of us.
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