Friday, June 8, 2012

Mark Bittman: "What Is Food?"; Me: Pissed Off

In his column this week ("What Is Food?") in the online edition of The New York Times, Mark Bittman touches on the move by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to restrict the sale of large-sized sodas, sports drinks and other heavily sweetened beverages.

Critics of Bloomberg's health initiatives (dealing with smoking, calories and transfats, as well) decry governmental overreach and an infringement of personal liberties. Bittman thinks those in this camp are flat-out wrong. I agree. Why? Bittman nails it when he writes:
"To (loosely) paraphrase Oliver Wendell Holmes, your right to harm yourself stops when I have to pay for it. And just as we all pay for the ravages of smoking, we all pay for the harmful effects of Coke, Snapple and Gatorade."
Let's pause for a second and think about how the costs of just obesity-related health care ("$147 million and climbing" according to Bittman) are thinning your wallet and chipping away at services we have long taken for granted.

Anyone pay for health care out of his own pocket? I do and you don't want to know what it costs per month. Actually, I'm embarrassed to tell the number, especially because the government should be paying me for never visiting a doctor and never buying pills. Bottom line, I am subsidizing the consumption of Coke, Gatorade, white rice, Big Macs, low-fat mayonnaise and egg white omelets and it drives me mad.

Oh, you are lucky enough to have your insurance subsidized by your employer? If that's the case, think about why your household garbage is only collected once per week, why the local library is now closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, why the lights at the neighborhood park don't come on at dusk and why there are 26 other kids in your 7-year-old's classroom.

Obviously, the economic tradeoffs aren't as simple as I describe, but I trust you understand my point and share my frustration. For me, the attack on personal liberties is not the taxing or restricting of unhealthy junk but the stealing of my hard-earned dollars to pay for the consumption of these foodstuffs.

Click here to read "What Is Food?"


Matt said...

My biggest concern with all this is that the government doesn't always get it right when it comes to nutrition (see Denmark's butter tax). So this is a slippery slope, even though the benefit here is probably a net positive, I don't want the government going after my healthy fat!

Muhammad Amir said...

I am subsidizing the consumption of Coke, Gatorade, survival warehouse management team white rice, Big Macs, low-fat mayonnaise and egg white omelets and it drives me ma