(Plenty of play on the blogosphere and Twitter on this subject: the Swillers, Morgan Freeberg, and IMAO for starters. Good. I hope Bloomberg is driven from the field in shame. It’s high time we let these bossy busybodies know who’s boss in the citizen-politician relationship.)
The more I hear about this seemingly-inconsequential Beverage Mandate, the more it irritates me. I’ve seen a clip of a flack on TV (I think it was an “obesity expert” or some such from a university) say that obesity began to spike in the early 80′s with the introduction of the two-liter soda bottle.
Horseradish. I can remember Hoffman’s Beverages on Long Island offering racks of twelve single-quart (glass) bottles. After we emptied it, we brought the rack back and got twelve new ones, with the old bottles sent to the company for cleaning and refilling… or we could just take the nickel deposits and be done. Soda has always been around. Sugary drinks have always been around. Gigantic calorie-stuffed, creme-filled snack food has always been around.
What we have now that we didn’t then is the Atari 2600 and its successors. We have an Internet that is so easily reachable that even when kids are turned out of doors, they spend their time huddled over miniature screens instead of running and laughing. Are we going to ban video game consoles and smartphones next?
We also have such an over-layered, smothering approach to exercise that it’s no wonder that ever-more people are inflating at a rapid rate. Unstructured play? What’s that? Sure, it keeps you healthy, you have fun, you learn to mediate your own disputes, you have opportunity to develop good sportsmanship, coordination, skill, and friendships – but what if you get hurt??!?!eleventy!!?
To top all that, we lack essential counter-influences to these tugs on our daily habits. We fetishize self-esteem to such an extent that any experience that affronts or worries is considered a borderline assault. Well, playing a game of pickup basketball offers ample chance to be affronted or worried. Am I good enough? Will I be teased for running slow or looking awkward? Will nobody want me on their team because I’m terrible?
We also lack parental authority. Not coincidentally, this is directly tied to the ever-intrusive State: they have whittled and undermined the traditional societal units of influence in order to gin up a desire for those necessary functions to be filled by elected officials. “Government must step in” is the mantra of the newly-infantilized adult, raised for 30-50 solid years in a world in which parents’ and church’s accustomed say in kids’ lives were systematically ridiculed, marginalized, and ultimately ignored. Pick a topic. Education? Teachers know so much more! A kid ought to feel good about the educational process and be an equal partner in it. Morality? Passé! It’s all situational ethics now, with no timeless absolutes by which to judge the momentary situation. Relationships? We’ll teach sex ed. All that situational ethics and self-esteem we taught earlier will ensure that kids will have no basis for decision other than their in-the-moment, hormone-addled emotions, and no way to be told that the decision may have lasting consequences without being horribly offended. If it doesn’t work, it’s not their fault – society has failed them. But government will never fail them! They pinky-swear!
Faced with all of this, what incentive has any of us to risk testing our boundaries? We never come to terms with anything we’re bad at, and learn to live with it, and find something else we enjoy. We never learn to deal with being judged “not good enough,” either fairly OR unfairly. A kid’s every utterance has value, every impulse is noble, he is the empowered godlet of his own life – until he tries to be different in a non-approved fashion: usually by discipline, achievement, morality, and individual personality. Then he’s crushed into conformity by rule. Once he escapes direct control and into adulthood, hopefully he’s internalized this lesson, but if not, pressure is brought to bear with labels like “racist,” “god-bothered,” “wingnut,” or “extremist.” So yeah, some kids are extremely tubby. They’re also spoiled, poorly-behaved, and ill-equipped to do anything about it, because they’re expecting it to be done for them, at someone else’s expense, effort, and time. Often, the parents are the same exact way– and if not visibly, around the rump and the middle, then certainly in their thinking and behavior. Their gumption has gone flabby from disuse. What can they do? They even say this out loud, and are not ashamed, because to be made ashamed is offensive. The fine advice of the Oompo-Loompas pines for want of application.
It may seem like I’m mixing apples and motor oil here. I contend that the government itself takes that approach, treating unlike things as like. Whether it’s about how much is our fair share of taxes, or how much is our fair share of soda, the answer is always the same with them: ultimately THEY tell US and we lump it. We’re told that each person is so different and beautiful and individual, but in practice, they are all treated exactly the same, and expected to behave and act exactly the same as the price of admission into the Statist Utopia. For example, on the Twitter feed just today, I saw the official McDonald account statement: “We trust our customers to make the choices that are best for them.” And in reply, one drone buzzed back: “If McDonald’s customers could be trusted to do what’s best for them, they wouldn’t be McDonald’s customers.” And that’s it in a nutshell, ain’t it? “You obviously don’t think properly, and need to be told what to do.” Bloomberg himself said it in so many words, that people need to be “forced to understand.”
Another Twitterer (@Califryd) has been giving the game away on a different topic (tip of the antennae to @katearthsis for the retweets) – all morals are relative and cannot be proven, so DO IT MY WAY. And they think we’re the fascists here…
I, like Samwise, have heard “not allowed” once too often, and I have had it. This might be the drinking straw that breaks the camel’s back. I stand with Brietbart. I also stand with McDonalds. I never thought I’d live in a country where both of those statements were political acts.
I propose a New York Sweet Tea Party. If the day comes where this proposal actually becomes “law” in NYC, I will show up on the steps of City Hall with a gigantic super-sized Mickey D beverage and a smile. Only a buck for 32 ounces! That’s a very small price to pay for freedom.