update, 6/3 – they start early, don’t they? (thx to Stoaty via Twitter)
(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!