Die, Big Gulp, Die Die Die

I’m not keen on the idea that any government body should take the unusual step of banning a substance like sugary beverages. Further, I think that if we, the people, sit and allow it to happen, we utterly deserve the gradual loss of freedoms that will follow.

Keep in mind that I’ve mocked the occasional Super Big Gulp drinker; I see no realistic reason why any one person should be carrying around a half-gallon of sugar water for casual sipping throughout their day. It isn’t healthy, it isn’t good, it isn’t a particularly good idea.

But that doesn’t make it my business or the government’s, either. No more, in fact, than it’s my business whether any reader out there is munching on Burger King’s latest multi-patty, bacon-rich, cheese and mayo-slathered sandwich. And that BK sandwich is likely even more damaging to your health than the Bucket o’ Jolt.

Beyond any question of the government’s right to govern my food choices so arbitrarily, though, there are pragmatic issues that really bug me.

Obviously, there is the reality that anyone who wants the bucket-sized soda will probably find a way around the ban. Many have noted that folks inclined to suck down that much cola will probably just order more than one, will visit the fountain for refills more often, or will otherwise find ways to fight the power.

But I would like to know what exactly it is that is to be banned. Is it the sugary beverage or is it the cup? If it’s the sugary beverage– that is, the bit that is actually bad for you– then will it be legal to sell the cup for use with things like non-sweetened teas and diet beverages? How about fruit juices? Juices that made from concentrates and water and fortified with high fructose corn syrup are obviously on the naughty list, but what about the unadulterated stuff? It might not be bulging with big, bad corn juice, but it is filled with sugar– sugar that, in significant quantities is still bad for the consumer. Has anyone accounted for the typical load of ice a customer uses in those giant cups? What is the actual volume of soda in there? Will there be special, undercover cops trolling the local Wendy’s in hopes of finding someone filling the giant cups with unapproved liquids?

So perhaps it is better if the cups are banned altogether. Even though the cups have done nothing wrong, even though people could use them for legitimate refreshment purposes, it is simply too easy to get around the ban by using the cups for evil purpose. Not that there aren’t potential loopholes even then; if I were in charge of marketing for any of the companies that sell this stuff, I’d simply re-position my cups as being intended for multiple users. That is, these aren’t Super Big Gulps, they are Family-Sized Big Gulps. It’s a drink for a family of four and each one would come with four straws and a warning label encouraging drinkers to drink responsibly.

One of the perpetual problems with government is that they feel the need to constantly fix our lives. We gave them a podium, they feel smarter and more capable than us, and they are fairly certain that we will never be able to guide ourselves as well as they can guide us. Worse, they know with certainty that they have to have “accomplishments” on their resume if they have any hopes of being hired for that next term of power, good pay, perks, and the opportunity to shift big government contracts to family and friends.

There is a constant struggle between we, the people, and our elected officials. What is so worrisome about this proposed legislation is that it isn’t that surprising to me; many of us have warned against the excesses of the state (and, in particular, about Bloomberg) simply because the trend has been so obvious. If the trajectory to this point is obvious, then what follows is just as obvious. Every encroachment on our freedoms will be for our own good, and there are a lot of people who think that you need to be saved from yourself.

As the good captain said, “I do not hold to that.”

This is a wonderful warning shot, though, and a reminder that the government’s natural inclination is to want to control you; it should be your job to ensure they don’t succeed.