Of Soda Bans, Sodomy, Single Moms and Sycophants of the Nanny State

20fcnannystate Of Soda Bans, Sodomy, Single Moms and Sycophants of the Nanny State

Gillespie noted
earlier today an op-ed in the New York Times by Sarah
Comly, author of the wonderfully titled “Against Autonomy:
Justifying Coercive Paternalism,” arguing in favor of
what else but the nanny state. Comly asks why there’s “so much
fuss” over Mayor Bloomberg’s attempt to regulate soda sizes.
“[S]ometimes we need to be stopped from doing foolish stuff,” Comly
argues, because we’re not always rational (stop the presses!). And
the government, for Comly, is the agent to do the stopping. It
seems she adopts a “we are the government” stance, at one point
saying the government’s supposed to “help us get where we want to
go.” But if people are prone to be irrational, and the government
is made up of people, why wouldn’t it prone to irrationality? The
soda ban itself, after all, is irrational; Jacob Sullum pointed out

even the mayor doesn’t think it’ll work.
Nevertheless it’s nothing new for Bloomberg to support a policy
despite evidence to the contrary, like with stop and
frisk. The attempted soda ban is part of a policy basket that
includes reducing salt in food products and banning transfats. Its
supporters argue that curbing public health costs justifies the
policy. ;As Nick Gillespie
noted earlier today, a debate on the soda ban between MeMe Roth
(pro) and Ann Coulter (against) featured Coulter asking if a soda
ban were acceptable, why not ban sodomy, which also has associated
health risks? Bloomberg himself, however, has turned a version of
this hypothetical into a real example. Earlier this month, while
the city prepared for the new soda regulations, the city also
rolled out an ad campaign
against teen pregnancy. It didn’t ban teen pregnancies, it
didn’t introduce any new regulations to try to nudge the teen
pregnancy statistics done. Yet some of the same people in favor of
the soda ban were aghast by the notion of the teen pregnancy
campaign. “This ad doesn’t provide info about safe sex or how to
attain low-cost or free birth control,” ;a Yahoo blogger

wrote, calling the ads insulting and enraging. Planned
Parenthood agreed,
calling birth control an effective strategy against teen pregnancy.
Yet New York City’s government does promote and subsidize birth
control and contraceptives as well. A campaign to distribute Plan B
in public schools
was met with resistance, but as is the Bloomberg way, went full
speed ahead anyway. The New York Post revealed the program
was far more widespread than the Bloomberg administration initially
acknowledged. 12,721 doses were distributed to girls as young as 14
last school year. With the administration pursuing this kind of
program, it could use the same arguments deployed in favor of a
soda ban for measures meant to discourage teen pregnancy and even
teen sex.
After all, as Comly argued, sometimes we don’t know what’s best
for us. Liberals use the argument of need to support regulations
and bans ranging from soda to guns. Who needs a 32 ounce soda at
dinner? Who needs a so-called assault weapon? But what do people
really need? A hovel and some gruel. Everything else is part of
life’s rich accoutrement, our desire (need) for more knowledge,
more material goods, more experiences, more emotions. The pursuit
of happiness includes guns, soda, sex, ; transfats, tobacco,
narcotics, all depending on the eye of the beholder. Comly invokes
John Stuart Mill’s “no harm” principle, conflating it with the idea
of the rational man (as
Nick Gillespie noted). The no harm principle, of course, works
independent of the idea of a rational man. It gains new strength in
the absence of one, in fact. Despite the effort by nanny state
apologists to attribute consensus to their policy prescriptions,
the controversy each stirs belies that argument. Given enough time,
every apologist will learn the lesson at some point, when the state
large enough to stop the behavior he or she disapproves is set to
the purpose of stopping behavior the nanny state apologist sees
nothing wrong. And if we keep bring up how ridiculous the contrary
notion of a benevolent nanny state formed by a weak-willed populace
is, maybe we won’t have to see how bad it has to get for people to
start thinking rationally.

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Of Soda Bans, Sodomy, Single Moms and Sycophants of the Nanny State

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