GOOD

Cola Wars: The Big Loopholes Dooming Bloomberg's Soda Ban

Despite successful public-health projects under his belt, Bloomberg and his hubris may be looking at a big failure.


In another effort to attack obesity (and libertarianism) in New York City, three-term Mayor Michael Bloomberg is attempting to institute a ban on sodas in the city. Under Bloomberg's plan, it would be illegal for "food-service establishments" like mall food courts, delis, sports arenas, and food carts to sell sodas and other sugar-laden drinks in cups or bottles larger than 16 ounces. The ban could take effect as early as March of next year, at which point New Yorkers can say goodbye to giant glasses of Coke in restaurants. Say goodbye to 20-ounce sodas from the bodega on those sweltering summer afternoons.

Naturally, Bloomberg is facing blowback from many Americans who feel like he's restricting freedom. "[I]t is patently absurd for Bloomberg to claim he is not limiting freedom when he uses force to stop people from doing something that violates no one's rights, whether it's selling donuts fried in trans fat, lighting up in a bar whose owner has chosen to allow smoking on his own property, or ordering a 20-ounce soda in a deli," Jacob Sullum wrote in Reason, referencing Bloomberg's past bans on smoking and trans fats.


Sullum is right that Bloomberg has limited freedoms time and again during his years in office, a violation most foul in the eyes of Reason's ultra-libertarian editorial board. But there's no arguing with the fact that his attacks on freedom have had the desired effects. According to a report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the trans fat ban cut the amount of saturated fat and trans fat in French fries sold by New York City's restaurant chains by more than half. And the smoking ban saw New York City's smoking rate fall to 14 percent. In fact, Bloomberg's inveighs against consumer choice have been so successful that numerous politicians in places far away from New York have started to follow his lead, introducing public-health bans of their own. The soda ban, however, may be Bloomberg's first big, embarrassing defeat.

The first and most important problem with Bloomberg's soda ban is that, unlike with his trans fat ban, it won't be illegal for places to carry soda. Everyone can continue selling sugary drinks—remember, even pure orange juice has a lot of sugar in it—and some places, like grocery stores, can even continue selling sodas larger than 16 ounces. Also exempt will be the convenience store 7-Eleven, which will be able to sell its 40-ounce Big Gulp because the store is classified as a "grocery establishment," not a food-service establishment. That means that if you live in New York and want to drink 32 ounces of Mountain Dew in one sitting, you can do that; you'll just have to order two 16-ounce glasses, or go to 7-Eleven, or go to any one of city’s dozens of grocery stores.

Essentially, this so-called "soda ban" isn't a ban on soda at all; it's a ban on being able to have soda conveniently. Destroying the convenience of smoking by outlawing it in bars and parks was part of Bloomberg's war against cigarettes. But he also bolstered those salvos with a heavy tax on tobacco that made smoking an expensive pastime. Without that financial incentive, it's unlikely the smoking ban would have been as effective. The soda ban has no such incentive.

Besides the fact that people will still be able to get soda everywhere they could before, and in whatever quantities they'd like, the ban curiously exempts "dairy drinks." That means that while someone going into a bodega for big bottle of Pepsi will be turned away, that same person can go into a Starbucks and get a venti Frappuccino (200 calories and 34 grams of sugar in every 12 ounces) at their leisure. The fancy milkshakes at all of the upscale restaurants now specializing in "comfort food" will also remain legal. These dairy drinks are loaded with sugar just like any soda—plus a healthy dose of fat—and yet they made the cut while the sodas didn't. Why? Consider the difference in clientele: Black people get more of their calories from soda than any other ethnic group, while Starbucks is a place that caters to people willing to pay $3 or more for a cup of coffee (read: wealthier white people). To many outsiders, Bloomberg's latest gripe appears to be powered by classism; he doesn't like cheap soda and the poor people who consume it in large quantities.

Only time will tell if the soda ban even goes into effect, let alone if it works at helping curb obesity in New York City. In the meantime, perhaps Bloomberg can fix the legislation's gaping loopholes in time to get more people on his side. It's unlikely that he will, of course, which is to be expected from a man who sometimes appears to like the hatred he receives. He likes it so much, in fact, that he wants you to live a long life so you can hate him more.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user Boss Tweed.

Articles
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr and nrkbeta / flickr

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) dropped a bombshell on Tuesday, announcing it had over 900 emails that White House aide Stephen Miller sent to former Breitbart writer and editor Katie McHugh.

According to the SPLC, in the emails, Miller aggressively "promoted white nationalist literature, pushed racist immigration stories and obsessed over the loss of Confederate symbols after Dylann Roof's murderous rampage."

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
via Around the NFL / Twitter

After three years on the sidelines, Colin Kapernick will be working out for multiple NFL teams on Saturday, November 16 at the Atlanta Falcons facility.

The former 49er quarterback who inflamed the culture wars by peacefully protesting against social injustice during the national anthem made the announcement on Twitter Tuesday.

Kaepernick is scheduled for a 15-minute on-field workout and an interview that will be recorded and sent to all 32 teams. The Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, and Detroit Lions are expected to have representatives in attendance.

RELATED: Joe Namath Says Colin Kaepernick And Eric Reid Should Be Playing In The NFL

"We like our quarterback situation right now," Miami head coach, Brian Flores said. "We're going to do our due diligence."

NFL Insider Steve Wyche believes that the workout is the NFL's response to multiple teams inquiring about the 32-year-old quarterback. A league-wide workout would help to mitigate any potential political backlash that any one team may face for making an overture to the controversial figure.

Kapernick is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) so any team could have reached out to him. But it's believed that the interested teams are considering him for next season.

RELATED: Video of an Oakland train employee saving a man's life is so insane, it looks like CGI

Earlier this year, Kaepernick and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid reached a financial settlement with the league in a joint collusion complaint. The players alleged that the league conspired to keep them out after they began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

Before the 2019 season, Kaepernick posted a video of himself working out on twitter to show he was in great physical condition and ready to play.

Kaepnick took the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 and the NFC Championship game in 2013.

He has the 23rd-highest career passer rating in NFL history, the second-best interception rate, and the ninth-most rushing yards per game of any quarterback ever. In 2016, his career to a sharp dive and he won only of 11 games as a starter.

Culture
NASA

Four black women, Engineers Christine Darden and Mary Jackson, mathematician Katherine Johnson, and computer programmer Dorothy Vaughan, worked as "human computers" at NASA during the Space Race, making space travel possible through their complex calculations. Jackson, Johnson, and Vaughn all played a vital role in helping John Glenn become the first American to orbit the Earth.

They worked behind the scenes, but now they're getting the credit they deserve as their accomplishments are brought to the forefront. Their amazing stories were detailed in the book "Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race" by Margot Lee Shetterly, which was later turned into a movie. (Darden was not featured in the movie, but was in the book). Johnson has a building at NASA named after her, and a street in front of NASA's Washington D.C. headquarters was renamed "Hidden Figures Way."

Keep Reading Show less
Science

Between Alexa, Siri, and Google, artificial intelligence is quickly changing us and the way we live. We no longer have to get up to turn on the lights or set the thermostat, we can find the fastest route to work with a click, and, most importantly, tag our friends in pictures. But interacting with the world isn't the only thing AI is making easier – now we can use it save the world, too.

Keep Reading Show less
Good News
Courtesy of John S. Hutton, MD

A report from Common Sense Media found the average child between the ages of 0 and 8 has 2 hours and 19 minutes of screen time a day, and 35% of their screen time is on a mobile device. A new study conducted by the Cincinnati Children's Hospital published in the journal, JAMA Pediatrics, found exactly what all that screen time is doing to your kid, or more specifically, your kid's developing brain. It turns out, more screen time contributes to slower brain development.

First, researchers gave the kids a test to determine how much and what kind of screen time they were getting. Were they watching fighting or educational content? Were they using it alone or with parents? Then, researchers examined the brains of children aged 3 to 5 year olds by using MRI scans. Forty seven brain-healthy children who hadn't started kindergarten yet were used for the study.

They found that kids who had more than one hour of screen time a day without parental supervision had lower levels of development in their brain's white matter, which is important when it comes to developing cognitive skills, language, and literacy.

Keep Reading Show less
Health