In a local newspaper opinion piece today the editors cry “Choice!” regarding the proposal by New York Mayor Bloomberg which seeks to ban the sale of toxic liquids in containers over 16 0z to human animals.
From the editorial, “Our opinion: People should watch their intake — by choice,” here is the argument:
We were pleased to see local experts criticize New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to ban the sale of sodas and other sugary drinks larger than 16 fluid ounces at restaurants in that city.
The experts H-T reporter Dann Denny talked with based their positions largely on the fact the ban will be ineffective. Another reason, though, is that it would be a ridiculous expansion of government intervention.
Eric Wright, professor and interim chair of the Department of Public Health at the IU School of Medicine, said it well.
“Most Americans, myself included, feel this country was founded on the principle that people should have freedom of choice,” he said. “But I don’t feel we should have freedom of choice without consequences. That’s why I favor the taxation model over Bloomberg’s model.”
I will grant the proposal is stupid on its face and seems to me to be a kind of targeted discrimination. But framing the argument as one of “choice” is a false one–and even, dare I say it, ignorant.
(Aside: it’s interesting to do a search on this and find a bevy of “local experts”–often dieticians–who disagree with the proposal.)
We do not “choose” anything. We are marketed and manipulated and “choice” is simply another one of those manipulations. Who among us is not awash in the messages and imagery of consumption coercion? Who is not beholden to “cool” tech gadgets? Who is not coveting a new car?
There is very little that we might actually call “freedom of thought” in this advertising Empire. That is the very ground of our economic life and this feeds into our emotional lives and our family lives as well. We are what we “sense” and in this mediated land those senses are commodified.
Now, the argument offered above is: “The Government SHOULD NOT tell me what to do.” Of course this is always a statement we qualify depending on our social status, our politics, our wealth, our jobs, etc. It’s always interesting that people want the ability to limit you–stay off my lawn!–but they do not want to be limited. It’s why we dream of property–it is power. The more property, the more you can keep to yourself and keep others away while at the same time you can be the one deciding on the “freedom” the property-less can experience.
Interesting that the second point, from a Public Health “expert” (that means well-paid bureaucrat), is that choice should not be impinged but by TAXATION. Umm…
On the one hand, keep the gummint out: on the other, the gummint should tax it! Perhaps we might dispel that our “founders” rebelled under the banner of “choice.” Rather, they formed a government that “broadened” power but still limited personal choice by property rights. Governments are, we must admit, finally a body formed to regulate the population.
Confusing stuff. But certainly not made more clear by saying “Choice is what America is about!” That is bad thinking.
Let’s admit that toxic drinks are bad for us. Let’s admit that people have been targeted by marketing campaigns since birth that toxic drinks are the elixir of heaven. One “mind” knows a truth; another “mind” knows a lie. The lie is so much more powerful and pervasive as it has been “true” to us for decades. Let us not also forget how great chemists are at making flavors irresistible (and arguably addictive). This is another way that “choice” is overcome.
The culture of addiction that hates addicts cries “Choice!”
Start to talk about “protection” and you see glazed eyes. How is it that the myriad ways we suffer and die at the hands of the Alcohol and Tobacco industries, ADMITTED killers, hasn’t created in us a very dedicated sense of protectionism against the “rights” of addiction peddlers?
We are, through our cultural addictions to “mass media” entertainments, kept in a state of ignorance and childishness.
Give me what I want! NOW! That is our idea of “choice.”