There’s very little I care less about than what size soda you buy. This makes me the ideal squirrel to comment on Big Glug’s victory yesterday in New York City. (More)
There are many things I care about. Visit me on Twitter and you’ll find me discussing economics and politics with economist Jeffrey Sachs, or pondering the risks of a ‘grand bargain’ with an unscrupulous adversary, or even trying to learn to speak Republican. And that’s when I’m not busy explaining the difficulties of decorating a tree for the Easter Bunny. Between that, researching my thesis on 21st Century Political Nuttitude, and domestic duties at Árbol Squirrel, I stay busy.
So I haven’t had much time to follow New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ban on giant sugary drinks. Well, that and I just don’t care. I know this is a Very Big Deal, pitting The Forces of Science and Health against The Defenders of Freedom. Or something.
If you also weren’t following this Very Big Deal, Mayor Bloomberg made a rule that limited sugary drinks to 16 ounces. Sort of. The rule was enacted through the New York City Health Board, not the City Council, so grocery and convenience stores would have been exempt. Dunkin Donuts wouldn’t have been able to sell you a 20-ounce coffee with sugar in it, but the 7-11 next door could sell you a half-gallon Big Gulp. Yes, really.
Let me just say that anyone who drinks a 20-ounce coffee, or a half-gallon soft drink, should have to run in a wheel that powers an electrical generator. Call that my contribution to a comprehensive sustainable energy policy. You’re welcome.
Anyway, a New York state judge barred the city from enforcing the rule, calling it “arbitrary and capricious.” Okay, sure.
Soft drink manufacturers reportedly spent millions of dollars to fight the new rule, so I guess it was a Very Big Deal for them. I wondered why, because people could still have bought as many 16-ounce drinks as they wanted. Then it struck me: maybe the Big Gluggers knew that a half-gallon of soda in a cup with ice will go flat long before the average human could finish it. So customers will pour out the rest and buy another half-gallon, and so on. Convincing people to buy twice as much as they’ll use seems like a profitable business model.
I understand that sugary drinks contribute to obesity, and the personal and societal costs of obesity are indeed a Very Big Deal. I’m not not convinced that limiting people to 16-ounce drinks would have done much to change that, especially if Big Gluggees knew they could still buy a half-gallon soft drink – yes, really – at a grocery or convenience store down the block.
That’s why I think Hizzoner should hire people to start building those wheels for people to run in. Building those wheels would create jobs, help power the city, and humans would get a better idea of why gerbils, hamsters, and other small furries so often give them That Look.
Hizzoner could even hire people to spread newspapers in trays beneath the wheels, and change the papers daily. That would help guarantee sales, so The Old Grey Lady and her competitors stay in business.
As BPI’s roving reporter, that’s something I do care about.
Good day and good nuts.