As much as Baroness Ros riled me up last night in believing that bankers are in fact one entity she wasn’t the winner of my own version of ‘stupid politician making a stupid statement of the week’ award. That dubious honour fell to a mayor in the United States of America.
Cambridge (Massachusetts) Mayor Henrietta Davis wants to make free refills of sugary beverages illegal because they aren’t exactly that good for you. You can read the full story on CNN behind the link. Speaking as she unveiled her proposals she said, “Our environment is full of way too many temptations, this is one temptation that isn’t really necessary.” Well she is right. Many temptations aren’t ‘necessary’ but I don’t recall a lot of things being banned either. I don’t recall a ban on buying a whole box of Krispy Kreme donuts in the city. I also don’t recall a ban on buying pitchers of beer. I also don’t think smoking tabacco is illegal. So why on Earth would free refills of fizzy pop be deemed as illegal?
Cambridge is best known as the home of two of America’s finest higher education establishments with both Harvard and MIT calling Cambridge home. So a significant number of the population are students who in general like the free refill option when they go into a place to eat. It saves money and they are big enough and ugly enough to make up their own minds – as is everyone.
The idea of banning free refills of sugary beverages doesn’t concern me as much as the actual premise of a politician thinking that she has the right to decide whether it is legal or not. It is up to individuals to decide what they might consume as long as the beverage is deemed legal. It is not illegal to get drunk. Being drunk is perfectly legal but if you behave badly when you are drunk or attempt to drive or many other things then that is what makes it illegal. So surely sugary drinks shouldn’t be dealt with at a harsher level than alcohol?
I understand why the proposal is on the table and it might help with obesity levels but it will also affect those who aren’t obese. It would be totally unfair on those people. It is different to the smoking ban in public places because smoke can affect others but drinking lots of coca-cola or sprite or 7up or whatever doesn’t adversely affect other peoples health.
It is just another example where elected officials want to play God as they deem God should be played. It goes against my core beliefs that the state should never intervene when no-one else is being directly affected by someone’s actions. Free refills are an individual choice and not that for the law makers. To think that they have the power and the right to make such decisions is to be frank beyond the pale.
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