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Authoritarian NYC to poor: “No soda for you!”

New York has announced another move in its authoritarian campaign against obesity.

Thomas Farley and Richard Daines, the health commissioners for New York City and New York State respectively, have an op-ed in today's New York Times entitled "No food stamps for sodas". They announce:

New York City and State are asking the United States Department of Agriculture, which administers the food stamp program, to authorize a demonstration project in New York City. The city would bar the use of food stamps to buy beverages that contain more sugar than substance - that is, beverages with low nutritional vlaue that contain more than 10 calories per eight-ounce serving.

This is horrible. It's all in the name of fighting obesity, but it is an obvious attack on poorer people. It just takes away people's dignity to say they don't have the freedom to purchase the same food as others. It has such a Victorian air about it. And of course those arch-conservative elitists, the greens, are all in favor of it (here's a particularly vile green argument).

I'm not convinced there is a "wave of obesity", given that definitions of obesity have changed over time so that people who were once considered slightly over-weight are now categorized as obese. But for the sake of argument, let's say there is an obesity problem. Even so, the state has no role is telling us what to eat. These attacks always end up targeting the working class. As in the case of NYC and soda, the message is that it the rich have the freedom to be obese, but we're going to be in the face of the ordinary folks with our constant campaigns and advertisements. 

All people have a right to be as fat as they want. Denial of personal autonomy is a much bigger problem than extra pounds.

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