Free Markets, Free People

Michael Bloomberg


Bloomberg’s NYC soda ban ruled “unconstitutional” by court

I love it when petty tyrants are struck down:

New York City’s crackdown on big, sugary sodas is staying on ice.

An appeals court ruled Tuesday that the city’s Board of Health exceeded its legal authority and acted unconstitutionally when it tried to put a size limit on soft drinks served in city restaurants.

In a unanimous opinion, the four-judge panel of the state Supreme Court Appellate Division said that the health board was acting too much like a legislature when it created the limit, which would have stopped sales of non-diet soda and other sugar-laden beverages in containers bigger than 16 ounces.

The judges wrote that while the board had the power to ban “inherently harmful” foodstuffs from being served to the public, sweetened beverages didn’t fall into that category. They also said the board appeared to have crafted much of the new rules based on political or economic considerations, rather than health concerns.

Bingo.  In fact, they were instrumental in carrying out the wishes of one man – Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  His is a personal agenda that has little to do with health and much to do with what he perceives as his duty to stop people from using substances that he deems harmful.

Thankfully the court said he doesn’t get to do that – at least not without substantial evidence to support his use of a ban.  If ever there was an example of “arbitrary and capricious”, Bloomberg’s ban defines it.

But as a rule, petty tyrants don’t like getting their hands slapped.  So, instead of seeing the handwriting on the wall, this one will spend more of NY taxpayers money pursuing a loss in a higher court:

The city’s law department promised a quick appeal.

“Today’s decision is a temporary setback, and we plan to appeal this decision as we continue the fight against the obesity epidemic,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement.

And if you ever wanted to understand why these busy-body do-gooders exist, here’s a fine statement to illustrate the point and the problem:

“We have a responsibility, as human beings, to do something, to save each other. … So while other people will wring their hands over the problem of sugary drinks, in New York City, we’re doing something about it,” Bloomberg said at a news conference after the measure was struck down in March.

Uh no, you don’t “have a responsibility” to “do something”.  It’s none of your freaking business, sir.  What you are doing is interfering in the life of people who haven’t asked you to do so and are therefore violating their right to do as they wish as long and they don’t violate the rights of others.  That’s something petty tyrants can’t seem to get through there heads.

Freedom means the right to be fat, unhealthy and to fail.  You may not like those things personally, but that indeed is the cost of freedom.  If you’d prefer to be free to make your own choices rather than have some nanny make them for you, then you believe in freedom.  Mayor Bloomberg does not.

~McQ


“I do think there are certain times we should infringe on your freedom”

Michael Bloomberg on what you’re going to have to put up with because, you know, freedom comes in second to safety:

In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday the country’s interpretation of the Constitution will “have to change” to allow for greater security to stave off future attacks.

“The people who are worried about privacy have a legitimate worry,” Mr. Bloomberg said during a press conference in Midtown. “But we live in a complex word where you’re going to have to have a level of security greater than you did back in the olden days, if you will. And our laws and our interpretation of the Constitution, I think, have to change.”

Yeah … no.  What you’re seeing there is just a different way of saying what potential tyrants (authoritarians) have said for centuries.  A shorter version is what Bloomberg said before seen in the title.  That’s what he really means.  This? This is just him saying the same thing but trying to dress it up so it sounds semi-acceptable and reasonable.  It is neither.  What has to change is we need to stand up and say “no” finally.

Because, as you know, the Constitution has remained a consistent obstacle to the authoritarians who would rule over us:

“Look, we live in a very dangerous world. We know there are people who want to take away our freedoms. New Yorkers probably know that as much if not more than anybody else after the terrible tragedy of 9/11,” he said.

“We have to understand that in the world going forward, we’re going to have more cameras and that kind of stuff. That’s good in some sense, but it’s different from what we are used to,” he said.

Or, welcome to the surveillance state. You may surrender your privacy rights over there.

Face it – the terrorists have won.

~McQ

PS: Oh, btw, we made The New Yorker yesterday.  Ironic, no?


Is Michael Bloomberg the most dangerous man in America?

At least in terms of your freedoms?

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Sunday: Sometimes government does know best. And in those cases, Americans should just cede their rights.

“I do think there are certain times we should infringe on your freedom,” Mr. Bloomberg said, during an appearance on NBC.

Well, he may not be THE most dangerous, but he’s right up there with them.   He’s just more blunt and obvious about it than most of the others.

I’m sorry folks, but this is an attitude that has pervaded our politics for quite some time and it is unacceptable.  Totally unacceptable and should be stomped on like you would stomp a cockroach.

Government rarely “knows best” and has a dismal track record in that area.  More importantly, this was a country founded on the principle of individual freedom (liberty) and heavy restraints on government power.  As someone said, the Constitution doesn’t grant rights – they’re natural.  What the Constitution is is a restraining order on government.  Or was.   It is government via people like Michael Bloomberg who’ve turned that upside down and feel comfortable enough to blurt what can only be considered authoritarian drivel (pick your brand) because he thinks he has the “right” to infringe on yours.  His statement is anathema to all this country once believed in.

Yet, there are a good number of people today who will back his play and agree that he his job entails being big daddy and using the force of government to save you from yourself.

America?

Yeah, not really.

~McQ


NY soda ban: You can always find someone to defend the indefensible

In the case of Michael Bloomberg’s overreach in banning a specific size of soda drink, the defender is some fellow named Lawrence Gostin.  The headline of the article he’s written is “Banning large sodas is legal and smart”.

Really?  Legal and smart?  His defense of the indefensible has him channeling Paul Krugman, or at least emulating him.

As I’ve said before, it’s always wise to check the premise on which someone like this operates.  In this case, the premise is, as you might expect, flawed and the reasoning thin.   It all comes down to a word – “imminent” – and the author’s obvious belief that it is the job of government to save us from ourselves.   You have to dig through the article a bit, but here’s where Gostin’s claim of legality comes from:

Admittedly, the soda ban would have been better coming from the city’s elected legislature, the City Council. But the Board of Health has authority to act in cases where there is an imminent threat to health. Doesn’t the epidemic of obesity count as an imminent threat, with its devastating impact on health, quality of life and mortality? In any event, the Board of Health has authority over the food supply and chronic disease, which is exactly what it has used in this case.

Members of the Board of Health, moreover, are experts in public health, entitled to a degree of deference. The fact that the proposal originated in the mayor’s office does not diminish the board’s authority and duty to protect the public’s health. Many health proposals arise from the executive branch, notably the Affordable Care Act.

Uh, no, obesity doesn’t qualify as an “imminent” threat such that a Board of Health can arbitrarily declare something “banned”.  Why not king size candy bars?  Why not New York cheese cake?  Why not a whole plethora of sugar soaked products?  Well, if you’re paying attention, I’m sure you’ve realized that if this had flown, such bans were likely not far behind.

But back to Gostin.   Here’s his real argument:

First, the ever-expanding portions (think "supersized") are one of the major causes of obesity. When portion sizes are smaller, individuals eat less but feel full. This works, even if a person can take an additional portion. (Most won’t because they are satiated, and it at least makes them think about what they are consuming.) Second, sugar is high in calories, promotes fat storage in the body and is addictive, so people want more. The so-called "war on sugar" is not a culture war, it is a public health imperative backed by science.

So, there is good reason to believe New York’s portion control would work. But why does the city have to prove that it works beyond any doubt? Those who cry "nanny state" in response to almost any modern public health measure (think food, alcohol, firearms, distracted driving) demand a standard of proof that lawmakers don’t have to meet in any other field.

Because we don’t, in his opinion, “demand a standard of proof” from lawmakers in any other field, we shouldn’t, apparently, demand that standard in this field.  After all it is a “public health imperative” which is “backed by science”.  Where have we heard that before (*cough* global warming *cough*)?

So we shouldn’t ask lawmakers to prove that a) obesity is an imminent threat and b) banning large sodas will defeat that threat?  Because that’s certainly the premise.

In fact, we should do precisely the opposite of what Gostin says.  We should demand “a standard of proof” from out lawmakers that requires they prove whatever bill they’re contemplating is in fact necessary.  Want to ban “assault weapons”.  Prove to me that such a ban will “curb gun violence”.  Stats seem to indicate it will have no effect.  The lapse of the previous ban showed no appreciable increase in gun violence and we’ve seen an overall decrease in violence as a whole.

In this case, the ban Gostin tries to defend and contrary to his headline claims, was neither legal or smart.  It was arbitrary and poorly thought out (if it was thought out at all – seems more like it was a capricious act grounded in an inflated belief in the power Mayor Bloomberg thought he had).  And according to a NY state judge, it wasn’t legal either.

Of course Gostin tries a transparently obvious bit of nonsense by blaming the failure on “Big Food” and a compliant judge buying into their arguments.  It is the usual fall back position for someone who has nothing.  And his trump card is to compare the food industry to, you guessed it, the tobacco industry.  “Big” anything to do with business or industry is a liberal boogyman invoked when arguments are weak.  And Gostin’s is about as weak as they come.  His attempt to fob this off on the “usual suspects” is, frankly, laughable.

I note this particular “defense” by Gostin simply to point out that there are people out there, people others consider to be rational and intelligent (and, apparently, who can get things published on CNN) that can rationalize curbing you freedoms and liberties through the use of force (law and enforcement) because they actually believe they know what is best for you and have the right to act on that on your behalf.

What we need to do, quickly, is find a way to dissuade the nannies of the world from that belief.  They need to understand that freedom means they’re free to act on what they believe in circumstances like this but they’re not free to decide that others must do it too, because they’ve decided that’s the “smart” thing to do.  Freedom means the right to fail, get fat, do stupid things (that don’t violate the rights of others), etc.  We’re issued one mother in our lives.  And it’s not the state.

~McQ


State court says no to Bloomberg’s large soda ban

As it should:

A state judge on Monday stopped Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s administration frombanning the sale of large sugary drinks at New York City restaurants and other venues, a major defeat for a mayor who has made public-health initiatives a cornerstone of his tenure.

The city is “enjoined and permanently restrained from implementing or enforcing the new regulations,” wrote New York Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling, blocking the rules one day before they would have taken effect. The city’s chief counsel, Michael Cardozo, pledged to “appeal the ruling as soon as possible.”

In halting the drink rules, Judge Tingling noted that the incoming sugary drink regime was “fraught with arbitrary and capricious consequences” that would be difficult to enforce with consistency “even within a particular city block, much less the city as a whole.”

“The loopholes in this rule effectively defeat the stated purpose of the rule,” the judge wrote. (Read the full text of the ruling.)

Under a first-of-its-kind prohibition approved by the city Board of Health last year, establishments from restaurants to mobile food carts would have been prohibited from selling sugary drinks larger than 16 oz. After a three-month grace period, the city would have started fining violators $200 per sale.

So the nanny gets told “no”.

Does anyone really believe this will stop him?

~McQ


Zuccotti Park cleared–enforcement of property rights? Or just the result of political pressure?

Mayor Michael Bloomberg finally made the decision to evict the OWS protesters from Zuccotti Park last night.  His decision, he claims, had to do with public health and safety.

Some time after 6 a.m., New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a written statement that while he supports the First Amendment rights of the protesters, his greater priority is protecting the public’s health and safety, and he took full responsibility for the “final decision to act.”

“Unfortunately, the park was becoming a place where people came not to protest but, rather, to break laws, and in some cases, to harm others,” Bloomberg said, noting that for some residents of the area, noise and unsanitary conditions of the Occupy camp had created “an intolerable situation.”

He added: “The First Amendment gives every New Yorker the right to speak out — but it does not give anyone the right to sleep in a park or otherwise take it over to the exclusion of others — nor does it permit anyone in our society to live outside the law. There is no ambiguity in the law here — the First Amendment protects speech — it does not protect the use of tents and sleeping bags to take over a public space.”

Well there is ambiguity (there’s also a right to peaceful assembly although it is arguable the assembly has been peaceful), but note the thing he doesn’t site – property rights.  Or at least not directly.  He sorta, kinda alludes to it when he talks about the “exclusion of others”.  That’s a privately owned park which has been literally taken over by the OWS group and its owners have been denied the ability to make decisions about its use.  Why not just say the occupiers (because that’s what they call themselves – perhaps squatters is a better description) have been declared trespassers and removed?  To easy?

One of the pernicious problems I see all the time when it comes to government officials is their selective enforcement of property rights.   It seems to me that once the exclusionary tactics were applied where those who owned the park were excluded from using it as they wish, they had every right in the world to demand the eviction of the protesters. 

I obviously don’t know what the company that holds those rights had to say because it seems they weren’t really even given a voice in that sort of decision.  On the other hand, had they decided that it was good use of their property and gone along with the OWS protesters, shouldn’t their decision about their property had some weight?

I guess what I’m getting at is that other than a mention here and there, no one knows much about the owners or their druthers.

I’m actually sympathetic with the city’s reasons for clearing the park.  I think Bloomberg is exactly right.  But my larger point is where are the property owners in all of this.  Why aren’t they an integral part of this process? 

Property rights have been under assault in this country for some time.   The abominable Kelo decision was the cherry on top of the sundae that has all but destroyed those rights.   More and more I see government deciding how private property will be used and only enforcing laws on trespassing and the like when it serves their purpose (in this case I imagine that the pressure from those who lived nearby finally got to the point that Bloomberg was forced to act).

The right to private property (and its exclusive use) is a foundational right from which many other rights spring.  Like so much in this country, government has moved in on that right and while giving it lip service has intruded to such an extent in its execution that it is arguable if the right can be exercised properly anymore.  When that right is subsumed, all of our rights are in jeopardy.

We’ll see how much they’re in jeopardy with the upcoming ObamaCare decision.  It will either give us a new lease on our rights or, it may end up being the final nail in their coffin.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Fat tax: Do the ends justify the means?

Or are they just another example of unjustified government overreach and a loss of freedom?

The question – who should decide what you eat?   You or the government?

In Denmark, it appears the government will decide:

Denmark has introduced what’s believed to be the world’s first fat food tax, applying a surcharge to foods with more than 2.3 percent saturated fats, in an effort to combat obesity and heart disease.

Danes accordingly hoarded the foods which will see increased taxes, buying out stores which carried them. 

Who should decide your diet?

The new tax of 16 kroner ($2.90) per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of saturated fat in a product will be levied on foods like butter, milk, cheese, pizza, oils and meat.

Obviously the Danish government isn’t saying you can’t eat these things, but it is saying it will make it markedly more expensive to do so.   And, of course, those it hits hardest with this sort of tax are those who can least afford it.

“We get the taxes, but never a reduction on anything to complement the increases, such as  on healthy foods,” said Clausen.

End result – those with less income will be able to afford less meat, oil, milk etc.

But that’s not the main point, of course.  It is government deciding something as basic as what you’ll be able to put in your mouth.  And it all derives from one thing – the fact that in the case of health care, the Danish government, via intrusion in that area long ago, now justifies its further intrusion in the name of “public health”.  Once a people allow that, all sorts of intrusion is then “justified” under the guise of “public health” or driving the cost of health care down.

“Denmark finds every sort of way to increase our taxes,” said Alisa Clausen, a South Jutland resident. “Why should the government decide how much fat we eat? They also want to increase the tobacco price very significantly. In theory this is good — it makes unhealthy items expensive so that we do not consume as much or any and that way the health system doesn’t use a lot of money on patients who become sick from overuse of fat and tobacco.  However, these taxes take on a big brother feeling.  We should not be punished by taxes on items the government decides we should not use.”

But that right – the right to decide what they eat – was given up by Dane’s decades ago when they voluntarily gave up the right to decide their means of health care for the convenience of a government single payer system.

Liberty traded for convenience and security.  The problem, as always, is the trade is never complete with the first installment.   Give up the right to your health care options and you’ll eventually give up your right to decide on what you eat.  Etc.

What Ms. Clausen points out is a dawning awareness that Danes have done exactly that. Taxes, instead of being a means of raising revenue to fund government, have become a tool of social engineering.  And while she acknowledges the supposed good intentions involved she seems to have recognized what she’s traded for them.  And I think she’s beginning to realize how much worse it can (and most likely will) get.

If you think Denmark is an isolated example of this pernicious threat to liberty, think again:

Speaking on the government’s role in diet and health last week, Bloomberg told the UN General Assembly, “There are powers only governments can exercise, policies only governments can mandate and enforce and results only governments can achieve. To halt the worldwide epidemic of non-communicable diseases, governments at all levels must make healthy solutions the default social option. That is ultimately government’s highest duty.”

Earlier in his address Bloomberg lauded the past dietary efforts of NYC, “In 2009 we enacted the first restriction on cholesterol-free artificial trans fat in the city’s food service establishments. Our licensing of street green card producer/vendors has greatly increased the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables in neighborhoods with high rates of diet related diseases. And we’ve led a national salt reduction initiative and engaged 28 food manufacturers, supermarkets and restaurant chains to voluntarily commit to reducing excessive amounts of sodium in their products. ”

In the end, the only guardian of your liberty is you.  And it is the nature of government to pursue power.   The two must clash.   Sometimes a loss of liberty may seem to be a good thing initially, such as when Danes traded their liberty to make their own health care decisions for the security of the government doing so.  But, as mentioned, it never stops there, does it?   Once you begin trading liberty for security, government decides when that trading stops, not you.

Denmark is just the first.  Michael Bloomberg describes the future as we’re allowing it to be set – trading liberty for security, and in the end, getting neither.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Say “no” to Rep. King’s proposed gun law

Well the usual over-reaction is under way after the Tucson shooting of Rep. Giffords.  I’ve mentioned the silly nonsense about a bill to ban “crosshairs” in political speech (which begs the question, what part of “Congress shall make no law” concerning political speech as laid out in the First Amendment).  But Rep. Pete King, a NY Republican, has decided that a “gun control” measure is what is necessary.  His solution?

Rep. Peter King, a Republican from New York, is planning to introduce legislation that would make it illegal to bring a gun within 1,000 feet of a government official, according to a person familiar with the congressman’s intentions.

Why is it the propensity of these folks to restrict the freedoms of others instead of doing something to increase their own security?  Mostly because they can. Look, I can understand the fear this sort of a situation brings, but I’m sorry, restricting the freedom of law abiding citizens because of your fear is not what this country is all about – not if freedom is the fundamental idea upon which it is founded.

Consider this scenario in light of King’s nonsense – a legal possessor of a concealed carry permit is in a diner with his firearm on his hip sipping his morning coffee and minding his own business.  Some “government official” drops in unannounced to do a little per-election glad-handing.  The man with his legal firearm is now a inadvertent but prosecutable law breaker.

So what’s King going to do – make every government official wear a sign around their neck so those who might be carrying legal firearms can give them a 1,000 foot wide berth?  Why not just put – dare I say it – crosshairs on them?  Because if this is to become the law then it is incumbent upon “government officials” to ensure that those who might inadvertently break the law otherwise, are fully aware of when “government officials” are in the area.

Secondly, I hate to break it to King, but as with all laws, those who have a criminal agenda will not obey it or even give it a passing thought.  Essentially it will only ensnare those who most likely are innocently doing their own business.   Guys like Loughner won’t change their plans one iota because King and Congress pass some law about 1,000 feet of space.  It will only become another after-the-fact charge, another law broken, to add to the charge sheet.  But won’t stop a thing.

It is one thing to say you can’t bring a firearm to within 1,000 feet of a school or government building.  They don’t move and they’re easily identifiable.  Not so with “government officials”.

Bad idea and would make a bad law – as simple as that.  Oh – and when Mayor Michael Bloomberg comes out enthusiastically for this restriction on our freedom, you should automatically know it’s a bad idea, Rep. King.

Don’t make laws in emotional haste after the fact – they almost always end up being bad laws that further restrict our freedoms.  And this one would be no exception.

~McQ


Will Proposed Bank Regulations Kill US Bank Competitiveness?

That is certainly what New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg believes.  And, surprisingly, his position is supported by none other than the Secreatary of the Treasury, Timothy Geitner.

The proposed bank regulations, all driven by President Obama’s war on Wall Street, would limit big bank’s trading and size. Obama claims that the nation will never again be held hostage by institutions deemed “too big to fail”.

Well, here’s a clue – the only ones who claimed they were too big to fail and threw all that money at them are the same ones now trying to regulate them into noncompetitiveness. You’d almost think this was part of a plan if you didn’t believe they weren’t smart enough or quick enough to do such a thing. But, as they’ve claimed, they won’t let a crisis go to waste.

In fact, this is another battle in the long class war against the rich. Nothing symbolizes the “rich” like Wall Street. And nothing serves Democrats in trouble better than a populist cause (or at least one they deem to be populist). So while voters continue to send messages to the Democrats via VA, NJ and MA, health care reform implodes and the President’s job approval rating tanks, he’s warring on the institutions which are critical to the economic recovery of the nation.

How freakin’ tone deaf can one be?

Mayor Bloomberg has some immediate local issues that concern him – possible layoffs and the erosion of the tax base. But he also recognizes that handicapping US banks when no such handicaps exist for foreign banks, hurts their long term competitiveness and will therefore have negative long term consequences.

Obama’s proposals would prevent banks or financial institutions that own banks from investing in, owning or sponsoring a hedge fund or private equity fund.

He called for a new cap on the size of banks in relation to the overall financial sector that would take into account not only bank deposits, which are already capped, but also liabilities and other non-deposit funding sources.

The proposed rules also would bar institutions from proprietary trading operations that are for their own profit and unrelated to serving customers

According to sources, Geithner says the proposed regulations “do not necessarily get at the root of the problems and excesses that fueled the recent financial meltdown.”

He’s not alone in that criticism:

Lawrence White, a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business and a former regulator, said Obama’s proposals were “a solution to the wrong problem.”

“They have this rhetoric that it was proprietary trading that was the problem,” White said. “That’s wrong.”

Of course the Obama war on Wall Street is certainly having an effect – bank shares have declined as has the dollar against other currencies.

If you don’t get the idea that this is mostly an ideologically driven “war” trying to cash in on populist anger at a time when nothing is going well for the administration, you’re not paying attention. It also points to an “war of choice” based in a very poor understanding of economics and the fact that we’re engaged in a global economy where competitiveness is critical. If these regulations pass and when the recovery falters because banks are hobbled and noncompetitive, I’m sure that somehow the White House will again play the “greed” card out in a effort to hide the effects of their own short-sighted and ideologically driven economic malpractice.

~McQ


“Do As I Say, Not As I Do”

Any guess as to who this is?

He dumps salt on almost everything, even saltine crackers. He devours burnt bacon and peanut butter sandwiches. He has a weakness for hot dogs, cheeseburgers, and fried chicken, washing them down with a glass of merlot.

And his snack of choice? Cheez-Its.

If you said Michael Moore, give yourself partial credit. But, in reality, it’s the Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg. Yes, the same guy who seems to think it is his job to be your mommy (banning transfats, forcing fast food places to post calorie counts, telling to diners to use less salt and subway riders to drink less soda) even salts his pizza.

But the mayor’s press secretary, Stu Loeser, said Mr. Bloomberg “works as hard as any New Yorker at keeping off extra pounds, and he has trimmed himself down to his college weight, which isn’t at all easy for a 67-year-old.” The mayor, he said “has days when he eats more than he should.” But, he added, “unlike most of us, he has the discipline to even it out the next day.”

Got that Gotham? He has “the discipline”. The rest of you proles need him to take care of it for you because “most of us” can’t handle it for ourselves.

This, my friends, is the most dangerous of political creatures. The one who thinks that it is the function of government to tell you how to live your lives, down to and including what you should and shouldn’t eat, assumes you don’t have the wherewithal to do it yourself and finally, doesn’t even follow the rules he lays down for you because he’s the exception and has the “discipline” to overcome the problem.

[HT: Megan O]

~McQ

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