By Peter Galuszka

Here’s something that Objectivists, Randians, Utopians and Tempermentals can all get a Big Slurp from: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is banning Big Gulps.

No kidding! It’s a Libertarian nightmare. Big Apple is telling you that you can’t have that Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew or Sprite you want a 16-ounce cup or larger at a local fast food joint, movie theater or even street vendor.

Big Mike wants to keep you slim and trim.

You have to give Bloomberg credit. He’s just arrogant enough to take the straw by the horns and do something about obesity that’s plaguing all Americans and New Yorkers. He has a point on this. Americans are too super-sized and we all end up paying with higher health premiums and other issues due to their lack of control.

But a lot of this has to do with marketing by the big drink makers and fast food firms that have been pushing larger and larger portions for decades. Movie houses, in particular, make most of their margin on that large buttered popcorn and huge drink for twelve bucks or more.

I like movie popcorn as much as the next idiot, but I do remember when I was a teenager in the late 1960s. If you went to McDonald’s after class, you got a reasonably sized Coke and a small fries. Double quarter-pounders with cheese did not exist.

Bloomberg does put his money where his mouth is. The only reason I quit smoking for the second and final time was because I was transferred to New York and worked in a skyscraper. Office smoking was banned so I had to go 39 floors to the street to inhale. Later Bloomberg cheerfully dumped Philip Morris from its traditional Manhattan digs by harrassing the firm about using its products in the cubicles. They ended up moving to Richmond.

Yet not all is free and easy in the Old Dominion. I remember flying to the states during an overseas assignment and driving down I-95 to visit relatives in North Carolina. I stopped at a Denny’s in Virginia somewhere and was told that the General Assembly had decreed that I could not order my burger medium rare. It was the law.

Does anyone remember that? Help me out Utopians! It’s your kind of outrage!

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


  1. I dunno. I actually bought one of these gargantu-sodas at a theatre off Times Square, went in to find a seat during the “endless previews” hour, and proceeded to miss the little cup holder, dumping about five gallons of ice and pop (4 gallons of ice to 1 gallon of beverage) down the raked floor from the very top row. Beverage sellers may object to the law, but from what I saw movie audiences and theatre hazmat units all over the boroughs should be applauding.

  2. Darrell Avatar

    I keep hearing these stories of an urban car free life being healthy. If that’s true then why is half of NYC so fat that the dictator must ban big gulps?

  3. DJRippert Avatar

    Well, Nanny Bloomberg hates soda. However, he likes donuts:

    Note to Bob McDonnell – PepsiCo is headquartered in Purchase, NY. The company has extensive operations in NY. Given Nanny Bloomberg’s hatred of soda, perhaps it’s time to “do a Phillip Morris” and leave.

  4. There’s a big difference between banning cigarette smoking and banning (discouraging) soft drink consumption. Cigarette smoke is ambient. When you smoke a cigarette, other people wind up inhaling, too. What you do affects others. When you drink a Big Gulp, no one else is affected.

    I suppose you could argue that when we have quasi-socialized health insurance, one person’s unhealthy habits drive up the cost of medical insurance/Medicare/Medicaid for everyone else. By that logic, Mayor Bloomberg could intervene in almost every aspect of our lives. He could tell us what to eat and drink and how much. He could tell us how much physical exercise we should get — morning calisthenics for everyone!

    Why not create positive incentives for healthy behavior? Let insurance companies provide discounts to people who maintain a healthy weight, blood pressure, sugar levels, etc.? Wouldn’t that be preferable to a shotgun approach like banning Big Gulps?

  5. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    No, actually, there isn’t that much difference between smoking and over-eating and drinking. An obese individual drives up everyone’s health care costs right now. No need to wait for “socialized” medicine (your words). Insurance companies have offered such incentives you suggest. So what’s new in your argument?
    Love him or hate him, Bloomberg was on Today this morning saying that city-driven initiatives such as the strong anti-smoking ban has raised the overall life expectancy of New Yorkers three years.
    This may not jibe with Libertarian purity of choice, but it seems to work!

  6. larryg Avatar

    well we have a world full of “socialized” medicine and I cannot recall any of them restricting soft drinks … or even cigarettes and they spend 1/2 what
    we do on health care so can that really be any issue at all?

  7. HardHatMommy Avatar

    I love the results of the Bloomberg efforts and am as anti-soda as you can get. I’ve armed my kids with information – so much so that they think soda is gross. I’ve expressed that I don’t drink soda and that we don’t have it in the house, but they need to make their own decisions when they are with friends. My 7 year old worries his friends won’t grow strong and tall because they are not drinking water and milk and are opting for soda and sugary drinks. He worries about his friends’ teeth. I might end up being totally wrong. Maybe my kids will eventually opt for drinking big gulps and sitting around like couch potatoes because I discouraged these experiences. But my gut instinct says that I’m on the right track.

    So here’s what worries me. I believe that processed food is the devil. I make home-made macaroni and cheese with real cheese that I shred myself and God-forbid, use cream and real butter. It is amazing and a real treat. We don’t eat mac and cheese out of the box. We don’t eat much of anything out of a box. But I also love to make sweets for my kids. It attracts other kids to be under my roof so having a steady supply of home-made oatmeal cookies or chocolate chip cookies is a staple of my kitchen. So what if the government wants to put a tax on my organic sugar I buy in 5 lbs bags? I’m not sure I’m cool with that. What if the government doesn’t like that I use real butter and puts a tax on that?

    As much as I like the results of these efforts, I worry about how intrusive this is. I want to be free to feed my kids the way I want to without government influence. I’m on the fence on this one, but likely will stick a toe down on the Libertarian’s side.

  8. larryg Avatar

    well.. unless you don’t eat ANY factory food at all… I wonder about a strategy of picking and choosing what you will but still eat “other” factory food.

    I use that term on purpose and not disparagingly just to clearly delineate the choices.

    Sugar, by the way, is price-controlled by the govt at several times the price it would be if imports were allowed so the “sugar” stuff would be even cheaper.

    I do not know about organic sugar, do you?

    with regard to “organic”, we have found out in the last few years that the “libertarian” approach allows anyone labeling any product as “organic” unless there are those… yes… those nasty govt standards… for even “organic” foods. Turns out that those libertarian types, unrestrained by govt regs… will sell you whatever you want with whatever label on it that snaps your socks….

Leave a Reply