Seriously, you just can’t make this stuff up — and you don’t need to do so, as long as nanny-staters have to explain themselves on national television. Mayor Michael Bloomberg appeared on the Today show this morning to promote his ban on large servings of sugary beverages, while at the same time celebrating — I kid you not — National Doughnut Day. Matt Lauer challenged Bloomberg on the hypocrisy, but Bloomberg insisted that it was just a matter of degree:
Lauer reminded Bloomberg that his administration came out in support of National Doughnut Day, which Lauer said “sounds ridiculous” in the wake of his attempts to ban large-sized sodas.
“It doesn’t sound ridiculous,” Bloomberg replied. “One doughnut is not going to hurt you. In moderation most things are OK. Number two, think about what National Doughnut Day is. It celebrates a lot of young ladies during World War I called ‘donut lassies’ who went and gave donuts to our soldiers while they were fighting to protect.”
Lauer asked why Bloomberg’s same moderation philosophy with doughnuts doesn’t apply in the case of soft drinks.
“This was before obesity was a national epidemic,” Lauer said, interrupting. “If anything in moderation works for doughnuts — why not with soft drinks?”
Let’s do a little comparison. A 20-ounce Coca-Cola contains 240 calories, according to Reason’s Jacob Sullum. According to the nutritional information posted at Dunkin’ Donuts, only four donuts on their menu have lower calorie counts:
- Maple frosted donut – 230 calories
- Marble frosted donut – 230 calories
- Sugar raised donut – 190 calories
- Strawberry frosted donut – 230 calories
Bloomberg uses the 32-ounce serving size as a comparison, though, not the 20-ounce size. Assuming that a 32-ounce serving of Coke would equal 384 calories at 12 calories per ounce, how do donuts stack up? Four donuts on the Dunkin’ Donuts list exceed that calorie count — Apple Crumb, Blueberry Crumb, Apple Fritter (which was my favorite when I could still eat them), and Glazed Fritter. Three more come in at almost the same calorie count, at 380 calories – Maple Frosted Coffee Roll, Vanilla Frosted Coffee Roll, and Chocolate Frosted Coffee Roll.
While we’re at it, have a peek at the other breakfast options, too. Try the sausage, egg, and cheese sandwich on either bagel and croissant and you’ll ingest almost twice as many calories in that 32-ounce Coke: 640 calories. None of the breakfast sandwiches listed fall below that 20-ounce level of calories. And also note that these are the basic units of consumption for all of these choices; there is no smaller quantity available, as there are with beverage sizes.
Clearly, celebrating donuts while attacking a serving size choice in liquid beverages is not just hypocritical, but absurd. It’s a demonstration of the basic stupidity inherent in a nanny-state regime, and in the nanny-state martinets themselves. CNN front-paged my column today suggesting that New Yorkers put Mayor May I on a power diet:
This is just the latest intervention staged by Hizzoner. His past decrees banned smoking, not just indoors in places of business, but also outside of businesses and in parks. Bloomberg also banned restaurants from cooking with artificial trans fats. In those cases, he took a lot of criticism as being a health hysteric and a food nanny, but at least an argument existed that consumer choice might have been irrelevant. Restaurants don’t usually advertise all of their ingredients on the menu, for instance, and few people get asked permission before someone lights a cigarette in the doorway of an establishment.
In this case, though, no such argument exists. People purchase the volume of beverage they desire, and in almost every case, plenty of choice exists for smaller quantities. The outcome of barring the sale of anything larger than 16 ounces of Coca-Cola or Pepsi at the ballpark will be that more containers will get thrown out as people just buy more units, and that waste will have to be disposed of later. Consumers will pay more and have more inconvenience in purchasing what they want to drink, and will still end up drinking the same amount anyway. …
Bloomberg justifies his nanny-state interventions by pointing to the social costs of obesity, but there is no direct causal link between obesity and 20-ounce sodas with sugar in them, and neither would it be anyone’s business at all except for the increasing government control and subsidies for health care. Bloomberg’s insistence on dictating consumer choices has a more direct connection to an assumption that government should control our access to health care than obesity has to a couple of Big Gulps.
Perhaps it’s time for New Yorkers to put their mayor on a power diet, and to wise up about the real trade-offs between expanding safety-net programs and personal choice.
Better yet, have a Coke and a smile and get the hell out of the personal choices of New Yorkers.