The progressive War on Soda may have failed in New York, despite the best efforts of the Deplorable Nanny State Mayor, but this is a multi-front battle which will clearly rage on for some time. As any good battle commander will tell you, when fighting an opponent with numerical superiority, it’s best to drag them into a skirmish on your home turf. In the effort to save people from their own ignorant, evil selves, the fight to make soda more expensive – and thereby modify public behavior through tax policy – has moved to Berkeley.
Never mind the battle for governor or the struggle by Democrats to regain their veto-proof majority in the State Legislature. The most contested fight in California this fall may well be here on San Francisco Bay, pitting every elected official from Berkeley against the soft drink industry.
At issue is a 1-cent tax per ounce on sugary drinks going before voters in November, the latest attempt by states and local governments to curb sugar consumption in the name of improving public health.
After a nearly unbroken string of victories by the soft drink industry against such efforts, Berkeley has become a last stand for the anti-sugar movement, a realization that has settled on overmatched city leaders as they marvel at their foe’s resources.
This report from the Gray Lady includes some interviews which reveal the actual battle taking place and it has little or nothing to do with sugar levels in soda or public health and safety. The fact is, progressives are tired of being kicked around by capitalists and they are spoiling for a win against Big Soda.
This will definitely be a turning point,” said Mayor Tom Bates of Berkeley, sitting in his office at City Hall after returning from a vacation to find his television flickering with advertisements and his mailbox stuffed with fliers opposing the initiative. “If it can’t pass in Berkeley, where is it going to pass? Honest to God, if they can stop us here, they can stop us anywhere. And they know that.”
The Mayor went on to toss out some other revealing comments concerning how Berkeley has more Ph.D.s than anyplace in the United States except Cambridge and how it’s a very intelligent community. The inference is clear and nothing we haven’t heard before. Elite professors know what’s better for people living in the real world and anyone who disagrees is stupid. Also showing up as a repeating theme is the fact that those most affected by such a tax – specifically the aforementioned poor people who largely lack sheepskins with a lot of letters on them – just don’t know what’s good for them. What they want, in the end, doesn’t really matter, so Bates will substitute his opinion for theirs in the interest of saving them.
This tax may actually pass when it comes up for a vote, thought it looks like it will be close. And if it does? Good for them. Let them have it. Maybe it will send the message that some residents may need to move away and live in the real world.