How I learned to love the nanny state

A federal judge has blocked the implementation of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's ban on big-sized sugar drinks, limiting, for the moment, the reach of Mr. Bloomberg's concern for our intimate drinking habits. As a rule, I'm skeptical of interventions like these for two reasons. One: There is little evidence that they work, especially when they are touted as remedies for a complex multicausal problem like obesity. Generally, restricting access to sugary drinks in one place will simply move the offending behavior out of that place, and since sugar is rather addictive, kids will find somewhere else to make up for their deprivation. The second reason is that I don't feel comfortable being judged by the government for my food choices. Implicit in that feeling is a worry that poorer people would be disproportionately burdened by the new rules.

So my initial reaction to Bloomberg's desire to prevent people from purchasing more than 16 ounces of certain drinks at one time was not favorable. Bloomberg's reputation as a mayor who takes the social welfare of his citizens seriously is very important and ought to be a model. If, in his desire to reduce obesity, he goes over the line, he'll lose luster. And I thought that this imposition crossed the line.

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Marc Ambinder

Marc Ambinder is's editor-at-large. He is the author, with D.B. Grady, of The Command and Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry. Marc is also a contributing editor for The Atlantic and GQ. Formerly, he served as White House correspondent for National Journal, chief political consultant for CBS News, and politics editor at The Atlantic. Marc is a 2001 graduate of Harvard. He is married to Michael Park, a corporate strategy consultant, and lives in Los Angeles.