Opinion Brief

New York's 'food stamps for soda' ban

Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to stop the poor from using food stamps to buy sugary drinks. Nanny-state excess — or a smarter way to spend taxpayer money?

In an escalation of New York's war on obesity, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, with the backing of the state, has asked the federal government to bar the city's 1.7 million food-stamp recipients from using the coupons to buy sodas and other sugary drinks. Bloomberg has already tried to get people to eat healthier through ad campaigns, restrictions on food sold in schools, and an unsuccessful call for a state tax on soft drinks. Public health experts say cutting extra sugar is a good idea. But should the government force people to do it by saying "no food stamps for soda"? (Watch an AP report about the proposed soda ban)

No — this is nanny-state meddling to the extreme: "New York State thinks poor people are too stupid to decide their own diet," says Logan Penza at The Moderate Voice, and will inevitably make the "wrong" choices unless we "[don't] leave them any choice at all." Listen up, "nanny-state busybodies" — you don't have the right to tell people what to eat and drink just because the government is paying the bill."Condescension of the nanny state"

It's obviously wrong to waste taxpayer money on junk food: With Americans chugging more soda every year, sugary drinks have "become a public health scourge," say the editors of the New York Daily News, "and nowhere more so than in poor communities...[facing]...crisis-level obesity rates." This is a nutrition program that taxpayers pay for, and they have every right to expect food-stamp recipients to buy actual food — not junk."No more Fat City: Feds should ban use of food stamps for buying sugared drinks"

Today, the poor tomorrow, everybody: This government meddling won't stop with people who get food stamps, says Jillian Melchior at Commentary. "Once everyone's health care is a public-spending issue," all kinds of "private behaviors" could become the government's business. Do we really want to "sacrifice some degree of liberty" for the war on soda pop?"No pop for the poor"

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