Big Boss Man

Michael Bloomberg is the Republican mayor of New York.  He has advocated a ban a gigantic sodas in New York.  This provoked the following reaction from George Will on ABC's "This Week."

STEPHANOPOULOS: And it's not easy. I want to get to one more issue before we go. Michael Bloomberg this week banning the sale of 16 — anything over 16 ounces of soda in movie theaters, restaurants (inaudible) got that ad right there in the New York Times. It says he's the nanny. And, George, I got to — I got to confess, the minute I heard about this plan from — from Michael Bloomberg, the first person I thought about was you…


WILL: Let me read you what Michael Bloomberg said, because in one sentence, he's got the essence of contemporary liberalism, that is something preposterous and something sinister. Listen to this. We're not taking away anyone's right to do things. Could have fooled me. We're simply forcing you to understand. Now, that's modern liberalism, the delight in bossing people around, the kind of irritable gesture that'll have no public…

STEPHANOPOULOS: But it is a massive problem, George. Obesity is a problem across the country.

WILL: Of course it is. And regulating the size of these drinks at some outlets will do nothing about it. By the way, the sale of sugary, carbonated sodas has fallen 24 percent since 1990. The American people are getting the word on this. But what this really says is — what Bloomberg is saying, the government helps with your health care, the government's implicated in your health, therefore, we own you, therefore, the government can fine-tune all the decisions you make pertinent to your health.

Bloomberg, again, is a Republican.  How his behavior expresses the "essence of liberalism" is a mystery.  What it does express is the fact that many laws entail "bossing people around."  As a matter of very obvious fact, the law is a kind of big boss person, who tells you how fast to drive, to wear a seatbelt, or a helmet, or to have a child safety seat, or not to drive drunk, or to pull over for emergency vehicles, or any other of the hundreds of very bossy rules about driving, walking, and riding.  Some people, Republicans, also try to use it to tell you which person you can marry, or which words you can use on TV (could go on, but why bother?)

Will then finds that the Republican soda plan is just like climate change:

WILL: But this is one of the reasons liberals are so enamored of the issue of climate change. They say all our behavior in some way affects the climate. Therefore, the government — meaning, we, liberals, the party of government — can fine-tune all your behavior right down to the light bulbs you use.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Wow, the leap from soda to climate change. Donna, you get the last word, 10 seconds.

BRAZILE: George, all I could tell you is that this is a very serious concern and I commend the mayor for raising it and also giving you something to drink about.

Ah, the lightbulb thing.  Cheers to Brazile for the joke; but couldn't anyone have pointed out that Bloomberg is a Republican?  It's not that hard folks.

H/T Crooks and Liars.

7 thoughts on “Big Boss Man”

  1. I'm surprised no one ever asks Will what his general principle is in deciding what laws are appropriate and what laws are not. I'm guessing he would fall back on a Libertarian narrow application of the Harm Principle. But then he would probably find many of his own views to be inconsistent with that principle.
    For example, he is against the decriminalization of drugs because they do more harm than good:

  2. Somebody might ask George "Hollow Man" Will to identify the liberals who are "enamored of the issue of climate change". Last I checked, those on the left wanted to prevent it – not embrace it as a means of controlling behavior. Also, last I checked, the primary proposals for limiting carbon emissions were aimed at governments and large corporations, not individuals.

    But he's right – those liberals, always trying to tell people whether or not they're allowed to use birth control, whether or not they can enjoy reproductive freedom at all, who a consenting adult can and cannot marry, banning books from schools, preventing objective instruction on scientific theories by public school teachers….

  3. Aaron,

    He lives in an alternate universe.  No question some liberals want to regulate behavior by means of the law for social policy ends.  But that's just what the law does, I think, in a democracy.  Hopefully we'll have some mechanism for deciding when that's legitimate and when it's not.

  4. There are spheres of social control where the more extreme elements of the radical left and right develop very similar policies – e.g., anti-pornography movements.
    The type of behavior control that is best associated with the political left is the regulation of behavior in public, in schools, and at work that makes those environments hostile to women, racial, religious and ethnic minorities, and other at-risk groups. Although society has shifted to the point at which I think a clear majority accept that some of those protections are needed, it's much easier to ridicule instances of overreach and complain about liberals and "political correctness", than to make any meaningful contribution to the discussion or where lines should be drawn. After all, that would implicitly mean conceding that it's not an "us versus the evil liberals" issue, but is intend a cost-benefit analysis and exercise in line-drawing.

  5. Well said Aaron. It would require us to do the actual work of making arguments, listening to others, improving our situation, and so on.

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