Yesterday both New York City and New York State sent requests to the Department of Agriculture asking for permission to ban food stamp from being used to purchase sugared sodas. According to Thomas Farley the New York City health commissioner and Richard Daines is the New York State health commissioner, this request is being made for the food stamp recipient’s own good:
Some 57 percent of adults in New York City and 40 percent of children in New York City public schools are overweight or obese. The numbers are especially high in low-income neighborhoods, where people are most likely to suffer the devastating health consequences. One in eight adult city residents now has diabetes, and the disease is nearly twice as common among poorer New Yorkers as it is among wealthier ones. Diabetes rates in the low-income neighborhood of East New York, for instance, are four times those in affluent Gramercy Park.
….Every year, tens of millions of federal dollars are spent on sweetened beverages in New York City through the food stamp program — far more than is spent on obesity prevention. This amounts to an enormous subsidy to the sweetened beverage industry.
To correct this, New York City and State are asking the United States Department of Agriculture, which administers the food stamp program, to authorize a demonstration project in New York City. The city would bar the use of food stamps to buy beverages that contain more sugar than substance — that is, beverages with low nutritional value that contain more than 10 calories per eight-ounce serving. The policy would not apply to milk, milk substitutes (like soy milk, rice milk or powdered milk) or fruit juices without added sugar — and its effects would be rigorously evaluated.
On one hand when these two heath commissioners talk about the human and tax costs of sugar they are exactly right. Too much sugar-based products will lead to diseases such as diabetes (of course too much starch based products like bread and pasta which are quickly converted by the body into sugar will also cause diseases such as diabetes). It could also be argued that since these folks are on the public dole maybe their diets should be restricted, after all the purchase of alcoholic beverages are already restricted from food stamp purchases.
But on the other hand where does it stop? If the government can restrict the purchase of Soda with food stamps, will they be able to restrict the purchase for people on unemployment? And what of Obamcare. Will the government be able to say for a health care provider to qualify to be sold under the new structure they have to ban its customers from drinking soda? Or Chocolate? Or Salt? Where does it stop?
I find it very disingenuous that the same progressives who say abortion should be legal because government interfere with what a woman does with her own body, say that they can interfere with what a woman (or man) puts into her body. Killing a fetus is OK, but a Coca Cola is bad. As Albert Camus said:
“The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience”