Soda, Shanghai and Slippery Slopes

At first, I thought the appropriate reaction to Mayor Bloomberg’s suggested ban on mega-ounce drinks was to roll one’s eyes and be grateful for not living in NY.  After all, “I may not drink super-sized carbonated beverages but I will defend until death your right to do so,” just doesn’t have the same force as the original slogan. However, my attention ratcheted up when a Wall Street Journal sentiment tracker analyzed the conversation on social media and noted that 64% of the online buzz supported the proposed ban.

What are the tweeters saying? Is it, “I’m out of control, please help me Mayor Bloomberg,” or is it perhaps, “Those unwashed, ignorant masses aren’t capable of running their own lives. We elite have to force them to make the right decisions.” Assuming that social media trends young, it seems fair to ask if the words, ‘personal responsibility,’ and ‘individual freedom’ have little meaning for the Facebook generation.

I am reading a truly horrifying book; it is so disturbing that I can only read a bit at a time. In Life and Death in Shanghai, Nien Cheng details her experiences during the 1960’s and ‘70’s in China under Chairman Mao’s regime. As I have been reading, I have been continually asking myself, “Could this happen in America?” How close or removed are we from a cult of personality dominating a culture, from allowing a central government to define what is good and moral, and from giving tacit approval to youth to revel in their ability to terrorize and victimize fellow citizens?

Sadly, events of the past few years including the quasi-deification of candidate Obama by mainstream media and police passivity in the face of rioters and criminals who are motivated by leftism, is not reassuring. It would be ridiculously far-fetched to think that Mayor Bloomberg is an evil megalomaniac or that he envisions re-education camps for those who enjoy too much Coke. In fact, if the government assumes the responsibility of paying for its citizens’ health care, then his proposal may be futile, but it can be defended. The soda issue is a sideshow reflecting a major challenge. How can we help more Americans understand that sincere and well-intentioned policies can cause greater damage than obesity? Is it possible for a generation that is shamefully ignorant of history to comprehend that a government that supplies your needs also controls your life?

9 thoughts on “Soda, Shanghai and Slippery Slopes”

  1. This is symptomatic of a larger trend in governmant, and elsewhere, to allow those in positions of authority to tell us, not just what to do, but what’s good for us, what’s healthy for us and the specifics of how to live our lives. Our contry was founded on the concept of personal freedom, and that the ultimate power resides in the people. We are gradually relinquishing this power. Big Brother is becoming a reality. Those who meekly accept Bloomberg’s directives, or anyone else’s telling us how to live or what we can or can’t eat, is extremely dangerous and we must rebel against it. Let Bloomberg live the way he wants to and leave the rest of us alone. He should be ejected from offfice and replaced by someone who belives that it is the right of the individual to live as they wich.

  2. Susan, Mayor Bloomberg is suffering from what my husband has termed “the do-something disease.” What that means is that well-meaning people feel government is obligated to “do something” to cure every problem. The trouble is that obesity is not like smoking, which government did address effectively–and the reason is that medical science doesn’t really know what has caused the increase in obesity that began in 1980 and has leveled off (at a high level) since 2000. There’s evidence that a virus, the FTO gene, the impact of environmental hormones and other factors caused the increase (not just video games and plentiful, cheap food), so limiting soft drink sales to 16 oz. is a feeble (and doomed) attempt to do something–anything!–by people desperate to act now, even if poorly considered.
    This is symptomatic of the larger problem you so aptly describe of government usurping the responsibilities of individuals.

  3. Susan,
    I applaud your fearless “speaking out” for the majority of us who not only love history, but also would rather not keep repeating it!

  4. Wasn’t it the left that promoted the idea of moral relativism, that is, everything is acceptable, and “right” and “wrong” depends on the context of the behavior? Apparently, these same people have discovered that behavior has consequences, but rather than admitting the error of their thinking they have chosen to promote the parallel idea that “government knows best and needs to write rules and restrictions that prevent you from being stupid.” The “fix” is far worse than the disease, but that is the problem-solving capacity of “really smart” people.

  5. Mrs. Lapin – as a health coach who lives in NY I was appalled when I heard Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed ban. We have become a society of people with absolutely no self-control, no discipline and who feel we are entitled to do whatever “feels good” regardless of the consequences – UNLESS – someone forces us to do otherwise! This is very dangerous and I hope people wake up and begin taking responsibility for their own actions and teach their children to do the same.

  6. Peter B. , Charlotte N.C.

    Susan, I am reminded by your blog and current events of the wisdom Ronald Reagan who said that “The best social program is a productive job for anyone who’s willing to work”. Too many younger Americans “tweeters” of today including 4 year college grads are not realizing the spiritually nutritious benefits of this best of all social programs, being unemployed in historically high numbers. Across socialist Europe, youth unemployment is far worse, reaching as high as 51% in socialist Spain. Although Europeans may have recently doubled down on statism with France electing their second ever socialist president and Greece rejecting austerity for continued entitlements under near communist leadership, our relatively progressive state of Wisconsin has just tonight resoundingly rejected the nanny state public sector unions by re-electing their Gov. Scott Walker by a margin approaching double digits. For 18 months, Wisconsinites have seen unemployment dropping under Gov. Walker’s leadership, and in my opinion have chosen wisely. I am tremendously encouraged in having heard the voice of the people of so-called progressive Wisconsin. While Europeans are demonstrating a psychological helplessness borne of generational socialism, Wisconsinites have tonight demonstrated that the American spirit of liberty is alive and well. While the wealthy majority-leftist citizens of NYC (and writers for the WSJ – excepting the editorial page) may be able to afford the luxury of their socialist enclave, Wisconsin would demonstrate that a significant majority of Americans in flyover land love liberty too much to tolerate such foolishness as that of Mayor Bloomberg. Wisconsin has just doubled down on the leader that they want and deserve, and he is cast in the mold of Ronald Wilson Reagan. America and the world is witnessing the re-emergence of liberty even tonight in America’s heartland. There will no doubt be continued efforts to stop the majority-good grass roots people of America from rising up and taking back our country, but perhaps because all Americans share a birth certificate called The Declaration of Independence, tonight in Wisconsin we just won one for the Gipper.

  7. Mrs. Lapin, once again your musing is right on target. When I grew up a standard joke heard every day was “There ought to be a law against it.” Little did I know how sinister this innocuous snippet of thought would become. Now there is a law against just about everything.
    First of all, the government has increasingly tried to protect us from ourselves. First it was hazardous products, but now even innocuous consumer products, activities or pastimes are now becoming shadowed by a forbidding superstructure of regulation.
    Secondly, while the Tower of Regulation limits what we can consume or what we can undertake, its enthusiastic promotion by the media seems to enshrine and deify technobureaucrat “experts” who will tell us what to do, how to look, what to believe and indeed, how to think. During the reign of our current chief executive most of the media seem to have dropped into the groove of rubber-stamping his goals and policies in a manner worthy of party-organs Pravda or Izvestiya in the former Soviet Union. An article in the new Pravda in Russia in ~2009 voiced shock and dismay that America has jumped so precipitously and mindlessly onto the socialist bandwagon that brought Russia to its knees.
    Thirdly, although few love the violent victimization of folks who don’t agree with “us,” for example, those who inhabit the other side of the tracks with regard to religion, political persuasion or sexual orientation, the concept of hate crime is doubly sinister. From the wording of the legislation as enforced it is becoming clearer, that commission of an unlawful deed is not the issue, rather punishment of the thought is the goal. With Thought Police lurking around every jurisprudential corner, are we much closer to entering the death grip of Orwellian 1984 totalitarianism than we imagine?
    Have the government schools funneled us into this wasteland? It is the duty of the parents to educate their children. I applaud your lonely and courageous decision to home-school your seven children to minimize the drone from government schools. I now wish I had done the same.

  8. Dear Susan, Right On !!!! I guess I am too old for this world, it seems freedom just isn’t important to this generation. I’m a DAR member, my family fought the British to give us the freedoms this country has been so richly blessed with. Freedom to worship God just doesn’t seem important anymore. When are they going to see that this system that they do worship, that says everything goes, will soon turn on them? Looks like to me that they just don’t think it through!Wonder how they will like Shira(Sp.?)Law? Somehow me thinks , not so much! From The Tar Heel State

  9. The political left is bent on having their way and considers themselves the only ones to be enlightened, after all, they are the ones they have been waiting for.
    Every time you turn around, there is a new panic or crisis. People are fat because the government gives them food, just as when an ordinary person goes to a buffet, they tend to eat to much. Why not, it does not cost any more.
    The same for tobacco. Has anyone ever seen a death certificate with “second hand smoke” as the cause of death?
    What is not addressed is 17,000+ deaths from AIDS each year in the US. Why is nobody warning of the dangers of men having sex with men? In contrast, the left encourages that behavior because it is good political fodder. Unfortunately, those individuals with unwanted Sames Sex Attraction, their families, and the tax payers pay the high price.
    What can be done? First, end the censorship in our public libraries, (SUSAN SPEAKING HERE – JOSE, I AM NOT SHOWING THE LINKS SIMPLY BECAUSE I DO NOT HAVE TIME TO CHECK THEM ALL AND MY POLICY IS NOT TO LINK TO SOMETHING I DO NOT KNOW. HOWEVER, I SEE THAT YOU HAVE A BLOG PROFILE ON TYPEPAD, SO IF READERS ARE INTERESTED I HOPE THEY LOOK YOU UP AND FOLLOW UP THEMSELVES.). Second, public and government websites can include spectacular links like the one put out by the American College of Pediatricians…
    I strongly recomend taking this serriously before you wind up walking in my shoes.
    Thanks you Susan and Rabbi Lapin for allowing me to comment. Your classes have made me a much better person.
    Jose Schwartz

Comments are closed.

Shopping Cart