Skip to comments.Food Is the Real Thing - Mayor Bloomberg is right: taxpayers shouldn’t subsidize soda.
Posted on 06/10/2011 10:24:40 PM PDT by neverdem
Last fall, New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to cut soda and other sugar- and corn-sweetened drinks from the list of foods that New Yorkers can buy with federal food-stamp benefits. Lobbyists, from soda makers to grocery stores to minority advocates, have fought the proposal. They say that any restriction would represent an attack both on business and on personal freedom for the poor. That argument is flimsy. As food prices rise, and as the federal government cuts back spending, the mayors attempt to safeguard the taxpayer dollar is fiscally and socially sound.
Back in October, the mayor asked the USDA to authorize a two-year experimental program for New York City. As Bloomberg envisions it, the city would work with food-stamps recipients during that time to see if food-aid beneficiaries changed their food purchases, and, if so, if foregoing soda helped families improve their health. The city noted that federal regulators have the authority to authorize such pilot initiatives, to find out what works and what doesnt when it comes to spending taxpayer money (Congressional Republicans advocate more such experimentation, for instance, with Medicaid).
But as the USDA mulls over the idea, the pro-soda forces have pushed back. The American Beverage Association, partly funded by Coke and Pepsi, has branded the initiative as an attack on individual choice. Once you start going into grocery carts, deciding what people can or cannot buy, where do you stop? senior vice president Kevin W. Keane said in April, according to a New York Times story. Lobbyists say that a new restriction would put a burden on stores, whose clerks would have to separate soda from other products. Elected officials from the Congressional Black Caucus, an arm of which also receives money from soda lobbyists, say that the proposed arrangement would stigmatize poor people.
Bloomberg isnt telling people what they can and cannot eat or drink, however. Hes simply ensuring that scarce taxpayer dollars earmarked for a program whose official name is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program go, reasonably enough, toward assisting families for just that purpose. Taking such care with federal taxpayers money becomes more important as more people need government help to buy groceries. As of March, 1.8 million New Yorkers depended on food stamps, a 50 percent jump from the 1.2 million city residents who received the benefits three years ago. This demand, mirrored nationwide, strains the federal budgetand so Washington must make sure that the money is spent wisely.
The same principle holds for each individual family. In the past year, food prices have risen by 3.9 percent. Since most families food-stamp benefits dont cover a familys grocery bill, every taxpayer dollar that a parent spends on colathats $100 million a year in New Yorkis a taxpayer dollar that he or she is not spending on milk, chicken, or lettuce. You dont have to be an anti-soda nanny to see something wrong with that.
Sure, one can argue about the nutritional merits of lots of food-stamp eligible foods, including candy bars and the like. But soda is way over on the wrong side of the nutrition line. It shouldnt take the place of healthy foods in the grocery carts of parents with no extra money to spare. Water, after all, is free.
In fact, the mayors plan would help New Yorkers exercise personal freedom in making better decisions for their families. By erroneously including soda in a nutritional program, the USDA currently gives parents and others bad information, which, as always, harms personal choice. If the government stops calling soda nutritious and stops subsidizing it, parents, armed with that knowledge, would be empowered to decide whether to spend their own scarce cash dollars on soda.
As for the lobbyists other arguments: removing sweetened sodas from the list of groceries that people can buy with food aid would neither burden supermarkets nor stigmatize poor families. Supermarkets already offer plenty of products that arent eligible for food stamps, from hot prepared sandwiches to diapers to cat food to cleaning fluids. Cashiers can separate food and non-food with the click of one button at the end of an order. As for the supposed scarlet letter: the government no longer dispenses food stamps through paper vouchers, but via a card that looks like a credit card. One has to be paying very close attention in the checkout line to see that the person ahead of him is using a combination of an electronic-benefits card and cash to buy food and non-food, including soda. New Yorkers stigmatize busy-bodies before they stigmatize poor people.
Mayor Bloombergs proposal, then, deserves the support of conservatives worried about the budget, liberals worried about public health, and New Yorkers trying to stretch every dollar.
Nicole Gelinas is a contributing editor for the Manhattan Institutes City Journal.
‘hood ain’t gonna be down wi dis.
>>”the government”? needs to get out of the subsidy business as much as possible especially when it’s getting no value for its money!<<
We are the government.
Bloomberg, one of the biggest dangers to American freedom.
Can’t buy beer with food stamps.
And honestly, a good, solid stout probably has way more actual nutrition in it than a can of Pepsi.
I remember the days when food aid meant pasta, rice, powdered milk and govt cheese, distributed by volunteer workers like my Mom at the local school which was used as a distribution center.
The reason why I place FDR worse on the evil scale than the usurper is that the former had 4 terms to imbue his Marxist policies on our country and Hussein is a one-termer for sure.
Let’s not forget ribeye steaks, ice cream and lobster, all high in cholesterol. Corn chips and potato chips, high in sodium. Mac&cheese, and instant ramen, high in sodium and low in fiber.
Any where they ( I ) want to...WHEN ITS NOT YOUR MONEY BUYING IT!!
Jeeez!...Lets get real with socialism...You want it or not...make up your mind..
Separated at birth?
Human beings can obtain all essential nutrients from whole milk and potatoes.
As long as you match calories-in with calories-out, the kinds of food you eat have very limited impact on your health.
I have my own theory about obesity.
As the “experts” strip sugar, fructose, salt, cholesterol, and fats from our diet, our food becomes less and less satisfying, and people eat more and more trying to reach that feeling of satiety.
How does this save money?
“How does this save money?”
Thank you. It doesn’t it. I’m disturbed to see Gelinas endorsing this.
Let Them Drink Water!
The new cry of the rulers.
We, as a nation, have decided to give food aid to the poor, or semi-poor.
Now, we can debate the merits of that and I suppose we might decide not to do it at all.
And, as a big beer drinker myself I recognize the other freeper’s point that guiness might actually be better for you than soda, but I still think alcoholic beverages are in a different class.
However, this entire concept buys into the gov’t wishing to control us. To ensure we are “healthy” so we can be good little servants of the State.
I despise that attitude, it’s more of the we work for them attitude which is really going to kill this country, way more than welfare, or illegal immigration, or anything else ever could.
THEY WORK FOR US and they need to be reminded of this constantly.
I’m NOT a libertarian, but I might just have to become one if this nanny-=state bs doesn’t stop.
Obesity related Medicare/Medicaid bills, IMHO.
With the relatively newer diagnoses of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, NAFLD, and Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young, MODY, it's high time to test the hypothesis that high fructose corn syrup, HFCS, has any basis in the etiology of NAFLD and MODY.
Discipline of kids has been reduced to rewarding them with sweet stuff when they do the right thing. Physical discipline can result in loss of custody of your kids or jail time.
If you check one of the HFCS links by me, this stuff in soft drinks is HFCS-55, 55% fructose and 42% glucose. The remainder is negligible, IMHO, but that's almost a 4:3 ratio of fructose to glucose favoring the production of the glycerol spine of triglycerides. One of the reactions is spontaneous requiring no enzyme, IIRC.
IMHO, it's time to do a few population studies using sucrose versus HFCS sweetened soft drinks about the incidence of NAFLD and MODY, not to mention metabolic syndrome, aka syndrome X.
Bloomberg is a joke.
Of course, it drags in the ususal, "Who is government to tell us what to eat?" comments, but since it is the government doling out the funds, if the recipients don't like the control, then they are free to use their own money for buying what they want.
Or free to decline to participate in the program that gives them the money.
Or free to vote the source out of office.
Never having used SNAP, I wonder how it works when a shopper checks out a mixed order then presents a SNAP card. Are retailers’ point of purchase systems smart enough to separate out the SNAP eligible items, apply the SNAP balance to those items, then present a remaining balance due (along with a list of the associated items) which needs to be paid with other means? Or is it just buzz, process shut down, cashier needs to figure out what went wrong, everybody else held up for 15 minutes while customer argues with cashier?
Here’s a better idea...get the gubmint clear out of the subsidy business. FDR set the stage for all this crap, and the sheeple have followed blindly. Now, we are at a point where such a significant number of people are feeding at the public trough that the nation may truly be lost.
Unless and until we reset to the Constitutional boundaries placed on federal authority and function, we are on precarious ground indeed.
Dump social welfare programs, wind down Social Security in favor of private retirement planning, and get the hell out of health care all together.
That would be a good start...
The only way to keep the progressives, liberals, and RINO’s from tinkering is to take away their Tinker Toys...
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.