Thursday, 7 October 2010
New York, New York
Frankly if you receive food stamps you should not be able fritter them away on soda or other sugared drink. So says that impoverished Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg.
This is, of course, for your own good. It's part of an aggressive anti-obesity drive, a programme to make New Yorkers healthier. As the good mayor says “This initiative will give New York families more money to spend on foods and drinks that provide real nourishment.”
Shit, it's good that food stamps don't enable you to buy tabacco, alcohol and drugs which responsible, bankable New Yorkers are able to do.
Mayor Bloomberg is a businessman - a trader, I believe, so he must know how markets work. Are you telling me there isn't a secondary market in food stamps? Restrict the items the food stamps can purchase and you increase the opportunity for crocks to operate illicit markets. Before the Bloomberg initative a food stamp would buy a bottle of Coke; after, with the secondary market operating, one bottle of Coke costs 3 food stamps. The net effect is to reduce the ability of those on benefit to buy "food and drinks that provide real nourishment".
The city and state health commissioners argue that this restriction doesn't stop those in receipt of food stamps from buying pop, it just means they don't use tax payers money to do it. They buy food with food stamps leaving other funds to buy pop. But doesn't that weaken the case for this nannyish policy.
But the really frightening thing is this. Mayor Bloomberg reckons there's an obesity epidemic in New York and according to the health people in the know much of that is because of excessive consumption of pop. He tried to tax these drinks (affecting everyone - but not equably) but the courts throw it out. So now he's trying to impose it on those he holds the purse strings over. This policy is rationalised by arguing that obesity is proportionately more of a problem for the poor. Well, sugar's cheap, it provides energy so what's so surprising. In the same way that animal fat is cheap and it provides energy.
The final nonsense is that opposite a piece by the New York and NY State's health commissioners extolling this policy is an ad which bellows "All You Can Eat In London For £5".
Who said the internet had lost its power to undermine.