The Corner

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Drink (It Ain’t Illegal Yet)


I’m a little late with this, but if you skipped that article by Sarah Conly, explaining why Mayor Bloomberg’s large-soda ban is a good idea, because you thought you already knew what the author was going to say . . . good call! The article is exactly what you’d expect; it has no trace of originality in it, and it proceeds on the same lines that have been used for centuries to keep people from making their own decisions.

But if you did skip the article, or if you gave up before the end, you missed its triumphant final paragraph, which even by the standards of leftist op-eds is a masterpiece of inanity mixed with illogic. Here it is, with interpolations:

That’s what the government is supposed to do, help us get where we want to go.

This assertion is highly questionable to begin with, but even if you accept it, that doesn’t mean it’s the government’s job to make us get where it wants us to go.

It’s not always worth it to intervene, but sometimes, where the costs are small and the benefit is large, it is.

The costs are always small and the benefit is always large in the mind of the busybody who writes the regulation.

That’s why we have prescriptions for medicine. And that’s why, as irritating as it may initially feel, the soda regulation is a good idea.

Let me get this straight. You’re putting Dr. Pepper in the same class as antibiotics and blood thinners and assorted poisons? Because there are plenty of medicines available over the counter that will mess you up if you abuse them. Aspirin can kill you if you take too many, and sleeping pills are addictive, and allergy medicine can make you drowsy and cause accidents. Yet we don’t require a prescription for them.

It’s hard to give up the idea of ourselves as completely rational.

Huh? Hasn’t the irrational nature of man been remarked upon in every time and place throughout history? Who has ever thought of himself as anything like “completely rational”? And who except an economist has ever thought of anyone else that way? This is the Paul Bunyan, the Colossus of Rhodes, of straw men.

We feel as if we lose some dignity.

No, you don’t lose dignity by admitting that you are not Mr. Spock. You lose dignity when you let the government decide what kinds of beverages you can buy, in what sizes of containers, from what types of vendors, because the government thinks you can and should be manipulated.

But that’s the way it is, and there’s no dignity in clinging to an illusion.

The only one clinging to an illusion here is Ms. Conly, the illusion being that everything will work out fine if we just leave the thinking to the smart people.