A few people have asked me what I think about Bloomberg’s city-wide ban on sugary drinks above 16 oz.
When it comes to rule-making, I subscribe to a view that looks at “exit” and “voice”.
- Voice is influence on how the rules are made (e.g., voting).
- Exit is being able to leave and go somewhere else if you don’t like the rules (e.g., emigration).
When the power of exit is high (city-level), I have fewer problems with more restrictive rules. If you don’t like them, just leave.
When the power of voice is high, people have control over the actual rules – so it’s more or less self-governance.
The big problem is when there are weak powers of voice AND exit. This is the case with federal legislation, since my vote has a negligible effect on the rules that get made (no voice) and moving to another country bears substantial costs (no exit).
So that said, here’s how I think about the recent ban.
- I have far greater tolerance for these types of decisions when they are made at the local level.
- For a city-level decision, it’s easy enough to move to another city if it is that important to someone.
- I like that Singapore exists as a possibility in the world, even if I’m not going to live there myself.
- I would be strongly opposed to anything like this at the state level, and vehemently opposed to this at the national level.
- There are certain fundamental rights, like owning a firearm, that American cities should not be able to ban.
- Soda and sweetened drinks probably are the single most important factor contributing to obesity.
- My big concern is that Bloomberg doesn’t know what’s actually healthy, even though he has the over-confidence typical of technocrats.
- For example, his war on salt is totally misguided and not even supported by the existing scientific evidence.
- I’m afraid Bloomberg is going to go after cholesterol, fat content, and stuff like that — which is totally bogus, and may even result in more deaths.
So I’m not really up in arms about this specific ban, but I’m not excited about where this is all headed.