Peter, who is a physician, a libertarian, and one of my oldest friends (we met in the 6th grade) from Arlington, Massachusetts, generously responded to my request for his professional expertise and philosophical perspective regarding the New York City soda ban. Here is his thoughtful response, the Comment of the Day, on the post The Ethics of Bloomberg’s Soft Drink Ban:
“It has become a reflex response to answer adverse circumstances with more regulation. To a lawyer, there is always a law, or regulation for any and every misstep in human behavior. Of course, we forget that we cannot predict the unintended consequences, not even to mention reviewing the effects of the laws we pass to determine if they are even having the INTENDED effect. Somehow, we believe that it is appropriate to pass laws to deny other people’s freedoms due to the “discomfort” of whiny types who have the connections and persistence to keep whining until they can get someone to pass a law. The consequence of such legislation’s continued passage, at ever more confiscatory levels of our liberties, is that we are legislating our way into a police state, and the widespread acceptance of the idea that it’s OK to deny personal liberty because it makes someone else “uncomfortable.” Again, as RR so aptly pointed out, “the government that is big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have.” And this goes for not just your personal assets, but your freedoms as well.
“That said, in this context, yes, drinking lots of sugary sodas will make you fat, smoking will kill you, too much alcohol will kill you, doing extreme sports can kill you, and so on. And as long as one’s decisions affect only himself, have at it. However, when you want me to pay, through my insurance premiums, and my taxes, for the consequences of your stupidity, you cede the sovereignty of your decision to others beside yourself. If you want to ride your motorcycle without a helmet, while drunk, sure, do it. Just don’t expect me to pay the costs of your head injury. Continue reading