Daniel Doherty

This article in the Los Angeles Times is just too darn good to ignore. Epic fail, Mr. Mayor:

After New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg unveiled his plan to ban the sale of sodas larger than 16 ounces, comedian Jon Stewart complained that the proposal "combines the draconian government overreach people love with the probable lack of results they expect."

It turns out the "Daily Show" host was on to something.

New research shows that prompting beverage makers to sell sodas in smaller packages and bundle them as a single unit actually encourages consumers to buy more soda — and gulp down more calories — than they would have consumed without the ban.

Not only would thirsty people drink more, but circumventing the big-drink ban by offering consumers bundles of smaller drinks also would mean more revenue for the beverage purveyors, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE. The sales boost would probably offset the added cost of producing more cups, lids and straws to hold those extra drinks, the researchers found.

The results reveal "a potential unintended consequence that may need to be considered in future policymaking," wrote the study authors, psychologists from UC San Diego.

“Unintended consequences” should be a staple of American liberalism. The do-gooders always and invariably think they know what’s best for us -- i.e., what kind of light bulbs we should use, cars we should drive, and, yes, how much soda we should drink. Not unlike the horrendous anti-Second Amendment legislation signed into law by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (which was so poorly written and ill-advised that the bill unwittingly banned law enforcement officials from carrying high-capacity magazines), the Bloomberg soda ban, if implemented, would reportedly have encouraged consumers to drink more soda. You can’t make this stuff up.

Indeed, “banning” harmful things makes for wonderful politics sometimes, but in the rush to Do Something to protect the public poorly thought out proposals more often than not range from the unhelpful to the farcical. This is not to say that obesity in America isn’t a serious problem -- it certainly is -- but government mandates from on high seem to be the very worst way to force people to live healthier lives. But good luck trying to sell that idea to Mr. Bloomberg. He’s a committed Nanny, and I don’t expect him to re-evaluate or modify his positions anytime soon.


Daniel Doherty

Daniel Doherty is Townhall's Deputy News Editor. Follow him on Twitter @danpdoherty.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography