Round Up: “Why Not Just Ban Fat People?” Edition

by JT McGee

Michael Bloomberg’s infinite wisdom doesn’t stop at municipal management. He’s also great at making decisions for other people, particularly about what they eat, and when and where they smoke.

And now, to further tackle health problems in New York City, Bloomberg wants to ban sodas in sizes greater than 16 ounces.

Now – here’s what I love about politics. You can say what your goal is (reduce obesity, in this case) and you can say what you intend to do to do it (ban drinks >16 ounces) but you cannot have a perfectly direct link between cause and effect.

See, if Bloomberg were to come out and simply say “let’s ban fat people,” the public would go nuts. However, if you ban large sodas under the pretense of making people skinnier, it’s okay.

Further, I think it’s kind of funny to think that in the future putting a regular soda in this cup then exchanging it for cash would result in a $200 fine:

(Sidebar: I seriously cannot believe how much cheaper Solo cups are at Amazon when you buy in bulk. The more you know! Thanks to Jeff Bezos for the image.)

Less Soda, Mo’ Money

The economist in me suspects that this soda ban will also be great for state revenues. State, not city. I’m not talking about the $200 fine that Bloomberg proposed.

I’m talking about bottling revenues. The Bottle Bill passed by New York State requires a deposit of 5 cents for every bottle sold in the state. Should the law pass in New York City, you’ll see people purchasing 2-16oz bottles where they might have previously purchased a single 1-liter bottle (one liter is a little less than 32 ounces).

Ballin! The state rakes in two nickels instead of one – two bottles, two deposits. Pretty cool unintended consequence, right?

Great Reads Around the Internet

  1. Sam writes about getting a PhD.
  2. MPFJ has an interesting look into the average mutual fund fees.
  3. Funancials asks why is online dating weird?. Funny to think about how with houses and with dating sites, not everything is as it appears in the picture. Heh.
  4. Money Beagle tears Epson printers a new one. Seriously the whole “you must buy black/color ink even if you don’t want to use it for this print job” is annoying as all get out.
  5. PK talks about correcting other people’s financial mistakes. I don’t even bother to give advice; what’s worse than having it completely ignored?
  6. Mad props to Ashley’s friends who managed to pay off $37,000 in debt in just over 1 year.
  7. Larry says you’re a fool to prepay your mortgage, and I could not agree more.

I wrote a few articles elsewhere – an article on REITs and agency mortgages, a post about the market linked CD and how the product works, as well as another post on value investing.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

tom June 1, 2012 at 11:58

Unintended consequence? I’d say that’s exactly what they intended… haha.

I have no basis for that, but am cynical about politics.

I do have to say that every state should enact a bottle/can deposit “tax”. Not only does it generate revenue from laziness, it keeps the ground clean. You drive through Michigan (10 cent deposit), you see very, very few bottles and cans on the sides of roads. It’s also not a tax, per se. As long as you aren’t lazy, you get it back (technically a low value loan). Allow grocery stores and places that have deposit returns to take .01 of the unreturned deposits, and you instantly create a lobby for the deposit.

I’m not for additional taxes, but I think deposits are awesome (especially as a college student!).


JT McGee June 1, 2012 at 13:07

I don’t really have a problem with bottle deposits. It’s a very small amount of money. And yes, having spent a week on Lake Michigan to go sailing etc., I can definitely say that I didn’t see a single can or bottle laying on the ground. Good way to outsource some of the cleanup. Michigan is truly beautiful in every way…for like 5 months of the year. 😉

I do fear the day that bills like these go nationwide though. I’d go nuts without my occasional fountain drink. Soda is one of my biggest vices.


ImpulseSave June 1, 2012 at 14:10

I think this is a pretty dumb law. I think that most people buy large sodas because the unit price typically goes down that larger your container gets. In general, people are still going to buy a lot of soda if they want a lot of soda. For example, if you wanted to bring soda to feed a whole party of people, you will now have to buy a thousand little bottles instead of one big bottle. Not only will it cost a lot more, but it will also not help with our land fill situation. Not a great idea, Mayor.


Jonathan June 1, 2012 at 16:28

I foresee enterprising small business owners offering “two-fer” deals on 16-oz sodas. Buy one for $1.50, two for $1.75! Five cents of every two-fer goes to battle soda taxes!


Sam June 1, 2012 at 18:50

Hopefully the public can read between the lines?

Bloomie is smart as we should all realize that sugar kills.

Just wait in 15 years JT! Let’s hope u still have your slender boyish figure.



Darwin's Money June 2, 2012 at 08:36

Really great point on the political implications. Calling out fat people isn’t politically popular so blame the vendors.


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