retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The New York Times reports that the food and beverage industry are hunkering down to do battle with NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who as part of his broader battle against obesity wants to prevent residents from using food stamps to buy sugared soft drinks.

According to the story, “Food and beverage lobbyists see the mayor’s plan as a well-intentioned but misguided and paternalistic effort. They say it would create a logistical bottleneck at checkout counters and stigmatize poor people using food stamps.

“They also fear that restrictions on soft drinks would set a precedent for the government to distinguish between good and bad foods and to ban the use of food stamps for other products - an issue sure to come up next year in the Congressional debate on a new farm bill.”
KC's View:
I know there will be folks who will say that this is yet another example of “nanny government,” that it is an unnecessary intrusion by government into people’s personal behavior.

I understand this thinking, and respect the rationale behind it. But there also is the matter of public policy, and a legitimate discussion needs to take place about whether public money should be used to support lifestyle decisions that could create health issues that could cost money down the line in terms of health care costs, and that could certainly qualify as a discretionary purchase, an indulgence. I just hope that the discussion is mature and measured, not hysterical and purely ideological.