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LIFE, LIBERTY AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

“…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness….”

Is being able to order a 32 ounce Slurpee an exercise of one’s liberty or merely the pursuit of one’s happiness? Apparently, to some, it is neither, and must be regulated.

Our billionaire Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, who earned the term “Nanny” as the modifier of his official title, via his campaigns against smoking and transfats, has announced his intention to ban sales within the City limits of sugared soft drinks in cup sizes in excess of 16 ounces, in restaurants, fast food emporiums and movie theaters. His nanniness insists this latest proposed ban doesn’t prevent a consumer from imbibing more than 16 ounces of sweetness, it only compels those who would give no regard to the alleged ill health effects of such consumption, to pause and reflect on it, before they order another. There is no explanation from his nanniness as yet, as to why the sale of a chilled 2 liter bottle or six-pack of 8 ounce, pop-top cans of sugar laden soda to a single thirsty consumer at a deli is intellectually different than that of say, a 32 ounce Slurpee in a movie theater. Perhaps we are supposed to reflect each time we pop a top. Clearly, in the opinion of his nanniness, it is insufficient to reflect between slurps.

More interestingly, the proposed ban doesn’t apply to alcoholic beverages. I will presume this is because the current attack is on sugar content, not alcohol. If I were a Budweiser executive, I’d give some thought to funding the inevitable Slurpee lover’s groundswell of opposition, for surely Bud will be next, not for any reason other than the rationale behind all of this nanniness — the health care tab the City gets stuck with as the world’s greatest subverter of the survival of the fittest.

There, I said it, and not out of meanness, but merely on reflection. If Darwin’s notions of natural selection and survival of the fitness have some truth to them, each and every governmental exercise of protectionism, however high minded and noble it otherwise be, to some degree helps some of our human herd to survive instead of perish. Does that mean I advocate unfettered pollution of our air, water and landscape, to produce a mutation of our species able to live in our own squalor? In a word, no. To merely note the logical consequences of some action or inaction doesn’t necessarily translate into advocacy for doing so. I am in favor of scientific research and well rounded education of our youth. Nevertheless, in the broad sense, all of what we call “human progress,” in the sciences, hard and human, as well as in the societal sense, operate to subvert the impersonal operation of Darwin’s observation.

We need look no further than the past 150 or so years, where advances in farming, medicine, engineering and a host of other disciplines has doubled the average human life expectancy for Americans, male (38.3 to 75.7 years, at birth) and female (40.5 to 80.8 years, at birth) alike. World numbers are comparable percentage growth wise, if a little lower as to longevity (30 years average in 1900 to 62 years in 1985) More to the point, compare the average life expectancy of your basic ancient Roman (22 to 25 years) to that of your average world citizen of 1900 — not much growth. Guess what? That’s right, increases in longevity operate to increase population too — world population in 1900, 1.65 billion, in 2000, 6.64 billion.

In a lesson that is about to be taught, courtesy of Greece, the rest of the European Economic Union and the United States, there is a price tag to all of this, bigger than we have been reflecting upon in the sense his nanniness would have us do likewise as regards, Slurpees. Stay tuned.

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