Poor People Are Stupid. And Fat.

[Trigger warning for fat hatred, body policing, and classism.]

New York Mayor and "anti-obesity" crusader Michael Bloomberg is asking the federal government for permission "to bar New York City's 1.7 million recipients of food stamps from using them to buy soda or other sugared drinks."
The request, made to the United States Department of Agriculture, which finances and sets the rules for the food-stamp program, is part of an aggressive anti-obesity push by the mayor that has also included advertisements, stricter rules on food sold in schools and an unsuccessful attempt to have the state impose a tax on the sugared drinks.

...The mayor requested a ban for two years to study whether it would have a positive impact on health and whether a permanent ban would be merited.

"In spite of the great gains we've made over the past eight years in making our communities healthier, there are still two areas where we're losing ground — obesity and diabetes," the mayor said in a statement. "This initiative will give New York families more money to spend on foods and drinks that provide real nourishment."
Okay, so here's the thing: Stigmatizing food stamp recipients by suggesting they're too stupid to make the right decisions about what food they should be purchasing is not a good idea for reasons that ought to be self-evident. But supposing, for a moment, that this proposal wasn't embedded with patronizing classist horseshit and a heap of fat hatred, there still remain reasons to question the potential efficacy of this proposal, and its very design.

Why, for example, is the USDA being petitioned to allow an infringement on the autonomous decision-making of poor USians, instead of petitioned to ban the use of high-fructose corn syrup in all the foods and beverages purchased by those poor USians (and everyone else)? Given that researchers have found that HFCS prompts considerably more weight gain, and that the average USian's consumption of HFCS over the same time period associated with the OH NOES Obesity and Diabetes crisis has increased by "an alarming 12,250%," you'd think that the mayor and USDA might want to start there and see if "a ban for two years [has] a positive impact on health."

Of course, that's never going to happen, since corn is subsidized to the tune of billions of dollars in the US every year. What a coinkydink!

All of which is a moot point, anyway, because we live in a country where people are meant to be allowed to make decisions about their own bodies. (Consent. Autonomy. Respect. Dignity.) And access to that freedom of decision-making isn't supposed to be decided on how much money one earns.

I'm not naïve or ignorant enough to believe that shit doesn't happen all the time already; we live in a fucked-up country that preaches equality and practices inequality, where we believe we're all middle class except for those people, for whom we're pretty sure we should be allowed to make decisions.

But I expect more.

In a town where Michael Bloomberg's buddy Donald Trump has become a billionaire and gone bankrupt and become a billionaire again, you'd think there'd be more support for the idea that everyone should have the right to make their own decisions, even if they're lousy ones.

And, frankly, I can think of about a metric fuckton of lousier decisions than consuming a can of soda.

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