When you’ve already been a successful businessman and are now mayor of 8.2 million people, there’s no reason not to go for broke when you believe in making a point. At first glance, however, Micheal Bloomberg appeared to have strained his personal credibility to the point of parody when he proposed a ban on large size soda sales in New York City.
It’s likely that Bloomberg didn’t see a downside. Clearly large sodas’ empty calories and high-fructose corn syrupy sweetness are not health promoting. On top of that, public health has been a victim of its own successes, losing both attention and budget over time. The crew that either eradicated or dramatically reduced infectious diseases, positively impacted vehicular death statistics and put smoking on the run has effectively been benched by state legislatures across the country, particularly in Arizona.
It’s also a good bet that the political theater and resulting national debate were exactly the point. Health, after all, is typically listed after the economy, jobs and education in polls asking Americans what matters most. The fact that good health is prerequisite for effective education, successful employment and a productive economy is generally either taken for granted or completely lost on people. In other words, Bloomberg is going all “mad genius” on us, using a very calculated tactic to commandeer the conversation. He definitely got that done, and he set an anchor point (see Know-It-Alls again) against which later proposals can appear less prescriptive and be more readily understood given that the discussion has already begun.
Mayor Bloomberg put health back on the map – at least for the moment. It may have been a bit much to take in at first, but then again so is a large soda. Ultimately, New York City may walk away from the whole thing with a sound, well-rounded proposal for an overly well-rounded problem.