"Why Government Belongs in Our Soda Cups"
Dr. Innes on Bloomberg’s Soda Ban
Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s policy that bans soft drinks larger than 16 ounces created a wave of controversy among conservatives and libertarians. But is the law just another “nanny state” policy? Dr. David Innes, Co-Chair of the School of Politics, Philosophy, and Economics, writes in “Why Government Belongs in Our Soda Cups,” that the policy is justified in light of local and state “police powers.”
Dr. Innes bases his argument on an important difference between the powers of the local, state, and federal government. The federal government is a government of delegated powers, granting the federal government only those powers enshrined in the United States Constitution. Local and state governments, however, are privileged with “police powers,” defined as the right to promote public “health, safety, and morals.”
By this definition, Innes writes, the soda ban is legally justified, though not necessarily wise from a policy perspective.
“Society is not a mere economic alliance, a trading bloc, or a mutual defense pact,” Innes writes. “It is also a moral bond between people who share a common life. So it is fair for government to protect not only public health but also the health of public morals and citizen character.”
Common examples of the exercise of police power include local regulations on where pornography can be bought and controls on television content.
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