Hobbies are usually a good thing.
One notable exception, however, is when your hobby is spending huge sums of cash in places you have no connection to in order to force the local residents to conform to your worldview.
This is not a common hobby and is confined to a few megalomaniacal billionaires who – rather than spend their money to enjoy life – spend it to make others’ lives less enjoyable.
Case in point: Michael Bloomberg. We all know the former New York City mayor wants to bring New York City style gun control to America at large (think gun bans, discretionary licensing, prohibitively expensive fees, cronyism, and public corruption). But he doesn’t stop at that.
Another Bloomberg obsession is soda. Not drinking it, mind you, but controlling access others have to it.
As mayor, Bloomberg infamously tried to ban large sodas throughout the Big Apple by executive action. And not just sodas, but any “sugary beverage” in a cup larger than 16 ounces. The ban was to be enforced by the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH), with violators subject to fines and possible adverse health grades. The groups that challenged the rule in court pointed out that it came directly from the mayor’s office and not from the supposed subject matter experts on the DHMH’s board. Bloomberg’s justification for this bizarre intrusion into lawful commerce and personal choice was that some people are overweight, a circumstance he described as a “public health” crisis. The city also cited “studies” it claimed showed that sugary drinks are associated with weight gain. (Both tactics should sound familiar to gun owners.)
Yet that was all too much even for New York’s judiciary, which rejected Bloomberg’s contention that the DHMH has inherent legislative authority and that the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches did not apply to its actions. The decision by the state’s intermediate appellate court noted, “To accept the [city’s] interpretation of the authority granted to the Board by the New York City Charter would leave its authority to define, create, mandate and enforce limited only by its own imagination.” This was an outcome the court found “more troubling than sugar sweetened beverages.” Two years later, New York’s highest court affirmed that decision, holding that the DHMH “exceeded the scope of its regulatory authority” and upholding the permanent injunction against the ban’s enforcement.
Unfortunately, Bloomberg continues to have an unusually active imagination when it comes to infringing upon the rights and choices of other people in far-flung places.
Bloomberg trained his sights all the way out to New Mexico this year, financing a full-on effort to pass “universal” background check legislation for firearm transfers. That effort failed on the strength of opposition led by the NRA. Other opponents of the bill included the New Mexico Sheriff’s Association, which issued a statement emphasizing the proposal would “make it harder for law-abiding New Mexicans to exercise their Second Amendment rights” and “do nothing to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.”
But Bloomberg wasn’t finished with the Land of Enchantment and poured additional cash into another pet project, an initiative campaign to impose a “sin tax” on sugary beverages sold in Santa Fe. By late April, according to a local media report, the New York billionaire had dumped $1.13 million into the effort.
On Tuesday, however, Santa Fe voters rejected the measure by a 16-point margin. Underscoring the elitist nature of the campaign, the Albuquerque Journal reported, “Voters in the city’s middle- and lower-income neighborhoods went against the tax in huge numbers, while the vote in Santa Fe’s affluent north and east sides split almost precisely 50-50.”
While Bloomberg’s New Mexico efforts may have failed, don’t expect him to cut his losses and run.
Inflamed by the failure of his New York City beverage scheme, Bloomberg has sought vengeance the only way he knows how: by seeking to spend his opposition into oblivion. His recent expenditures to pass soda taxes in three other cities, according to Fortune, amounted to $20 million.
While unimaginable sums to most ordinary people, this is all chump change to the New York media mogul. With billions of dollars at his disposal – and more pouring in endlessly from his empire – his ability to stick his nose into other peoples’ freedoms is for all practical purposes unlimited. He is the embodiment of a plutocrat, and his pathological need to control the people he considers his inferiors is completely unmoored by political or geographic boundaries.
And make no mistake: he’s just as focused on coming for your guns as he is on coming for your Dr. Pepper.
The good news is that you already have all that is necessary to defeat his schemes: your awareness, your love of liberty, and your vote. This combination worked in New Mexico, and it can work anywhere else where a free people refuse to bow to high-minded elites with an inexhaustible interest in ruling every detail of their lives.
Rest assured, your NRA looks forward to handing similar defeats to America’s richest nanny. And we’ll happily join the residents of Santa Fe in toasting liberty with the soft drink of their choice, whatever its sugar content might be.