There he goes again! It's hard to believe New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is, once again, using strong-arm tactics to force his constituents to adopt healthier lifestyles, whether they like it or not.
His latest target is infant formula. He wants mothers to stay away from the stuff and opt for breast feeding instead.
Clearly this is a healthier alternative. The medical research is overwhelming and conclusive. Breast-fed babies have lower incidences of a myriad of health problems, from ear infections to pnemonia. New mothers positively should breast feed if at all possible.
The question is, however, how much should the government get involved in helping women make the decision whether to breast feed or formula feed their baby?
Beginning in September, New York City hospitals will begin placing infant formula under lock and key. If a new mother requests infant formula, the nurse will lecture that mother about how breast feeding is far superior than formula. If the mother persists, and still wants the formula, the nurse will give it to her, but record all the necessary information and report that information to the health department. Hospitals will no longer give out free samples of formula or even tote bags advertising formula.
This latest health initiative by Mayor Bloomberg is consistent with a string of others bearing a theme: people can not be trusted to make good decisions on their own, therefore, the government will make good decisions for them.
Let's review: Bloomberg outlawed smoking in all public places, outlawed trans fats in restaurants, required restaurants to post the calorie content of menu items, pressured food producers to reduce the salt content by 20 percent, proposed a surcharge on automobiles to reduce carbon monoxide emissions, and, oh yes, who could forget the recent proposal to ban sodas larger than 16 ounces?
Ideally, people should have the freedom to make their own choices and would choose not to smoke. They would have enough sense to know the average calorie content of an item just by looking at it. They would, on their own, learn which restaurants cook with trans fats and either patronize other establishments or choose menu items without trans fats.
They would also educate themselves about which food items contain too much salt and avoid them, have the insight about the sugar content of soda, and the discipline to avoid drinking too much of it.
And choose breast feeding over formula.
Clearly, however, this is not happening. So the next question becomes, do we let people choose badly for themselves and let them suffer the consequences? Or does government make decisions for people, therefore limiting their freedom, but possibly improving their health?