WASHINGTON – New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York Governor David Paterson are asking the federal government to deny New York City residents on food stamps the ability to use aid to buy certain beverages. Deneen Borelli, a fellow with the Project 21 black leadership network, sees this as a warning about the limits to freedom that inevitably come with increased government dependency.
“Efforts by Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Paterson to use the power of the government to control the dietary choices of Americans on food stamps should serve as a warning that dependency leads to a loss of freedom,” said Project 21’s Borelli. “Once someone is on the government’s plantation, politicians will inevitably try to leverage this power to control every aspect of their life. They think they know what’s best for everyone else.”
Under the rules governing food stamps, there are currently only prohibitions on the purchase of certain prepared foods, alcohol, tobacco and vitamins. Bloomberg and Paterson, however, now want permission from the federal government to prohibit New York City’s 1.7 million residents using food stamps from buying certain sugary drinks. The politicians want to see how this affects obesity statistics. Such a restriction on assistance to the poor would be the first of its kind anywhere in America.
“Controlling poor peoples’ diets is likely only the first step. This attempted power-grab shows there is no such thing as a free lunch when it comes to government dependency,” added Borelli. “When the government pays the bills, it will use this power of the purse to control peoples’ lives. From this example, it’s not hard to see how the government can use its increasing command over the health care system to dictate additional lifestyle choices.”
Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives since 1992, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research.