George Washington University prof John Banzhaf assigned his students some unusual homework this week:
Some 200 undergrads will be asked to contact legislators in their home cities, counties, or states asking them to adopt legislation similar to that already adopted in New York City – and apparently to be considered in D.C., Cambridge, Mass, New York State, and perhaps elsewhere – banning restaurants, delis, movie theaters and many other businesses from selling high-sugar drinks in cups or containers larger than 16 ounces.
Banzhaf, the anti-obesity crusader who made a name for himself by having his students sue McDonald's for making people fat, fancies himself the scourge of soda. He's also a master of self-promotion—the prose above and below comes from a press release the man wrote and released himself.
It's cool, though. If the students happen to object to Banzhaf's proposal, they have other options:
In response to critics, Banzhaf notes that the students will not have to lobby in favor of the NYC-type ban on large servings of sugary soft drinks, although most probably will choose that option. They may also lobby for other ways to deal with the major impact sugary soft drinks have on obesity. For example:
? Ban the sale of sugary soft drinks entirely
? Ban the sale of sugary soft drinks to children
? Put a special tax on sugary soft drinks; e.g., to reduce consumption and/or to fund counterads
? Don't exempt sugary soft drinks from the ordinary sales tax
? Prohibit the sale of sugary soft drinks in vending machines
? Mandate per-oz. pricing of sugary soft drinks in venues like fast food restaurants and movie theaters (i.e., a 32 oz. serving must cost at least twice as much as a 16 oz. serving)
? Limit the maximum size for sugary soft drinks in venues like fast food restaurants and movie theaters (e.g., a single serving can be no more than 16 oz.).
The homework assignment also permits the students to "ask the legislators to address another food-related problem other than obesity (e.g., food safety, availability, etc.)."
I'm gonna guess there aren't a lot of libertarians in his class.
If we're lucky, soon this Bloomberg PSA will air across the nation!
Via Walter Olson.