Let’s say that you’re a major business interest lobbying against a progressive policy. You’ve already tried to make the “Freedom” argument, stapling “Soft Drink Freedom” to the delivery trucks of all your distributors. But that approach failed.
New York City’s limit on the size of sugary drinks is an “extraordinary infringement” on consumer choice, a lawyer for the American Beverage Association and other critics said in court on Wednesday.
The NAACP’s New York state branch and the Hispanic Federation have joined beverage makers and sellers in trying to stop the rule from taking effect March 12.
The issue is complex for the minority advocates, especially given that obesity rates are higher than average among blacks and Hispanics, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The groups say in court papers they’re concerned about the discrepancy, but the soda rule will unduly harm minority businesses and “freedom of choice in low-income communities.”
The NAACP and the Hispanic Federation, a network of 100 northeastern groups, say minority-owned delis and corner stores will end up at a disadvantage compared to grocery chains.
“This sweeping regulation will no doubt burden and disproportionally impact minority-owned businesses at a time when these businesses can least afford it,” they said in court papers. They say the city should focus instead on increasing physical education in schools.
I’m not sure how many black-owned corner stores and delis there are in New York City. The majority of them are owned by Muslims or Asians with some percentage of Indian and Puerto Rican owners. There are 155,000 black owned businesses in New York City, but the lion’s share of the 24/7 corner store/deli business goes to immigrants.
There are more black and hispanic owned restaurants and they may take a bit of a hit on this, but it’s not too clear that the law would have that much of an impact on stores, rather than on distributors and manufactures, except insofar as enforcement goes.
The ABA’s involvement is not about restaurants and stores, it’s about selling to them. Getting minority groups involved was likely about the bottom line. A few contributions to the right places. But Bloomberg has pockets that are even deeper than those of the American Beverage Association.
Still with the disproportionate argument, the soda gang has a new card to play against the anti-soda mayor. In a racially divisive society, every argument comes down to racism, sooner or later.
So Bloomberg will trot out minority anti-obesity activists and the ABA will trot out minority business owners and a debate over everyone’s freedoms will come down to who knows what’s best for minorities.
Welcome to America 2013. It’s like Somalia and Thailand, but with more lawyers and special interests.