Mayor Michael Bloomberg may be one of the world’s biggest proponents of government action to promote public health, but Hizzoner has his limits. In his weekly radio appearance on John Gambling’s radio show, the mayor was asked whether he would consider ordering mandatory gym memberships and he admitted that’s taking things too far.
“Well, you have to be practical about what legally you can do and what people will do,” said Mr. Bloomberg. “The nice thing about the soda thing is it’s really just a suggestion. So, if you want to buy 32 ounces, you just have to carry it back to your seat in two cups. And maybe that would convince you to only take one, but if you want two you can do it. I think government’s job … is to give you advice, not to force you do things.”
Mr. Bloomberg did note, however, that the government does force behavior under certain circumstances. Nevertheless, he said forcing physical exercise “probably” crosses the line of acceptability.
“Although there are some things we try and force you to do,” he continued. “If there’s asbestos in the classroom or your office building, we force you out. If you want to drink and drive, we try and stop you–although sometimes not as successfully as you’d like. … I think some of these other things–calorie counts we’ve done in chain restaurants so you can see what you’re eating–[are okay]. But when it comes to forcing you, … the only thing the government can do practically–and I think should do–is education. Exercise is great for you, but how do you convince people to do it? And should you force them to do it? Probably not.”