According to coverage at places like NPR and CNN, an innovative campaign in Howard County, Maryland “provides a road map for other communities to reduce consumption of sugary drinks.” Not so fast, I argue in my new Washington Examiner piece: the suburban county in question is not remotely typical of America as a whole, the Howard County Unsweetened campaign blurred public and private boundaries in a dubious way, and the whole enterprise generated a deserved political pushback. While the plan, promoted by the local Horizon Foundation, might not have been all bad, “it sowed divisiveness, put government resources to improper purpose, and rested on a premise of frank paternalism. When it arrives in your community, you might want to respond as you might to a second pitcher of cola — by pushing it away with a polite, ‘no thanks.’” [cross-posted from Overlawyered]
Tag Archives: Howard County
- May 2015 work slowdown by Baltimore police may have led to long-term higher crime rate [Daniel Bier/FEE, Alex Tabarrok/Marginal Revolution] “11 Incredible Findings from the Report on Baltimore PD” [Bier, FEE]
- Claim: lawmakers can “give” private employees paid parental leave and “there’s no added cost to employers” [Kate Ryan, WTOP citing views of Montgomery County, Maryland council member Tom Hucker]
- Irony alert: Get-money-out-of-politics measure passes 53-47 in Howard County after backers outspend foes 10-1 [Len Lazarick, Maryland Reporter]
- “FBI fingerprinting for Uber and Lyft in Maryland would do more harm than good” [Washington Post letter to editor from Arthur Rizer, R Street Institute]
- “Economist: Baltimore Minimum Wage Bill Punishes Small Business Growth” [Connor Wolf]
- Major overhaul of state contracting proposed, along with hundreds of changes to regulations [Maryland Reporter]
A government that respects its citizens enough to let them make their own decisions. More like this please!
- Baltimore hotel follies: “The city-owned Hilton lost $2.9M in 2013, the best performance in the taxpayer-financed project’s history thus far.” [Baltimore Sun]
- Larry Hogan as governor would not seek to reopen same-sex marriage: “The voters of Maryland have already decided this issue.”
- Stingray surveillance devices: ACLU says local police in three parts of the state have got ’em;
- I was in the audience during this surprise wedding proposal woven into the plot of Olney Theatre’s Avenue Q revival. The show has been extended through July 20 and I recommend it;
- TIL: “Bladensburg swagger” [Washington Post on what was said to be the gait of the late Prince George’s County executive Wayne Curry]
- “In Howard and Anne Arundel, by contrast [as against Montgomery and P.G.], a plurality said that laws passed during [O’Malley’s] time in office were too liberal.” [Washington Post]
- Why should trademark law ban “disparagement” in first place? Caleb Brown interviews me on the Redskins case for the Cato podcast;
Bring your own Coke? Some find it a damper on the festivities to bring Howard County’s Fourth of July fireworks into compliance with County Executive Ken Ulman’s December 2012 edict sharply restricting the sale of sweet beverages and high-calorie snack food at county-sponsored events. Under the regulations, which are “the first and only of their kind in the state,” at least “50 percent of packaged food offered at county events must contain 200 calories or less per portion”; prepared food, such as funnel cakes and soft-serve ice cream, is not covered. [Baltimore Sun via Quinton Report] The rules exempt the county’s “Wine in the Woods” event, held each May. More: County Council member Greg Fox (R-West County) has introduced legislation to overturn the executive order, and County Executive candidate Allan Kittleman (R) has signaled a similar view, but there is presently no sign that majority opinion on the council backs them up.
P.S. Whether or not the policy mirrors the preferences of voters in Howard County (and who knows, it might), it serves the function of affluence signaling in the conspicuously prosperous county. One reason families pay a premium to move to a county like Howard is the implicit promise that their kids will grow up with plenty of worldly, educated, skinny role models and that the government is not going to be run in line with the wishes of poorer or lower-status residents. Message sent!