Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Getting Worked Up

Alright everybody, time to come out for your daily exercise-at least it will be once the city's new health commissioner really gets his act together. As City Room reports: "Couch potatoes in the boroughs outside Manhattan awake: New York’s health commissioner says that now that the city has smoking and trans fats under control, you and your exercise and eating habits are the next big challenge."

Now, with the city reaching record levels of unemployment, you'd think that the challenges that face us are much more daunting than trying to create a government sponsored exercise regime in order to engineer a healthier citizenry. Why not be able to do two things at once, you say? Well, our view is that the city isn't answering the more pressing challenge, so the health commissioner's crusade is a waste of tax payer money-and a profound policy misdirection.

Commissioner Farley-and could we ever assume that someone could be found who's even more Nanny than Big Brother Frieden?-believes that outer borough residents are too fat; and therefore need to be (forced?) cajoled to get off of their butts: "The commissioner, Dr. Thomas A. Farley, who will be rolling out the city’s health goals for the next three years on Monday, said in an interview on Sunday that he was concerned about what he saw as the tendency of residents of the boroughs outside Manhattan to be fatter and less active than those in the city’s center. “In Manhattan, most people are going to be walking,” said Dr. Farley, who is string-bean thin, lives in Brooklyn and runs three miles or bikes every day. “Throughout the other boroughs, they are going to be driving.”

Well, of course they are, because in order to get anywhere in, let's say Queens, you need to be able to drive. In Manhattan, on the other hand, everything you need is basically at you local neighborhood shop. Ironically, however, the Bloomberg administratiuon is doing everything it can to kill neighborhood shopping by malling the city with destination chain stores; a blatant contradiction to what Commissioner Farley would like to encourage.

But what can Farley really do to encourage walking? Here's what the City Room tells us: "He said he wanted to get people out of their cars and on their feet with interagency campaigns to create more bike lanes, open schoolyards for recreation and unlock staircases so people could walk down stairs."

But Farley really hasn't found the right formula-but he's working on it, and if Frieden is any indication of what lies ahead, be prepared to have the government as your running shoes: "Dr. Farley’s campaign is short on concrete action at the moment — there are no plans for public exercise sessions in Times Square, for example. But he hinted that some steps may lie ahead. “Sometimes you can develop a strategy as you go forward,” he said."

Hey, commissioner, stick to swine flu prevention, and leave the rest of us alone to make our own poorly thought out decisions. That's what's called liberty.