Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bloomberg's Hypocritical Hyperbolic Chamber

Mother Bloomberg, anxiety prone like the proverbial Jewish mom who wants her child to not to forget to wear his sweater on a 70 degree day, is now really sounding the alarm about salt-comparing it to, of all things asbestos: "Salt industry officials have called the mayor's initiative unnecessary, and critics have accused Bloomberg of trying to nanny the nation. But Bloomberg shot back Monday, comparing high-salt foods with cancer-causing asbestos. "Salt and asbestos: Clearly, both are bad for you," the mayor said. "If there's asbestos in the air in your building or in the place your child goes to school, would you like us to say that's not our responsibility? ... We have a responsibility for anything that is dangerous to inform the public."

Just what the tort lawyers needed to hear-hypertension as the new mesothelioma. But seriously, isn't this guy a bit unhinged? As the NY Post opines this morning: "Mayor It's-Good-For-Thee-But-Not-For-Me has decided that he likes salt less than he likes comfy cabs -- of which he is not terribly fond, either. Or, more precisely, he has decided that salt -- like livery legroom -- is not for the little people. Mayor Poppins, er, Bloomberg is adding salt to the Health Department's hit list -- right up there with Marlboros, transfatted french fries, double-chocolate donuts and grade-school bake sales. Specifically, Health Commissioner Thomas Farley has joined an effort to reduce sodium in prepared foods sold in the city by 25 percent by 2014."

But, as Dr. Alderman of Albert Einstein told the media yesterday, this policy intrusion is sending the city into uncharted scientific waters-fraught with unintended consequences: "And Dr. Alderman was even stronger in his comments to the News: "Michael Alderman, editor of the American Journal of Hypertension, called the city's salt initiative "a stretch based on hope. They want to do an experiment on a whole population without a good control," he said. "That's not science."

Well, no matter, as long as the mayor can dictate to others what he doesn't practice himself, he's happy. The Post captures this: "Because, really, what else would explain a mayor who likes to salt his Saltine crackers undertaking a city-wide sodium crackdown? The New York Times reported that culinary tidbit last fall, and also revealed that Bloomberg also likes burgers (yum) and burnt-bacon-and-peanut-butter sandwiches (double yum!). He's entitled, of course -- just as he rates the Chevy Suburban SUV that whisks him to the No. 4 train each morning, while less fortunate citizens labor to jam themselves into the no-leg-or-head-room hybrid taxis Mike has mandated. It's good to be mayor. You have so many."

So the mayor's a hypocrite who likes to exaggerate, big deal. After all, even a little exposure to salt-like asbestos-is likely to endanger your life-right? Well, not quite-as this from the Post reminds us: "Never mind that salt has important properties that preserve and stabilize food, and its sodium ions help maintain the fluid in human blood cells. Forget that the body does not manufacture its own sodium ions so there has to be some salt in everyone's diet. Restaurant owners have a less scientific reason for disliking the crackdown: salt makes food taste good."

Do we hear a chorus of, "Let them eat asbestos?" All of which underscores the silliness-but the danger as well-of all of this health meddling. As yet another manufacturer (joining Stella D'Oro) leaves the Bronx to a more business friendly clime, can't this mayor-the one who has presided over the economic collapse of the city's economy-focus on what is important?

As James Carville famously said: "It's the economy, stupid!" While not speaking directly to Mike Bloomberg when he uttered this political gem, his suggestion would apply well to a mayor who apparently has visions of a Nobel Prize for medicine. Our suggestion to Mike? Simply do no harm, and just butt out.