What a Prick

Some years ago, Christopher Hitchens wrote a great piece for Vanity Fair in which he set out to break as many laws of petit Javert and New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg as possible: sitting on a milk crate, taking his feet off the pedals of his bike, feeding pigeons, the list goes on. It’s a shame Hitch has died, because it would be great to get his take on Bloomberg’s latest ban: feeding the homeless:

The Bloomberg administration is now taking the term “food police” to new depths, blocking food donations to all government-run facilities that serve the city’s homeless.

In conjunction with a mayoral task force and the Health Department, the Department of Homeless Services recently started enforcing new nutritional rules for food served at city shelters. Since DHS can’t assess the nutritional content of donated food, shelters have to turn away good Samaritans.

DHS Commissioner Seth Diamond says the ban on food donations is consistent with Mayor Bloomberg’s emphasis on improving nutrition for all New Yorkers. A new interagency document controls what can be served at facilities — dictating serving sizes as well as salt, fat and calorie contents, plus fiber minimums and condiment recommendations.

The city also cites food-safety issues with donations, but it’s clear that the real driver behind the ban is the Bloomberg dietary diktats.

The story goes on to detail a local Orthodox Jewish congregation that has for over a decade harvested treats leftover from events such as bar mitzvahs to pass on to homeless shelters, but who are now being turned away.
If this seems like an insane policy to you — after all, if you’re homeless, you probably care more about getting your hands on that fresh kugel than you do your cholesterol — you’re missing the point. To the Nannies, you must be made to care about your health, and the State is there to help you make enlightened choices whether you like it or not. The fact that this policy also helps the government crowd out private charity in favour of the state is the low-sugar icing on the gluten-free cake.


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