Sunday, October 4, 2015

Optimism and the Successful Battle Against Big Soda

The Moor is of a free and open nature,
That thinks men honest but that seem to be so,              
And will as tenderly be led by th'nose
As asses are.

                                                                                  --Othello, Act I, Scene 3. 

Is that true of voters? The common man lacks all conviction, we say, while the moneyed one percent and multi-national corporations are full of passionate intensity for their causes. And in our stupor, they lead us around by our noses as they choose.  Citizens United has destroyed our politics forever; the hold of the 1% and big banks over Congress means we can never regulate banks or successfully enlist Congress to act for the good of the many.

So goes the refrain.

We look at Scott Wiener's campaign (San Francisco supervisor) to impose a two cents per can soda tax last November.  His campaign was shot down in flames by Big Soda.

But take a look at these statistics in the NYT Upshot article on October 2, 2015 (reproduced in slightly different format from Vox here):

Big Soda may not be winning. Consumption of sweetened soda has declined significantly in the past 15 years.  Sales of full calorie sodas have been cut by 25%. Soda consumption is undergoing a substantial and sustained decline. As a result the obesity epidemic is waning. Soda companies are forced to search for healthier alternatives. With public education and the help of local actors like school boards we've been able to combat the worst effects of Big Soda. The work is far from done, but there is room for optimism that a concerted public health campaign can have a positive effect.

We saw it with tobacco too.

If we can educate people not to smoke and not to drink sweetened sodas, who says we can't educate people to stop voting for tax cuts for the rich, or to vote for policies that affirmatively protect the environment, or effect positive changes in health care coverage, or vote for Congressmen and women who will impose sensible banking regulations?

Never lose hope. Not every play ends in tragedy.