Thursday, April 11, 2013

Hey Bloomberg: You can't escape the Law of Unintended Consequences

Readers of OLS know I love to bang on the disgusting mayor of NYC for his arrogant, paternalistic attitude that would deny individuals the right to decide for themselves about what, and how much, food to consume.  But just suppose for a moment that his proposed ban on large soda drinks hadn't been rejected by a NY judge, how might businesses have reacted to the ban? Well, one obvious response would be to sell consumers "bundles" of smaller sodas, thus meeting consumer desires and by-passing the law.  Indeed, it could well be the case that in so doing, consumers might end up drinking more soda after the ban than before, the exact opposite of what Bloomberg is trying to accomplish.  In fact, researchers at UCal-San Diego have studied this very issue and concluded:
Our research suggests that businesses have a strong incentive to offer bundles of soda when drink size is limited. Restricting larger-sized drinks may have the unintended consequence of increasing soda consumption rather than decreasing it.
Take that, Food Nazi Bloomberg!  You can access the entire research article here.  (HT:Carpe Diem)