Citizen Dan, Part Deux
by Anthony Stasi
Jul 18, 2012 | 2443 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The mayor’s proposed ban on super-sized full sugar drinks is an issue tailor-made for a city councilman like Dan Halloran.

Halloran is a Libertarian Republican, which means he is short on social policy and long on individual rights. Regardless of Halloran’s congressional run for Gary Ackerman’s seat in New York’s 6th District, the landscape to push back against a proposal like this is right in the councilman’s wheelhouse.

Halloran railed at a recent protest that the city was quiet when Mayor Michael Bloomberg took on salt, MSG, and calorie counts. “Citizen Dan” Halloran is in his comfort zone on this issue. Standing there between two women, dressed as giant cups of soda, he defended the rights of consumers.

What the mayor is banking on is that early discomfort will eventually give way to compliance. The same early “Sturm und Drang” emerged with the smoking ban. The ban later became common place. Halloran wants people to stay heated on this issue.

Maybe he is right...about rights. The fact is, however, some of us like those calorie counts on food. It becomes obvious that we have adjusted to these laws when we visit other cities and realize that they do not post calories.

The best way for Mayor Bloomberg to have approached the issue of full sugar drinks would be to continue with the public service announcements and subway ads that explained just how much sugar is in those beverages. There is no need for a law if the public is adequately informed.

The city could probably take a break from its anti-smoking campaign and replace it somewhat with ads about full sugar drinks. In the end, it is a matter of choice, but every once in a while an issue comes along that is a candidate’s cup of (unsweetened) tea.

The High Price of Political Contributions

Unemployment in the United States is still an uncomfortable 7.8 percent, but that is a number that will eventually drop a little bit as the economy rebounds.

It took a long time for the economy to unravel, and if a recovery is going to be a lasting one, it too will take some time. But what about these employers who are going to be doing the hiring in the next five to 10 years?

We know that a great deal of the hiring process happens online: online job notices, online applications, online resumes, and sites like LinkedIn that corral both employers and job seekers. We know that people doing the hiring check us out online. They check to see what pops up on Google. They often see what our Facebook accounts might reveal about us.

We’ve gotten used to that, but what about our political activity? If you donate money to a candidate in a particular party, does that brand you as someone they might not like even before you walk through the door?

Two years ago, a friend who is a prominent professor at a small university was debating another distinguished professor on Barack Obama’s job performance. My friend was there to defend the president’s short tenure in office. He never expressed his party allegiance (a rarity in academics) until students found his history of contributions posted online.

This is what got him invited to defend the president, since they knew he gave money to Obama’s campaign. The point is that this was a man who obviously had political opinions, and yet kept them out of his professional life, until they surfaced online.

My friend is a professor of politics (some universities refuse to use the term “political science”), so he was not worried too much about the revelation. But would people seeking employment in, say, the government sector be hindered by sending in $25 to the local Republican candidate? Would an applicant be at a disadvantage if he or she donated to a Democratic candidate while applying for a position in the defense industry?

The potential to hurt one’s career through contributions is a big deal. We know that contributions are a form of speech, and yet the very subtle act of an online contribution can stymie a job search. At 7.8 percent unemployment, employers have a larger pool from which to hire, so beware of what you give and where you give it.

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