Tag Archives: albany

Regulation of the Day 191: Sippy Cups

Children are messy. That’s why Richard Belanger, one of mankind’s unsung heroes, invented the sippy cup. By taking advantage of surface tension, liquid won’t spill out even if the cup is held upside down.  Even the most determined toddler has a hard time making a mess.

Then came the lawyers.

New York’s state legislature just passed a bill requiring warning labels to be put on all sippy cups sold in the state. It isn’t because sippy cups are dangerous. They don’t have sharp edges. They aren’t toxic. Nor are they a choking hazard. No, it’s because sometimes parents sometimes fill sippy cups with liquids that contain sugar, such as fruit juice. The labels warn that giving your child such drinks will cause tooth decay.

A similar bill passed last year, but fell victim to then-Gov. David Paterson’s veto pen. Current Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s stance on sippy cup policy is unknown. He will see some interest group pressure, though:

“I can show you photos of children who go to bed with sippy cups,” said Mark Feldman, executive director of the state Dental Association, which pressed for the bill.

“All you see is little black stumps that is all that is left of the teeth,” he added.

And I can show you a busybody who spends entirely too much time worrying about other people’s children. If his strongest argument is anecdotal hyperbole (possibly photoshopped?), then his case is weak indeed.

Either that, or the ADA felt the need to have a legislative accomplishment to brag about in its newsletter to prove its clout.

Regulation of the Day 149: Sliced Bagels

In New York State, sliced bagels cost 8 cents more than unsliced bagels. It’s not because they’re more expensive. The marginal cost in labor and equipment is practically nil. Nor is it because bagel shop owners are greedy. Shops in Connecticut and New Jersey don’t charge more for sliced bagels. And there’s nothing about New York consumers that makes them more susceptible to predatory bagel pricing. The reason is government.

Albany’s legislators are in quite the fiscal mess right now. Short of cutting spending, they’re trying everything they can to plug their $8.5 billion budget deficit. The Wall Street Journal explains how this affects bagels:

“In New York, the sale of whole bagels isn’t subject to sales tax. But the tax does apply to “sliced or prepared bagels (with cream cheese or other toppings),” according to the state Department of Taxation and Finance. And if the bagel is eaten in the store, even if it’s never been touched by a knife, it’s also taxed.”

So there you have it. Bruegger’s, a New York bagel chain, put signs in its stores telling customers that “We apologize for this change and share in your frustration on this additional tax.”

Bruegger’s shouldn’t be apologizing to its customers. The state legislature should be apologizing to theirs. If they had been able to keep state spending in check, there would be no need for the tax.

(Via Reason’s Katherine Mangu-Ward)