So in the case of the attack on soda, the idea is that we can limit certain liberties if the public at large has to share the burden of the cost associated with those liberties. This seems like a reasonable tradeoff. If you want something you have to give something up in return. However, the way this tradeoff is being proposed in both Richmond and New York is entirely backwards. If we want people to change their behavior, we should allow individual liberty and encourage individuals to take responsibility for their own actions.
Give people a choice. If you choose to drink large quantities of soda, then you also choose to give up the opportunity to receive taxpayer-subsidized health care. So right on the side of a 44oz Big Gulp we could write this warning: “If you drink all this soda you could become obese and could find yourself in need of medical attention. By drinking this soda you assume all risks associated with it and hold the seller, manufacturer, government, and public at large harmless for your actions.” And while we're at it we could do something similar for tobacco products.
This sounds unrealistic, if only because of the implementation problems. But it poses no greater hurdle to fair implementation than a health care system in which the government will be in charge of deciding on treatment options and making sure health care professionals get paid.
This proposal sounds inhumane because people who need health care may not receive it. But is that any less humane than forcing people who make prudent choices pay for those who don’t? When the government steps in to limit liberty and responsibility it has already dehumanized all of us.