Nanny State

6th October

First Published in The New York Sun, October 6, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

In the mid-1960s my father developed chest pains, and so the Wolf family was formally introduced to trans fats –– by our family doctor. The butter with which we slathered our morning toast and cooked our eggs was now a no-no. Instead, we were solemnly told we should substitute margarine, a trans fat then thought of as a healthy substitute for the far more dangerous — and better tasting — butter. Trans fats are in the oil that many restaurants now use to fry potatoes and other things to delicious crispness.

Now unlike my old family doctor, I am not suggesting that trans fat is a health food or even good for you. In fact, I am prepared to concede that trans fat is not good for you. Alas, most things that taste good aren’t good for you. But how bad are these things really? (more…)

30th June

First Published in The New York Sun, June 30, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

To celebrate the last day of school, Chancellor Klein visited a school in Brooklyn and gave out popsicles to the students. Shame on you, Mr. Klein, contributing to the “childhood obesity epidemic.”

A few weeks ago I wrote about the effort, led by a former president, Bill Clinton, to purge soft drinks and snack foods from our nation’s schools. Mr. Klein and Mayor Bloomberg have already banished whole milk from Gotham’s school lunches,replacing it with skim milk. Now the child obesity discussion has taken an ominous new turn: City Councilman Joel Rivera, the chair of the Health Committee, proposes that the city’s zoning resolution be altered to limit the number of fast food restaurants in certain areas of the city. (more…)

4th October

First Published in The New York Sun, October 4, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

In the final analysis it was the election that ended the long-simmering contract dispute between the United Federation of Teachers and the Department of Education (subject, of course, to the ratification of the members). Sources close to the negotiations confirm that it was the mayor who kept the deliberations moving even as his own Education Department officials took a hard line.

Mayor Bloomberg was eager to deny this issue to Fernando Ferrer. By settling with the teachers, the mayor removes the lack of a contract as a Ferrer talking point. Not clear is whether the teachers might endorse the mayor, something I suspect is not likely. But it is now less likely that they would back Mr. Ferrer. The union can turn its attention to winning ratification from the membership, an excuse to remain above the political fray. I view the contract settlement as a victory for Mayor Bloomberg. (more…)

16th January

First Published in The New York Sun, January 16, 2004

By Andrew Wolf

The state of the Bronx is, well, awful. This is nothing new, of course. Those of us who were born here, grew up here, and still live here are used to bad news.We’ve had it for the better part of the last half-century. And the bad news is likely to continue since there is a near total absence of creative leadership, the missing ingredient in what could otherwise be a successful renaissance.

The Bronx was once known as the Borough of Universities, a clever marketing ploy by the borough’s former, longtime president, James J. Lyons. A leather salesman by trade, Lyons made his mark in the private sector by coming up with the idea of wing-tipped shoes, selling damaged leather filled with pinholes that was glued to the shoe’s front.  (more…)

9th July

First Published in The New York Sun,  July 9, 2002
By Andrew Wolf

Readers be warned: This column may not be totally cogent or accurate. You see, I have recently been informed by the New York Public Interest Research Group, better known as NYPIRG, that I must be suffering the effects of childhood lead poisoning. But then, chances are that you too are suffering from this same affliction, so presumably you won’t be able to tell the difference.

If you are a child of the 1970s or any earlier decade, more likely than not you had levels of lead in your bloodstream that today could win you six or seven figure legal settlements. (more…)