The "Slippery Slope" is a Fallacy
Or...it might be. People have raised the specter of the "slippery slope" a few times, and I find the argument tempting. But on the other hand, I also know that this argument is often fallacious. Because something might follow does not mean it will, and one has to consider so many other factors to predict where the slope leads. It seems to me we cannot identify a slippery slope until we are at the bottom of it, looking back.
Agricultural Subsidies: the Real Slippery Slope?
Might we argue the real slippery slope to worry about here was providing agricultural subsidies? From that, everything that's wrong followed: cheap processed foods; sugars in everything; corn and soy in everything; CAFO meats; sodas served in buckets because it costs nothing to make it (the bucket costs more). Can wee draw a line straight from agricultural subsidies to the obesity/diabetes/heart disease epidemic? I find it sad that my tax dollars subsidize farmers not to protect them and the agrarian American way of life, but to ensure my access to $1 buckets of soda.
Soda = Tobacco
People understandably worry that regulation of soda will naturally lead to more (and undesirable) regulation of other foods. I don't consider soda "food," so I prefer a different argument. Supposing we compare sugary sodas to tobacco, instead.
Studies demonstrate, and we as a society have more or less agreed, that tobacco harms people, and offers no benefit beyond profit for its producers/retailers. This also describes soda. Moderation doesn't matter: some smoking is bad; more smoking is worse. Same for soda. Smoking costs society, in terms of health care; soda too.
It seems to me the heavy regulation of tobacco has had some positive effects, and has not (apparently) prevented manufacturers and retailers from continuing to profit, nor does it prevent people from smoking if they want to. It just ties the impact of this behavior more closely to its cost, and asks the user to bear some of that cost.
Of course, this particular soda regulation doesn't really even do that, because it doesn't impose any costs, just an inconvenience. It's relatively toothless, and if this is the power of the government nanny-state, I'm not too scared. Not yet, anyhow.
Perversely, the power of the food mega-corporations will likely prevent the type of slippery slope regulation some of us fear. After all, meat, egg and dairy producers (particularly the evil ones!) have plenty of political clout too. The companies making the refined, processed crap also make the oils they fry it in. None of them will want meaningful regulation, so likely none will occur.
I am very cynical and pragmatic about all this. As long as abundant subsidized commodities and cheap energy prop up this system, not much will change. When the time arrives that it costs too much to process, package, and ship stuff across the country and around the world, other options will become more attractive.