Task Management vs. Outcome Leadership

I am sure all of you heard about the “ban” on large sugary drinks in New York City.  I was very happy to see that a judge overruled it (Comrade Bloomberg will appeal that ruling).  It was nice to see the judicial system play its proper role in controlling the expansion of government.

This to me was an example of “task management” with all of its flaws — creating rule after rule about every little action a person can take to achieve a desired outcome. I think we can all agree that reducing obesity and diabetes, improving people’s lives, and reducing healthcare costs are all noble goals.  I just don’t think my body and health should be anyone else’s to control.

Just imagine how easy the goal is to circumvent and how hard it is to administer:

  • Can people buy two drinks?
  • Can they go to two stores side by side?
  • Can they mail order two liter sodas?
  • Can they drive across the bridge to New Jersey to buy soda in bulk?
  • What about unlimited refills?
  • What about all other types of sugar? Candy bars?  Desserts?  White flour? All bread?   Fruit? Afterall, too much fructose can mimic soda.

Clearly, to really “control” this issue, the government would need to pass a lot more laws. To make things fair, we’d have to consider everything else that’s bad for our health, like smoking, drinking and fried food.  I would argue that any of these is causing more damage than soft drinks. While Bloomberg’s pet peeve is sugar water, the next mayor’s could be something else. It’s a slippery slope of “task management” once started.

What about other issues that people think are important and are damaging society? Are intelligence and culture important for our children? Why not consider banning reality TV, which often plays to the lowest common denominator of humanity.  People and US magazine really don’t add any value to the intelligence of society.  Instead we should be reading something edifying like the New York Times or Wall Street Journal.  So let’s tax the People and Us readers extra.

You can see where this all leads to:  more and more rules. With additional rules comes people trying to “get away” with things which would require more costs to “manage” an outcome.

Outcome leadership assumes people have an intrinsic incentive to maintain their own bodies and health and we should support them in achieving that goal.  Maybe they’ll get help from a charitable institution with a focus on education and incentives to reduce obesity and diabetes by 25 percent.  Maybe allow the free market to charge more for insurance for people who are not healthy.  Let people choose and teach them how to be successful.