Let's say, just hypothetically of course, Vail Mayor Andy Daly proposed that no commercial establishment within town borders could serve beer in anything smaller than a pint.
No girlie-man 12-ounce sippy cups allowed, and certainly no "tasters" for the can't-make-up-their-damn-mind crowd.
Merchants would most likely be privately thrilled with the concept of "more drink = higher price = quicker buzz = even more drinks," but would also, under the guise of responsibility, be publicly appalled at the prospect of government telling its customers how much beer they can and cannot drink.
Most others Happy Valleyites would be disgusted by the government's attempt to modify our behavior.
"Who, or what, gives them the right?" we would shout. "We're Americans, dammit, what happened to personal responsibility, stop taking away our liberties!"
Again though, privately, a few would be quietly pleased with the idea. We loves our drunk tourists, right?
Now twist it and have Mayor Daly say no more than three small beers for any customer per visit because too many tourists are getting hammered and doing stupid things during their vacations, and we all end up having to pay for their stupidity through higher insurance premiums and overtime for cleanup crews.
The exact same people would be pretty much repulsed by the concept, but those in quiet agreement would trade places with the self-righteous.
We loves imposing our piousness on others, right?
Either way, 99 percent of us would pooh-pooh both such intrusively silly proposals, and that is exactly what has happened to New York Mayor Bloomberg last week when he proposed a ban on sugary sodas larger than 16 ounces to help combat our ever-expanding obesity problem.
His argument is simple: The bigger the waistline the larger the dollar sign for the cost to society. This follows Bloomberg's already approved ban on smoking in bars, restaurants and public places, artificial trans fats in restaurant food, requiring calorie counts be posted at fast-food outlets, and he hopes to continue with a campaign to cut salt in restaurant meals and packaged foods.
I suppose next we'll see him wearing a tofu cape and shining a spotlight into the night sky with his silhouette holding a carrot.
But as absurd as this might appear on the surface, I cannot imagine sitting in a car without a seatbelt. I cannot imagine enjoying a lovely dinner at Russell's on Bridge Street while having to endure some obese putz next to me chain smoking Camels and bragging loudly about his ability to drive home after downing a few shots and texting his friends at the same time.
Yet all of those actions are legislated in one form or another, and together have saved tens of thousands of lives.
Yes, I do understand how ridiculous it is to attempt to legislate behavioral changes, as it makes about as much sense as the town of Vail subsidizing gym memberships to help keep us all fit and trim so we offer a more pleasing image to tourists.
But even though Bloomberg's proposal has as much chance of passing as Tebow does passing the Jets straight to the Super Bowl, at least his little charade has probably planted a seed or two in people's minds next time they buy a sugar-bomb soda for themselves, or even better, their kids.
And that thought alone, from a physiological point of view, has tremendous value.
Richard Carnes of Edwards writes weekly. He can be reached at email@example.com.