“This is not an attempt to control people as to what they can put into their mouths,” says councilwoman Jan Perry of L.A.’s new ban on fast food restaurants. “This is an attempt to diversify their food options.”
But is that really what it is about?
Perry and several of her fellow Los Angeles councilmembers began their crusade against fast food back in 2008, to the notice of few; they finally enacted a new ordinance this month that will prevent stand-alone restaurants from building in areas of South Los Angeles.
Health-conscious government is on the move across the country.
Last March, in New York, assemblyman Felix Ortiz proposed an ordinance that would ban restaurants statewide from using salt in the preparation of food. Joining Ortiz in the push to keep New Yorkers healthy, whether they like it or not, are Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYC Health Czar, Thomas Farley.
Most cities have a health commissioner; New York City has a czar.
With increasing regularity, it seems, government is veering from its constitutional mandate to promote the general welfare, onto a disturbing course of specific restrictive regulation. Cities and counties nationwide are passing ordinances on everything from cigarette smoking on street corners to how restaurants can prepare their French fries.
And it’s getting downright intrusive.
Just how much salt is too much? And do we really need anyone to tell us? Certainly the public has a right to know what ingredients are in our food, but beyond obvious dangerous chemical preservatives and so forth should the government be scrutineering what we consume? Aren’t these the same people who hold a woman’s right to choose as sacrosanct? What about my body?
Back in the 1990s when the U.S. Congress began putting the screws to the tobacco industry we all seemed to think it was a good idea; everyone from Hillary Clinton to Pat Robertson was for it. The New York Times blazed headlines of a scurrilous plot by tobacco manufactures to increase nicotine in cigarettes, and thusly make them more addictive.
Except it wasn’t true. The Times printed a miniscule retraction at the bottom of their follow-up story the next day.
But the regulations were tightened.
Okay, maybe a good thing. Certainly most people agree that tobacco products present a danger to society, but how did we get from there to a Double Whopper with Cheese?
City and county governments have enormous power. In San Francisco a few weeks ago the city council decided to ban McDonald’s Happy Meal, until an oddly clear-thinking mayor, Gavin Newsom—a man not given to a great deal of deep, rational thought—vetoed the measure.
Then come the activists, those individuals who just can’t leave us to make our own choices without suing a corporate giant on our behalf.
Yesterday, Monet Parham, a mother of two from somewhere out here in LA-LA Land filed a suit against McDonald’s claiming the toys given out with Happy Meals unfairly lure her kids into eating unhealthy food.
Now the nonsense of a suit like that is obvious. How can a Happy Meal put someone’s children’s health at risk without the parent’s participation? Doesn’t personal responsibility come into play here?
But of course the suit wasn’t about her children at all. The woman is pimping out her kids as poster children for the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a liberal Washington-base activist group.
Please, if I need a watchdog, I’ll get a Doberman!
Without question society needs regulation. The complexities of modern society are fraught with dangers our forefathers couldn’t comprehend and some rules must be enacted to promote the public welfare. But with regulation comes cost, both to our personal freedom and our pocketbooks.
It is the nature of government when allowed to go unchecked to exceed its mandate; bureaucrats left to run wild will regulate, if for no other reason, simply to justify their own existence.
It’s ice cream!