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24 July, 2008 - Beware of the Food Police

Stand by America! The Food Police could soon be knocking on your door at dinner time to see if you are eating the “right food”. Another example of proposed legislation to protect ourselves from ourselves made its way into the news last week.

This is the latest one that caught my attention. Jan Berry, a member of the Los Angeles City Council, is spearheading legislation in that city that would ban new fast food restaurants like McDonalds and KFC from opening in a 32-square mile chunk of the city, including her district. The targeted area is already home to some 400 fast food companies and the reason she’s introducing the legislation....to combat obesity which she says is exceptionally high in that area. She legally defines the fast food industry as having characteristics including a “limited menu” and “food served in disposable containers”.

Ms. Berry apparently has determined that fast food restaurants are the main cause of obesity and the problem will go away if the law says no more can locate in that area. I find it interesting that she says nothing about individual responsibility in food choice and exercise as being a possible solution to the obesity problem; lay it all on fast food restaurants and pass a new law. As a student reading the U.S. Constitution, nowhere did I see a sentence that says that Federal, State or Local governments should decide what we eat, how we eat and when we eat. I certainly recall a line in the Declaration that says we are all created equal; but what we do with our diet and body after that becomes our responsibility, not government.

Add to that the legislation banning trans-fats and requiring the listing of calories in every restaurant menu item in cities across the country; and then let me add yet another attempt at dictating my diet that I discovered when I visited Denver, Colorado a few days ago. Prior to the Democratic National Convention, a representative of the Democratic National Committee arrived in Denver to tell hotels and restaurants serving food to the delegates and visitors that they were to serve only organic meat and produce, and only locally grown in the Denver area.

That stirred a real fuss in the industry because restaurants and hotels had already ordered their food supplies for the convention. Finally, state officials told her it would be impossible. There simply was not that much locally-grown organic food available, so back off on that demand.

When will we stop passing laws and turning to government to make decisions that we as individuals should make? As my parents always told me “In this country we have the freedom of choice, make the right one and you benefit, make the wrong one and you pay the price, but whatever you choose, it’s you and you alone”. It was good advice then and it still is today. Let’s stop turning to government to protect ourselves from ourselves.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.


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