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June 4, 2012

Regulating Freedom

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On May 30th Michael M. Grynbaum of the New York Times reported, "New York City plans to enact a far-reaching ban on the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks at restaurants, movie theaters and street carts, in the most ambitious effort yet by the Bloomberg administration to combat rising obesity."

Whether this policy indeed has any affect on obesity is questionable but the one thing that it will definitely combat is freedom!

Several years ago we wrote about the hair brained scheme that one New York City Councilman had to limit the number of fast food restaurants in any given neighborhood because of the health risks of consuming too much fried and fatty foods.

This is a slippery slope we are embarking on. The fact is that consumption of too much of anything can be harmful to ones health, notwithstanding, that is, Mae West's comment that too much of a good thing is a good thing!

The back of my box of bran cereal notes that the proper serving size is a cup of the stuff and I guarantee you that if I consume too much at one sitting - say three of four cups - its going to be bad for you and most likely everyone within ten yards of me!

The issue here is certainly not obesity. Lord knows we are lectured about that every day in many different ways. The real issue is our freedom to make decisions for ourselves and we should not be willing to cede that decision making process to the government at any level.

Even the king of super-sizing themselves, McDonalds, now offers "healthy alternatives" and most fast food chains have introduced the same options. But if what we want to eat and the quantities we want of those consumables is now going to become the determination of the government we are as a society in real trouble. This is perhaps the worst form of totalitarianism imaginable.

It almost suggests that public education on the evils of obesity is not working so the government has to take the bull by the horns (low fat bull of course - or maybe buffalo which is leaner) and, ahem, force feed us with limitations that are for our own good.

We can see it now, getting busted for trying to sneak a 20-ounce bottle of soda into a movie theater for a three-hour show. Or perhaps we will now have a law that will provide for medical soda (kind of like medical marijuana) where you can get a prescription if you are suffering from some ailment that requires a 32 ounce cola for treated - maybe like depression from not being allowed to buy what you want of an otherwise legal product when you want it!

This all started with prohibition (remember how well that little experiment worked?). Then it was tobacco and while we can debate the relative evils of demon rum or tobacco we can conclude that prohibition spawns prohibition and once you allow that type of government interference there no product, consumable or otherwise, that will be safe from the regulators' grasp.

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