Bloomberg: “We’re not telling you what to eat, you just can’t eat this.”

December 6, 2006

From an A.P. article, regarding New York City’s new ban on restaurants’ use of trans fats in their menus:

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who banned smoking in bars and restaurants during his first term, said the changes could save lives.”We’re not trying to take away anybody’s ability to go out and have the kind of food that they want in the quantities that they want, but we are trying to make that food safer,” he said.

Many New Yorkers also were all for the ban, saying health concerns were more important than fears of Big Brother supervising their stomachs.

He’s not trying to take away anybody’s ability to go out and have the kind of food they want? Huh?

But I hear no complaints: New Yorkers it seems are becoming increasingly obsequious.

I am all in favor of disseminating information. Requiring a restaurant, say, to provide an ingredient list and the nutrition facts for every meal it serves is a reasonable piece of legislation. Yes, it’s government regulation, and, yes, its enactment may end up in higher prices for consumer. (Though printing fees are going to have to come from somewhere. Although I think forcing these data to be posted on menus is a bit excessive; simply requiring they be available upon request would be sufficient.)

But it wouldn’t take away my choice of what to eat.

But banning outright something that people (i) are generally aware is bad for them; (ii) can freely choose not to ingest; and (iii) have many alternative choices for – well, it’s not only a personal violation, it’s also poor logic. In this case, truly, let the market decide.

Does anyone really believe this is going to make Americans more healthy? Not alone. But if further laws like this follow, it could lead down a dangerous road.

Then there’s the hypocracy: meanwhile bartenders routinely serve quantities of alcohol that land people unconscious in their stairwell, the hospital, and even the grave. (And no, the solution is not prohibition. But we already knew that.)

And I won’t even go into the side issue of whether we can trust the science behind the conclusions on trans fat to begin with. Remember, we once thought lobotomies were a good idea.

So, no, I have a more radical suggestion: AVOID EATING FOOD THAT IS BAD FOR YOU. I would rather pay someone else’s hospital bill through federal health insurance than have the freedom to indulge in my own whims of choice – healthy to my body or not – taken away.

Parternalism is the new fascism.