Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

Food wars: A new hope

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Food wars: A new hope 

Budget prevents food bans based on size, nutrition

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Waukesh Freeman June 27, 2013 Page A6 Opinion


Some good news. The state budget is almost complete. Time to celebrate with a really big soda.

One of the provisions of the state budget prevents local units of government from regulating food items based on portion size, nutrition and calories. So go ahead and enjoy that jumbo popcorn and super-sized soft drink while you watch the nanny-state ninnies scream in horror.

Who would have thought that the symbol of freedom is a jumbo slurpee?

While we should not be thrilled that another non-budget item was stuck in the state budget, a bipartisan habit, at least the state Legislature is using some common sense (this time). A patchwork of local regulations created by health fanatic do-gooders would make it practically impossible for retailers to serve their customers.

Unfortunately, we live in an age when such legislation is needed.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg infamously tried a ban on large sodas in his city before the courts struck it down. This came after a city war on salt and trans-fats.

Other cities have not been immune to suddenly deciding what is good for you. Superior in northern Wisconsin even considered a ban on McDonald’s Happy Meals. Fortunately, the idea was rejected.

Of course, your would-be governmentappointed health gurus are a little cranky about this budget provision. They should have a king-size Snickers candy bar and relax.

In a press release, the usual caring groups, who care so much they want the government to tell you what to eat, asked Gov. Scott Walker to veto the ban on regulating junk food. They include the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Health First Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, and, (my favorite) the Childhood Obesity Prevention Collaborative.

Here’s a good rule for life. If an organization has the word “Collaborative” in their title, they’re probably not too interested in your personal freedom.

The organizations complain that such a ban will interfere with local government wellness programs for their employees. “In particular, this motion would greatly weaken local government wellness programs by preventing such governments from setting nutrition standards for government employees and buildings.”

If a local government’s wellness program bans employees from buying a 32-ounce soda but says a 16-ounce soda is OK, count me as willing to stand with the workers. “No Big Gulp, no peace!”

As for setting nutrition standards for buildings, most buildings are pretty inedible.

What these groups really want is to allow a patchwork of crazy health regulations of food that would differ from municipality to municipality. They oppose “legislation that restricts local governments from addressing the health concerns of its citizens.”

The citizens do not belong to the local governments. The local governments belong to the citizens. So the “health concerns” are those of the citizens, and not the government, and an adult human being is fully capable of deciding what they want to eat, when they want to eat, and how much they want to eat.

Unfortunately, the trend is toward less freedom of personal choice, not more. As we move toward greater participation of the government in health care, our personal choices become more of a concern to the government we’ve placed in charge of our health. That craving for extra salt on your popcorn has a public policy dimension that would have appalled our Founding Fathers.

Yes, Americans should be more concerned about our health. I strongly believe our leaders should talk about making healthier choices in our personal lives.

As someone who is taking active steps to improve my health by getting more exercise and eating healthier, I take health issues very seriously.

However, we need to trust people to make the best decisions for themselves. Because if we cannot trust people on this most basic level, the food that they are putting in their mouths, we’re really saying that we cannot trust adult Americans to be competent decision makers.

There are implications in that distrust in people making personal choices that, while not intended by the nanny groups, directly contradict many of our ideas about sovereignty and the republic. Let’s stand for personal freedom instead.

Have a Coke and a smile. It’s almost Independence Day.

(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at http://www.wigderson.com and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)

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