Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Fatuous Thinking

Just as another Q-Poll comes out to demonstrate that most New Yorker think that a soda tax is a bad idea, one of the country's premier busybodies shoots off an Op-Ed in the NY Daily News, calling on the governor to hang tough on the unpopular tax: "Last week, Gov. Paterson said his soda tax - which would put an 18% tax on soda and other sugary drinks containing less than 70% fruit juice - was in danger of officially going flat. He should find a way to rescue the idea, and quick. The tax is one of the very smartest ways to fight the obesity epidemic confronting the state and country."

Brownell's Rudd Center on Food Policy at Yale, is in the forefront of hectoring Americans to eat in ways that it feels they should; and we have little problem with hectoring-something that we resemble, as they say. Our problem comes from the belief that government, in the absence of smart choices being made by the folks, should start to dictate the way people behave. And make no mistake about it, taxation is nothing if it isn't the most coercive of government policies.

In our view, the ability of the folks to make free choices, along with the ability of the hectorers to educate them in the direction they feel best, is the most important feature of a free society. The problem that the Brownells' face, is the intractability of some of these people; and therefore the need to force them into making better choices-they see skinny sheep as the goal of public policy.

Here's her view of our dietary disaster: "It gets worse. Rigorous scientific studies have shown that consumption of sugared beverages is associated with poor diet, increased rates of obesity and an increased risk of diabetes. In studies where the same people are followed over time, and other studies where people are assigned randomly to reduce sugared beverage consumption, diets improve and subjects lose weight."

So you see, soda drinking is one facet of-"associated" is the clever correlative-of poor diet; meaning that those with the poor habits drink soda to excess-along with over-eating almost everything else. Getting them to reduce soda drinking is a good thing-but education and choice should transcend public coercion.

And just you watch how this slippery slope operates, if and when the Feds take over the health care system. Brownell and her cohort of liberal fascists will be stepping over themselves in the effort to remake the behavioral patterns of low income Americans in particular-just as the well meaning eugenicists tried to do at the turn of the last century.

So, as we sit here drinking our Diet Pepsi-the chemicals are just as bad Brownell will say next-we just know that the impulse to enforce healthy behavior is very much alive and well; and the comments of CS Lewis in this regard-cited in the last post we did on menu labeling is worth repeating as the last word: “Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies, The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”