Thursday, December 24, 2009

Health Fascism on the Way

As National Review Online is reporting, the just passed health bill will include the ridiculous but ominous calorie posting regulation that has proven to be an unmitigated flop in New York City: "The relevant section is titled “Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items at Chain Restaurants,” and the gist is that restaurants and retailers that serve prepared foods will have to display on the menu a “nutrient content disclosure statement,” which will list the calories of each item and a “succinct statement concerning suggested daily caloric intake” designed “to enable the public to understand, in the context of a total daily diet, the significance of the caloric information that is provided on the menu.” The information must also be available in writing and there must be signage advising that it is available"

The cutting edge of this Nanny nonsense-ground zero, if you will, is in NYC. And, as a recently concluded NYU study of the city's calorie regs demonstrated, it hasn't worked out quite as Mayor Bloomberg and former Health Commissioner Tom Frieden (now, thankfully, exiled to the CDC) had envisioned.

As we pointed out in October: "So, as we warned New Yorkers when the silly idea of calorie posting was first proposed, there was no evidence that the concept would have the slightest effect on the behavior of fast food customers-and we have been proven correct. As the NY Times reports today, the whole experiment has been a colossal waste of time and money: "A study of New York City’s pioneering law on posting calories in restaurant chains suggests that when it comes to deciding what to order, people’s stomachs are more powerful than their brains...It found that about half the customers noticed the calorie counts, which were prominently posted on menu boards. About 28 percent of those who noticed them said the information had influenced their ordering, and 9 out of 10 of those said they had made healthier choices as a result. But when the researchers checked receipts afterward, they found that people had, in fact, ordered slightly more calories than the typical customer had before the labeling law went into effect, in July 2008."

Ah, the law of unintended consequences! But the failure of the city's regulation will, unfortunately, not deter in the least the Nanny brigades who have now-in stealth fashion-insinuated themselves into the current health care bills. Calorie posting is just one of the arrows in the oversight quiver, and the ultimate purpose is to control, through mandates and taxes what people eat and how they live.

And if ObamaCare does become law, this is just the first step in the development of a burgeoning health bureaucracy that will monitor and control the lifestyles of all Americans. Once everyone-through taxation and insurance mandates-is ultimately connected by this bureaucratic umbilical chord, the idea of bending the cost curve leads inevitably to enforcing what some administrative body of unelected officials deem to be healthier behaviors and choices.

As NRO goes on to explain: "It is not surprising that this regulation made it into the bills. Sen. Tom Harkin (D., Iowa) is a big supporter and, more broadly, the idea fits into the now-trendy notion among the Michael Pollan crowd that the focus on medicine and insurance is somewhat misplaced as the real focus should be on food and nutrition."

Otherwise known as "preventative medicine." But what this really means is that there's a Big Mac attack on the horizon: " Look ahead and suppose the very likely result: disclosure and education don’t produce the desired outcome. How long until the Feds will outright ban high-calorie foods?"

So, as bad as this overall health care reform is, the grafting on of the Nanny mandate bodes for an even more ominous future-one where panels of administrators will not only determine what procedures will be permitted to save your life; but will also be in charge of how you will be able to live in the time you might have left. And as this becomes entrenched, the area of personal liberty-already in danger of becoming an epiphenomenon-will be shrunk into microscopic dust.