Monday, December 27, 2010

Just Deserts?

Over the holidays there has been a minor dust up over comments that Sarah Palin made about the First Lady's anti-obesity campaign: "Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin took a jab at first lady Michelle Obama's anti-obesity campaign. In her TLC show Sarah Palin's Alaska, the former GOP vice presidential nominee is seen opening cupboards in search of chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers, asking "Where are the s'mores ingredients? This is in honor of Michelle Obama, who said the other day we should not have dessert," Palin said."

Now, this is a rather light jab-as Ann Althouse has said-but another former governor, Mike Huckaby, has taken offense. He sides with Michelle Obama: "With all due respect to my colleague and friend Sarah Palin, I think she's misunderstood what Michelle Obama is trying to do... Michelle Obama's not trying to tell people what to eat or not trying to force the government's desires on people... She’s stating the obvious, that we do have an obesity problem in this country."

This is flat out fraudulent-as Althouse goes on to point out: "Now... is it true that Michelle Obama isn't "trying to tell people what to eat" and "not trying to force the government's desires on people"? Is it true that she's only "stating the obvious, that we do have an obesity problem in this country"?

Not if you take a look at the newly minted nutrition bill that just passed the congress: "Anyway, what's in that bill? It's not about telling us what to eat? The linked article says it "will set national nutritional standards for public schools, boost funding for low-income meal programs and advance [Barack Obama's] wife’s campaign against childhood obesity." And in those "national nutritional standards," do the kids get s'mores or not?"

In addition, you can't understand the current nutrition law outside of the context of the expanding regulatory scope of ObamaCare-a government regimen that will, in our view, have what you eat right at the top of its bureaucratic menu. New Yorkers already have seen the script, and Mother Mike Bloomberg should be seen as a national role model in this unhealthy hectoring.

Just consider what our delightful HHS secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, is cooking up for us, unless the congress reins in this anti-democratic impulse: "Not satisfied with the colossal amounts of power that she would acquire under ObamaCare if it isn't repealed, Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary Kathleen Sebelius has issued a 136-page "rule" that will now give her (and her subordinates) largely unchecked power to pass judgment on the prices of health insurance throughout the United States. Notwithstanding the fact that 43 states already regulate and approve health insurance premiums, Sebelius claims that we need an additional, more centralized, protection against insurers' unseemly 'profit motive.'"

This is just the beginning-and if HHS can limit what insurers are allowed to charge, how difficult will it be for the Feds to dictate a healthy behavioral regimen for all Americans who will eventually come under the government's health insurance umbrella? What we have gotten just a whiff of in NYC could become a lot worse if we allow power to be centralized in the hands of a few Bloomberg inspired government bureaucrats.

Townhall captures this Huckstering: "But foundational beliefs like an aversion to federal overreach into local decisions cannot be disposed of because kids happen to be part of the equation. And if Huckabee believes there's nothing wrong with the federal government controlling local school lunches and instituting national smoking bans, how many issues will he believe are more important than federalism?"

In our opinion, if the First Lady wants to lecture us on how to live healthier lives, we say: go for it. It's when the lectures give way to bureaucratic imperatives that we begin to get extremely nervous. If you think we are being unduly alarmist over all of this, check out the NY Times story yesterday on so-called end of life care: "When a proposal to encourage end-of-life planning touched off a political storm over “death panels,” Democrats dropped it from legislation to overhaul the health care system. But the Obama administration will achieve the same goal by regulation, starting Jan. 1."

Professor Jacobson highlights the obvious ramifications of this-as well as all of the other potential bureaucratic over reaches that lie in the future if ObamaCare isn't derailed: "Procedurally, we all should care.  This is a textbook example of what I have been warning.  ObamaCare simply is the infrastructure.  The details and the demons will be worked out in regulations."

As always, it was Tocqueville who understood the danger: "But Tocqueville repeatedly and adamantly warned that this civic vibrancy could be destroyed if Americans let down their guard against the consolidation and centralization of power: “A democratic republic . . . in which . . . administrative centralization [was] accepted by custom and by law . . . would become more intolerable than in any of the absolute monarchies of Europe.” True to Tocqueville’s warnings, nearly every page of the House health bill describes a new limitation on Americans’ freedoms to contract with one another, to function without cumbersome restraints, and to control the fruits of their labor."

ObamaCare is a restrictive covenant on individual liberty that, if not checked, will continue to grow and fester in the interstices of our everyday lives. While it is true that Americans are too often overweight, and this is certainly an unhealthy phenomenon, the greater-and even more unhealthy prospect-is the burgeoning government health apparatus. That expansion is a much greater threat than those expanding waste lines that the Nannies see as a wonderful pretext for the aggrandizement of their own political power,