Scoot: The government is not invited to eat with me!
The goal may be to help make America healthier, but government involvement in what we eat and drink is more dangerous than you might think.
The recent controversy over a New York City ban on sugary drinks over 16 ounces seemed to expose any government efforts to reduce America’s costly obesity rate as further advancing the idea of a “nanny state.”
The Oxford Dictionary defines “nanny state” as the government regarded as overprotected or as interfering with personal choice.
Contributing to the “nanny state” mentality, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) requires all restaurants with 20 locations or more to list nutritional information next to every item on the menu. In the case of the national pizza chains, the choices of crusts, cheeses and toppings bring the number of possible items to over 30 million! These national pizza restaurants are mostly owned by individuals and the cost of constantly changing the menus to reflect the latest possible combinations would be costly. That’s a cost that could be passed on to the consumer.
Furthermore, where would a menu with over 30 million combinations be located at each location? And since the overwhelming majority of orders are placed by phone, placement of a menu is not even possible.
The Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2013 received bipartisan support in Congress and according to a recent study, about 80% of restaurant customers noticed the calorie count on menus and 26% said they made decisions about what to order based on the nutritional information provided on the menu.
Government bans on food and drink consumption sends the message that if something isn’t banned then it must be ok for consumption and consumers gain the sense that it is up to the government to guide their personal decisions.
The requirement to list nutritional ingredients on all restaurant menus does not guarantee that consumers will change their ordering patterns, but does give politicians the sense that they have done something to correct a problem.
The proposed ban of the sale of sugary drinks over 16 ounces is ridiculous because anyone can buy two 16 ounce drinks – thus purchasing 32 ounces of a sugary drink. The attempt to control consumption amounts to nothing more than a “feel-good” law – a law that gives the impression that politicians have actively done something about a problem - while not actually doing anything to solve a problem.
The hidden danger in a government that is involved in the personal decisions about what to eat or drink lies in the feeling that the government is taking care of us and that further diminishes the emphasis that should be placed on individual accountability.
When I go out to eat - I am not inviting the government to go with me. The government should not be so involved in our personal decisions and if we make poor decisions about what we eat or drink the responsibility lies strictly with the individual – not with the government!
The loss of respect for personal accountability has had a devastating impact on America and is the source of many of our problems with obesity, health in general and even crime.
We need to stop looking to the government to guide us in our decision-making and adhere to the idea that we are all responsible for our behavior.
And we should recognize that politicians are quick to pass legislation that only gives the appearance of solving a problem – when the solution lies with each individual American.