Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: July 27, 2011


Dear Nannies — Stay out of my dining room (and every other room!)

Freedom is truly an unwanted chore for some people. Unfortunately they not only want to limit their own freedom, but yours too:

Some public health advocates are pushing cities and states to tax fattening, non-nutritious foods, like sugary soda, french fries, and donuts.

Opponents say Americans should have the right to eat what they want without being unfairly taxed for their choices, and that poor people would end up paying too much.

For the nation that created cheap, fast food, we’re paying quite a hefty toll, CBS News Correspondent Michelle Miller reported on "The Early Show."

When it comes to what we eat, many Americans are making bad choices.

Back to my basic freedom definition:   “Freedom is choice.”  Corollary:  Freedom also includes the right to make bad choices.  That’s right – as long as my choices don’t harm others or violate their basic rights, I should be free to make them.   And that, of course, means making choices others conclude are bad choices about what I eat.

But the nannies don’t see it that way.  And they somehow think they’ve been empowered by … whatever … to lobby government to make laws or enact punitive taxes in an attempt to limit your choices.   In a free country taxes are tolerated at best and are collected only to fund the legitimate functions of government.   That would not include limiting choices of what you can or can’t eat.   And it certainly wouldn’t use a tax as a social engineering tool, vs. a revenue tool for funding government.

Of course we’ve already done that once, haven’t we?   And that has opened the floodgates for the do-gooders.   It is also very enticing for governments starved for revenue, isn’t it?

Mark Bittman, author and food columnist, said, "We ought to start discouraging the consumption of junk food, soda, and hyper-processed foods the [same] way we discourage smoking."

Some industry experts, including Bittman, think soda and junk food should be taxed – just as cigarettes are.

Bittman said, "The way we discouraged smoking and continue to discourage smoking is we tax cigarettes – a lot in some states – and we force the tobacco companies to contribute money to anti-smoking programs.

"Now, if we taxed soda and junk food similarly, and began a huge public health campaign that said, ‘This is the way we ought to eat,’ we might see similar results."

Translation: “We’ve been telling people this for years and they’ve essentially ignored us.  Time to take their choices away.”  I.e. let’s limit their choices by taxing them so heavily they’d do what we want because they can’t afford to do what they’re doing anymore.

Oh, but don’t worry, the nannies are doing it for the poor:

Miller reported the aim is to institute a "junk food" tax and "whole food" subsidy – to raise the price of foods high in fat, calories and preservatives, and drop the cost of fresh vegetables, fruits and other organic perishables.

Yessiree – taxes and subsidies, how refreshingly new and innovative, no?   And as usual, that would involve government up to its armpits in the process, wouldn’t it?  And, of course, we’ve never witnessed bureaucratic creep before, have we?  When they get those taxes and subsides in place and you still ignore their desires for you, what’s the next step?  Restrictions on food companies?  Withholding health care?  None of that’s beyond the pale by any stretch.

This is pretty basic Freedom 101 stuff.   We’re not talking about anything particularly philosophically complex.   Freedom means the ability and right to make decisions on your own without interference from others (again, with the standard caveat that your choice does no harm to others or violate their rights).

As more and more choices are limited or denied us, we become less and less free.   We’re right in the middle of that now, as all should at least vaguely understand.   With each new tax designed to socially engineer our behavior into some elitist view of proper conformity, another piece of our freedom goes with it.

This may seem to be a trivial thing, but it is not.  It is another among many of those pernicious attempts by elitists who have a problem with free people making decisions they disagree with and having no problem enlisting the power of government to accomplish their goal.

It should be resisted utterly and completely with no compromise or quarter.  

This country was not founded to be a nanny.  It was founded to be the home of a free people.

[HT: Dan K.]

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Debt limit talks — DC Math and political theater mask the lack of seriousness concerning out-of-control spending

Speaker of the House Boehner’s plan for deficit and debt reduction was shown to be an exercise in “DC Math”.   The CBO scored the proposal and determined that the 1.2 trillion “savings” over 10 years actually cut only $1 billion in actual spending next year.

The first installment of $900 billion is contingent on enacting 10 year caps on annual appropriations which the leadership had hoped would save well over $1 trillion. But CBO late Tuesday came back with a report showing the legislation would reduce deficits by $850 billion when measured against the agency’s most current projections for spending.

Yeah, I think we want significantly deeper cuts in spending than that.  And of course, keep in mind most Democrats were even opposed to that.

But at least Boehner actually had a plan CBO could score.  From Jim Geraghty’s  “Morning Jolt” we learn of this conversation in the White House press room (Weekly Standard):

[Chuck] Todd asked Carney about the White House’s reluctance to release its plan to deal with the national debt and raising the debt ceiling. Carney acknowledged the White House was playing games. "We’re showing a lot of leg," he said. When Todd pressed for details — "Why not just release it?" — Carney seemed surprised. "You need it written down?"

What a difference two years makes. In the spring of 2009, with Republicans in the minority in the House of Representatives, the White House and its Democratic allies were demanding specifics. The House GOP had to produce an alternative budget, the White House demanded, in order to show that they were serious about governing.

Geraghty also points to a wonderful rant by Guy Benson over at Townhall concerning the demand for an actual plan:

Yes, actually, we do need "something printed." Since his unmitigated failure of a budget was unanimously defeated in the Senate, this president has refused to offer a specific plan of his own on virtually anything at all. Instead, he talks about "visions" and "contours" and "frameworks" — and tries to blame his opponents when his poor leadership is exposed. Over the last five days, the president has (a)undermined a bargain with John Boehner by introducing an unacceptable eleventh-hour condition, (b) rejected "out of hand" a bipartisan compromise that he found to be politically unpalatable, and (c) delivered a speech that painted his opponents as the intractable extremists. In light of this behavior, it’s entirely reasonable for Americans to wonder what, precisely, Barack Obama’s proposed solution might be. Today, the White House dismissively waived off that question as a GOP talking point and condescendingly inquired if the journalist who dared to ask it was capable of taking notes.

I’ll close with an unsolicited word of advice, and a friendly reminder from the CBO director. The advice: When you’re already plumbing new depths of unpopularity, dialing up your arrogance isn’t a winning strategy. Even David Brooks finds it unseemly.

By the way, Harry Reid’s plan is purported to show about $2 trillion plus in savings by assuming the wars we’re involved in will cost hundreds of billions a year for 10 years, knowing full well that those wars are wrapping up and wrapping up soon (well except for Libya which seems to have shifted from “weeks not months” to “months not years” at this point).

In other words the usual nonsense from Washington DC.  Math tricks which say to anyone who is on to them, “these guys aren’t serious”.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

michael kors outlet michael kors handbags outlet michael kors factory outlet