Tuesday, July 22, 2008

One Nanny State Supreme To Go, Hold The Freedom

In yesterday's post on the attempts by leftists to employ global warming in their latest crusade to herd Americans into diverse, sustainable, concentrated urban centers, I noted that the same Mandarin class that feels fit to decide where you should live also wishes to determine what you should eat (among other things). Today's WSJ provides the latest evidence of this attempt to control your diet with a story on how planners in Los Angeles want to ban fast food (sub req):

Despite its health-crazy reputation, parts of Los Angeles are plagued by obesity rates that rival any city in America. Now, the city may join a growing roster of local governments aiming to put their residents on diets by cracking down on the fast-food industry.

Jan Perry, a Los Angeles city-council member, is spearheading legislation that would ban new fast-food restaurants like McDonald's and KFC from opening in a 32-square-mile chunk of the city, including her district. The targeted area is already home to some 400 fast-food restaurants, she says, possibly contributing to high obesity rates there -- 30% of adults, compared with about 21% in the rest of the city.

Possibly contributing? Before you start using the full force and power of the government to impose draconian bans on private business, shouldn't you be a little more certain that you actions will actually address the problem? Again, as with global warming, the results really don't matter. It's all about control.

While some cities have bans on new fast-food establishments, they typically are for aesthetic reasons or to protect local businesses. Ms. Perry's initiative seems to be a rare instance in which a major city brings health issues into restaurant zoning. The fast-food ban would last a year, although Ms. Perry hopes to make it permanent. On Tuesday, a committee will make a recommendation on the measure before sending it on to the full city council for a vote.

A permanent ban on new fast food restaurants in Los Angeles? Unbelievable. Whatever happened to quaint notions like personal responsibility and freedom to choose? And if you think this governmental overreach is just limited to the loopy left coast, think again.

Government officials say they must attack all causes of obesity. In New York, city officials have said the new information on menus will save people from obesity and diabetes. The ordinance pending in Los Angeles appears particularly tough, because it would halt the opening of any fast-food restaurant in a large part of the city. But it might not be the last such measure. The Los Angeles planning department says it has had calls from several cities asking for copies of the pending ordinance. Already, "the influence is there," says Faisal Roble, the city planner who drafted the ordinance.

Coming soon to a city near you.

The comments from a few of these noble planners who know best how we should live should send a shiver down the spine of any freedom loving American.

Councilman Ed Reyes, part of whose district would be affected by the ban, says he expects many complaints from fast-food owners about their right to do business in the neighborhood. He is prepared with counterarguments. "Health and social issues are the overriding issues, in my mind," he says. "It's not too different to how we regulate liquor stores."

So, as long as our personal freedoms don't conflict with what Councilman Reyes vaguely defines as "health and social issues," he will respect them. Otherwise, they're subject to override at the whim of whatever happens to be in his mind at the time. Gosh, I feel reassured now.

Meanwhile, the gal behind this blatant abuse of government authority channels Bobby Brown to justify this latest affront to personal liberty:

Ms. Perry, the council member leading the legislation, says she sees the measure as just one part of a multipronged effort to fight obesity, including building parks to encourage exercise, encouraging more grocery stores to come into the neighborhood, boosting nutrition education and improving health care. Reining in fast food "is just one factor, but as an elected official, it's my prerogative" to work on all fronts, she says.

It's your prerogative to ban legal private businesses and restrict the freedom of your constituents to decide for themselves what they should eat because you think they're getting too fat? Exactly what part of your job desription as "public servant" grants you that power anyway?

Postscript: Recently, noted junk food junkie Hugh Hewitt has been making noises about leaving California for more friendly climes. This ban may be the last straw that drives Hugh and his french fry grease-stained Dockers from Los Angeles for good.

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