Which Is Worse: Big Mac or Big Brother?

Let there be no doubt about it, big brother is here: New York City Councilman Joel Rivera.

According to AOL’s “Slashfood,” Rivera “is proposing a radical solution to the ‘obesity epidemic’ . . [through] new zoning laws that limit the number of fast food venues that can be built in a specific area.”

That’s right, Councilman Rivera is going to tell communities what qualifies as a fast food, how many of the fast food outlets can be built in a particular neighborhood and where they can appear.

So, we might ask, how is he going to determine what constitutes fast food? Given the ethnic diversity in New York he may face some very real problems.

Will he tell New York’s Italians that their pizza shops are a hazard to our children’s health? Will he tell the working, low-income families that McDonald’s food is off limits in favor of the more expensive sit down variety? And although McDonald’s is considered a fast food place, it now offers a range of healthy options, including salads and fruit with yogurt. Many other fast foods also offer healthy options.

This latest overreaction also is likely to have a dramatic affect on supply and demand.

In the low-income neighborhoods, which Rivera said have the greatest concentration of fast food restaurants — and therefore could be particularly affected under Rivera’s plan — the price of the remaining fast food is bound to go up as competition goes down.

Essentially, in the name of self-determined health consciousness, Rivera will be hurting the very people he is trying to help by reducing their choices and driving up their food costs.

Rivera’s claim that "the easy availability of fast food due to the sheer number of restaurants was the biggest contributing factor to the fact that roughly half of all New Yorkers are overweight” is a bizarre and ludicrous assertion devoid of any scientific proof or academic support.

New Yorkers don’t need their City Council to determine what they can eat and where. A Big Mac isn’t nearly as dangerous as Big Brother.