CNN is reporting the San Francisco board of supervisors will formally approve a ban on most McDonald’s Happy Meals today, thus addressing the most serious issue facing the otherwise untroubled city. The board isn’t just tepidly endorsing this measure – they’re expected to produce enough votes to over-ride a promised veto from Mayor Gavin Newsom.
The ordinance is intended to control the distribution of toys with unhealthy food, which has become known as the “food justice movement.” Unjust burgers and fries must be replaced with healthy fruits and vegetables by December 2011. San Francisco hopes other cities will follow its example and impose food justice from coast to coast, herding Happy Meals into redneck flyover country, where they belong.
This is not the first discussion of using government power to control the diets of Americans. The ObamaCare bill famously included provisions requiring fast-food restaurants to display nutritional information on all menus, including drive-through menus. First Lady Michelle Obama has waged a vigorous War On Food, which she occasionally interrupts to enjoy a juicy hamburger, or a plate of Chesapeake Crab Agnolottis with roasted sunchokes, dripping with delicious calories. I just realized you’re probably reading this right before lunch, and your stomach is probably growling. Sorry about that.
CNN describes the nanny-state thinking that led San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar to initiate the food justice proposal:
Mar said the ordinance would be “a tremendous victory” in fighting childhood obesity. His fifth-grade daughter is in the 6-to-11 age group in which rates of obesity have quadrupled the past 30 years — coinciding with the lifespan of the Happy Meal, he said.
“I do believe that toys and other incentives attached to foods that are high in sugar, fat and calories are a major reason for the alarming rise for childhood obesity in this country,” Mar said last week. “This is a very modest ordinance that is an incentive for the industry to take responsibility for healthier choices for children and parents.”
There’s no question that children were healthier before the invention of the hamburger in the early 1980s. Modern parents have absolutely no means of providing a healthy diet for their children, or teaching them a measure of self-control. It is therefore important for massive city and state bureaucracies, already teetering on the edge of insolvency, to spend taxpayer money enforcing that discipline for them… increasing the climate of hostility toward business in California, which appears ready to begin hunting corporations for sport.
The voters of San Francisco can make their own decisions about their board of supervisors, and should also be expected to live with the consequences. The voters of other cities should keep their ears peeled for any mention of “food justice.” This kind of madcap legislation will not bolster California’s case when it goes looking for federal bailouts of its collapsing state and local governments. No matter how broke they are, governments looking for something to do will always succeed.
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