An essay by A. Barton Hinkle on Reason.com
Some nice quotes:
“Perhaps you’ve noticed the trend among certain people these days,” wrote Neil Genzlinger in The New York Times the other day, “to decide that certain other people are not living acceptable lives and must be reformed.”
Yes. There certainly is a lot of that going around.
And when you finished reading Genzlinger’s column of page A16 in last Sunday’s Times, you also could see the trend he wrote about just a few pages further in—on the front of the Times’ Sunday Review section. “What will it take,” asked the paper’s Mark Bittman, “to get Americans to change our eating habits?”
This is a subject of great concern to progressives today. Many of them are deeply distressed that—despite incessant lecturing on the subject—too many of their fellow citizens continue to eat what they like, rather than what progressives think they should eat.
The progressive campaign against obesity relies on the assumption that the individual no longer owns his or her body—rather, society as a whole does. This has some profound implications for, say, abortion. And Bittman’s contribution to that campaign should serve as a warning: Anyone who thinks it would be “fun” to use government power to dictate everyone else’s choices—from sex partner to dinner menu—should not be allowed anywhere near it.
Read the full article, it’s worth it. As per usual, read the comments at your own risk.
I love this comment by Dagny T.:
This fetishism over “healthy” (whatever the fuck that means to the individual doing the bleating) food has really become tiresome. Food is a necessary fuel, not a goddamn religion.
EDIT: Also, this is a good read (though not perfect): Meddling in Other People’s Diets is ‘Fun’ and ‘Inspiring’
But the weakest part of Bittman’s argument, since paying the taxes he proposes won’t be optional, is his justification for using force to change people’s diets. The government simply would be “fulfilling its role as an agent of the public good,” he says. Treating diet-related diseases costs money, he adds. “The need is indisputable,” he avers, “since heart disease, diabetes and cancer are all in large part caused by the Standard American Diet.” Furthermore, “look at the action government took in the case of tobacco.” In short, “public health is the role of the government, and our diet is right up there with any other public responsibility you can name, from water treatment to mass transit.” So many assumptions, both fiscal and moral, packed into so little space. Bittman does not pause for a moment to consider the vast expanse of human behavior that is subject to government manipulation under his theory of public health.