Another Nanny State Failure
by Jacob G. Hornberger
Advocates of the nanny state are undoubtedly suffering a bout of depression over their latest failure. According to the Los Angeles Times, a legal ban on fast-food restaurants in south Los Angeles has failed to reduce obesity.
In fact, it’s worse than that. While obesity has increased in all parts of Los Angeles, the increase was largest in the section where the fast-food ban was in effect.
Well, I actually shouldn’t say a ban of fast-food restaurants. To be more accurate, I should say that the ban was on new fast-food restaurants.
Not surprisingly, statists who advocated the ban obviously couldn’t see a major flaw in their plan. If current fast-food restaurants are permitted to continue operating, then people who want fast food will still have places to purchase it. In fact, the only thing that statists seem to have accomplished with their ban is to protect existing fast-food establishments from competition from new fast-food eateries.
Who would have ever dreamed that nanny-staters would carry their paternalistic mindsets this far? Wouldn’t you think they would have stopped with their war on drugs, which is one of their biggest nanny-state failures?
Of course, I only wonder why they didn’t carry their statism and paternalism to their logical conclusion by applying the principles of their decades-long, failed war on drugs to their war on obesity.
Why not make possession and distribution of fast foods a crime, just like in the drug war? Just think, anyone caught selling or possessing a burger and fries could be arrested, prosecuted, and incarcerated for 20 or 30 years. He might even come out thinner after a long time in jail.
And just think: It would give the cops a new excuse to harass people, including blacks. The mere fact that someone driving a car is obese would give cops probable cause to search the vehicle for hot dogs and hamburgers.
Better yet, fast-food asset forfeiture laws could enable cops to steal donuts from people driving down the highway!
The real question, of course, is the one that libertarians ask: What should be the role of government in a free society? Or what business does government have punishing a person for what he puts into his own mouth?
A genuinely free society is one in which people are free to ingest whatever they want, without governmental interference.
While statists are lamenting the failure of their latest paternalistic scheme, we libertarians should be celebrating. The failure of the ban on fast-food restaurants to reduce obesity confirms once again that God has created a consistent universe — one in which evil and immoral means produce bad results.