Tuesday, December 06, 2011

San Francisco tries to legislate good judgment
by using bad judgment

Commentary by James H. Shott


The Centers for Disease Control tells us that childhood obesity in the United States has more than tripled in the past 30 years, with the percentage of children aged 6–11 years who were obese increasing from 7 percent to nearly 20 percent from 1980 to 2008, and the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increasing from 5 percent to 18 percent over the same period.

In an attempt to do for San Francisco’s children what the nannies at City Hall think should be done, and what city parents will not do, the city has deigned to improve the eating habits of young people by forbidding McDonald’s restaurants in the city from giving kids toys with their Happy Meals, unless those meals meet the city’s nutritional standard that includes more fruits and vegetables. It should be noted that lunches in the city’s schools don’t meet the new standards, either, but apparently targeting McDonald’s is considered more important.

This incident highlights a few of the results of liberalism run amok, among which are: the increasingly nanny-ish character of governments at all levels in the United States; the arrogance of government, which has yet again stuck its big nose into the operations of private businesses; and the utterly idiotic thought process – if something so goofy can be characterized as thought – behind this foolishness.

As it turns out, McDonald’s won this particular battle: It did not change the contents of its Happy Meal, and instead now charges a dime for the toy, if the customer wants a toy, and gives that dime to Ronald McDonald Charities: McDonald’s 1, San Fran 0.

The logical fallacy of this episode is best illustrated by examining the attitude of the person responsible for this particular bit of nannying, San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar. In an interview aired on Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show,” correspondent Aasif Mandvi questions Mr. Mar about the reasoning behind this action. “McDonald’s or Burger King use toys to lure kids,” Mr. Mar said. “The toys are attached to meals that are largely too sugary, fatty and high in salt content that is very bad for them. If there was no toy, the kids wouldn’t eat the meal,” he asserted, which assumes that neither kids nor adults actually like burgers, fries, milk shakes or any other fast food.

“So you’ve literally created a nanny state. ‘To get your toy you’re going to have to eat your fruit and vegetables,’” Mr. Mandvi suggested.

“No,” Mr. Mar, responded, ”we’re saying that we want healthier options in fast food companies in San Francisco, if they want to attach a toy to it.” He explained that most kids are not aware of this problem, although his daughter is. “My 10 year-old has … has had a number of Happy Meals growing up, but she’s wise enough to know that the food that she’s eating when she was younger is very unhealthy for her.”

“How did she figure that out?” Mr. Mandvi asked. To which Supervisor Mar responded, “I think she watched [the documentary] ‘Super Size Me’ with me.”

“So, she learned from her parents,” Mr. Mandvi said. To which Mr. Mar responded, “That’s a large part of it,” without even a hint that he understood the significance of what he had just said. Mr. Mandvi then asked if the city could just pass a law requiring Netflix to distribute the “Super Size Me” documentary to all of San Francisco’s parents so that every family would have the benefit of its healthy message, like the Mar family had.

Again, Mr. Mar’s answer indicated complete failure to understand the city’s action against McDonald’s: “You can’t force Netflix, a private company, to do something like that.” Then, responding to Mr. Mandvi’s marvelous expression of astonishment at that statement, he added, “We have no power to force Netflix, or a private company like that, to change a business practice.” But, Mr. Mandvi said, “on one hand you’re like, ‘you can’t do that,’ but on the other hand, you are doing that.”

Eric Mar does not appear to be intellectually deprived, but he obviously lacks the ability to see that his plan does precisely to McDonald’s what he states unequivocally that San Francisco cannot do to other businesses, like Netflix.

Dysfunctional logic is a common element of liberalism. Another common element is when people do not voluntarily do what liberals have decided is best for everyone, they are not above using force to get them to fall in line, with little or no regard for whether the actions they propose are sensible, fair, proper or even constitutional.

We see evidence of this penchant to force people to do things everywhere in our government, from the NLRB’s stopping Boeing from opening a new thousand-worker plant in South Carolina; to banning incandescent light bulbs in favor of expensive, mercury-laden CFLs; to keeping tens of thousands of workers on the unemployment line because the Obama administration doesn’t like fossil fuels, to telling farmers they stir up too much dust in their fields.

The nation will be fortunate if it is able to survive this onslaught of liberal nannying.

Cross-posted from
Observations

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