The rise of the food police

Economist Milton Friedman once opined: “Pick at random any three letters from the alphabet, put them in any order, and you will have an acronym designating a federal agency we can do without.” He was right of course, but with the explosion of the “Nanny State,” a more appropriate statement would read something like this: “Pick at random any three letters from the alphabet, put them in any order, and you will have an acronym designating a federal agency that threatens our individual freedom.” “Geniuses” and apparatchiks at all levels of government have taken it upon themselves to protect us from ourselves. Jeez, I suppose we ought to be grateful or something.

According to the dogma of the Nanny Staters, shit never just happens and the public at large, the unwashed masses (read: anyone without an Ivy League degree), are simply too stupid to conduct their own lives without the benevolent shepherding of government. If you’ve ever contemplated an average day in your life, from the time you wake up until you retire for the night, you’ll soon realize that government has interjected itself into virtually every aspect of your existence. From the ingredients of your toothpaste to the conduct of your employer to the composition of your mattress, the tentacles of government have wrapped you in a suffocating security blanket. From the monumental to the mundane, nothing you touch is beyond the reach of government.

A recent phenomenon of the Nanny State has been the rise of the food police. While most of the actions of the food police have been advisory or even threatening in nature, it appears that the Rubicon may have been crossed. According to this story (from the Daily Caller), the city of Baltimore food police have issued their first citation to a restaurant for cooking food in, um, er, margarine.

When the heck did the Food Police get actual badges?

Last week, a Korean carry-out in Baltimore’s downtown Lexington Market was slapped with a $100 fine for — are you sitting down? — cooking food in margarine (most recently demonized as “trans fat” ).

The cook might have had it coming for naming his outfit “Healthy Choice.” But do we really need government to tell us what kind of butter or oil to use when we fry eggs?

Put this in perspective: This year there have already been 182 murders reported in Baltimore. Most of those deaths are related to a vicious drug trade that makes the part of town near the famed Johns Hopkins Hospital a virtual war zone after dark.

The city government, however, is spending its resources attacking the real menace: Parkay.

How can this happen? Well the mostly unknown truth of the matter is that most of the policies and regulation that affect our daily lives are conceived and implemented by a “Shadow Government” of unelected czars, apparatchiks and bureaucrats.

Election Day is more than just a time to pick who sits at the top of various government food-chains. Elected politicians hire countless unelected bureaucrats at every level; they are the ones affecting our day-to-day lives far more than anyone you might have voted for.

These pencil-pushers forced their way into our gas tanks decades ago. They’re in our homes, watching over the energy efficiency of our refrigerators and making sure we recycle. (The DC suburb of Alexandria, Virginia will soon put tracking chips in recycling bins — at taxpayer expense — to make sure citizens comply.)

Now they’re hovering over our menus, lurking in our vending machines, nosing around in our kitchens.

And how did this Shadow Government come into being? Here’s an example:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was founded in 1942 as the Office of National Defense Malaria Control Activities. After its oversight helped crush malaria (at least in this country), the standing bureaucracy had to have something to do. It was renamed the Communicable Disease Center, and later the Centers for Disease Control. And in 1992, when Congress added the words “and Prevention,” Big Government officially became Über-Nanny.

Today the CDC is led by Dr. Thomas Frieden, whose credentials have nothing to do with curing diseases. He was New York City’s salt-banning, soda-taxing, freedom-hating Health Department chief (again, an unelected post). And we have a “regulatory czar” in the White House, Cass Sunstein, who openly yearns to manipulate Americans’ “choice architecture” in a bid to “nudge” us toward government-approved behaviors.

The result is a government that thinks it’s entitled to push us around in the vague hope of helping us avoid this ailment or that, at some point in the distant future.

The unelected Shadow Government is, in most cases, beyond the normal control and oversight of congress – your elected representatives. This can be stopped however – if congress grows a spine.

Remember the persistence of these unseen forces when you vote [tomorrow]. Elect people who will do more than just lead you and your neighbors. The alternative is another generation that’s treated like an expanding sea of pre-schoolers. Among other things, you’re voting to accept or reject a future where your dinners are bland, your breakfast cereal is reminiscent of cardboard, your soft drinks come with warning labels, a Happy Meal requires a doctor’s note, and Halloween trick-or-treaters have to cross picket lines. Vote for people who will respect you enough to leave you alone now and again.

Indeed.

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One Response to “The rise of the food police”

  1. Enjoyed readin’ this one Mook .. Well done !!!

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