Nanny says “No salt!!”

April 20, 2010

I guess the FDA was feeling left out after the EPA decided that carbon dioxide was a pollutant and a public danger.  I mean, why shouldn’t they join the party and make themselves look ridiculous, too? But how best to do it… I know! Let’s regulate the salt you’re allowed to eat!

The Food and Drug Administration is planning an unprecedented effort to gradually reduce the salt consumed each day by Americans, saying that less sodium in everything from soup to nuts would prevent thousands of deaths from hypertension and heart disease. The initiative, to be launched this year, would eventually lead to the first legal limits on the amount of salt allowed in food products.

The government intends to work with the food industry and health experts to reduce sodium gradually over a period of years to adjust the American palate to a less salty diet, according to FDA sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the initiative had not been formally announced.

Officials have not determined the salt limits. In a complicated undertaking, the FDA would analyze the salt in spaghetti sauces, breads and thousands of other products that make up the $600 billion food and beverage market, sources said. Working with food manufacturers, the government would set limits for salt in these categories, designed to gradually ratchet down sodium consumption. The changes would be calibrated so that consumers barely notice the modification.

The legal limits would be open to public comment, but administration officials do not think they need additional authority from Congress.

Maybe they don’t need any additional authority (maybe), but they need a good dose of common sense. Processed foods are already required to list their ingredients; if someone has to monitor their sodium intake, then treat them as an adult and let them make those choices for themselves. We don’t need a multi-billion dollar program (Come on, you just know it will cost that much.) to pay for government regulators to guard us from the dangers inherent in the humble potato chip.

But there’s the problem: the essence of the progressive-statist mindset is exactly that you are not competent to decide for yourselves, that government has to watch over you, protect you from yourself. For the good of all, it has to treat you like a child. Snack foods, health care, how your money is spent… There is no end to Nanny’s need to, well, nanny you.

Of course, science really doesn’t enter into this decision: the consensus has been that salt is related to heart disease, thus giving the FDA its reason for action. Yet recent studies have called that consensus into question; the science may not be so settled. (via Hot Air) Not that this utterly disproves salt’s connection to heart disease, but it should give reasonable people pause before creating an expensive (and taste-killing) regulatory regime.

But Nanny isn’t reasonable.

LINKS: At Legal Insurrection, William Jacobson thinks the government has finally found its jobs plan. Fausta calls it lunacy.

Quote of the day

April 20, 2010

Roger Kimball on Humor vs. Contempt: Obama and the Question of Character.

Nowadays you find tea partiers accused of racism, violence, and disloyalty, never mind that the left-liberal establishment can point to no examples of these torts. The thing to grasp is that those making the accusations do not feel called upon to offer examples. The guilt of the tea-partiers transcends anything so pedestrian as actual behavior. Tea partiers are like “class enemies” under Stalin: guilty by definition.

Not just no, but “Hell no!”

April 20, 2010

Barack Obama was in Los Angeles yesterday to foul up traffic and attend a fundraiser for Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Moron). While praising Senator Ma’am, the President said the nation should take inspiration from California and try to be like the (once) Golden State. Reason’s Matt Welch does a spit-take and gives this reply:

While I appreciate any shout-out to my home state, what California’s Democratic elite are “about” is enabling their union backers to drive a once-thriving economy into a bottomless pit of unemployment, perennially busted budgets, and unfunded pension contributions that transcend most human comprehension. This is not a spirit Washington should try to “recapture,” unless the goal is 12.6 percent unemployment (with a bullet!), a credit rating hurtling toward junk-bond status, and a perpetual round of bailouts from a faraway government entity.

And here’s the kicker–Obama in his speech said that “one of the main reasons our economy faltered was because some on Wall Street made irresponsible bets, with no accountability.” The exact same language could be used, with 100 percent accuracy, to describe public officials all over California–including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who just today is unveiling his latest too-little, too-late package of reforms. All of these labor-backed bureaucrats bet irresponsibly that they could more than double pension promises to state employees over the past decade, because the “accountability” moment was deferred to when those payments came due. Well, they’re only beginning to come due now, and it’s a damnable mess

Read the rest for the gory details.

I realize he has to say nice things at a fundraiser, but the rest of the nation shouldn’t emulate California, they should run screaming from us*.

*(And New York and New Jersey, too.)

US and UK: not the same conservatives

April 20, 2010

British blogger Mike McNally writes in reply to Anne Applebaum’s article in The Washington Post chiding Republicans for being too far to the right and too angry, telling them they should be more like the British Conservative Party under David Cameron. McNally’s reply: “Surely you’re mad?

Contrary to what Applebaum, who describes herself as “a fully paid-up member of the mushy political center,” would like U.S. conservatives to believe, the contrast between the current British and American political scenes could not be more dramatic. In America, what could be a defining battle between statism and individual freedom is just getting started. And while in Britain there’s little difference between the parties, the differences between Republicans and Democrats have never been starker.

Applebaum writes: “The history of the Tories shows that if by exciting your base you lose the center, then you lose the next election too.” Leaving aside the fact the she’s comparing apples to oranges, it seems as if commentators like Applebaum and Frum are living in what we might call a pre-3/23 world. They obsess about “the base” and “the center,” but on the day Obama signed the health care bill into law, against the wishes of a majority of the American people, such distinctions lost much of their meaning. Increasingly, you’re either for Obama and his agenda, or you’re against him.

And Applebaum apparently hasn’t been looking at the polls. Obama’s approval ratings are in the tank. The Democrats’ favorability ratings are at an all-time low. The GOP is enjoying leads on the congressional ballot that are virtually unprecedented. Maybe she also missed the elections in Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts.

Why at this stage would Republicans want to change the way they speak? As it happens, mainstream political opposition to Obama, Pelosi, and Reid has been remarkably civil, given what’s at stake, but if you can’t get angry at the prospect of your country being irreversibly damaged by the most arrogant, incompetent, and out-of-touch president and Congress in history, when can you get angry? This is no time for mushy centerism and rebranding exercises. America needs the conservatism of Thatcher, not Cameron.

I don’t know enough about British conservatism to place them on a scale, though they seem like “Labour-lite” from this distance. American conservatism, on the other hand, is largely classical liberalism – small government, free markets, low taxes, broad individual liberty. Given the mood of the electorate, I have to agree with McNally that the Republicans would be crazy to want to imitate the Conservative Party.

On government unions

April 20, 2010

Political cartoon of the day:

(via International Liberty)