If that doesn’t make sense to you, well, it doesn’t to me, either. It apparently makes some sort of sense to LA City Councilman Bernard Parks, however, who helped push through a ban on new fast-food businesses in two districts of south Los Angeles. Why? Well because there are too many fast-food places in that area already (in Parks’ view) and, by limiting the “overabundance,” they’ll encourage more sit-down restaurants with healthier food.
Yeah, that sounds like nanny-stater nonsense to me, too. And it did to the crew at Reason.TV, who went out and shot this short doumentary:
Parks’ logic fall apart on several grounds. First, if he wants more sit-down restaurants in those districts, then create the conditions that will encourage them to set up shop. They’re not staying away because there are too many McDonalds; they’re staying away because it’s a low-income area with a high crime rate, so the cost of business is too high for these chains. Improve the local economy, improve public safety, and you’ll find more “nice” places.
Second, what has Parks got against small business? These aren’t all McDonalds and Taco Bell. Many of the small fast-food joints are individual Mom-and-Pop small businesses that provide cheap, quick food at affordable prices to the locals. They also provide jobs for the down-on-their-luck who might not get hired by the chains. By blocking any more small fast-food businesses, Parks and the Council cut off a source of jobs for an area already suffering from at least 14% unemployment.
Finally, the nutrition angle is bunk. As the video shows, the “junk count” at chain sit-down restaurants can be as bad or worse than a fast food place. Conversely, fast-food operations like McDonalds have responded to free-market pressure and customer demand to offer healthier options. City intervention is heavy-handed, unneeded, and counterproductive.
The bottom line is that this is another case of some nannystater thinking he knows your business better than you yourself do.
With Los Angeles facing a fiscal train wreck and a sour economy, perhaps Councilman Parks should spend more time on things like the budget and public pensions reform, and less on what we Angelenos get to eat for lunch.
(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)