“We will promote free choice by limiting free choice!”

March 28, 2011

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)


A liberty issue

August 1, 2009

Mark Steyn zeroes in on the real problem behind ObamaCare and all other state-run health plans: it’s not so much the cost as the freedom of the individual:

That’s the argument that needs to be won. And, if you think I’m being frivolous in positing bureaucratic regulation of doughnuts and vacations, consider that under the all-purpose umbrellas of “health” and “the environment,” governments of supposedly free nations are increasingly comfortable straying into areas of diet and leisure. Last year, a British bill attempted to ban Tony the Tiger, longtime pitchman for Frosties, from children’s TV because of his malign influence on young persons. Why not just ban Frosties? Or permit it by prescription only? Or make kids stand outside on the sidewalk to eat it? It was also proposed — by the Conservative party, alas — that, in the interests of saving the planet, each citizen should be permitted to fly a certain number of miles a year, after which he would be subject to punitive eco-surtaxes. Isn’t restricting freedom of movement kind of, you know . . . totalitarian?

Freedom is messy. In free societies, people will fall through the cracks — drink too much, eat too much, buy unaffordable homes, fail to make prudent provision for health care, and much else. But the price of being relieved of all those tiresome choices by a benign paternal government is far too high.

Government health care would be wrong even if it “controlled costs.” It’s a liberty issue. I’d rather be free to choose, even if I make the wrong choices.

Read the whole thing. People are rightfully (and increasingly) appalled at the astronomical, economy-busting costs and taxes and tangled bureaucracy this plan would entail, but they need to understand the core issue: surrendering control over one’s basic decisions regarding health, whether it be over medical procedures or lifestyle, fundamentally changes the nature of the relations between the government and the citizen. The latter goes from being the source of sovereignty from which government derives its powers to being no more than “the governed.”

If Thomas Jefferson were alive today, he would be at once disgusted with the Democratic Party he helped found and affrighted by the willingness of so many to embrace what he would call “tyranny.”

LINKS: Fausta’s blog. Gaius at Blue Crab Boulevard thinks the best way to stop this train wreck is to insist Congress require itself and all federal employees to take part. I agree.