national opinion

Monday Column
Carol Platt Liebau

[go to Liebau index]

Latest Column:
Stopping the Meltdown
What Beltway Republicans Need To Do

Subscribe to CRO Alerts
Sign up for a weekly notice of CRO content updates.

Jon Fleischman’s
The premier source for
California political news

Michael Ramirez

editorial cartoon

Do your part to do right by our troops.
They did the right thing for you.
Donate Today

CRO Talk Radio
Contributor Sites
Laura Ingraham

Hugh Hewitt
Eric Hogue
Sharon Hughes
Frank Pastore
[Radio Home]

















K. Lloyd Billingsley - Contributor
[Courtesty of Pacific Research Institute]

K. Lloyd Billingsley is Editorial Director for the Pacific Research Institute and has been widely published on topics including on popular culture, defense policy, education reform, and many other current policy issues. [go to Billingsley index]

Ipso Fatso, Part Trois: The Epidemic
Legislating weight…

[K. Lloyd Billingsley] 4/22/05

California’s ruling class has determined that the state’s residents are too fat and it wants to use the legislative process to slim them down. This has happened before but this time we are really in trouble, according to Dr. Richard Jackson, the state’s public health officer.

“I’ve seen an absolute tipping point in public awareness of the epidemic,” he told reporters.

According to some reports, residents of California gained 180,000 tons during the past decade, which works out to 11 pounds each. How this bloat was quantified remains unclear, like the charge that flab and inactivity will cost California $28 billion this year. True or not, lawmakers are taking aim.

Some want to hike taxes on cigarettes by $1 a pack and use the money for programs related to nutrition and exercise. Others want the food sold in schools to meet nutrition standards. State education superintendent Jack O’Connell believes this will increase student achievement. Lawmakers also want to ban the sales of sodas in high schools – except for extra-curricular activities. And they don’t like junk-food advertising.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a former bodybuilder, reportedly wants to lead the charge against lard. Jay Leno joked that this was part of the governor’s “No Child Left with a Big Behind Act.” The governor wants to set aside $6 million in next year’s budget to fight obesity. But even some Democrats are dubious that any of the various measures will help people, particularly students, make wise choices about food.

Eating, unlike smoking, is not an optional activity, and people generally eat what they want. Californians have at their disposal vast knowledge about nutrition. How they use that knowledge is up to them. They can also choose whether to exercise or sit around playing video games.

Personal responsibility is the cornerstone of a free and civil society. Human beings are independent moral agents with the ability to think and to choose. But that concept is missing from the medical model of human behavior, evident in Dr. Jackson’s comment, which portrays Californians as helpless victims of an “epidemic” sweeping the state like influenza. To treat people this way is to dehumanize them, and to pretend that government can solve obesity takes the onus off the individual. Indeed, it encourages them to blame others.

A Pacific Research Institute 2002 “Ipso Fatso, Part Deux” column dealt with people suing deep-pockets fast-food chains for making them fat. In 1999, when we first took up this theme, California’s department of health had issued a report criticizing the eating habits of Californians. We noted then the irony of a bloated state, freighted with waste and bureaucratic redundancy, lecturing Californians about food.

The state remains overweight. Many legislators want to expand the beltline with universal pre-school, a dubious program that will require massive spending and hiring. Others push for government health care on a grand scale. These are the political equivalent of an all-you-can-eat restaurant.

When state government actually gets smaller, leaner, and more efficient, then Californians might take obesity edicts more seriously. And as in every area of public policy, only those proposals that recognize the importance of personal responsibility have any chance of helping us trim the fat. CRO

copyright 2005 Pacific Research Institute




Blue Collar -  120x90
120x90 Jan 06 Brand
Free Trial Static 02
ActionGear 120*60
Free Trial Static 01
Applicable copyrights indicated. All other material copyright 2003-2005