Someone’s In Your Kitchen

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Recently, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg infamously burst forth from Gracie Mansion to deliver a new set of culinary commandments to the citizens of the Big Apple. While many people grumbled at the politician’s parental behavior, many Democrats applauded “hizzoner” for caring so much. Of course, they applauded Bloomberg’s successful incursion into our cup holders — not Bloomberg’s concern for his subjects.

Unfortunately, this sort of nanny-statism is spreading. This week, the city of Cambridge, Mass. — home to some of the most annoyingly smug Bay State liberals outside the Kennedy Compound — announced it was considering a ban on soda sales in restaurants.

Of course, Cambridge offers merely the latest on a list of obtrusive efforts to reach much further into our lives than most of us would prefer. In fact, for those of us who consider our homes — and, by extension, our lunch — sacrosanct, politicians who mandate food and beverage guidelines have not simply invaded our homes, they’re in the kitchen and rooting around in the fridge. As an aside, I would caution these self-appointed guardians of the public waistline to keep their distance from the liquor cabinet, lest gunplay erupt.

I despise governmental dietary dictates for the same reason I despise their equally-egregious siblings: so-called “sin taxes.” When bureaucratic bugaboos begin decreeing what’s allowed on my table, they’ve stopped behaving like government officials and started behaving like prison wardens. As is the case with “sin taxes,” I’m doing time absent a crime. Instead of being sent to bed without dessert for refusing to eat my vegetables, I’m being sent to bed with my vegetables for thinking about dessert. Taken to the extreme, such enforced restriction leaves everyone from the most sanctimonious vegan to the most voracious omnivore choosing which flavor of soylent green they’d like for dinner.

But another problem looms, and it most severely affects a group liberals pretend to care most about: the “poor.” Inside the supposedly good intentions of nanny-staters exists a logical gap wider than Michael Moore slow dancing with Ed Schultz, and I examined it up close recently at the grocery store. As I waited to check out, I stood in line behind a woman whose cart was filled with all manner of stuff that would elicit tears from the eyes of the San Francisco busybodies who tried to ban Happy Meals™.  She had four different flavors of soda, those delicious Little Debbie™ cakes and a host of other items that are on the “only slightly more nutritious than Styrofoam” list.  And she paid for it all with an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card.

If the government wants to move in on my menu, shouldn’t there be even more significant restrictions on people whose menus are dependent on my dime? The woman in front of me bought a cartload of crap that would make a nutritionist compulsively start doing crunches, and you and I paid for the whole mess. So, I have to listen to lectures from Bloomberg, et al. while every trailer park Cleopatra and ghetto Nefertiti whose fertile reach exceeds her financial grasp stuffs her squalling progeny’s pieholes with high-fructose garbage, and I don’t even get invited over for cake and grape soda? Perhaps the nanny-staters should focus on the well-being of the less-well-off before checking to make sure I have enough broccoli in my crisper drawer. (I don’t have any broccoli in my crisper drawer. That’s where I keep the emergency 12-pack of beer.)

To be sure, most of us eat and drink far less healthfully than we should. As I’m writing this, I’m downing a “scotch coffee.” It’s like an Irish Coffee, except instead of Bushmill’s, I use Famous Grouse; and instead of coffee, I use more Famous Grouse. I’m grilling steak for dinner later. That’s my choice. Before the government decides to swoop down on me for living more like Michael Moore and less like Michael Phelps, perhaps it should narrow the restrictions on the EBT recipients whose grocery bills I’m also paying.

I’m not suggesting we limit food stamp purchases to Unimix and chewable vitamins; in fact, I neither want nor deserve any say in what EBT recipients feed themselves or their kids. But it’s worth noting that governmental busybodies seem more worried about what I’m buying for myself than what I’m buying for others. Of course, they’re already dependent on governmental largesse. At this rate, the rest of us will join them soon enough.

–Ben Crystal

Personal Liberty

Ben Crystal

is a 1993 graduate of Davidson College and has burned the better part of the last two decades getting over the damage done by modern-day higher education. He now lives in Savannah, Ga., where he has hosted an award-winning radio talk show and been featured as a political analyst for television. Currently a principal at Saltymoss Productions—a media company specializing in concept television and campaign production, speechwriting and media strategy—Ben has written numerous articles on the subjects of municipal authoritarianism, the economic fallacy of sin taxes and analyses of congressional abuses of power.

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