Posts Tagged ‘nanny state’
February 28th, 2014 at 2:37 pm
Michelle Obama: New Food Labels Will Help Counteract the Fact That America’s Moms are Morons
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As a veteran of a speechwriting shop or two, I’m amazed that no one in First Lady Michelle Obama’s office thought to reel in the remarks that she made yesterday about the new FDA nutritional labeling guidelines that I blogged about yesterday. Here’s how the First Lady described the hellish odyssey of a mother in the supermarket under the current regime:

So there you stood, alone in some aisle in a store, the clock ticking away at the precious little time remaining to complete your weekly grocery shopping, and all you could do was scratch your head, confused and bewildered, and wonder, is there too much sugar in this product? Is 50 percent of the daily allowance of riboflavin a good thing or a bad thing? And how on Earth could this teeny little package contain five whole servings?

This stream of questions and worries running through your head when all you really wanted to know was, should I be eating this or not? Is this good for my kids or not? And if it is healthy, how much of it should I be eating? But unless you had a thesaurus, a calculator, a microscope, or a degree in nutrition, you were out of luck. So you felt defeated, and you just gave up and went back to buying the same stuff you always buy.

I’m not sure who these mothers are who find themselves overmatched by the grocery store, but it seems to me they probably need more help than just better labels on food. For the rest of us — all of whom seem capable of acquiring foodstuffs without an epistemic shutdown — this remains a $2 billion exercise in irrelevancy.

February 27th, 2014 at 7:09 pm
Obama Administration Forcing Food Companies to Spend $2 Billion to Change Fonts
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Following on Ashton’s post below, there’s yet another Obama Administration initiative that will reach deep into the pockets of the food industry.

As Politico notes, the FDA is overhauling the labeling requirements for nutritional information on consumer products. The new labeling requirements will more conspicuously display calorie counts, change the definitions of serving sizes, and mandate the description of added sugars. Unsuprisingly, this push is being spearheaded by the First Lady’s office (which invites the question of who empowered Mrs. Obama to do anything in the lawmaking department).

There’s certainly some limited utility to this nutritional information, though I imagine it probably would have emerged (albeit perhaps in a slower fashion) from market demand as Americans became increasingly diet conscious. That said, these changes are incredibly minor. Here, courtesy of Politico, is what the current labels look like by comparison with the new ones:

Current Label

Current Label

Proposed Label

Proposed Label

Now, you may be thinking “What’s the harm?” And that’d be a reasonable response if this was a cost-free exercise. According to the FDA, however the cost to the food industry to make this change will run around $2 billion. That, by the way, is enough to finance about 150,000 lap band surgeries.

It says something remarkable about the Obama Administration’s failure to engage in even the most basic cost/benefit analysis that that would be a less crazy way to tackle this supposed problem.

September 28th, 2012 at 2:01 pm
Podcast: Nanny State New York City is Bad for Business
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Michelle Minton, Fellow in Consumer Policy Studies at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, discusses how New York City’s big-soda ban will do nothing to solve obesity, further entrench the idea that New York is bad for business, and which begs the question:  Who has the right to decide what you consume?

Listen to the interview here.

June 20th, 2012 at 9:24 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Which Is a Bigger Threat to America?
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Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

May 8th, 2012 at 2:37 pm
First Lady Blows Off Free Market, Fails as a Result
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We here at CFIF have always cast a jaundiced eye on First Lady Michelle Obama’s nanny state attempts to hector Americans about how they eat. Whether it’s Ashton pointing out that the program consistently fails in public schools because kids don’t actually like the food or my observing that this trend has actually led to black markets in the cafeteria, we’ve primarily focused on the initiative’s shortcomings for America’s children. It turns, out however, that it’s just as robustly failing adults. From Bloomberg:

After vowing to open more than 1,000 stores selling fresh fruit and vegetables in underserved urban neighborhoods, or “food deserts,” grocers have opened a fraction of them, putting in jeopardy Michelle Obama’s effort to improve food choices for low-income Americans.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which said last July it would have 300 food-desert stores nationwide by 2016, has opened 23 and delayed opening some locations after a backlash from activists. Supervalu Inc., which pledged to double to 2,376 its Save-A-Lot stores, has slowed the pace of openings amid declining sales and scarce financing for its licensees. Meanwhile, grocers are opening stores in wealthier urban enclaves.

Food desert locations, by definition, aren’t profitable, according to Nelson Lichtenstein, director of the Center for the Study of Work, Labor and Democracy at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

“The whole phrase ‘food desert’ sort of implies the weather created it,” said Lichtenstein. “It’s not the weather — it’s because people don’t have any money.”

Shoppers who live in low-income city neighborhoods “don’t fill up a basket and spend $100, they buy $10,” said Lichtenstein, who wrote “The Retail Revolution: How Wal-Mart Created a Brave New World of Business.”

There’s a couple of worthwhile takeaways here. The first is how often politicians and corporations earn praise from press releases and hollow promises. Wal-Mart undoubtedly got more fanfare for announcing the “food desert” stores than it will get scrutiny for failing to build them.

The second is the pervasiveness of the liberal creed that undesirable outcomes must be the product of systemic oppression. Mrs. Obama has long suggested, at least implicitly, that a neglect of urban communities is to blame for the absence of fresh produce in the inner city. It seemingly never occurred to her that the absence of a service in a given market might owe to the fact that there’s not enough demand to make it profitable. The First Lady’s real problem isn’t that corporations aren’t producing what people want; it’s that consumers don’t want what she thinks they should.

That gets to the core of the Obama Administration’s problem. They don’t simply want to change public policy or see corporate practices altered. They want to see human behavior reengineered — whether in the form of the food we eat, the cars we drive, or the doctors we visit. Sooner or later, however, reality will catch up with the White House, as it has in the case of the “food deserts.” No government edict can make straight the crooked timber of humanity.

April 30th, 2012 at 12:54 pm
Massachusetts Liberals Opposed to Bottled Water, Fine with Welfare Fraud
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There was a time when the New England town meeting was the ultimate example of civic-mindedness; of small town democracy in action. These days, given the political complexion of much of the Northeast, the gatherings tend to be more representative of just how divorced from reality life can become in the fever swamps of the left. Consider this, from Michael Graham in the Boston Herald:

[The city of] Concord voted 403-364 to make it illegal to sell bottled water. Uh, wait. That’s not right. You can still sell bottled water, it just has to be in larger bottles.

So it’s illegal to sell drinks in bottles smaller than 1 liter. No, that’s not it, either. You can still sell Mountain Dew or mango juice in small, plastic bottles. Just not water.

So the new law boils down to “It’s illegal to sell stuff we Concordians don’t like, and right now we don’t like bottled water . . . except when we buy it ourselves. So there.”

What makes this vote on unflavored liquid so deliciously ironic is that it happened around the same time the Massachusetts House was voting against EBT [Electronic Benefit Transfer — essentially debit cards for those receiving public benefits] fraud — a vote that Concord liberals and their fellow travelers oppose.

While the EBT fraud amendment passed overwhelmingly 122-33, all the “no” votes came from the far left. Liberals like Reps. Alice Wolf (D-Cambridge) and Ruth Balser (D-Newton) voted to keep letting EBT cards pay for “firearms, cosmetics . . . strip clubs, travel services, health clubs, tattoo parlors, jewelry, payment of restitution or bail, and gambling,” according to the Associated Press.

The ideological battle lines of 21st century politics are becoming increasingly clear. Conservatives are those who think you should be able to do nearly anything you like with your own money. Liberals are those who think you should be able to do nearly anything you like with someone else’s.

September 15th, 2011 at 4:02 pm
Michelle Obama’s War on Breadsticks
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Oh, the policy initiatives of a First Lady. In most White Houses, they’re confined to feel-good exhortations to increase child literacy or avoid the temptations of drugs. And at their best, they’re an opportunity for the president’s spouse to take a stand on an issue better handled by civil society than government. That’s not without merit. The voice of an influential public figure can certainly change popular attitudes for the better.

What’s a little dismaying however, is when what starts as an earnest appeal to self-improvement becomes an excuse for nannyism and artificial quotas. Consider this, from the Daily Caller:

Bending to the whims of Michelle Obama, Darden Restaurants — the company that owns the Olive Garden, Red Lobster, LongHorn Steakhouse and other restaurant concepts — announced Thursday that it will cut the “calorie footprint” and sodium levels in its meals and create new kids’ menus to comply with the first lady’s public health objectives.

With Michelle Obama, Darden unveiled its plans for all 19,000 of its restaurants in 49 states at an Olive Garden restaurant in Hyattsville, Md., in front of a prominent sign advertising the first lady’s “Let’s Move!” campaign.

The company pledged to reduce the overall calories and sodium in its meals by 10 percent over the next five years, and by 20 percent over 10 years.

Is the First Lady’s goal to suck all the joy out of life? Has our concept of limited government been so diminished that we’ll accept being hectored by the waiter at the Red Lobster over how many cheddar bay biscuits we’ve had because it’s a directive from Michelle Obama’s office?

The First Lady is certainly right that Americans could stand to step up their excercise regimes and cut back on the calories. But taking away options is the low road to virtue. If her case is compelling, it’ll sink in on the merits. If not, those are the wages of living in a free society.

As for those cheddar bay biscuits, I have five words for Mrs. Obama: “… from my cold, dead hands.”

November 22nd, 2010 at 3:35 pm
Arizona Schools to Promote Health by Shaming Fat Kids
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An item from the Daily Caller:

Chubby elementary school children in Flagstaff, Ariz., have more than just bullies to worry about. If they’re too fat, their school will notify their parents.

Starting in the fall, students in the Flagstaff district will be weighed and measured at school. Students who are found to be overweight, marginally overweight, or underweight will have a letter sent home to their parents, which will include graphs showing a range of appropriate weights for a given age and height.

The Flagstaff District might want to consider placing a call to the TSA before implementing this policy. Americans have limited patience for inconvient and unnecessary big government. But when it’s humiliating and unnecessary … well, the pitchforks are on their way.

January 7th, 2010 at 5:50 pm
The Nanny State Strikes Again
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Well, the Nanny State never tires at trying to run every aspect of our lives.  The San Francisco shopping bag ban appears to be making its ugly migration eastward.

Virginia and Maryland are now looking to follow the lead of other meddling jurisdictions as they consider a 5-cent tax on shopping bags.  This is not only an affront to individual liberty but also another pathetic attempt by government to raise a little extra cash.

What’s most disturbing about this scheme to tax “paper or plastic” is that most grocery stores in the area already incentivize recycling.  Local stores like Giant, Whole Foods (run by a libertarian who eschews most state involvement) and Harris Teeter already offer 5-cent discounts (per bag) for customers who bring in their own.

Politicians can’t complain that the market hasn’t taken the lead because most private companies are already ahead of career politicians on the issue.

Delegate Alfred Carr of Montgomery County, Maryland opined, “We need to do this as a region.”  Really?   Your state is mired in recession, most private companies already promote recycling and you believe a new tax on plastic bags is a pressing issue?  Your state has the fourth highest tax burden in the nation and you think that increasing that burden will help your constituents?

As former Chief Justice John Marshall famously stated, “[T]he power to tax involves the power to destroy.”  Perhaps we should tax running for reelection.  Stopping career politicians like Mr. Carr from regulating our shopping habits would surely be a greater advancement for society than a marginal reduction in plastic bag consumption.  After all, reducing the number of career politicians is always a worthy cause.

November 13th, 2009 at 3:28 pm
CFIF Video: Smothered by the Nanny State

From government-run health care to a cap-and-trade energy tax, from bans on new fast food restaurants to taxing soft drinks, elected officials at the federal and state levels are working to rapidly expand the Nanny State.  CFIF’s Renee Giachino discusses the issue in this week’s Freedom Minute.

Watch the video below.


October 6th, 2009 at 9:34 am
Light Bulbs vs. The Nanny State
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