Think government can solve this problem? Fat chance

Craig Hall, Publisher
Craig Hall, Publisher

A couple of news stories caught my eye in the past week.

In Chicago, the city council is looking at plans that would charge 15 to 35 cents in tax on sugary drinks. It’s estimated Chicagoans drink more than 100 million gallons of such drinks each year and consumption would generate almost $130 million in tax revenue annually. I’m sure this figure doesn’t take into account the reduction is soda intake (the alleged reason for the tax), the reduction in sales, the loss of jobs due to the tax across the entire spectrum of food-related industries and, of course, the fact government estimates are always wrong.

But all these economic factors can be ignored, says the city council, because they believe child obesity is a “real clear and present danger.” My question is, if they wanted to promote ways for kids to drink healthier beverages, why did the city implement a 5 cent tax on bottled water in 2008? That tax was, of course, in the name of the environment. So the thought must be, wouldn’t the city have saved the environment more if it had placed that tax on the more than

100 million gallons of other drinks in plastic bottles being consumed? But don’t worry. The city says it will work diligently to come up with a tax policy that pleases everyone. Logic says that’s impossible But then again, the only logic government knows is how to twist it.

In Boston, the State Legislature passed a law that, as of Aug. 1, will outlaw bake sales and so-called competitive foods sold outside its government-approved school lunch programs. The Legislature also is pushing schools to expand the new law to include bans on evening, weekend and community events like door-to-door candy sales, football games and any community gathering. The “no-nonsense” law is intended to combat obesity. Parents, whose kids are probably not obese because they’re active in extra-curricular activities, disagree, as these fund-raisers help pay the bills.

As a dad with active kids, I’ve been known to hock a few unhealthy foods to support my daughter’s dance group and the girls’ classroom needs. And while we sell other things like candles and some gifts, nothing sells like candy, pizza and other delectable goodies that people —particularly parents — like to eat. And no matter how much the public “Health Gestapo” loves to say there are other ways to raise money successfully for your kids’ school needs, bake sales and food sales work. Then again, so would some fiscal responsibility, where the education buck starts.

And in case you are wondering where state and local folks get the temerity to tell all of us how to eat, we have the official panels creating the official reports from the Centers for Disease Control and the National Academies. In the stories I read, one said that the obesity rate “could” affect 42 percent of Americans by 2030. The other said 42 percent of us will be obese. So in a few short days we’ve gone from a projection (worse, a government guess) to an absolute. And that’s all a money and power hungry politician or bureaucrat needs.

Worse yet, the National Academies report states the average person can’t maintain a healthy weight in America’s obesity promoting environment. And we all know how our politicians and bureaucrats feel about taking away our rights and legislate when it comes to the “environment,” particularly in liberal strongholds like Chicago, Boston and the federal government. The good/bad news from these reports is that this is not your fault. The worse news is they say the only solution is for government to take over.

Government must intercede, you see, because the people’s choices for healthy alternatives in food and drink are severely limited. The government must insist that healthy choices are available everywhere Americans eat — like restaurants, malls and health clubs. Additionally, the report suggests that more sidewalks be built so kids can walk to school and people will ride more bikes and that schools provide 60 minutes of physical education daily —since less than 10 percent of schools provide daily physical education for all the kids.

Excuse me? Are there restaurants and health clubs not providing something healthy for their patrons to eat or drink? Maybe kids walk on fewer sidewalks in cities like Boston or Chicago because the parents got the heck out of those liberal utopias. And why are there unhealthy foods and no physical activities in the schools you run Mr. and Mrs. Busybody Bureaucrat?

The reports point to McDonald’s as a success story in healthy alternatives. That’s a crock. If my kids had a Happy Meal “choice” it would be fries and no apples. If it was apples, they’d like the caramel back. Sure, McDonald’s made a choice. It got rid of something to get an ObamaCare waiver.

When the government says, “It’s not your fault, you can’t help yourself,” you can count on one thing: The government is about to help itself to your wallet and your rights. And that’s no fat chance.