• Twitter
  • Facebook
News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Control freaks

I don't know who said it (I think I've seen it attributed both to Emily Dickinson and Gertrude Stein), so let's just credit it to Anonymous: It’s not true that life is one damn thing after another. It is the same damn thing over and over again. I was going to start this post with, "There they go again," but in reality it's just a continuation of what they've always done:

The board hand-picked by Mayor Michael Bloomberg that must approve his ban of selling large sugar-filled drinks at restaurants might be looking at other targets.

[. . .]

One member, Bruce Vladeck, thinks limiting the sizes for movie theater popcorn should be considered.

"The popcorn isn't a whole lot better than the soda," Vladeck said.

Another board member thinks milk drinks should fall under the size limits.

"There are certainly milkshakes and milk-coffee beverages that have monstrous amounts of calories," said board member Dr. Joel Forman.

A couple of weeks ago in writing about climate change, I made the observation that science and politics are incompatible, at least insofar as politics tries to write science into law. The political process seeks immediate but permanently lasting policy solutions. But science is about uncertainty. Theories are developed as facts emerge, and the theories change as more knowledge is accumulated. What we believe today is subject to change tomorrow, and seeking to cast into stone a prescriptive or proscriptive law based on what we know today is a dangerous undertaking.

Perhaps the point can be better made here, in the smaller context of Killer Popcorn and Death that Lurks in Milkshakes. Scientists are continually changing their minds about the risks and benefits of the various things we put into our bodies. Everything from coffee to red wine to aspirin has been deemed good for us one day and bad for us another. That's because we learn more all the time about how our bodies work and our metabolisms process what we put into them. Some day we might have perfect knowledge about the subject, but today we don't. How utterly foolish to restrict what choices we have based on today's imperfect knowledge, even if you have the misguided notion that it's good public policy (we're not smart enough to order a refill of a smaller drink if we're not allowed to have the larger drink?). Sure, the law can be changed if it needs to be, but in the meantime, faith in the law and faith in science both have been eroded.

But such calls for rationality will fall on deaf ears. I am more persuaded every day of the proposition that the fact someone seeks a public office is proof he shouldn't be trusted with it. They all talk about "serving" the public, but what they really want to do is control it. The majority of people in elective public office are control freaks who really do think they know what is best for the rest of us.

Am I just in a very cynical mood today, I wonder, or have I had one cup of coffee too many? Maybe I need to go home and have a glass of good red wine.


tim zank
Wed, 06/13/2012 - 3:53pm

Told ya so # 3765... (at least)

I warned everyone, when the control freaks got a foot hold with the smoking bans they'd soon be coming after stuff you nonsmokers liked next, and everybody laughed.

Wed, 06/13/2012 - 5:52pm

You know there appears to be some empirical evidence to show that big drinks or big popcorn does create fat butts.

With the same type of empirical evidence, it also appears to show that big government does create fat heads.

Too much of anything is just that.....too much.