Monday, November 15, 2010

Keep your commie mitts off my freedom fries!

Today's edition includes two bits about local authorities trying to do the tiniest little thing about childhood obesity and getting only black eyes for it.

In "Flagstaff schools send home warnings about overweight students," school officials decided to try a gentle notice to parents that half their elementary kids are headed for long-term psychological and physical problems, along with tips for healthier habits. The commenters go crazy, of course, foaming about this horrifying intrusion into the personal lives of children. (If the kid is overheard talking about sex or a joint, however, they're all for massive official intervention.)

Meanwhile over on the op-ed page the unnamed Courier editor is railing about taking toys out of Happy Meals and crackdowns on fast-food joints, crying, "We don't need government protecting Americans against themselves," except, presumably, if those Americans want to adjust their consciousness in some way, enjoy themselves sexually or experience art that involves naughty words.

You can't have it both ways, editor: either you believe in the libertarian ideal of no government intervention in any private choice, or you believe that government has a legitimate role to play in informing people about what they can do to protect and improve their own health and well-being.

If government doesn't do it, who will? McDonald's? It seems to me that government entities are best situated to provide that sort of information. Notice, carefully, that neither the Flag schools nor the California cities are requiring people to make any kind of choice. Rather, they are working within their mandates, the well-being of their people. And if you find yourself miffed about the idea that government cares whether you're overweight, maybe it's time to finally get that gym membership, bubba.

The insane obesity of Americans in general should be a matter of strong concern for all of us, as we're all going to be paying for it through our health-care systems and loss of economic productivity for generations. Get over it, and get healthier.

Update, Tuesday: And like the bad joke everyone can see coming, the editor steps right up today to blithely contradict his position yesterday.

This illustrates how many people form opinions based neither on facts nor philosophy, but rather on whether they trust the person espousing the opinion. It's good lesson for political action.