Is food anarchy the answer?
L.A. Times columnist calls for government to retreat from its attacks on our food choices.
Ironically, in Gunlock’s article she actually makes two pro-government points in attempting to prove its ineffectiveness. For example, she cites a 2009 study of the effect of New York’s edict to require restaurants to post calorie and nutrition information. She wrote that, according to the study, “only half even noticed the government-required calorie information displayed on menu boards. Of those, only 28% said the information influenced their ordering.”
I would argue that the posted information actually caught the eye of many customers and influenced the decisions of a significant number of them—people who might not otherwise have considered the choices they were making. Whether you believe the government should have the right to mandate nutrition posting, the study demonstrated that it was having some impact.
Gunlock also touched on the four states that currently have a “sin tax” on sodas. “They rank among the most obese states in the nation,” she wrote. “So much for the government's war on obesity.”
What Gunlock apparently failed to realize—or conveniently chooses not to point out—is that the taxes were imposed because these states have high rates of obesity. They haven’t been in effect long enough to have had any impact on obesity rates. Are these taxes just? I’m not sure. The fact remains, it is far too early to measure their effectiveness.
The extent to which government entities should have control over our food and beverage choices certainly is debatable. But a government stripped of its power to influence the food, beverage and restaurant industries would have far more dire consequences for Americans.