CAFE Standards Brewing For Soda

What does America lack? Government control of our food portions! This summer one particularly out-of-touch physician called for the Surgeon General to mandate that “all portions of food served in restaurants and fast-food places be cut by one-half to two-thirds.” And now some academics are telling us we should regulate sodas like we do internal combustion. Two professors and a graduate student at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business publicized misguided research on Thursday, concluding that Congress should “institute a set of guidelines for the fast-food industry similar to the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards established for the automobile industry.” CAFE standards penalize the makers of cars with below-average fuel economy. Now we’re facing a proposal to do the same to soda, of all things.

Channeling some feel-good paternalism, professor Richard Staelin blithely claims: “If Congress gave fast-food companies the directive to reduce their customers’ overall caloric intake by 10 percent, our research indicates companies could do that.

What’s next? Ice-cream shops forced to offer spinach salad to offset their frozen treats? Government agents (à la the “Soup Nazi“) stationed at food counters to stop people from getting free refills?

We’ve seen some ridiculous proposals from the food police (see here, here, and here), but this one takes the government-controlled cake.

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