If You Believe in Consumer Freedom, You’re Prejudiced or Something

The armies of the “public health” community are on the march, in advance of HBO’s release next week of a much-hyped documentary promoting the Social Engineer’s Manifesto. Never heard of it? It’s a document produced by the woefully biased Institute of Medicine—with the blander official name of “Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention: Solving the Weight of the Nation.” We’ve already dealt with ludicrous comparisons of eating to smoking, debunked suspiciously convenient projections of future obesity rates, and warned of the proposed restaurant “broccoli mandate.” We’ve even hammered vegan fundamentalists for using the media noise surrounding the anti-obesity movement to unfairly attack President Obama.

So it’s all over then, no?

Alas, bureaucrats, regulators and their elite allies have not yet begun to food-fight. A Reuters “Insight” piece reports extensively on the next front in the war on food, and it’s a direct, open assault on the very concept of consumer freedom.

You see, Reuters conducted a poll that showed that when people were “[a]sked to identify the main cause of the epidemic, 61 percent chose ‘personal choices about eating and exercising’; 19 percent chose the actions of food manufacturers and the fast-food industry.” That sounds like a victory for common sense. But consider what the Reuters writer said just before stating that result: “A new Reuters/Ipsos online poll […] captures some of the prejudicial attitudes [emphasis added].” You read that right: Our betters have decided that trusting the American people to make their own decisions is a “prejudicial attitude.” How insightful.

Of course, when the linchpin of your agenda, the reviled soda tax, polls 18 percent support, it’s easier to expel spittle than convince policymakers. Rebecca Puhl of Yale is happy to lecture us:

As long as we have this belief that obese people are […] lacking in discipline, it will be hard to get support for policies that change the environment, which are likely to have a much larger impact than trying to change individuals.

We’d expect no less from Kelly “Twinkie Tax” Brownell’s colleague. (After all, he thinks we are “addicted” to food. But what about he himself?) The motives are transparent: Classify personal choice supporters as bigots and shut them up, using the law if necessary. (It’s not like activists hold the First Amendment in any high esteem.)

The editors of The Wall Street Journal warned against this political science: “Beware of scientists who moonlight as politicians. A case in point is this week’s Institute of Medicine obesity report that endorses far more regulation.” The paper noted that “[activists] envision a government-led transformation ‘across all levels and sectors of society,’” concluding judiciously: “It’s never a good omen when planners use such language.”

To the social engineers, we are giant lab rats playing in a maze. Forgive us for thinking more highly of the American people.

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