Coming Soon to a City Near You: The Death of the Buffet?

Sometimes it’s good to read what your opponents are reading. A roundup of the food-activist agitprop can be found periodically on foodie spokesman Mark Bittman’s blog, and this week it contains a doozy from a scarily well-placed source.

In the journal of health policy published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), two researchers from the RAND Corporation examine alcoholic beverage regulation as a model for regulating food. (Maybe the “tobacco playbook” is too cliché.) Conveniently, the authors supply a summary table of possible alcohol-modeled regulation.  It includes such gems of petty tyranny as “limits on food availability at the workplace” (even at Bloomberg L.P.?), licensing food sellers and restricting licenses “to outlets where food sales comprise >50% business” (auf Wiedersehen to the concession stand?), and “naming of food by percentage of fat and sugar content.”

We wish we were making this up. We aren’t. If we—and Bittman’s activist allies—are reading it, so is CDC boss Thomas Frieden, former New York City health czar and notorious busybody. Heck, he might have a copy engraved on sheets of gold.

And lest one think these are just idle comments by bored researchers fantasizing about carrot juice houses, consider that the regulatory czars of the nation’s states and cities have already enacted or tried to enact the following: “limits on food outlet density” (Los Angeles), “portion control for food servings” (New York City, infamously), “taxes on foods high in solid oils and added sugars and salt” (New York state, Philadelphia, California, et al.), and “campaigns against low-nutrient foods” (New York City, with the aid of federal taxes).

Are Prohibitions on buffets and all-you-care-to-eat promotions next? We can’t say for sure. Especially when combined with other “public health” community absurdities, what this sort of examination demonstrates is that there is absolutely no consumer choice that the scolds will leave out of bounds for regulation.

“Of all tyrannies,” C.S. Lewis once wrote, “a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive” — for “those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” When the regulators and activist hangers-on come, hide the chicken nuggets.

Thomas Farley (the current NYC health czar) said something revealing in the HBO documentary promoting every obesity activist and activist talking point we can think of. He said, “Every one of those people [New Yorkers], I consider to be my patient [emphasis added].” You can’t sack him, you can’t refuse to listen to him even if you’re healthy, and you can’t even say, “I only drink 32-ounce sports drinks after marathons.” You are his “patient,” and you will follow doctor’s orders. For the children.

Lewis went on to write that this mentality puts adults “on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason […] to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.” With the sophisticated food police pushing arguments that we’re completely irrational, “addicted” to food, or simply “can’t be trusted” to make decisions, it should be beyond clear that the food police put us in a class with “domestic animals” on one of their good days.

After all, dogs do not consciously decide to defy their masters. Rather, food cops might have said in less enlightened times that we’re more “half devil and half child,” capable of choosing to reject the diktats of our self-appointed “betters.”

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