Salt Nazis Invade New York

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Salt.

It’s a simple product. You need it to live. It makes food taste better. And, Americans eat way too much of it.

New York may soon add salt to a growing list of prohibitions.  Busy legislators around the world are fighting trans fat, smoking, high fructose corn syrup, and dozens of other unhealthy foods and habits. And they mean business, the proposed New York salt fine is $1000 a pop.

A SALT & BATTERY - The Salt Nazis strike New York.

A SALT & BATTERY - The Salt Nazis strike New York.

When it comes to personal vices, America has mixed success trying to force people to be healthy or less sinful. It’s not as if the 18th Amendment was a rousing success.

Few would disagree that too much of a bad thing is, well, bad – but just as many don’t want their personal vices and behavior legislated regardless. They’d argue that as we legislate each prohibition American puritanism grows to claim many more personal freedoms. There is no specific Constitutional right to eat deep-fried Hostess Twinkies, but there isn’t a law that prohibits it either.

There are often arguments that thousands of lives will be saved if we ban a product. However, if there was an argument that legislation trumps common sense, these cases would represent real Death Panels in reverse. They are tantamount to the government telling people, “You WILL be healthy dammit and if you can’t, that’ll be $1000. Pay the clerk. Bailiff, next case please.”

There’s a valid argument that vices not only endanger the person practicing them, but also innocent people avoiding the dangers. For example, too much salt might send you to the hospital for heart surgery that your insurance company, government, other policyholders will have to cover. Secondhand smoke can be a killer, so children, restaurant patrons, and office workers deserve some protection from others’ lack of common sense. But, where’s the line?

Idiots will be idiots. You can’t stop them. For instance, how can smokers sue a tobacco company and claim they didn’t know coffin nails are dangerous? How can a drunken idiot leave a bar, wrap his slobbery ass around a tree and then sue the bartender who served the drinks?

So, here’s a plan. Don’t legislate the behavior, legislate the cost. We already do that with sky-high cigarette taxes. They lead many people to quit and as an extra bonus make money for cash-strapped states that can be used to mitigate increased health expenses or secondhand smoke.

Hell, it may be time to add some vices. Legalize pot (medical or otherwise), legalize prostitution, legalize gambling – liquor in the front, poker in the rear. They’re all certified money makers and none of them are anyone else’s business anyway.

Death to the salt Nazis!

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8 thoughts on “Salt Nazis Invade New York

  1. Really? That makes no sense, since the federal government has no problem banning marijuana without a constitutional amendment.

    You wish me to defend the federal government outlawing pot? Very well. For the sake of argument, I suppose they would say that that was authorized under the general welfare clause.

    Agree or disagree that marijuana negatively effects the general welfare of the population at large or whether that effect is negative enough to outweigh the negative effects of outlawing pot, I imagine that’s the clause drawn upon to justify that governmental action. I think it’s pretty clear that a majority of Americans have concluded that the effects of pot use do negatively effect the general welfare of the country and that those effects are negative enough to warrant the federal government banning the possession and trafficking of pot, although I think that is changing.

    Not being a lawyer or constitutional expert, I am not competent to speak to the constitutionality of such a ban. With the interstate commerce clause, it seems to me that the general welfare clause is one that the government, interpreting said clauses way too expansively, uses to infringe upon personal liberty of the people. Quite aside from the constitutional issue and assuming for the sake of argument that such bans are constitutional, personally, I conclude that the negative effects upon the general welfare of the nation of such a ban far outweigh the negative effects of legalized pot use — even recreational use never mind medical use — upon the general welfare. In my opinion, just because a governmental action might be constitutional, that doesn’t mean I think it should be doing it. Government has stuck it’s nose way too far into what I think should be matters of personal choice. Bans upon pot use are just one of those situations.

    Sounds to me like a similar response to gay marriage – that they figured a constitutional amendment would make it stick (cant overturn the constitution, unless you’re Dick Cheney, without a whole lot of trouble), unlike a law, which can be overturned or revoked.

    Yes, that was the point of that: amend the constitution and overturning such an amendment would require another amendment similar to the prohibition amendment. I don’t like the idea of amending the constitution in the pursuit of limiting the liberty of Americans is a bad idea, generally and banning gay marriage via a constitutional amendment, in particular, is a bad idea. I say let them marry. Leave them alone and let them live their lives in pursuit of happiness. I’m pretty sure that Dick Cheney would agree with me on this.

    Practically, on the other hand, overturning the text of the Constitution does not require an amendment. All it requires is convincing a plurality of Supreme Court Justices that governmental action contravening the text of the Constitution is justified by some other clause of the Constitution. For example, federal hate crime laws. Beat up a gay man to rob him of his money and one will get one sentence. Shout anti-gay epithets while beating him up and one will find that a hate crime enhancement will be added to one’s sentence. In spite of the fact that the Constitution forbids Congress from making laws infringing freedom of speech, the general welfare clause (I suspect) is used to tack on prison time to the sentence for beating someone up.

    I am against hate crimes laws — criminalizing speech and emotions — but that doesn’t mean that I am against Congress passing laws that infringe some speech. For example, they should pass laws against false advertising. Whether they use the general welfare clause or the interstate commerce clause, corporations ought not be allowed to make claims about their product or service that are untrue. Shouting fire in a crowded hall when there is no fire, just for the fun of watching the reaction, causing a panic in which people are trampled, should be a crime (although I don’t think it should be a federal offense). I could give more examples but that should be enough to show that I recognize that the text of the Constitution should permit of exceptions.

    Those exceptions however should be narrowly defined lest they unnecessarily impinge upon people’s liberty. I am a libertarian when it comes to the issue of the so called social wars rather than a social conservative. The government should impinge upon the liberty of the people as little as necessary to preserve the general welfare of the people. Unfortunately, the government has been permitted by the SCOTUS to impinge upon those liberties of people far too much, in my opinion.

    I’m not certain what the dig against Cheney was intended to convey, though.

  2. Really? That makes no sense, since the federal government has no problem banning marijuana without a constitutional amendment. Sounds to me like a similar response to gay marriage – that they figured a constitutional amendment would make it stick (cant overturn the constitution, unless you’re Dick Cheney, without a whole lot of trouble), unlike a law, which can be overturned or revoked.

    The constitution is written in a much stouter medium than are any laws.

  3. Well, if the 10th amendment doesn’t mean that unless the Constitution specifically authorizes the federal government to do something, it can not do it until the people amend the Constitution to authorize such, I don’t know what it means. Yes, the government can regulate pretty much anything that the people authorize it to do but there must be specific grant of authority. Take prohibition. The feds couldn’t regulate/outlaw sales and consumption of alcohol until specifically authorized to do so through an amendment. It was a bad idea but it took an amendment to authorize the government to do it. Congress could not just act to outlaw alcohol, no matter how popular prohibition was at the time or whether every congress person had specifically run on prohibition and had been elected specifically to outlaw alcoholic beverages. That’s how the Constitution works.

    Now that means that the legislators of individual states or towns could go dry without amending the federal Constitution since such authority, not being vested yet in the federal government, had been understood to be vested in the states through their citizens. Otherwise, the government could do just about anything and the Constitution would be meaningless. The Constitution exists to constrain the powers of the federal government.

  4. “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

    I see no reason why this doesnt mean that Congress, as representatives of The People, cannot make rules regarding pretty much anything, save things that contradict the Constitution. In thins manner, basic civil rights are maintained, but the Laws are adaptable to the times.
    I think the law is stupid. I say the same thing about helmet laws (smoking laws are reasonable, because I can smell the stink, and so it affects me personally, unlike someone’s salt intake). At the same time, there are a lot of processed foods which contain ungodly amounts of salt, which really isnt very good for you, so I can see the point, at least, even if it think it’s unnecessary.
    This is yet another example of Legislation By Hysteria, which, as far as I can tell, has caused this country more trouble than any nutbag with some explosives ever has.

  5. From the linked article:

    While most food companies say they agree at least with the goal of reducing salt, some medical researchers have questioned the scientific basis for the initiative, saying insufficient research had been done on possible effects. While agreeing that reducing salt is likely to lower average blood pressure, they say it can lead to other physiological changes, some of which may be associated with heart problems.

    An elaborate clinical trial could weigh the pluses and minuses of cutting salt in a large group of people. But that would cost millions, and it has not been done.

    Dr. Michael H. Alderman, a professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, said the city’s initiative, if successful in reducing salt, would amount to an uncontrolled experiment with the public’s health.

    “I’m always worried about unintended consequences,” he said.

    Gotta love those uncontrolled experiments with the public’s health.

  6. Of course, this is the New York City government, not the federal government so the 10th amendment is intact here. If a majority of the people of NYC, through their city officials, wish the deep-fried Hostess Twinky intake within the city to be limited, I guess it is within their power to do so. That doesn’t make this any less fascist, though.

  7. The longer the republic exists, the nearer we come to being a fascist state.

    There is no specific Constitutional right to eat deep-fried Hostess Twinkies, but there isn’t a law that prohibits it either.

    Yes there is: the 10th amendment:

    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

    I don’t read that the US Constitution has specifically empowered the federal government to limit my deep-fried Hostess Twinkies intake. Therefore that right is reserved to the states or to the people. Therefore there is a specific constitutional right to eat deep-fried Hostess Twinkies.

    You see, the US Constitution does not need to confer rights via specific statements of rights. It is enough that the Constitution does not specifically empower the federal government to do a thing. If not, the federal government can not do it.

    That’s the original theory. That is not to say that the US Supreme Court does not frequently interpret the Constitution to allow the federal government to do things that it is not specifically empowered to do in the Constitution. The Supreme Court seems to think the Constitution means whatever a plurality of Justices say that it means. The Justices have frequently ruled unconstitutionally, in my opinion.

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