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.
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!
- S.F. supervisors vote to get tougher on smoking (sfgate.com)
- Sask. considers ban on smoking in cars with kids (ctv.ca)
- For Some Smokers, Even Home’s Off Limits (nytimes.com)
- Schools & Sugar & Our Children (chefann.com)
- Study: Dangers of thirdhand smoke (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Not just blowing smoke (healthzone.ca)
- ‘Smoking killed me’ sign placed on hearse, grave (seattletimes.nwsource.com)