Shouts of "What’s next?" are echoing from classrooms, bathrooms, and check-out lines as Americans wonder which aspect of their daily lives will serve as health activists’ next target. Last week the Institute of Medicine announced a proposal to ban allegedly unhealthy items like carbonated water from school grounds. (Keep that Perrier away from my child…) City councils in Boston, Phoenix, Santa Cruz, and Portland want to follow San Francisco’s lead in dictating which types of shopping bag can be offered at grocery stores. And prominent environmental activist and pop star Sheryl Crow wants a limit on the amount of toilet paper people can use.
The latest cry of protest against these creeping regulations was published in today’s Boston Globe. Columnist Sam Allis questions the authority of activists like trial-lawyer-turned-trans-fat-food-cop Stephen Joseph to tell Americans how to live:
Where does all this end? Is there a line in the sand anymore that says, Here And No Further? Everyone means well when they propose these compulsory schemes in the name of health and the environment, but then so do book burners. Trans fats, unlike books, contribute big-time to heart disease. But don’t legislate them. Don’t create cadres of food police and vehicular smoking police.
Too late. Rather than paring down their efforts, policymakers and public health officials are pushing for more controls on just about everything. The food scolds at the Center for Science in the Public Interest are lobbying for a new federal agency with a bigger budget and more control to regulate the nation’s food supply. And in the name of fighting childhood obesity, former president Bill Clinton is now campaigning for a laundry list of invasive government guidelines on school food.
What’s next? We’re not sure, but a rationing program for two-ply Charmin could be in our future.