Should Government Watch the Terrorists — or Americans Reaching for a Snack?
Genevieve Wood /
With recent news of various government agencies wanting to monitor our nation’s newsrooms and our children’s eating habits, and with a $17 trillion debt that continues to rise, perhaps it is time to paraphrase President John F. Kennedy:
Ask not what government can do for us, but what we can do for ourselves.
Whether it’s a new law making McDonald’s tell us how many calories are in a Big Mac or the Federal Communications Commission demanding broadcasters keep TV commercials from being too loud, one wonders if we need a government agency to tuck us in at night and read us a bedtime story.
Is there anything, ANYTHING, according to the Left that government shouldn’t be monitoring, regulating, overseeing, approving, or funding?
From Common Core—mandating what our children are taught, how they are taught it, and how we know if they learned it—to what size soft drink, what kind of light bulb, or what kind of health care plan you as an adult can buy…Where does it stop?
The debate over marketing of sugary snacks in schools is small ball. It’s not the point. Of course we want kids to be healthy. But don’t we want the government monitoring terrorists instead of our school cafeterias?
Let’s talk about what the government can stop doing. A good place to start is the things we can actually do ourselves—for example, monitoring what our kids eat and using our remote controls to turn down the commercials on our TVs.
As consumers and taxpayers, it’s fair to ask whether these government mandates are needed—and whether they work.
Take the light bulb issue. This was part of an energy bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2007 to attempt to phase out ordinary incandescent bulbs and replace them with more energy-efficient versions.
In addition to the fact that the legislation, as government regulations almost always do, caused unintended negative consequences (including destroying jobs), it also wasn’t necessary. Energy efficiency in America has improved dramatically over the past 60 years—long before the really smart people in Washington started telling us what kind of bulbs we could buy.
Or take the menu-labeling mandate, one of many onerous regulations under Obamacare. The Food and Drug Administration, the agency charged with carrying it out, says the first-year costs of implementation across all affected businesses will be $537 million. Industry experts, however, say it could cost $1 billion for supermarkets alone.
Regardless of which figure turns out to be right, those costs will mean higher prices for the meals you buy at restaurants and the food you buy in grocery stores. Businesses don’t pay for these mandates; they pass them on to consumers.
And will such menu labeling make us eat better? The Obamacare law is modeled after a measure that has been in place in New York City since 2008. In a study published by Health Affairs, New York University and Yale researchers collected receipts before and after the law went into effect and found that individuals actually ordered more calories after the labeling law than before. People also ordered more calories than a similar population across the Hudson River in Newark, NJ, where there was no labeling law. Researchers aren’t sure why, but the bottom line is, the law didn’t work.
From regulating shower heads to funding studies of college students’ on-campus dining selections to help them keep from gaining the “freshman 15,” there is plenty the government could and should stop doing. We don’t need them meddling in our daily lives and spending our dollars on their “solutions” that don’t work.