Saturday, June 9, 2012

Keeping Us from Gulping to Death

Big Brother may be late, he's slow but persistent.

Our need to have the government keep us safe began well before the 1980's, but it was in or around that time that our men in blue began, with the blessing of Mothers Against Drunk Driving -- the aptly named "MADD" (and I don't mean angry) -- to hold alcohol check-points.  It was infuriating, it was frightening, it was illegal.  That is, it was illegal until the courts approved the right to stop and search --our bodies -- for alcohol level, without cause.

It amazes me still that we allowed that to happen.  But the alcohol nazis knew that it was easier to get the police out there doing random alcohol tests than to get the police and the courts to do something about people who were actually driving dangerously, and observedly, drunk.  All these years later, check points demean but don't prevent drunk driving.

One thing that those searches did accomplish, however, was to open the door to other illegal searches.  Next were cameras at intersections, making sure we all stopped at those stop lights, and then on city streets, because they would keep us safe from crime.  Like heavy petting in public.

When 9/11 shocked the hell out of the American people, there was nothing they -- the government -- couldn't do enough of to make us feel safe.  Search our bags, then our shoes, and eventually, no surprise, when all that wasn't working, our entire bodies.  Each time there is a news article on airport security, and some bimbo gets interviewed saying, "I don't care (if they have to search my 2-year-old son or my 80-year-old mother) as long as they keep us safe," I marvel at the stupidity, gullibility, and fearfulness of the American people.

And here we are:  in New York, police are free to stop and frisk a person walking down the street, in Arizona, the fact that they say "please" doesn't make it any less horrifying that you must always leave home with papers proving you are a U.S. citizen.

When Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York, and a hero of Macbethian proportions, stopped smoking in public places, I approved, only because the smoke one breathes out is the smoke another breathes in.  Just as in gun control, if you are walking around with a gun it may be decorative but the only possible use is to shoot it.  So why is it that Bloomberg can keep people from smoking but is helpless to change gun laws?  A question for another day I'm afraid.

But today it's the War on Obesity that makes me quake with fear of what's in store.  The insurance industry has been using the pretense of protecting us from ourselves for some time, and now online, your doctor and the world now knows how many glasses of wine you drink and whether you or any relative is or was diabetic.  It is only a bit obnoxious when Michelle Obama, dressed down in designer clothes and fit and muscular, appears in public with just-picked carrots and lettuce, but we are certainly crossing another dangerous line when a law limits the size of a soft drink.

As with drunk driving, it is far easier to make such a law than to educate people as to the hazards of unhealthy eating.  As with the TSA "security" checks, making such a law means that other people are taking care of our business.

I don't think this law is likely to last long.  After all, if you can limit the size of a soda, you can regulate the amount of alcohol served to a customer in a bar.  And regulating business as opposed to an individual is just not done in this country in 2012.

But I have been wrong.

Simple solutions are, like the Big Gulp, the way things are done here.  Overweight?  Your mayor will make you pay more for the extra sugar.  And your insurance company will cash in by charging higher premiums at the scale.

And you can bet that when the story is in the news, some idiot will be interviewed saying, "I'm just glad Mayor Bloomberg is keeping us safe."

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