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Diets Are For Girls

March 24, 2010

An interesting part of the new, freshly-signed-into-law-by-the-President health-care plan (which according to that insightful genius Joe-Gaine Biden is a “big f-ing deal”) is that within a few years, big restaurant chains will have to post how many calories each food item of theirs has on their menus, including at the drive-thru.  While I’m willing to concede that this seems like an unnecessary federal intrusion as well as an unwarranted vexation for free enterprise, I think those on the Right, especially the libertarians, will make a bigger deal out of this than it is:

“Frankly, it seems to me that whether I’m buying an apple or a Big Mac from McDonald’s, if they want to sell it to me without any information, I have a perfect right to buy it,” said Sam Kazman, general counsel for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free-market advocacy group. “This simply is not a federal issue.”

Well, that’s true.  How you take care of yourself is not a federal issue, it’s not the government’s job to tell you what to eat, and you’re not a “selfish crank” for thinking that.  However, that’s not what this law is doing.  All it’s doing is ensuring that consumers know how many calories are in what they’re eating when they eat at McDonald’s or Wendy’s.  I don’t think that’s an unreasonable thing for the feds to expect from large business chains, and I think it will actually be a lot more productive than a lot of people imagine.  Sure, you have to already have the willpower not to get nine Cheesy Gordita Crunches when you’re rolling through the drive-thru at Taco Bell at three in the morning with all of your buddies that are simultaneously trying to out-T-Bell you by ordering something they think is better, but when you see that 560 staring back at you, you’re probably going to be a little more inclined to either get something else or just leave.  I sure as hell would, at least sometimes.  That said, there’s for sure going to be some serious hair-splitting about this:

Mr. Kazman said that consumers who want that information could look it up on the Internet. And he added that he was concerned that if Americans did not slim down as a result of menu labeling, the government might require restaurants to take further action.

“They’ll decide the font’s not big enough or the words are not scary enough and they’ll push for more,” he said. “I don’t think this is taking us down a very appetizing course.”

That’s a great pun there at the end.  Yeah, these labels could very easily become like the cigarette situation where the feds are trying to put poison labels on boxes of commodities that businesses produce legally and sell at gas stations.  Hell, in Australia, it already says “Smoking Kills” right on the box.  How long will it be until a Big Mac has a skull and crossbones embossed next to it on the menu at Mickey D’s?  I know we can’t trust the feds to tread the fine line between what’s appropriate and what’s inappropriate, but maybe (optimism from me?) the fine-print squabbles will end quickly enough so that the feds don’t have to come in and regulate.  Hopefully, the worst part of this law will be the constant conversations that we have to have with each other about counting calories, which is probably the worst kind discussion you can have as a male in the United States.  “Hey man!  Did you get me some chicken nuggets?”  “No dude, you don’t want those guys.  Too many cals.”  (Awkward pause)… “Jerk.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: I added that Biden joke in later.  I don’t think it’s ever too late to make a Biden joke.

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