September 3, 2010
by Hank Cardello
This weekend's Restoring Honor rallysolidified Glenn Beck as a rockstar for the growing Tea Party movement. Beck and Tea Partiers share a core belief in freedom of choice with limited government intervention and among Beck's favorite rants is that there is too much interference in what Americans eat. Stuffing ourselves is a God-given right. So are we witnessing the rise of the Pro-Obesity Party?
The first clue came on January 24, 2009 in Binghamton, New York, when Trevor Leach and members of the Young Americans for Liberty defined the movement by protesting Governor Paterson's proposed 18% tax on sugared soft drinks by dumping the contents of soda cans and bottles into the Susquehanna River.
Beck himself offers numerous takes on what he would do about food regulations. Check out these Beckisms:
On government interference (8/12/09):
STU (sidekick): What should government do (about obesity)?
GLENN: Nothing! [Cynically] 'So we better regulate the food that's out there. We better regulate what you eat. And if you're in shape ?? if you don't exercise, well, then you are not going to get healthcare.' Don't think it's not coming.
On advertising to children (11/25/08):
GLENN: How about this one? How about this one? A little less 'I'm loving it' could put a significant dent in the problem of childhood obesity…. You know, here's an idea. How about banning television entirely? Go out and play, fatso. What do you say about that?
On soda taxes (3/5/10):
GLENN: Another innovative government solution: Soda tax! [...] Do you notice, do you notice who's in charge of our health? [...] The treasury department…. It is the same thing [as] Prohibition.
On personal freedom (3/10/10):
GLENN: This is about control. When will people in America, when will the remaining 40% in America realize they're being had and led into cages? [...] The highest price you'll pay isn't the extra pennies (on a soda tax). It will be in the loss of your personal freedom.
On the Body Mass Index (BMI) (2/5/10):
STU: That would give you a 29 BMI. Congratulations, you are not obese! Yeah! You're only overweight.
GLENN: I'm not obese? [...] This is great news! Break out the buttercake!
See a pattern here?
It's clear that Tea Partiers are the Party of Grow (your waistlines) and that, should their Republican kin recapture the House and possibly the Senate this fall, efforts already in place to reverse obesity rates would be in jeopardy.
So what might a Beckian Tea Party nutrition policy look like? Perhaps they would pass the first Food Freedom Bill of Rights declaring:
All Americans are free to eat, gorge and stuff themselves without interference from the nanny state;
Double Big Gulps and Monster Thickburgers are national treasures and should be exempt from future efforts to eliminate them;
All nutrition information like posting calories on restaurant menus ruins the joy of eating and shall henceforth be discontinued;
Trans fats, high fructose corn syrup and sodium are necessary food groups and must be protected;
Children have rights too; therefore, all removed snacks, candy, beverages and "mystery meats" shall be reinstated in our schools;
Any nutrition or medical professional who recommends dieting or exercise shall be fined (with possible loss of license) since no one sticks with diets and exercise anyway; and
All traces of the Food Pyramid must be permanently removed from the planet.
Perhaps they should consider adding a final point: "Obesity is an inalienable right. Consumers have the right to gorge themselves into oblivion."
Hank Cardello is a Hudson Institute Senior Fellow and Director of the Obesity Solutions Initiative.
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