I haven’t eaten grub from McDonald’s in years, many years, in fact. The food just doesn’t appeal to me. Nonetheless, I had to take a second look when I saw that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is effectively banning the product in its current form in an attempt to stem the tide of childhood obesity. Doubtless, this is a laudable goal, but the method leads me to believe the board opted to eat crayons instead of Happy Meals as children.
The mayor still has to approve it, though a veto is expected. This might not be relevant, however, as the board apparently has the votes to beat it. So, constraints on Happy Meals are around the corner: let’s take a look at four reasons why this is moronic:
1. Civil liberties take a beating … again
It’s easy to get alarmist about the encroachment of the government on our various rights that haven’t been explicitly stated or rescinded (remember, the tie goes to the runner on this one). But, add it to measures across the country – especially in California and New York – that curtail some of the vices we enjoy most, and it’s easy to see the trend form. Prohibiting a product for kids has very real implications for adults.
2. The message is wrong anyway
The ordinance approved by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors only allows toys to be included in meals that have certain health benefits. So, instead of relying on parents to talk to their kids about nutrition and instill proper eating habits, the elected officials are leaving a loophole to bribe kids into healthy eating with shitty toys they’ll forget about in a few minutes anyway. Maybe the next move will be to give out free hugs with gym memberships? Just a thought …
3. Tradition is relegated to history
While I wouldn’t let that food anywhere near my body now (and would keep it away from kids), I do remember growing up on Happy Meals. I guess I turned out fine, despite what many have said and written at length. I made it through childhood and into adulthood despite stuffing fries into my mouth and pulling pickles off tasteless burgers. It’s part of being a kid – a “childhood rite of passage” Melissa Bell of the Washington Post blog, calls it. If it is time for this sort of transition to occur, government isn’t the way to do it.
4. The target’s off to the right … you didn’t hit it
The ordinance requires that toys not be served with shitty food: it doesn’t say anything about the food itself. One would think that if we have to sacrifice our civil liberties for something, it might as well be for the right thing. Banning toys in the name of nutrition is like prohibiting boob jobs to prevent teen pregnancy.
Tom Johansmeyer is a freelance writer and blogger.
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