FoodPolitik: Controlling Your Food, the Trojan Horse of ‘public health’

Richard Berman President, Berman and Company
Font Size:

With the election barely two weeks away, the nation is focused on what will happen if (when?) control of Congress swings rightward. While some far-reaching elements of Barack Obama’s agenda will face great — perhaps impassible — hurdles on Capitol Hill, that won’t stop the administration from implementing them via regulation, the ultimate end-run around Congress.

The federal government is bursting at the seams with bureaucrats no one ever voted for. Now that Congress has passed Obamacare, and your health is officially a matter for the government to fret over, public health activists will take charge during what may amount to a two-year “lame duck” White House.

Who are these sneaky, behind-the-curtains politicos? And what do they want? Let’s look at two of them.

Cass Sunstein is an animal-rights-law activist serving as Obama’s “regulatory czar.” He’s a former Harvard law professor and co-author of a book called “Nudge.” In his job, Sunstein is capable of shaping literally thousands of regulatory outcomes.

The “nudge” philosophy is a perfect fit for Sunstein’s position, because he’s a fan of “paternalistic libertarianism.” (If that sounds like a contradiction in terms, that’s because it is.)

Sunstein doesn’t believe in necessarily forcing you to do anything. He just wants to change the “architecture” of choices in America so we’re all practically forced to do lots of things.

It’s helpful to think of Cass Sunstein as Obama’s salaried puppet-master. He wants to attach his strings to you.

In a 2007 Harvard speech, Sunstein argued in favor of entirely “eliminating current practices such as greyhound racing, cosmetic testing, and meat eating” in the name of animal rights. He also favors giving cats, dogs, cows, pigs, and chickens legal personhood in court. “Animals should be permitted to bring suit,” Sunstein says, “with human beings as their representatives.”

Imagine pigs suing farmers to prevent their inclusion in a BLT. And say goodbye to that wished-for cancer cure, since every lab rat will have a lawyer on speed dial.

The other half of Obama’s public health one-two punch is Thomas Frieden at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If Sunstein comes from the “nudge” school of thought, Frieden comes from the “push-and-shove” academy.

Before he was appointed to head the CDC, Frieden ran New York City’s Health Department , where he and Michael Bloomberg presided over an experimental nanny state.

They banned trans fats. They tried to motivate people to drink water by taxing soft drinks. They pushed for limits on the amount of salt in everything New Yorkers eat.

The mayor’s office has even caught grief for a plan to prohibit poor people from buying soda with food stamps.

Thomas Frieden is now the federal government’s chief health officer. And the coming ObamaCare bureaucracy has a newfound interest in keeping us all in tip-top shape, even (especially!) when the proverbial “pursuit of happiness” leads us to take calculated risks with donuts, buttered popcorn, and high-octane soda pop.

Frieden is picking up where he left off in the Big Apple.

The CDC recently made nearly $2 million in grants to cities that are pushing salt-reduction initiatives. (Los Angeles will “monitor restaurants’ compliance for menu labeling and sodium content.”) And one of the Congressional “stimulus” programs gave more than $1.4 million to Colorado and New York City to reduce soft drink consumption.

Frieden called last year for higher taxes on soda nationwide, specifically to discourage you from drinking them. Barack Obama added that this is “an idea that we should be exploring.”

We can be certain that it will be explored — just not in the next Congress.
Midterms or no midterms, Frieden will continue spending your tax dollars “studying” how to best badger you over your food and beverage choices. And Sunstein will quietly foster regulations that support the “change” toward which he wants to nudge us all.

The coming storm of foodie-elite regulations will be dizzying. The FDA may soon revoke the “generally recognized as safe” status of salt, forcing restaurants and food companies to make everything deliberately bland. We could also see fat, calories, sodium, and sugar levels on the front of every food package — along with red light/green light icons to tell us which option Big Brother wants us to choose.

Then again, our national swing toward double-digit unemployment might make this entire discussion moot. Who can afford to eat these days?

The president and first lady, of course, will continue extolling the virtues of the overpriced farmers’ market near the White House. But for those of us who don’t enjoy being led by the nose toward organic kale, what we eat remains our business. Wouldn’t it be nice if the government understood that?