Who controls your body?

Fiscal Conservatism 109

One of the underpinnings of fiscal conservatism is freedom, versus "state control" of things which is stifling and should be avoided whenever possible. As I have explained elsewhere, the state (aka the government) should be involved as little as possible in the free market. That being said, government is always trying to expand and exert as much control as it can because that is what it does. This means we must be vigilant to stop government excess.

Although not directly financial, there are parallel ideas with government control over our personal lives. Should government be able to control the lawful behavior of its citizens? What if government is being paternalistic and believes it is taking action "for your own good?"

Should government have the power to stop you from reading hurtful words, eating fatty foods, or saying offensive things?

Government is already taking these steps in our schools. We have over-broad speech codes, bullying codes, and eating rules. Parents have half-relinquished control over their children by turning them over to the public school system, which then acts like parents by choosing things such as whether to teach sex ed, lessons in political indoctrination, and of course whether Johnny and Suzy can eat cupcakes at a school birthday party.

Michelle Obama has revamped the school lunch program and now kids throw stuff away rather than eat things they don't like. I guess having hungry kids will help combat our childhood obesity problem. Another good example of unintended consequences, I suppose. Maybe the Obamas should test their ideas out before implementing them across the country?

But clearly adults should have no such government oversight over their personal decisions, right? If something is legal, adults get to decide.

Not according to former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who believes that adults are not able to control themselves when it comes to ordering large, sugar-filled sodas. These sodas, according to Bloomberg, are responsible for the gain in obesity in America, and by banning large sodas (over 16 ounces) we will make people healthier.

Since when did making people healthier become a government duty? And other than "information campaigns," by what right does government have to control the legal products we produce, buy, sell, or consume?

Clearly this soft-drink ban is outside the scope of government's authority over adults, yet the proposal passed in New York City and had to be overturned by a judge. So you can't just blame Bloomberg for it. There had to be a whole host of people who thought doing this was a really good idea. I wonder how many of them also support a woman's right to choose?

Women's rights' activists have been telling us for decades that women have a right to total control over their own bodies. Shouldn't this include the right to put things into one's own body, as in the right to drink legal substances? Or to eat candy bars or ice cream? Or to smoke cigarettes or chew gum?

If Bloomberg can stop women from drinking a large soda, can he stop them from taking a pill that would trigger a miscarriage? If not, why not? It is undeniable that the harm to the fetus is much worse in the second case. Why didn't Bloomberg try to ban the "morning after" pill as being harmful to future NYC citizens?

Being obese is not something government should be involved in. It isn't an "epidemic" as some have called it. It isn't a disease. It isn't contagious.

Maybe being obese is protected by the First Amendment. Fat people are sending a message to society that they don't care about societal norms and will do whatever they want to do. Isn't that just as much free speech as wearing tattoos or having one's body pierced which are both legal? Or wearing a t-shirt with a provocative message, which may be offensive to some?

And the current state of scientific knowledge is not all-knowing. It is possible that fat people will better survive the next superbug that infects the general population and kills millions. Or that fat people are happier than skinny people who are forever upset with their body and constantly exercising to change it. The evidence that fat people die younger is not conclusive.

For those who believe that society should be able to take steps to limit the number of calories that adults can consume, in order to force a "healthier" lifestyle among the population, I have two words for you: Jim Fixx.

But the real point is that the government felt it was within their power to criminalize legal behavior, and to control the market by not allowing vendors to sell legal products. This idea should never have left the drawing board. And I'm sure everyone on the NYC council who voted to support this also believes in abortion on demand because women have a right to control their own bodies.

And even though it will make Suzy feel bad if her parents won't allow her to eat cupcakes at school during a birthday party, the solution is to let parents decide if cupcakes are bad for their children and whether they will be allowed to have them, not the government acting through the public school system.

If children are getting too fat, then parents should take action. Pack them a lunch, get them to exercise more, take away the TV, and stop buying junk food at the supermarket.

But even though eating cupcakes and drinking large sodas may result in weight gain, that is no excuse for letting the government take control over our own behavior or that of our children.

NEXT: FC 201, Today versus Tomorrow: http://www.actonforum.com/blogs/allenn/today-versus-tomorrow

Previous articles in this series:

PART ONE (Introduction): http://www.actonforum.com/blogs/allenn/political-philosophy-fiscal-conse...

PART TWO: http://www.actonforum.com/blogs/allenn/free-100-bills

PART THREE: http://www.actonforum.com/blogs/allenn/mountain-full-donkeys

PART FOUR: http://www.actonforum.com/blogs/allenn/you-didnt-build-those-cabins

PART FIVE: http://www.actonforum.com/blogs/allenn/jack-kemp-american-hero

PART SIX: http://www.actonforum.com/blogs/allenn/what-socialism-and-why-it-so-bad

PART SEVEN: http://www.actonforum.com/blogs/allenn/rich-versus-poor

PART EIGHT: http://www.actonforum.com/blogs/allenn/what-would-jesus-do

PART NINE: http://www.actonforum.com/blogs/allenn/why-not-let-government-do-it

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Comments

Body Control

And what about telling people who can marry and who can't? Why is that a government thing? No control over bodies, food, relationships.

Gov't probs got involved in healthier consuming because it costs us taxpayers a lot of bucks to cover those who have to go to ER when they get attacks of pancreas, and heart, and ulcers etc.. from eating a lot of crap. I say let 'em eat that juicy sh*t, just pay their own way in the ER.