This morning, like every morning, I woke up to Howard Stern. Usually it’s a good way to ease into the day. A few laughs, a little banter, and pop culture references. It’s worth $12.95 per month. Usually.
This morning, I awoke to Stern discussing an article in yesterday’s New York Times by Nicholas Kristof. It’s titled “Killer Girl Scouts”. Lovely, huh? I couldn’t read the article because I don’t waste my money on Times Select, but the one sentence synopsis, “Beware of cute little girls bearing trans fats”, is enough to know I disagree.
Stern offered a summary, with commentary, on the article, and that’s what got me fired up today. From what he said, it’s the same argument that we’re getting fatter, the evil corporations don’t care, our government-financed health care is going bankrupt, and something needs to be done now. The article (apparently) includes an example from Denmark in which the government requires that trans fat be no greater than 2% of a food item. McDonald’s chicken nuggets in Denmark have .33 grams of trans fat, while the same chicken nuggets have 10+ grams of trans fat in America. Outrageous.
So maybe they are trying to kill us, right? The solution, according to Stern? You know what’s coming, don’t you? That’s right. Pass a law. Force companies to limit the trans fat in the food products they sell to us, the unwitting dolts who can’t make conscious, responsible decisions for ourselves. We shouldn’t stop financing health care with public funds to prevent the system from going bankrupt, that would be too obvious. We should outlaw bad food, instead. For a brief moment, I wanted to cancel my subscription.
Again, since it’s not clear, the free market can take care of this “problem”. If a person is responsible for his own health care costs, isn’t he more likely to take care of himself, by his own actions? And if not, why should we care? He’ll pay the higher costs. He can make that rational decision of which is more important, dollars or Thin Mints.
Stern’s next topic made this morning’s discussion especially frustrating. He launched into his commentary about the Senate voting to increase fines for “indecency” on public airwaves. His current stance is motivated by business interests, and I think, a little hope at exposing Congressional hypocrisy. He applauded the Senate’s action, even though he acknowledged that it’s an affront to the Constitution. The increased fines will only help satellite radio, of course.
I see the humor in that, but can’t stand the double standard for freedom that Stern’s dual positions represent. He accepts that the Constitution protects free speech from the whims of Congress, noting that the free market can handle what the public wants and needs. Satellite radio is sufficient proof, although that’s not an excuse to allow Congress to continue its election-year crusade to protect us all. Which is what it comes down to, isn’t it? Protecting us from ourselves.
We’re too sensitive to hear swearing on the radio, so Congress should protect us. We’re too irresponsible to eat our vegetables, so Congress should protect us. Both are symptoms of the same disease. Politicians take their direction from the few who are vocal enough to make their preferences known, regardless of the damage to liberty. Paternalism arrives marketed as leadership. And most of us decide where we stand on each individual issue by determining which we prefer. In Stern’s case, he hates healthy food and loves freedom of speech, regardless of the underlying principles.
Me, I think we should all be vegans, but I love liberty more.