Add Montgomery County, Maryland to the list of governments that doesn’t trust its residents and business owners. Yesterday, it passed a ban on trans fats in “food service establishments”. The story offers the standard fare discussion, which misses how anti-liberty such government intrusion is. For example:
The move comes as health officials across the country decry a rise in bad eating habits, growing waistlines and an increase in heart disease and other ailments. The anti-trans fat bill puts Montgomery in the vanguard of a growing national movement to make it easier to obtain healthy foods in restaurants and grocery stores.
I disagree that easier is the correct word to use in that paragraph. Such anti-trans fat bills seek to make it obligatory to obtain healthy foods. Why bypass that? To make this sound more reasonable? Don’t bother; nothing can make this reasonable.
That doesn’t mean I like trans fats. I avoid them. But I’m not egotistical enough to believe that what I choose for myself is the best, or at least desirable, choice for everyone. We’re all unique human beings with different, subjective preferences and an individual risk aversion not readily apparent to government busybodies. Personal choice is better than institutionalized denial of choice.
Where governments go wrong with that is most apparent in this:
Council member Duchy Trachtenberg (D-At Large), the bill’s chief sponsor, said she thinks the food industry will be able to adjust. Some Montgomery establishments, such as the Silver Diner and Marriott Corp., stopped using trans fats voluntarily.
I wonder what evidence Councilwoman Trachtenberg used to come to her conclusion that the food industry will be able to adjust. Wishing isn’t evidence.
“The goal is to protect the public health,” she said. “People want to know what they are eating.”
And there’s the deceit. Mandatory menu labeling would achieve her stated goal, for customers to know what they’re eating. They’d have the information to make an informed choice. But that’s not the bill Councilwoman Trachtenberg sponsored. What she’s done speaks louder than what she said.
Will Councilwoman Trachtenberg achieve her stated goal?
Gene Wilkes, owner of Tastee Diners in Bethesda and Silver Spring, said the ban will force him to eliminate certain items, such as lemon meringue pie and chocolate cream pie, which he buys from a supplier. His popular biscuits, made in bulk at the diners from a General Mills mix that contains trans fats, will be a no-no. He said he’ll begin making them from scratch, most likely.
I guess if people in Montgomery County want to know what’s in their lemon meringue pie or chocolate cream pie, they’ll know because they’ll have to make it themselves. Mission accomplished. Right?