I don't smoke. Never have. So a ban on smoking, in public or private places, is if anything, good for me. I don't like second-hand smoke.The Nanny State expects people to not protest the encrouchment on their freedom because "it doens't really affect me." But it does because sooner or later they nanny staters will get to something you do care about and the momentum will be too great to stop.
I wear my seat belt when I ride in my car. Requiring people to wear seat belts doesn't affect me. I won't be getting a ticket any time soon.
I've been on a motorcycle once in my life. It scared me. So I don't care if people riding a motorcycle have to wear a helmet. If anything, the requirement supposedly keeps my taxes down.
I don't really care about the mouth-feel of pastry or whether it's a little more expensive. Using trans-fats supposedly leads to better mouth feel and a longer shelf life. Come on, would you go to the barricades over mouth feel?
Nope. Not worth it. None of these things are really worth fighting for, are they? Are you going to picket a politician for making some other folks stop smoking or wear their seat belt? Not worth it.
Of course, that's how the nanny state grows. It's just not worth fighting any one infringement of liberty. So no, I'm not going to fight for the right to buy a locally-baked pastry with good mouth feel.
But I will fight against the idea that the Montgomery County Council has the right to ban trans-fats. That's why I'm writing this post. That's why I mention it to my neighbors. It requires a bit of schizophrenia. But it's healthy. I don't care about trans-fats, but I care about the ban. I care about the principle.
The principle is tricky. It's not the right to eat trans-fats. The principle is that I don't want powerful people to decide what I do with my body or my life. Those are my responsibility. They are my responsibility because that's what adulthood is. Adulthood is being responsible for the risks you take, reaping the rewards and enduring the costs.
But those decisions are also my responsibility because I have a lot of incentives to make the right choice. I bear the costs and reap the rewards, remember? I admit I'm imperfect. I'm frail. I'm weak. I don't always make the right choice. Sometimes I eat too much. Sometimes I drink too much. And I suspect my neighbors make mistakes even when I don't. So I understand the appeal of being constrained. That's what friends are for, or rabbis or even self-help books. Those are the sources I want to get my constraints from.
I don't want to live in a world where a bunch of strangers sitting on the Montgomery County Council act in my name to constrain us. Those strangers don't love me. They don't care about me (though they protest that yes, they do.) They are responsive to all kinds of forces besides my well-being. So I don't want to expand their authority to make decisions for me. I want to reduce it.
Friday, June 08, 2007
What's The Big Deal About Trans-Fat Bans, or Smoking Bans or Seatbelt Laws?
This is one of the best descriptions I have read about why bans on transfats, like the one in the People's Republic of Montgomery County Maryland has recently enacted: