I wonder what would happen if the Nanny Staters like Mike Bloomberg applied their reasoning for combating obesity (by limiting people's freedom to eat whatever they please) to our promiscuity epidemic. It would be like the Massachusetts Bay Colony all over again, except with better technology and (if possible) more smugly satisfied self-righteousness.
Of course, that would never happen. After the sexual revolution, the modern West tends to treat sex like a religion -- and to defend it the way we used to defend religious liberty. (The limited way the Obama administration defends religious liberty today? That was more how we treated sexual liberty before the 60s.)
It's interesting to envision what that would look like, though, just to point out the absurdity of both the Food Nazi Nanny Staters and the sexual libertines. An even better exercise for doing this, though, is to imagine what society would look like if we treated our habits and actions related to food the way we treated our sexual habits and activities.
- For starters, it would be taboo to tell people what to eat or how much to eat. Doing so wouldn't just be considered bad manners; it would be evidence of hatefulness and intolerance.
- Eating Big Macs, Whoppers, and other kinds of delicious fast food would be seen as an inalienable right, and any attempt to raise the prices would be decried as "denying access" to those who couldn't afford them. This would lead to calls for Congress to subsidize the cost of such food.
- In the face of people's bodies blowing up due to obesity, there would be zero calls for people to eat healthier. In fact, studies would be produced proving that eating healthier and avoiding fattening or calorie-rich foods was an ineffective way to manage one's weight.
- Popular opinion would make it clear that expecting people to eat healthy was just unrealistic. The evidence would be clear that people would eat what they wanted to eat. Outdated or authoritarian rules regarding eating habits couldn't do anything to change that fact. People who went out of their way to eat healthy would generally be looked at as old-fashioned and weird.
- Diets would be completely ignored for losing weight, as they would limit people's freedom and autonomy. Instead, the emphasis would be completely on drugs that would allow people to eat whatever they wanted while gaining as little weight as possible.
- People with extreme food fetishes and perverse eating habits -- such as only taking in nutrition through enemas -- would not be shunned; they would be celebrated. Disapproving of such fetishes or habits would be proof of one's own intolerance and moral shortcomings.
- The emphasis of all public health programs would threefold: maximizing people's access to restaurants and supermarkets, maximizing people's access to drugs that ensure they'll gain as little weight as possible, and lobbying for government subsidies to make the first two goals as low-cost as possible.
- The resulting obesity epidemic would be taken as proof that the government had failed both to make access to food widespread enough and to provide enough "gain no weight" drugs.