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"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
-C. S. Lewis (1898 - 1963)
I begin my post today with the above quote from C. S. Lewis for a couple of reasons. It is one of my favorite quotes on the subject of tyranny. Second, as government and the nanny state intrude more and more into our freedom of choice, it is a most appropriate quote for the times that we live in.
I have been thinking about the above quote much more frequently in recent times. Everyday the government and groups like the Center for Science in the Public Interest want to trample upon our freedom of choice and dictate how we should live our lives. This week I came across two more examples of governmental intrusion into our freedom of choice. I am sure there were many other examples that I did not run across.
The city of Boston is considering banning the sale of sugar sweetened drinks in public buildings. Boston has already banned the smoking of cigarettes in bars and the use of trans-fat in restaurants. This follows on the heels of similar actions by the cities of San Francisco and New York. A member of the panel suggesting the new rules is quoted in the Boston Globe" as saying that "somebody has to take a stand" to reduce consumption to battle obesity.
The other story that caught my attention was the plan by the city of San Francisco (it figures) that wants to expand a ban on the sale of cigarettes in any store that has a pharmacy. The original ban was on drug stores like Walgreen's, but the expanded ban would include grocery stores and big box retailers. Their logic is that a store that sells smoking cessation products and medications should not be allowed to sell tobacco products that are bad for you.
I generally do not drink sugar sweetened sodas, nor do I smoke, so I really have no dog in the fight of these two examples. However, you seriously have to ask yourself where does it end? If the city of San Francisco can ban the sale of cigarettes in a store that has a pharmacy, would their next step is to ban any product that they deem to be "bad for you?" Will full service grocery stores that have a pharmacy no longer be allowed to sell chips, candy, or beer?
Now, I am not against all forms of regulation. I have no problem with restricting the sale of cigarettes to adults only. Nor do I have a problem with laws banning smoking in restaurants or other buildings. The government and other groups should inform the public of potential hazards of a product. Ultimately, however, the decision of whether or not the good should be consumed should be up to the consumer. It is sad that the very government that wants the government out of our bedrooms has no problem intruding on our kitchens.