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franklin county times

Help! Save me from myself

By Staff
June 13, 2004
By Zeke Calhoun / guest columnist
An epidemic is sweeping the nation, and if the federal government doesn't act quickly, 100 million Americans may face the dangerous health risks associated with obesity. For years, greedy corporations like McDonald's and Popeye's have flooded the market with cheap, fattening, delicious food. They must be stopped.
The root cause of obesity is capitalism and too much personal freedom, and as usual, the only answer to what ails us is more government intervention.
Hear me out. Profit motive is what drives the cashier to ask me, "Would you like fries with that?" And too much personal liberty gives me the freedom to say, "Yes, I would," even though I know I should order a salad instead.
Competition drives Golden Corral to offer soft-serve ice cream with the buffet. Ryan's counters with hot, buttery rolls. They don't put warning labels on their blueberry muffins, and I've yet to have a concerned manager tell me to eat some fruit instead of another plate of fried chicken. Don't you see what's happening? Capitalism compels them to give us exactly what we want, and freedom is killing us.
The government must save us from ourselves by telling us what to do. Those of you who are too hung up on personal liberty are going to have to learn to subordinate your own freedom in lieu of what's best for the whole.
Anyway, it's not like the government doesn't already tell us what to do all the time. It forces us to pay into Social Security, makes us buckle up, and tells us not to smoke. But that's just the beginning.
Two-pronged attack
I envision a two-pronged attack between the federal government and America's trial lawyers to bring the dietary axis of evil (Pizza Hut, Shoney's, and Krispy Kreme) to its knees. While legions of attorneys file suit against restaurants for making their customers fat, Uncle Sam must use its power of taxation to place Doritos, Funyons and Hostess Twinkies beyond the reach of the common man.
But even that won't win the war on obesity. Washington must go even further and regulate everything that goes into our mouths. And thanks to modern science, that's now possible.
What I propose is that we each carry a national healthcare ID card (like the one Hillary introduced in her visionary plan). The card would have a magnetic strip containing your family history, weight, cholesterol and other risk factors.
When you approach the counter at Hardee's, the cashier will scan the card and a federally approved menu will pop up on a screen. Swipe the card as you walk through the entrance at Winn Dixie, and the FDA will print out a personalized grocery list. Those caught possessing contraband food items not on the list would be criminally prosecuted.
For your own good
Just relax; it's for your own good. Besides, since even Republicans are increasing Medicare entitlements, we're rapidly moving toward socialized medicine, anyway. And if the government's going to provide our health care, it has the right and responsibility to demand that we live according to its guidelines.
There'll be some growing (or shrinking) pains and an adjustment period, but I'm confident that the health benefits will far outweigh any inconvenience or loss of liberty we may face. Who knows? In the future we may not even need to carry a card.
Technology already exists that would allow us to implant computer chips under the skin, for instance on the hand or forehead. Combine that with global position satellites, and the government could make sure that I don't pop into Dunkin Donuts for a black market Bavarian crme.
Where does it end? Hopefully with all of us being safe, healthy and happy doing what the federal government determines is best for us.
Zeke Calhoun is Craig Ziemba's extremely liberal cousin.