Friday, September 14, 2012

Choices

Jonathan Tobin on Mayor Bloomberg’s most recent effort to compel virtue:
...[G]ood intentions have always paved the road to hell or, more important, the path to tyranny. Bloomberg is right to say that New Yorkers ought to be watching their diets. He’s dead wrong in attempting to use the ubiquitous power of the state to impose his ideas about what they should be eating and drinking on them. ....

The justification presented for this unprecedented government interference in both commerce and individual behavior is that the public and the government bear much of the cost of the illnesses that derive from obesity. But the logic of this argument breaks down when you realize that such reasoning would allow government to interfere in just about any sphere of private behavior including procreation. That is exactly the point that the Communist regime in Beijing has given in defense of its tyrannical one-child policy and the forced abortions that are performed in order to enforce it. ....

Personal choices, such as the consumption of sugar, do not fall under any reasonable definition of government responsibility. However serious our obesity problem may be, it cannot be solved by government fiat. Indeed, it isn’t likely that there will be a single less fat person in New York because of Bloomberg’s power play. But there will be a little less individual freedom....
Liberalism used to be about liberty. But more recently it has seemed to be about laws restricting where one can smoke, or whether one must wear a helmet, or whether prayers can be offered in public, or what unpopular opinions one can utter. I am no libertarian but it seems to me the burden of proof should be on those who would further restrict choice rather than on an individual's freedom to choose. The only "choice" liberals seem to favor is whether a mother should be able to destroy life [and thus eliminate any possibility for that helpless person ever to choose].

Absolute liberty is absence of restraint; responsibility is restraint;
therefore, the ideally free individual is responsible to himself.

Henry B. Adams

Bloomberg’s War on Individual Freedom « Commentary Magazine