Monday, 28 July 2014

Orwellian McChickens Are Coming Home To Roost

This is the kind of headline that makes people like me shudder with the spectre that our State hegemony keeps growing and growing. There seems to be no end to the extent to which the State wants to interfere in our daily (and let's not forget, mutually voluntary) activities. Conservative MP Dr Sarah Wollaston (a former GP, so clearly completely unbiased), wants supersize junk food portions banned, because according to her, the state has a duty to intervene to protect current and future generations from unhealthy habits threatening to shorten their lives. From The Telegraph:

"The Government has a 'duty to intervene' and outlaw supersized portions to protect children from Britain's obesity epidemic, says Dr Sarah Wollaston. The former GP has called for a direct ban on “supersized” foods and drinks, so that manufacturers would be restricted to producing chocolate bars, junk food meals and fizzy drinks in standard sizes. “Supersized” food and drinks should be banned by law in a bid to combat Britain’s obesity epidemic, the new head of the Commons health select committee has said."

When are politicians going to get the point? They should not get to dictate which voluntary free exchanges we undertake. We should enjoy that liberty – the very least of all liberties. We've already been taxed once on the earnings, and we are going to pay tax on the transaction - so for goodness' sake stop trying to dictate our actions and repress our liberty.

That's the normative issue - but there's another issue too - a point of simple logic. If the size of the portions are cut down, those who won't be filled up by them will simply buy two regular size portions instead of one supersize, or they will buy a few extra bits until they are no longer hungry. I'll wager that two portions of regular size fries contain more fries and cost more money than one supersize portion. Even aside from the taint of its oppressiveness, Sarah Wollaston's policy may well increase people's junk food consumption and decrease their finances at the same time - in both cases, the very opposite of what she wants to achieve.

* Photo courtesy of