November 6th, 2010
Did you hear that Happy Meals have been banned in San Francisco, effective December 1?
That’s a good thing, right? I mean, after all, I am a "healthy living" blogger, so shouldn’t I be thrilled that the government is taking initiative to crack down on childhood obesity and unhealthy habits?
Guess what. I don’t feel that way at all. Not one stinkin’ bit.
First of all, the ban is that restaurants cannot give free toys or "incentives" with meals that do not meet specific dietary guidelines. Those guidelines include a calories restriction of 600, must include fruits and vegetables, and cannot include drinks high in fat or sugar.
So why, seeing that I think that those are great guidelines for nutrition, am I so mad?
1) McDonald’s is a private company. It is not funded or supported by government money. Why does the government feel the need to legislate on what it is selling to customers. No one HAS to eat at McDonald’s. McDonalds’ is already running the risk of losing customers in the health-crazed world right now, but its management makes the final decision on what demographics they are marketing their products to. Don’t want to eat it? Don’t go in.
2) Children aren’t buying the food, adults are. I can understand the ban if the little children are walking into McDonald’s unsupervised and see free toy and buy the happy meal. But, please, tell me the last time you saw some 5 year old kid in a restaurant alone ordering for themselves?! The logic behind the ban seems misplaced. This is not some ploy the McDonald’s has to trick unsuspecting children into buying some illegal brainwashing kind of food. If they take their child into McDonald’s and the child starts throwing a fit because they want a free toy, that is the parent’s job to say "yes" or "no". If they say yes, then BLAME THE PARENT for bad choices, not McDonald’s. Parents are the ones in charge of children’s health NOT the government. That may be unfortunate in some cases, but that leads me to my third point…
3) Legislations such as the Happy Meals ban lessen the stress on PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY. Yea, it’s really unfortunate that some parents and families don’t understand the importance of good nutrition–or don’t understand how bad fast food really is. However, I think that when government legislating on every little thing makes people more lazy. I have actually heard people say, "well, it can’t be bad if it’s legal" and "the government knows what’s good for me". No, it doesn’t. When we have someone who makes decisions for us, we are less likely to WANT to make them for ourselves. We become lazy when we think that someone else is doing the research and critical thinking. If someone else is doing it, then why should we work too? Why?! Because different people have different values. What is important to the person making legislation can be completely different than what is important to me. Don’t let your brain go to waste.
I’m not a politician and I’m not unusually intelligent, so I could be way off. But why doesn’t the government work more to add things that are beneficial rather than taking away privileges and freedom? Let’s suppose that schools did a better job at educating students, those students would grow into well educated parents who would properly teach their children (with the help of schools) as to what is healthy and what is not. Those children are less likely to be exposed and therefore want fast food and then McDonald’s will financially start hurting because its clientele is smart enough to know that it’s not good to live off of what they are selling. That is the beauty of capitalism friends. We speak with our dollars. Well informed citizens make well informed decisions on how to spend their money. Places that offer good, quality products flourish while places that offer poor quality products flounder.
So, as for me, I’ll be speaking with my dollar and not let the government speak for me. Understand that I’m not blogging about this just to proclaim my opinion about the government. This is just showing that even though I am interested in nutrition and I take pride in my health, it is a personal choice and I don’t feel that health can or should be legislated in private lives.
How do you feel about the ban on Happy Meals?
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may 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, “God in the Dock”
**I understand that this may be a touchy subject for some people because it is political. Please use the comment section to express your opinion. However, this is a nice blog and I will allow only nice words. Also, please understand that the above is only my opinion on the matter based on what I value. Your opinion reflects your values. You can never expect people to share the same opinions if they don’t share the same values. But even if you don’t all agree, you can ALWAYS show respect.