Thursday, May 29, 2008

I know this is old news

Back on April 2oth, I had just seen a rerun of an episode of the animated sitcom King of the Hill entitled "Trans-Fascism". You can see a brief synopsis of this episode here. It just has to be the most hilarious episode ever.

What happened was that apparently in a well-meaning attempt to consider the health of the citizens of fictional Arlen, TX the city council banned transfat. It started a black market of sorts in trans-fat foods. Sugarfoots the physical restaurant was closed, however, owner Buck Strickland who also owned Strickland Propane started a mobile restaurant providing these foods. Of course Sugarfoots on wheels spawned a competitor that effectively bullied it's way into Sugarfoots' territory. What eventually killed the ban was the lack of cleanliness of the competitor and the fact that people got sick from the competitor's food. Hey an unintended consequence of a ban that was well meaning and it only caused a black market in addition to food illnesses.

It brought to mind Chicago's attempts to ban transfats back in 2006. New York was successful that same year in banning transfats throughout the food services sector. And I found John Stossel's musings on the attempts by government to ban transfats.

I should mention that I found another old article from Channel 2 about a trans-fat ban, thankfully this is just about two years ago...
"There's no reason why every restaurant can't switch over in 10 minutes," said Ina Pinkney of Ina's Restaurant.

This restaurant owner says it's not only a health-conscious mind that made her switch to trans-fats-free oil. She also says it makes good business sense.

"If you buy the deadly oil, it costs 'x,' the good oil costs just a tiny bit more, but it lasts 75 percent longer, so you do the math on that," Pinkney said.
It almost makes me wonder what's even the point of making a ban when businesses can make a market based decision to discontinue the use of an ingredient why should a state mandate that such an ingredient be banned. Why is it that the state feels the need to ban things that it feels is harmful to citizens who are willing to ingest such ingredients? Why does the state or should I say"well-meaning" politicians believe people are so incredibly stupid enough to ingest things that they know might not be good for their health?

I should be noted that as of May 27th, a ban is being considered state-wide on transfats:
The war on trans fats has come to a standstill at the State Capitol. A House committee chose not to advance a bill that would ban foods containing trans fats from being served in Illinois schools.

State Representative Mary Flowers said people should protect children from trans fats as diligently as they protect them from gang bangers.
This was why I originally started this post over a month ago. A video hosted by Drew Carey courtesy of Reason.tv was about regulators attempts to shut down carts that didn't have the approved equipment in order to peddle their products. These proprietors are either forced out of business unable to make a living because of the meddling behavior of these regulators or those who are still moving forward with their carts, however, they're not reaping any profits because those goes toward fighting the regulators in courts.

I can certainly understand the need to protect the public from those who aren't going to keep themselves clean in making their food. Certainly going bankrupt has to be a good reason for either a simple food cart to a big-time restaurant to keep themselves clean. Indeed it doesn't do much good for a food service business' reputation for there to be reports of people getting ill from their food. Of course this is just one way to say government should stay out of the market.

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