Project 21’s LeBon: Americans Sickened by Increasing Food Regulation

A recent poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that — for the first time ever — a majority of the American people consider the federal government as a threat to their personal rights.

This seems to call into question the mandate that President Obama claims to have received in last November’s election and the government-heavy agenda he advocated in his inaugural address.

Taking on the increasing regulations on food and nutrition as a microcosm of the overall problem, Project 21 co-chair Cherylyn Harley LeBon points out how the nanny-state policies Americans are suffering under are making them fear their government rather than revere it.

P21CherylynLeBonCherylyn says:

Skepticism of the government is at an all-time high — and with good reason.

In mid-January, a national survey conducted for the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found that 53 percent of respondents thought the federal government threatens their personal rights and freedoms.  Only 43 percent didn’t consider the federal government such a threat.

Pew reports this is the first time such distrust of Washington captured an outright majority, and it’s a significant change from a similar March of 2010 survey when just 47 percent professed such government distrust and 50 percent disagreed.

Of course, Pew was quick to point out that conservatives led in the public distrust of government.  But such widespread alarm about federal encroachment indicates there is absolutely a bipartisan, across-the-board concern about the assault on Americans’ personal freedoms, choices and ability to raise families on their own terms.

Whether it is ObamaCare, the Second Amendment or the constant barrage of “nanny state” regulations at all levels of government, Americans are speaking up about feeling threatened by institutional intrusion.

This intrusion is all around.

Late last month, for example, liberal New York State Senator Eric Adams of Brooklyn introduced a bill mandating that “no owner or operator of a restaurant in this state shall use salt in any form in the preparation of any food for consumption by customers.”  A complete ban on salt in restaurants!  Offenders could be fined up to $1,000 under the terms of the proposed law.

Adams’s heavy-handed intentions shouldn’t be surprising, considering that he serves in the same city where Mayor Mike Bloomberg is waging his own nanny-state war on salt.  Even as recently as when Hurricane Sandy devastated the New York region, Bloomberg reportedly continued city-imposed restrictions on food donations to homeless shelters.

Victims of the superstorm were dumpster-diving for nourishment, but at least what scraps they could get were apparently low-fat and low in sodium!

The proposed Adams salt ban was referred to the Committee on Consumer Protection.  This government entity is at the heart of the restriction machine.  In committees such as these — and in the bureaucracies that the legislation coming out of them creates — local, state and federal lawmakers feel they are protecting consumers when they promulgate regulations that, in this case, limit or outright ban the amount of salt people may consume.

But America is a free market society, where individuals should be allowed to make the best choices for themselves and their families without micromanagement by the government.  Hence the growing distrust of the American people when government intrudes.

Another recent example of why people feel the government is threatening their personal rights and freedoms, one that comes from the federal level, are the 160 new pages of rules handed down by the Obama Administration in early February that seek to further govern school foods.  The rules, required under the child nutrition law championed by Michelle Obama and passed by Congress in 2010, only seem to empower the government to once again act as the food police.

Under these newly-released rules on so-called “competitive” foods — what most people call snacks — schools must comply with federal mandates for nutritional value and percentage of fruit and vegetable content.  Only diet soda is allowed at high schools.  Noncompliance threatens federal subsidies for breakfast and lunch programs for poor families.  And this would apply to public schools and even private schools that accept such federal aid.

As a mother of two small children, I don’t want to see my choice of soft drinks limited in vending machines.  If I don’t want my children drinking diet soda, it should be my choice — just as such a decision should be the choice of each parent for their own child.

Rules with regard to what kids or customer eat should be guided by the mantra “my food, my choice” — but that’s absolutely not how government operates these days.  And that’s why so many Americans no longer seem to trust their elected leaders to be watching out for them.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.