Editor’s note: Joel Miller’s new book, “Bad Trip: How the War Against Drugs is Destroying America,” is available now in ShopNetDaily. Says Larry Elder, “Miller nails it. He powerfully and persuasively articulates the folly, the harm and the unconstitutionality of our government’s War against Drugs.” And Judge Andrew P. Napolitano of Fox News rules, “Read this book and send a copy to every lawmaker and judge you know.” Get “Bad Trip,” today in ShopNetDaily.
In the movie “Hope Springs,” Minnie Driver’s character, every bit as British as she is, constantly carps during her American sojourn that she is forbidden to smoke. Everywhere she lights up – restaurant, hotel, golf course – someone politely informs her that smoking is verboten. Eventually, she sets off the fire alarm in her room and escapes soaking wet from the sprinklers.
Increasingly in America, we are all a bit wet, thanks to the machinations of various health nazis and busybodies. Their reach extends into the choices we make regarding our food, our drink, whether we inhale the fumes of smoldering tobacco, even our choices in medication and chemical recreation.
Start with food. More and more in America, buttinskis are coming over for dinner, leaving their etiquette books at the door. Enemies of liberty and affluence, they seek to boss us about what we eat. Like prohibitionists in an age past, these calorie crusaders (though some quite overweight themselves) are trying to dictate the diets of the rest of us, mangling individual choice and responsibility as they ram their way of life literally down our throats.
Their weapons: lawsuits over fatty foods; fat taxes; absurd health campaigns and food regulations; politically motivated junk science; even price controls.
Yale’s Kelly Brownell is the most notorious of these nanny statists. As one of the first to recommend taxing tasties and price-controlling pastries, Brownell’s ideas are catching on. Nutty Oakland, Calif., Mayor Jerry Brown is now gung-ho on taxing high-calorie foods.
Paired with another calorie crusader, Marion Nestle (and how’s that last name for ironic?), Brownell stepped up his assault on personal choice and responsibility in a recent issue of Time: “Why quarrel with the personal responsibility argument?” they ask, regarding whether people are accountable for their own waistlines. “First, it’s wrong.” It is also, Brownell and Nestle say, ignorant of human biology, not helpful for fighting obesity, and “a trap.” It’s not your fault you can’t fit into your trousers; it’s Big Food’s.
Ergo, rather than expect and encourage people to take responsibility for their choices, Brownell and Nestle want the state to do “everything it can to create conditions that lead to healthy eating …” But be warned: Once you scrap responsibility, freedom to choose is next to go. If these fat agitators get their way, should you desire to enjoy the fruit of your labor, then it had better be low-fat, nutritious and conform to their standards of health. In other words, don’t count on enjoying anything.
Especially not a drink.
In celebration of the 70th anniversary of the 21st Amendment – the one that put the cork in Alcohol Prohibition – the Cato Institute’s Radley Balko published a warning blast on the new war against booze: “[I]nstead of holding drinkers responsible for their actions,” Balko fingers a shift of “law enforcement resources away from catching heavily intoxicated drunk drivers, who pose a risk, to harassing responsible social drinkers, who don’t.”
The tactics of this neoprohibitionist movement are strikingly similar to those of the anti-fatties. They want to jack up taxes, tighten licensing laws, hamper advertising and use zoning restrictions and other regulations to make the liquor biz uneconomical.
Next, similar to Brownell’s assault on his ludicrously conceived “toxic food environment,” these postmodern Carry Nations rail against the “environment of alcoholism.” Both schemes divorce people from their responsibility and deny them their right to choose their own lot by vesting strange powers in vague notions and abstractions instead of flesh-and-blood people with functioning brains in their skulls.
The same goes for Lady Nicotina. Any use of tobacco – however self-controlled, occasional or moderate – sends anti-smoking crusaders into apoplexy. And like all health nazis, they flail and beat their neighbors in their spasmatic fits, using the law to pummel everyone else into compliance with their coercive vision of right and wrong. In places like New York and California, they send tobacco taxes through the roof and ban smoking in, of all places, bars.
The reach of the risk-averse busybodies is best seen in the drug war. Not only will intoxi-cops stop someone from doing a line of coke or smoking a joint, they will arrest him, seize his property, and throw his bum in prison – because being penniless and imprisoned with rapists and muggers is apparently better for the individual than chemical recreants.
In fact, as I argue in my new book, “Bad Trip: How the War Against Drugs is Destroying America,” by ceding ground to prohibitionists regarding drug use – however noble the intention might have been – we inadvertently provided much of the cultural and intellectual support for the current war on delectable food, booze and tobacco. After all, if you can jail someone for harming his body with heroin, certainly you can force someone to forgo the chocolate and eat his veggies. Two sides of the same fascist coin.
In all its forms, the prohibitionist approach to life – e.g., ban or restrict all things remotely troublesome or messy – is not only profoundly un-American (notice the Constitution gives the federal government no power to control these facets of our lives), but it is also based on an incredible contempt for individual freedom and responsibility. To them, human liberty is as deplorable as crack.
So next time you’re sitting around the table slicing through an extremely rare steak, hoist your cabernet and drink ill health to the low-calorie commissars. May they live to be 120 and hate every day of it.
Get Joel Miller’s new book, “Bad Trip: How the War Against Drugs is Destroying America,” today in ShopNetDaily.