This week has brought one nudge forward and one push back for the paternalistic “food policy” crowd, or so I argue in a new opinion piece for the New York Daily News (& welcome Instapundit/Glenn Reynolds readers, Center for Consumer Freedom “Quote of the Week“).
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, also known as Busybody Central, is filing a would-be class action under California consumer law over the hamburger giant’s marketing of fast food with toys. I have much more to say about that at the New York Daily News online opinion section (& linked at Above the Law, John Hayward/Human Events, Jammie Wearing Fool, Andrew Stuttaford/NRO “Corner”, Chris Robinette/TortsProf, Ira Stoll/Future of Capitalism), and am also quoted in the Reuters coverage. Earlier on Happy Meal law here, including a pointer to this Bruce Nye post from June on why CSPI’s claims are unlikely to prevail.
P.S. Happy to see that as of late Wednesday evening my piece is the most read, most emailed, and most discussed at the Daily News opinion site. Followups and links here.
The horrible Center for Science in the Public Interest says it will sue unless the fast-food giant takes toys out of its meal packages. [L.A. Times] Earlier here (Santa Clara County votes to ban). More: Cal Biz Lit (predicting that CSPI faces “darned near impossible burden” proving injury in fact/loss of money or property in its claims under California’s s. 17200 statute), When Falls the Coliseum (via Gillespie). Two views from Britain: Daily Mail (CSPI’s creepy imagery); Zoe Williams/Guardian.
- “New York Times Hosts Panel on Farming, Forgets to Invite Farmers” [Julie Gunlock, IWF]
- Historical perspectives on the current attack on food freedom [Baylen Linnekin and Michael Bachmann for the Institute for Justice; report, PDF, and summary; Reason and more Linnekin on the FDA’s odd campaign against added ingredients which also occur naturally]
- Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 will increase costs and reduce variety in food intended for animals as well as for humans [Jerry Ellig and Richard Williams, Cato Regulation]
- Elyria pink cookie, pride of the Ohio town’s school system, is casualty of federal food rules [Chronicle-Telegram, WEWS] NYC may launch another attack on toys in McDonald’s Happy Meals [Jeff Quinton, earlier]
- UC Berkeley project assists effort to step up labor union presence in food area [Bill McMorris on Food Labor Research Center]
- Lungs are better in the open air: Scotland has at least one haggis food truck [Baylen Linnekin, Vice mag]
- “Eat great on food stamp budget” cookbook is hit, even if fans may not always have thought through its political valence [Maryn McKenna, National Geographic “The Plate”] Push to make food stamp program data public [Slate, USDA comments]
I’m back from a speaking swing through Nebraska. At the University of Nebraska College of Law in Lincoln, I spoke about food and drink paternalism as exemplified by Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s initiatives in New York, with Prof. Steven Willborn providing a counterpoint from a more liberal perspective. At Creighton University Law School in Omaha, I spoke (as I often do) on the ideological state of the law schools, drawing on my 2011 book Schools for Misrule, with commentary from Profs. Ralph Whitten and Sara Stadler.
Both events were well attended but I was especially pleased at the strong turnout for the talk in Lincoln on food and the nanny state, a new speech I hadn’t tried out before on a general audience. Here’s a description:
The public is increasingly in revolt against “nanny state” interventions, from Mayor Bloomberg’s attempt to limit soda sizes in New York, to efforts to ban Happy Meals in San Francisco. Some thinkers dismiss concern about paternalism as merely trivial and personal, not on a par with issues acknowledged as “serious” such as police abuse, free speech, surveillance, and the proper functioning of the legal system. Left unchecked, however, the project of paternalism quickly generates very serious problems in each of those other areas: it gives police and enforcers great arbitrary power, hands a special government megaphone to some speakers while stifling others, funnels uncomfortably personal information into government hands, and fuels abusive litigation. No matter what you think of potato chips, if your interests are in liberty and good government, you should be paying attention.
I’m next scheduled to speak on the food police Sept. 23 at a Heritage Foundation panel discussion with Baylen Linnekin, Nita Ghei, and J. Justin Wilson, hosted by Daren Bakst. Details here. More on my fall speaking schedule here.