Obesity

Bloomberg: Paternalism Is 'Government's Highest Duty'

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At a recent U.N. conference on "the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg bragged about his efforts to discourage consumption of salt and trans fats while explaining why only the government can be trusted to decide what people should eat:

There are powers only governments can exercise, policies only governments can mandate and enforce and results only governments can achieve. To halt the worldwide epidemic of non-communicable diseases, governments at all levels must make healthy solutions the default social option. That is ultimately government's highest duty.

There you have it: On Bloomberg's to-do list for government, defending us against our own unhealthy habits ranks above defending us against foreign invaders or marauding criminals.

I discussed Bloomberg's all-encompassing view of public health in a 2006 column. For more on the implications of such thinking, see my 2007 Reason essay "An Epidemic of Meddling."

[Thanks to Richard Cowan for the tip.]