The Nanny State Is After Your Soda [OPINION]
Massachusetts lawmakers are considering several bills aimed at making your kids healthier because they believe you lack the intelligence to do so on your own.
Legislation has been introduced that would impose an excise tax on soda and other sugary drinks that would increase with the sugar content of the beverage. Another bill would ban the marketing of sugary drinks in schools and would require a warning label for sugary drink products stating, "WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay."
Massachusetts would be the first state in the nation to impose a tax on sugary beverages, though a number of cities including Oakland, Berkeley, San Francisco, Boulder, Philadelphia, and Seattle, have already done so.
The legislation is in response to reports from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association that, in a nutshell, say kids are too fat and are testing positive for sicknesses associated with being too fat and having poor eating habits. The findings are difficult to dispute.
There are other reasons why kids are too fat and sickly. One of the key reasons is that they don't go out and run around enough. Kids whose parents enroll them in athletic programs, baseball, football, soccer, etc and teach them good dietary discipline are generally not too fat and sickly. Those who are inclined to let their kids sit in front of TVs and computer screens generally wind up with the fat and sickly kids.
Sugary drinks can't make a kid fat and sickly unless the kid is allowed unlimited access to them. There were sugary drinks and candy and cupcakes and Twinkies back when I was a kid. The difference was that my parents set limits. They also made us get outside and play. They didn't need the government to tell them what we could and could not consume.
But there is another part of this story that might bring it all into focus a little bit. These bills call for new taxes that could be dedicated "in part toward reducing health and socioeconomic disparities." Yeah, okay then.
I've got a suggestion for our state lawmakers: stay the hell out of my business.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.