New York State thinks poor people are too stupid to decide their own diet.
That is the inescapable implication of the request from New York to the USDA to disallow the use of food stamps to buy “sugary drinks”. A similar request from Minnesota was rejected in 2004. The states justify their requests as part of the “fight against obesity” being pushed hard by First Lady Michelle Obama. The unstated presumption is, of course, that food stamp recipients will make “wrong” choices unless their superiors at the state don’t leave them any choice at all.
Such paternalistic presumptions are likely to expand as the government claims greater and greater control over the health care industry in the coming years. Every time the government is paying the bills, it is a lever that nanny-state busybodies can use to justify the need to coerce recipients “for their own good” as well as to save money for the program itself. If a “public option” was enacted, could the government force you to stop smoking or join a gym in order to qualify for the program? Maybe not, but the potential is certainly there. And the reassurances from advocates of single-payer and other government-controlled health care systems are less than convincing when stories like this one keep popping up.
Maybe all the hyperventilating about “loss of liberty” from health care reform opponents isn’t just hyperventilating after all.