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Now they’re going after your salt intake

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POSTED January 12, 2010 2:58 a.m.

There is no rhyme or reason to the surge in behavior control legislation that goes way beyond traditional criminal and property use laws.

San Francisco, for example, is targeting smokers with a 20-cent a pack “fee” due to the tendency of many smokers – but not all – to toss cigarette butts onto the sidewalk and into the streets. That’s what Mayor Gavin Newsom says it costs the city to clean up the spent cigarette butts.

But why not go after chewing gum with a 20-cent-a-pack charge? After all, the mayor himself concedes that gum is the real culprit in driving up city street cleaning costs. And for all the annoyance and harm that smoking may cause others, cigarette butts lying on a city street take a back seat to stepping on gum or trying to scrape it off sidewalks.

Unless the real goal is to just keep collecting taxes disguised as fees, perhaps San Francisco’s elite and their disdain for smokers might be better served by following Singapore’s lead. Instead of caning those who toss gum onto sidewalks with 30 public lashes with a cane like they do in Singapore, San Francisco could give smokers a caning if they are arrested and convicted of tossing a cigarette butt onto the ground. It would fit in perfectly with tolerance, San Francisco-style. Beat the smokers who litter but don’t deport illegal immigrants who are juveniles that are convicted of felonies. After all, the illegal underage immigrants who are found guilty of beating up others, murdering, and selling drugs are just trying to find a better life in America while smokers have the audacity to litter the streets of San Francisco.

It’s the old “thin the herd” strategy. Those who want to regulate our personal habits act just like lions stalking zebras. They know enough not to go after the stronger zebras but instead work to separate a weaker one from the herd. Who is going to go to bat for smokers on this one? Not only have we repeatedly been told they aren’t doing anything swell for society except funding children’s health programs in California but many of us have our own biases which may be richly deserved. However, going after smokers on this one is not only overkill it is plain wrong unless, of course, you go after gum chewers too.

While San Francisco may be part of the Left Coast Culture, it really isn’t much different than New York City with its Self Righteous Culture take on the world.

New York City is now applying pressure to get restaurants and food manufacturers across the country to reduce the amount of salt used in their products. One would think Mayor Michael Blumberg would have his hands full just trying to run America’ biggest city let alone trying to take over the surgeon general’s duties.

Bloomberg has decreed that too much salt is not good for your health. There’s just one slight little problem with that pronouncement. There has not been a clinical trial done with a large group of people about the pros and cons of cutting salt. One could assume from anecdotal evidence that too much salt is not a good thing.

Basing government policy on anecdotal evidence isn’t exactly kosher. But even so, the real big question is why cities are taking it upon themsleves to regulate food? And, if they do believe that is within their power to do so along with picking up garbage and patching potholes, maybe they should start rationing government assistance to those who violate their decrees.

If smoking is a real big local budget issue in San Francisco then why not go all the way and threaten anyone with a city job, municipal contract or receiving city assistance to give up smoking or be cut off. If you’re homeless or without a way of supporting yourself and smoke in San Francisco then maybe you shouldn’t get any government assistance.  You can bet if that happened that people might start thinking about the ramifications of behavioral laws directly exclusively at one segment of society. But then again, they might not since it is San Francisco.

By the time those crafting behavioral laws take them to their ultimate conclusion we will all be dressing alike, eating alike, and acting like obedient children.

Maybe then San Francisco and New York City will shed the misleading titles of mayor and elevate those in such office to the rank of chairman as in Chairman Mao.



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