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Unhappy Meal: Tyranny by government

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POSTED October 5, 2010 2:32 a.m.
Ronald McDonald is about as popular in San Francisco as a 9.1 earthquake.

For years the bastion of political correctness has tried to make it hard for any chain - including McDonald’s - to open for business in The City. They did so for multiple reasons ranging from a belief they were protecting mom and pop businesses as well as not polluting San Francisco with crass commercialism to a general dislike for what McDonald’s serves.

Now The City that gave us Jim Jones who gave Kool-Aid a bad name has found a way to tinker with McDonald’s menu.

They have outlawed the serving of any kids’ meals at fast food places that come with toys if they don’t meet certain caloric and nutritional standards handed down on the ultimate authority on health - the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

McDonald’s could opt to serve  a Happy Meal with fruit and vegetables as well as milk and package them with plastic toys until such time the supervisors decree the toys are anti-green since they end up being buried in landfills.

You might be tempted just to dismiss this as another example of San Francisco weirdness but you do so at the risk of imperiling your own freedom.

You will notice that they did not outlaw the selling of junk food to kids outright.

It fits a pattern.

For example, instead of outlawing cigarettes outright they’re now banned from drug stores using the argument that places that are supposed to help heal people shouldn’t sell cancer sticks.

Drug stores also happen to sell candy which isn’t exactly a health item either.

Neither the plastic toy in kid meals nor cigarette sale bans in drug stores are the ultimate goal. They are simply a way from avoiding having the authority of a government board - in this case the San Francisco supervisors - from being successfully challenged in court when they try to dictate what can be sold in the marketplace.

Banning cigarette sales outright would get them hauled before the U.S. Supreme Courts with the odds of them failing to defend such a blanket law extremely high.

If they also banned the sale of sugary items and junk food to kids anywhere in The City it too would end up at the highest court.

By slowly eroding rights - which one must include the right to smoke or the right to buy your kids junk food complete with a must-have plastic toy - they can do so without anyone sounding a serious alarm and making a full court legal press based on the constitution.

You may laugh at San Francisco’s moves and dismiss them but the door has been opened. It will help make it more difficult to close the door in the future.

A lot of statewide assaults on basic things you might take for granted - such as proposed sin taxes on sugar-laden drinks - start in places such as Berkeley, Santa Monica, Santa Cruz, and The City.

If you abhor smoking and view fast food and sugar-laden drinks as a waste of calories and therefore don’t stridently object to such bans you do so at the risk of your own rights.

Rest assured the day will come when some group- with the force of government behind them - will go after one of your perceived faults and try to ban it or slap sin taxes on it.

It you don’t stand up to tyranny by government they could very well be coming after you next.

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