This Monday morning, we bring you the latest in the war on fun – from San Francisco, naturally! You may remember that in 2010, the SF City Council voted to ban free happy meal toys, claiming that they encourage obesity. So about two weeks ago, McDonald’s announced that they’ll be charging ten cents per toy to get around the ban – and the genius part? McDonald’s will be donating all profits from the sales to charity, in order to fund a new Ronald McDonald House for needy children.
Obviously, the nanny state bureaucrats (who want to discourage behaviors that they disapprove of) are frustrated, since their goal of eliminating happy meals was foiled – and a charity that helps children is pretty sympathetic, so the government can’t try to “tax” the profits or otherwise inflict pain. (Burger King’s already announced they’d be following suit on the policy.)
My colleague Julie’s written a lot about “bans” on happy meal toys (check out her May 2011 policy focus here!) – according to her,
“Studies have failed to establish a clear link between fast food consumption and childhood obesity, or that government is effective in encouraging healthier eating. Toy bans are particularly bad policy since there is no evidence that they discourage people from purchasing fast food.
“In fact, while there is little to suggest that government can micro-manage citizens into better shape, a growing body of empirical evidence suggests that parental involvement is key to improving the health of children. Several recent studies have shown that parental involvement—less television, family dinners, earlier bedtimes— is what keeps kids healthy. “
I love that this sticks in the craw of the public health busybodies who want to dictate what individuals do or don’t consume. I’m concerned that as the government increasingly micromanages more and more aspects of our lives – like what we eat, and what we see on TV, and how things are marketed to us – that we, as a society, will stop making decisions ON OUR OWN. Slowly but surely, we’re being encouraged to cede control of our lives to a benign government who knows best… making us a nation of co-dependent infants. This nation was founded on the principles of individual liberty and personal responsibility – and it is only through preserving these virtues that we will remain great.