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Posts Tagged ‘public health regulation’

Michael Bloomberg, chief nanny of New York, while defending his plan to regulate the amount of salt restaurant chefs will henceforth be allowed to put in their dishes:

If we know there’s asbestos in a school room what do you expect us to do? Say it’s not our business? I don’t think so.

This is an absurd analogy and not just because of the substantial difference in harmfulness between salt and asbestos. (If it was just that, I’d merely call Bloomberg’s analogy far fetched.) There are more fundamental reasons why his analogy breaks down.

1. Choice.  Salt imparts taste to food. Life’s choices are about weighing costs and benefits, in this case weighing the cost of increased risk of high blood pressure versus the benefit of a possibly tastier meal. Ditto with other unhealthy lifestyle choices: smoking, spending all day playing video-games or riding a motorbike. It’s a freedom issue, one of individual choice. On the other hand, not many people in this age knowingly choose to live in a house with lethal asbestos in the roof.

2. Fraud. Assuming that the asbestos is typically present without the consent or knowledge of whoever owns or lives in the building, it is a case of fraud and a lethal one at that. On the other hand, the food you buy: well you get what you wanted and ordered. Presumably you know perfectly well that it contains a fair amount of salt. There is no fraud of any kind. (And if a lot of people are unknowingly ordering food with high amounts of salt, well, that would at best call for some kind of salt-quantity-disclosure law.)

3. Age. A school room is populated by students, who are mostly not of legal age and in some cases very young. Restaurants are populated by a lot of adults who, presumably, should be able to eat very salty food if they want to.

Finally, if some person  knowingly goes ahead and builds asbestos into the roof of his house, I think — notwithstanding Bloomberg’s protests — it is not the government’s business to stop him, but merely to make sure he makes this information available to all other occupants, tenants and any guests who come to the building, and does not have any children living there.

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Good for them.

“If I don’t want to pray, I don’t go to church. If you don’t want to smoke, don’t come in here.”

(Hat Tip: The Agitator)

Also read: San Francisco may tighten smoking ban

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This is rather old news but I got to know if it only today. Elizabeth Whelan writes in National Review –

Earlier this year in New York City, a public-heath regulation went into effect that set a new and very troublesome precedent, one that insinuates government agencies into personal medical matters.
In mid-January, the city began legally requiring laboratories that do medical testing to report to the Health Department the results of blood-sugar tests for city residents with diabetes — along with the names, ages, and contact information on those patients.
City officials are not only analyzing these data to assess patterns and changes in diabetes prevalence in the city, but are planning “interventions.” Simply put, diabetics will soon receive letters and phone calls from city officials offering advice and counsel on how to effectively deal with their medical condition. If you wish to keep your medical data confidential, you cannot.

And this may just be the beginning. As the writer notes, the next stage of intervention “may be a harshly punitive one, with fines and other restrictions on those who fail to heed the health warnings. The message will be: Live a healthy life or the government will punish you.”

This is one of those occasions when my words can simply not convey the outrage I presently feel, so I will not say anything more.

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