Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I Heart Trans Fat

New York City recently announced it would be banning trans-fat from all its restaurants. I have all kinds of reasons for not liking this sort of policy: the dubious health benefits relative to its costs, the shaky track record of government prohibitions against things that are "bad for us", and especially the perported political motivations behind it (giving the tort bar another fat -- pardon the pun -- target for class action liability claims).

But what troubles me the most is what this sort of decision says about human nature. Do we really believe that can't hold the individual responsible for controlling their own diet? Do we have to have executive mandates banning certain foods, because we can't trust the public to eat them in moderation?

I'm afraid of the answer, no matter which way it goes. I want to believe in the individual's responsibilty, autonomy, and freedom to choose what is in their best interests. Certainly I think I can be trusted with trans-fat foods. But that philosophy is faced with an emperical challenge: we have all these freakin' fat people. I am inclined to be understanding of those poor souls who were born with, shall we say, large-ish bodies and who must struggle to keep themselves fit. But when the majority of people are overweight, and one in five are obese (which is a clinic term indicating a body mass index of 30 or greater, or, in layman's terms, dude-you-are-freakin'-huge), we have an inconvenient truth to contend with.

Either adult people are not to be trusted with looking after their best interests, and we need to tighten legislation to protect them from themselves . . . or we are a nation of fat slobs with no self-control. Either option is, um, unappetising. I find it discouraging that most of the public has opted for the former interpretation and not even considered the later. Why don't we have headlines reading: "The lack-of-self-control epidemic in the U.S."?

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home