Mona Charen

What are we to make of Nancy Pelosi's home town's measure to ban Happy Meals? Shall we say that the San Francisco board of supervisors got a little carried away in their zeal to prevent childhood obesity? Or is it about time someone staged an intervention to shake Americans out of their sickening (literally) eating habits?

Well, maybe, but not this way. When liberals unleash their coercive urges as the supervisors in San Francisco have done, even some Democrats -- notably the mayor -- are forced to protest. Would we like it if McDonalds changed its menus in response to social pressure and consumer demand? Yes. And by the way, that is happening. Customers at McDonalds can now choose salads, fruits, and quite tasty coffee in addition to the usual fatty fare. But that clearly didn't satisfy the food cops.

So imagine a parent in San Francisco who has made the following deal with her child: Eat five servings a day of fruits and vegetables, and three servings of milk or yogurt, and on the weekend, you can have a Happy Meal. Not anymore.

While banning Happy Meals (the law actually just banned meals with toys that failed to meet certain nutritional guidelines -- but the shorthand is accurate) will probably have no effect on the health of San Franciscans, there are ways in which the law could be changed to reward healthy behavior. Unfortunately, the Democrats failed utterly to consider them when revamping our health care system.

The Obama Democrats took a system that was groaning under the weight of exploding Medicare and Medicaid costs and made it worse by adding another entitlement. They took a system that encourages voracious consumption of health care services (because a third party is paying) and expanded it. They took a system that already inhibited choice (by, for example, imposing costly mandates on insurance carriers) and restricted competition still further.

President Obama claims that his is a (cough, cough) non-ideological administration. He has promised many times to invest only in "what works." But the Massachusetts health reform (aka Romneycare) adopted very similar reforms to those in the Obamacare law. It's been a failure. The Massachusetts experiment has failed to reduce costs (they are the highest in the nation), and has reduced quality as physicians flee the state, leading to longer wait times for appointments. This information was available in March.


Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
 
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