Paul Jacob

Once the Christmas lights, ornaments and knickknacks were packed back in the basement and the college football bowl games over, I was struck by a very strange thought: our government tells us what we can and can't eat.

Perhaps you've read about it: The New York City Council's ban of food containing trans fat. And the bans that may follow in other towns, and for other foods. In fact, heaven forbid, for my favorite food, the kind that grows on the Liberty Tree.

Maybe I was snacking more than I should have been during the holidays, especially when my teams were losing. (And I may sue the inventor of Hello Dolly's). But my vice doesn't make a virtue of the Big Apple's totalitarianism. Even Orwell's Big Brother permitted Winston Smith to smoke cigarettes and drink gin!

Sure, trans fat isn't good for people. I get that. But the same goes for soda and cotton candy. And butter. The point is that in a free society, what one puts into one's mouth is each person's responsibility, each person's right.

On the other hand, rights schmights, why not just outlaw being fat? Those of us whose percentage of body fat goes above a certain threshold would be sent to camps where we could concentrate on losing weight.

We could call these "concentration camps."

The Yellow Star Proposal
But, as we enter 2007, fatty foods and eaters' rights aren't the only targets of nanny-state politicians: they are attacking our delicious democracy, too.

Legislators and entrenched lobbies in a number of states are proposing that the voter initiative process be gutted, fried and devoured. Why? Those states' citizens showed the temerity to threaten them with initiatives to cap state spending growth.

• A new group comprised entirely of Michigan's political high and mighty, amusingly called "Citizens for Michigan," has proposed doing away with voter initiatives entirely. Barring complete abolition, they suggest that legislators should at least be given the power to veto any measure proposed by Michigan citizens.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.