Walter E. Williams

Tyranny knows no bounds. Let's say that the FDA orders Stouffer's to no longer put 970 mg of sodium in their roasted turkey dinner; they mandate a maximum of 400 mg. Suppose Stouffer's customers, assuming they continue buying the product, add more salt -- what will the FDA do? The answer is easy. They will copy the successful anti-tobacco zealot template. They might start out with warning labels on salt. Congress will levy confiscatory taxes on salt. Maybe lawsuits will be brought against salt companies. State and local agencies might deny child adoption rights to couples found using too much salt. Before a couple can adopt a baby, they would have to take a blood test to determine their dietary habits. Teachers might ask schoolchildren to report their parents for adding salt to their meals. You might say, "Williams, they'd never go that far in the name of health." In 1960, you might have said the same thing about tobacco zealots but yet they've done the same and more.

The late H.L. Mencken's description of health care professionals in his day is just as appropriate for many of today's: "A certain section of medical opinion, in late years, has succumbed to the messianic delusion. Its spokesmen are not content to deal with the patients who come to them for advice; they conceive it to be their duty to force their advice upon everyone, including especially those who don't want it. That duty is purely imaginary. It is born of vanity, not of public spirit. The impulse behind it is not altruism, but a mere yearning to run things."

Thomas Jefferson put it simpler in his Notes on Religion in 1776, "Laws provide against injury from others, but not from ourselves."


Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
 
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