By Rich Zeoli
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) –“The State has no more right to tell me what to put in my mouth, than it has to tell me what has to come out of my mouth.” – Milton Friedman
As a conservative, I have long taken issue with the Nanny State. From banning the size of sugary beverages to banning trans fats in donuts to banning cigarette smoking in your home, I take issue with government telling me what I can and cannot ingest in the name of what’s good for me.
The nanny staters will spend a tremendous amount of time and (your) money arguing that sugar, Trans fats, tobacco, salt, tanning booths, etc. etc. etc., are bad for us. Whether they are bad for us or not isn’t the point, it’s not up to government to make the decision for me to indulge or not to indulge. So to be consistent, shouldn’t we conservatives reject the notion of a government ban on marijuana for adults?
Let’s assume for the sake of argument that pot is one of the worst substances out there. Worse than a supersized tobacco shake containing 250 grams of delicious creamy trans fats goodness and containing enough sodium to stun a small horse. Why should we care? Either we reject the central premise of the nanny state: that we are too stupid to make the right decisions and need the hand of government to limit our choices, or we don’t. What the substance at issue is, is a moot point. Leave that to the left to justify their bans by dazzling us with charts and figures demonstrating just how awful their target du jour is for us.
Conservatives believe that individuals will ultimately make choices that are in their best interest, but even if they don’t, I reject the premise that government has a role to play in telling you how to live your life based some progressive notion of bettering you or the public welfare.
Let’s take the most obvious progressive argument for regulating what we put into our body: that we all pay for healthcare now so shouldn’t we ban things that contribute to disease in order to lower costs? First, I didn’t ask for anyone to help pay my healthcare costs and second, that mindset only leads to the eventual regulation of literally everything we put in our body. I don’t want to ever stroll down the butcher aisle in Wegmans and see a Surgeon General’s warning label on a steak. As farfetched as that sounds, California is proposing warning labels on soda.
Beyond the obvious Nanny State bans, there also exists the possibility you will be forced to eat foods the government deems good for you. Imagine going to your favorite restaurant and being told they must serve you at least one green vegetable. You can still have your French fries (as long as they are not cooked in Trans fats) and your steak (so long as it does not exceed the government portion standard of 6oz.) but you must also share plate space with a steaming pile of brussel sprouts. While no one from central planning will force feed you (at least not yet) you must be served said roughage, which of course equals a more expensive meal.
This is the eventual end result of the mindset that says “we’re government and we know what’s best for you, so let us regulate what you can and not ingest in the name of your health.”
This brings me back to marijuana. Even if it’s the worst substance you can ever put in your body, as conservatives why should we care? Shouldn’t we remain consistent and denounce the nanny state ban on this herb? I don’t smoke pot and have no intention of ever smoking pot. But that’s not the point. When it comes to the fundamental question: to ingest or not to ingest, leave that up to me and not to the government.