I went out running this morning — in what felt like 102% humidity and about 85 degrees — and fell into a muse over a couple of recent news items: a breathless opinion piece about a shareholder resolution asking McDonald’s to “assess the public health impact” of marketing fast food to kids, and a local editor (I have periodically been mistaken for him, but that’s another story) blinking in astonishment that the legal smoking age was raised from 16 to 18 in Virginia only two decades ago.
There are people who argue with their bare faces hanging out that it’s unacceptable to regulate food, even food sold to children, even food that has been solidly nailed as a cause of disease. “Personal responsibility” is the mantra invoked by the agribusiness and fast-food people, and their political
beneficiaries allies put on their Libertarian haloes while agreeing.
Then some’a the same dumb ducks resist the decriminalization of marijuana with both heels dug in, chanting the slippery slope argument. Which may be starting to crumble, since the State of Washington is witnessing a campaign to legalize smoking rope for purely recreational reasons, the same way we legally, but with regulation, pop a beer. Sales would be licensed and taxed (Washington backers estimate revenue of $215 million; that’s how big the underground economy is.)
I think this is an idea whose time has come. I can’t stand even being around any kind of smoke, but I’d earn a thump on the head if I said that someone who wanted to get a little high in his own living room or a club licensed for the purpose differed in any substantial way from me and the Engineer enjoying a nightcap of single malt or a bottle of Single Humped Merlot. The flavor notes and the bouquet yes yes, I do not spend my money on Usher’s or Thunderbird, but undeniably, an attitude adjustment always accompanies those deftly blended aromas.
So I say we should meet in the middle and regulate Crap McFries the same way. Special taxes on any food averaging more than a day’s worth of calories in a meal, no sales to anyone under 12, none to anyone under 18 without a parent, and anyone found driving under the influence of a Big Mac oozing secret sauce over the car seat and slipperying up their grip on the steering wheel — well, first time is a warning. Courts could order people into a cessation program, and there would be stings in the drive-thru.
Just a thought. If I can find another political maniac, I might see if he’d be willing to run on it.