By Signè Thomas, JMI Intern & Florida State University Junior in Economics
In less than 6 months, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors “healthy meal ordinance” will go into effect, banning fast food kids meals with toys unless they meet government-mandated nutritional standards including maximum levels of calories, sodium, and fat/trans-fat as well as minimum amounts of fruits and vegetables. This will leave San Francisco area restaurants with two options: no longer include toys with the meals or change the food content of the meal.The Board of Supervisors stated “Restaurants encourage children and adolescents to choose specific menu items by linking them with free toys and other incentive items.”No government has the right to mandate the content of a meal based on added incentives—this is marketing. Many companies offer various types of bonuses as an added incentive for consumers to choose their product over a competitor’s. What’s the next target–the toy in a Cracker Jack Box or maybe even Box Tops for Education?Furthermore, “Research shows that parents frequently make purchases based on requests made by children, particularly for items that are geared toward children. Additionally, children and adolescents ages 4-17 years have increasing discretionary income that is frequently spent on restaurant food.” Once again, Big Government thinks it can make decisions for the public better than individuals themselves. Rather than allowing individuals to make their own choices, the government has decided that the consumer isn’t smart enough or responsible enough to make the decision for themselves and their children and will now mandate acceptable choices. The “Daily Show with John Stewart” had several choice points to make regarding this “Crappy Meal” debacle!It is truly scary that this regulatory sanction/ban actually passed and then overrode a mayoral veto! It places more power and control in the hands of government at the expense of parental determination and responsibility. It adds another layer of government regulation in the private sector and sets a dangerous precedent. One more startling, fabricated “need” for government interference in private industry—shades of Tom Smith and His Incredible Bread Machine!This “healthy meal ordinance” is a huge slap in the face to economic freedom and parental determination. Will fond memories of Happy Meals now “show your age”? Future generations won’t experience the classic Happy Meal, and at the rate our government takeover of private industry is going, they won’t experience living in a free-market capitalist economy either.