I love salt. I have always loved salt. My son reminds me sometimes that salt is not a side dish. I don’t listen. I consume vast quantities of salt far above the national average. I am over 100 pounds overweight (but shrinking) and by most estimates, at high risk for high blood pressure and heart disease due to my overconsumption of salt. If you have spent anytime with me at all in the last year, you have probably heard me brag about my medical check up last year. No?!? Let me tell you about it. Cholesterol – 187! Blood pressure – 120 over 75! Sodium, triglycerides, etc. – normal, normal normal! I have to tell you that as the doctor is telling me this, I just started laughing. I told her, “you know, this is just going to validate all my bad behaviors!”
I say all that to say this: we are all different. What’s good for me is not necessarily good for you and vice versa. We each have to take responsibility for our own health and the behaviors that effect it. It’s called personal responsibility. But in the city of New York and increasingly around the country, we no longer have a choice about what we can eat and drink, or smoke. The latest attack on personal freedoms is a proposal from Mayor Bloomberg (is he still in office?). Things are going so well in NYC that the Mayor has time to worry about what we are all eating. It wasn’t enough that he has banned trans fats and required all restaurants to post calorie counts on their menus. Now he wants food preparers to reduce salt in their foods by 25% by 2014.
While I am flattered by the good Mayor’s concern for my health, I clearly don’t need it. This is just the latest attempt to govern personal behavior for the greater good. And if you think it is going to stop at NYC, guess again. If the new health care system gets passed, we can expect this kind of thing on a regular basis from the government. We have already seen the argument being made during the 90’s and the demonization of smokers. I am not a smoker (well, the occasional cigar) and never have been. When restaurants started to ban smoking, I voted against it because I could see the end game. If they can ban a completely legal substance to be used in a public place, what’s next? But people bought into the public health argument and we now have an almost universal ban on smoking in public. It’s the new prohibition. Only this time, they are not banning the substance, they are regulating the use of it.
Once the new health care system is in place, every activity will have an effect on the public health care system so it will not be long before McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, etc. will be required to have their foods meet certain requirements. Which means the food will be much healthier and totally suck! It is our right to eat junk food and if we are responsible for our own health care, then we are only hurting ourselves. But if we are part of the collective, we are hurting the greater good. Don’t let them get a foothold on your health care or a bite out of your Big Mac!