The Nanny State

Not content with banning or at least fining those who make a living from cigarettes, trans-fats, salt and soft drinks, Michael Bloomberg, New York City’s mayor and billionaire busybody in chief, last week set his sights on a new villain: Styrofoam.

In his State of the City address Thursday, Mayor Bloomberg pushed for a ban on Styrofoam food packaging, complaining it “costs taxpayers money” because the lightweight, insulating plastic foam is not biodegradable and thus has to be extracted from garbage before that garbage can be used as compost.

The mayor also wants to decrease the already sharply limited number of parking spaces available in his city for normal cars, in order to set aside more space for electric cars, when the manufacturers of such vehicles are dropping like flies.

In fact, the same day Mayor Bloomberg was announcing his latest flights of fancy, The Wall Street Journal reported the LG Chem plant that was supposed to build batteries for the Chevrolet Volt had so little work it recently was caught by the Energy Department’s inspector general using millions of dollars in federal grant money to pay idle Michigan employees to play board games and watch movies.

Meanwhile, the Washington-based Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine called Wednesday for the city of Las Vegas to suspend the business license of the downtown Heart Attack Grill, which brags of serving large hamburgers and other super-size portions of high-calorie, high-cholesterol food, because of the death of a regular customer.

Oh, please. Are adult customers being kept in ignorance of the nature of the food served there? Do other restaurants somehow bestow eternal life on their patrons, who thus never die?

We’d all be healthier if we ate more fresh fruits and vegetables, and activists are free to promote that regimen to their heart’s content. But in a free country, does this mean anyone who serves burgers, fries and Cokes should be arrested and hauled away, locked in cells where they’re allowed only celery sticks — especially if their combo meal is served in Styrofoam?

Now comes Assemblyman Harvey Munford, D-Las Vegas, who proposes legislation to levy a 5-cent tax on fast-food items with more than 500 calories, to deter such food choices. The poor man in need of a filling cheeseburger will pay the tax, but the upper-income diner who gorges on gourmet restaurant pizza won’t?

The American people delegated to their government certain limited powers to provide for a common defense, and to perform other limited tasks not well suited to private profit. We do not pay these people to tell us what cars to drive, what foods to eat or what kinds of cups and boxes to employ at the carry-out window. Enough of this nanny-state nonsense.