31 May, 2012

Banning Super Size Drinks and Plastic Bags



I linked the above two stories together, one talking about how NY plans to ban oversized sugary drinks and one talking about the plastic ban in LA because while they both reflect good ideas and things that could have beneficial social effects, I think they are both questionable, overreaching policies.

There was a video my friend Charlie Slavin made a few years back about Seattle becoming a green fascist state. It was a satire but raised a good point- although the changes proposed in the video were good (things like forcing one to compost, ride the bus), forcing them on people is a very dangerous thing and ultimately turns the state into kind of a nanny or big brother.

Our nanny state regulates and controls all sorts of things. Some of those things make sense to me- toxins that affect everybody, building codes, while other things make less sense and are not so much black and white as grey.

One of the strongest areas that are regulated(in addition to ridiculous regulations on marriage and homelessness) are drugs. Some people seem to do fine with having a drink every now and then, while for others, alcohol is a dangerous thing. My therapist tells me not to smoke, while I know that for me and for many who smoke that it alleviates their depression. At the same time my therapist sometimes recommends I use legal drugs like Haldol and I decline. I am not bringing up these points to suggest drug use is either good or bad or that having no restrictions would be good, but ultimately to point out how gray all of this is and how questionable it is having some outside authority determine your fate. Be it for drugs, for plastic bags or for junk food.

Our environment is crumbling, their are toxins of all sorts in our rivers and lakes. Our seafood is unsafe to eat. We are growing fatter and more mentally ill by the year. I worry about the immaturity of my fellows as well as the violence being caused by increased pressure in the modern world.

But how do we fix all of this? By regulating everything?

From my own point of view, I think it makes sense to regulate the right things- the things that effect everybody- such as pesticides, car pollution, industrial waste and we leave the government out of it as much as possible. Part of that will require a shift as it will require much more civic involvement or personal responsibility or the government will run us over. I guess I'm not as much of a socialist as I once thought.

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