The Closet Moderate: Gorge Yourselves at the Trough of Freedom!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Gorge Yourselves at the Trough of Freedom!

The former writer of this blog would have surely enjoyed this Slate piece in which Daniel Engber finally cries "hold enough" to all of the anti-obesity hatred going around (h/t Megan McArdle).  All of this hand-wringing over fatness disturbs me for a lot of reasons.  Much of it is fueled by bigotry, for one thing.  Skinny people talk about health, but what they really mean is that it disgusts them to see fat people.  And these are the same folks who'll tell you that people opposed to gay marriage are just bigots who are grossed out by two dudes kissing.  The Birkenstock pinches on the other foot, doesn't it?

But even more than their motivations, their insistence on doing something about it bothers me most.  I'm the only libertarian blogger on this site, so my co-bloggards may disagree with me, but this obsession with fixing other people is one of the most loathsome traits in the American character, all the more so because it seems, to me, so un-American.

W. Penn, hale and hearty
Then again, maybe it isn't.  We think about the Pilgrims as folks who were tired of being told what to do by the Church of England and came here to be free.  But that is only half of the story.  What sort of society did they build when they got here?  One as rigid and interfering as the one they'd left behind -- indeed, it was even more concerned with fixing people.  Pilgrims wanted to be left alone, but they weren't too keen on leaving other people alone.  True connoisseurs of liberty should look not to the Mayflower but to the Welcome, the ship that carried the first load of live-and-let-live Quakers to Philadelphia.  And let me tell you, William Penn could've dropped a few pounds.

According to the Slate readers Engber cites, our national weakness is that we are to soft on over-eating among children.  This is a problem Ethiopians wish they had, but even if you believe it to be a real quandry, what does this learned upper middle-class readership think is the solution?  Shame!  Shame!  Shame on fatty!  These hypocrites who quailed at the excerpts of Amy Chua's ideas on child-rearing are willing to bring out the big guns when Junior puts on some extra pounds.  What's more, they want the government to help them do it! 

Unsurprisingly, the Obamas stand ready to tell other people how to live.  I'm not going to bother asking from where in the Constitution they derive this authority -- many of my readers and co-bloggards avoid that document like Kryptonite.  But I will ask this: is this what government is for?  Is this the dream of Washington and Franklin, of Lincoln and Grant, of Teddy Roosevelt and FDR?  For damn sure it wasn't Taft's and Cleveland's vision of a more perfect union.  And was this in the hearts of those first primitives who, arising out of that state of nature into which mankind was born, banded together and formed the first government to protect their precious natural rights from thieves and murderers?  Was their fondest wish that someday, somehow, humanity could live under governments so powerful and so nosy that they could give every girl in America and eating disorder?  Consider, do-gooders, what if you're wrong? 

1 comment:

Julia said...

Eating disorders: not just for girls anymore!

http://www.businessweek.com/lifestyle/content/healthday/650600.html