Walter Olson reports that those who know better than the rest of us what’s good for us have struck at an important target menacing life as we know it in America: McDonald’s Happy Meals.
With perfect Grinch timing, a consumer group has sued McDonald’s demanding that it take the toys out of its Happy Meals.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group, claims it violates California law for the hamburger chain to make its meals too appealing to kids, thus launching them on a lifelong course to overeating and other health horrors. It’s representing an allegedly typical mother of two from Sacramento named Monet Parham. What’s Parham’s (so to speak) beef? “Because of McDonald’s marketing, [her daughter] Maya has frequently pestered Parham into purchasing Happy Meals, thereby spending money on a product she would not otherwise have purchased.”
You’re probably wondering: How is this grounds for a lawsuit? No one forced Parham to take her daughters to McDonald’s, buy them that particular menu item, and sit by as they ate every last French fry in the bag (if they did).
No, she’s suing because when she said no, her kids became disagreeable and “pouted” – for which she wants class action status. If she gets it, McDonald’s isn’t the only company that should worry. Other kids pout because parents won’t get them 800-piece Lego sets, Madame Alexander dolls and Disney World vacations.
The really interesting thing about all this was discovered by Ira Stoll. Monet Parham is actually a California state employee, posing as an aggrieved ordinary citizen aided by liberal advocacy organizations in an attempt to use the courts to further coercively the “healthy lifestyle” agenda she is paid to advocate by the state.
Ms. Parham is the same person as “Monet Parham-Lee”. Monet Parham-Lee is an employee of the California Department of Public Health. Interestingly, her name has been scrubbed from the website of Champions for Change, the Network for a Healthy California. She has given numerous presentations and attended conferences on the importance of eating vegetables and whatnot.
She presents herself as an ordinary mother. She is not. She is an advocate, and an employee of a California agency tasked with advocating the eating of vegetables.
Daniel Henniger, in the Wall Street Journal, argues that Obama’s appointment of Daniel Berwick, aptly headlined by Gregory as: Obama Appoints Marxist to Lead Death Panel, is decidedly worse than the Kagan appointment.
Barack Obama’s incredible “recess appointment” of Dr. Donald Berwick to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is probably the most significant domestic-policy personnel decision in a generation. It is more important to the direction of the country than Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
The court’s decisions are subject to the tempering influence of nine competing minds. Dr. Berwick would direct an agency that has a budget bigger than the Pentagon. Decisions by the CMS shape American medicine.
Dr. Berwick’s ideas on the design and purpose of the U.S. system of medicine aren’t merely about “change.” They would be revolutionary.
One may agree with these views or not, but for the president to tell the American people they have to simply accept this through anything so flaccid as a recess appointment is beyond outrageous. It isn’t acceptable. ...
These excerpts are from past speeches and articles by Dr. Berwick:
“I cannot believe that the individual health care consumer can enforce through choice the proper configurations of a system as massive and complex as health care. That is for leaders to do.”
“You cap your health care budget, and you make the political and economic choices you need to make to keep affordability within reach.”
“Please don’t put your faith in market forces. It’s a popular idea: that Adam Smith’s invisible hand would do a better job of designing care than leaders with plans can.”
“Indeed, the Holy Grail of universal coverage in the United States may remain out of reach unless, through rational collective action overriding some individual self-interest, we can reduce per capita costs.”
“It may therefore be necessary to set a legislative target for the growth of spending at 1.5 percentage points below currently projected increases and to grant the federal government the authority to reduce updates in Medicare fees if the target is exceeded.”
“About 8% of GDP is plenty for ‘best known’ care.”
“A progressive policy regime will control and rationalize financing—control supply.”
“The unaided human mind, and the acts of the individual, cannot assure excellence. Health care is a system, and its performance is a systemic property.”
“Health care is a common good—single payer, speaking and buying for the common good.”
“And it’s important also to make health a human right because the main health determinants are not health care but sanitation, nutrition, housing, social justice, employment, and the like.” ...
“Young doctors and nurses should emerge from training understanding the values of standardization and the risks of too great an emphasis on individual autonomy.”
Fighting obesity has become a cause for the trendy left in recent years, and like all leftist causes the battle of the bulge finds expression in coercive forms of petty tyranny inevitably producing the kind of story reported by WTNH:
An eighth-grade honors student at a New Haven school has been suspended for buying a bag of candy at school.
Michael Sheridan, a student at Sheridan Middle School, was suspended from school for one day, barred from attending an honors student dinner and stripped of his title as class vice president.
Officials say he was punished because he bought a bag of Skittles from another student.
A school spokeswoman says the New Haven school system banned candy sales and fundraisers in 2003 as part of the districtwide school wellness policy.
Spokeswoman Catherine Sullivan-DeCarlo says there are no candy sales allowed in schools, period.
The student who sold the candy also was suspended.
Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards said on Sunday that his universal health care proposal would require that Americans go to the doctor for preventive care.
“It requires that everybody be covered. It requires that everybody get preventive care,” he told a crowd sitting in lawn chairs in front of the Cedar County Courthouse. “If you are going to be in the system, you can’t choose not to go to the doctor for 20 years. You have to go in and be checked and make sure that you are OK.”
He noted, for example, that women would be required to have regular mammograms in an effort to find and treat “the first trace of problem.” Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, announced earlier this year that her breast cancer had returned and spread.
Edwards said his mandatory health care plan would cover preventive, chronic and long-term health care. The plan would include mental health care as well as dental and vision coverage for all Americans.
“The whole idea is a continuum of care, basically from birth to death,” he said.
Socialized medicine plus coerced health examinations, what could be more appealing!
Companies seeking to cut rising health care costs are starting to dock the pay of overweight and unhealthy workers.
Clarian Health, an Indiana hospital chain, will require workers who smoke to pay $5 out of each paycheck starting in 2009. For workers deemed obese, as much as $30 will be taken out each paycheck until they meet certain weight, cholesterol and blood pressure standards.
Clarian employees will also be required to take part in a health risk appraisal that will inform the company which employees smoke.
Such appraisals are becoming a popular tool for businesses to determine the health of their work force. The type of health benefit program Clarian is setting up could become a model for businesses in coming years, analysts say.
On the one hand, one can argue that smokers and the obese can justly be assessed higher insurance rates because they are statistically more likely to have health problems resulting in claims. But, on the other hand, the precision of the statistical basis for those extra assessments may well be doubted, and Clarian Health’s policy seems more obviously based on the biases of the community of fashion than upon actual eagled-eyed bottom-line accounting.
I would support this kind of discrimination against groups I belong to myself if it were really based on cold, hard accounting, but the inclination of businesses to set up in operation as petty governments reaching out to regulate and improve the outside-the-workplace private lives of employees on the basis of pure busybody-ism demands resistance.
Middle-class wine drinkers will be the focus of government plans to make drunkenness as socially unacceptable as smoking, The Times has learnt.
Under the plans published today, a fresh audit is to be conducted by the Government into the overall costs of alcohol abuse to society and the National Health Service.
“We want to target older drinkers, those that are maybe drinking one or two bottles of wine at home each evening,” a Whitehall source said. “They do not realise the damage they are doing to their health and that they risk developing liver disease. ...
The move comes as The Times has been told that the British Medical Association is to investigate measures used in other countries to curb excessive alcohol consumption. Doctors’ leaders are also calling for pubs and restaurants to display warnings stating how many units of alcohol are contained in drinks served by the glass.
Today’s strategy, by the Home Office and the Department of Health, broadens the Government’s offensive against excessive drinking, with the focus moving beyond teenagers and the binge-drinkers to include those regularly sipping wine at home.
As part of the strategy, ministers wish to highlight the increasing burden that drink-related disease is placing on the NHS, which four years ago was estimated to be costing between £1.3 billion and £1.7 billion. Ministers want drunkenness in public to be as socially unacceptable in ten years’ time as smoking or drink-driving is today.
Last night Ian Gilmore, President of the Royal College of Physicians, gave his full support to the focus on the health costs of heavy drinking. “We really need the spotlight more on health. While crime and antisocial behaviour is important it’s too easy to concentrate on that because it’s somebody else causing the trouble.
“When you look at health it’s more uncomfortable because there’s a very significant percentage of the population already drinking at potentially hazardous levels.”
With alcohol costing 54 per cent less in real terms than in 1980, Professor Gilmore, a liver specialist, also called on the Chancellor to raise drink taxes.
Socialized medicine demonstrably involves the surrender of private liberty to the nanny state now in charge of paying your doctor bill.