Freedom of Choice in New York City: Diet, No; Gender, Yes

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From The New York Times of October 31, 2006:

Dozens of people appeared before the city’s Board of Health yesterday, offering a largely favorable response to proposed restaurant regulations that would ban all but a minute amount of artificial trans fats in food preparation, and require some restaurants to post calorie counts on their menus and menu boards.

The board has said it planned to vote on both proposals, which are supported by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, in December. The hearing yesterday was part of a process of public comment that also includes written responses.

The New York City proposals, which have drawn attention across the country, would establish some of the most rigorous limits on trans fats in restaurants and set requirements for menu labeling more rigid than in any other American city.

From The New York Times of November 7, 2006:

Separating anatomy from what it means to be a man or a woman, New York City is moving forward with a plan to let people alter the sex on their birth certificate even if they have not had sex-change surgery.

Under the rule being considered by the city’s Board of Health, which is likely to be adopted soon, people born in the city would be able to change the documented sex on their birth certificates by providing affidavits from a doctor and a mental health professional laying out why their patients should be considered members of the opposite sex, and asserting that their proposed change would be permanent.

Bottom line: Starting soon, in New York City, you won’t be able to buy a donut baked with trans fat, but you will be able choose your sex, irrespective of your anatomy.

If you think this is crazy, you’d better watch out and not say so. That’s because sooner or later, if there isn’t already, there will be a further regulation that bans such dissent as “antisocial,” “insensitive,” or “offensive.”

Even so, I can’t suppress the thought that if the hosts of, say, the Boston Tea Party, were alive, they might physically relocate New York City’s Board of Health to the streets below, perhaps with its office furniture wrapped around its members’ necks. A hostile response, I know. But then I’m feeling like that rattlesnake on a flag of my country’s Revolutionary War. His message to the world was, “Don’t Tread on Me.”

George Reisman [send him mail] is Pepperdine University Professor Emeritus of Economics, and is the author of Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics. Visit his website.

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