Happy Meals banned by city
Owned and published by UMHB, The Bells is a biweekly publication. This content was previously published in print on the Opinions page. Opinions expressed in this section do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff or the university.
Happy San Franciscans may want to celebrate their World Series trophy by taking the kids out to McDonald’s for a meal that reflects their mood and even contains a toy.
However, the city board of supervisors voted to ban Happy Meals in an effort to combat childhood obesity.
The well-intended move is attacking one small culprit of a much bigger issue and is restricting the freedom of both businesses and parents.
A veto-busting majority approved the ban, which will require any meal that is given with a toy to have only a set number of calories and serve fruit or vegetables.
Supervisor Eric Mar said, ‘We’re part of a movement that is moving forward an agenda of food justice.”
Apparently, the best way to spend taxpayers’ time and money is restricting what people can eat. Wouldn’t the Founding Fathers be happy?
As capitalism has spread throughout the world, McDonald’s has been like the democracy’s handmaiden, following closely wherever she goes. We celebrated to watch the restaurants open in Eastern Europe and Asia. McDonald’s has been a popular, yet admittedly pudgy, ambassador of the United States.
It has become a symbol of capitalism and freedom. The communism museum of Prague, Czech Republic, proudly and ironically sits next to one of the fast food giant’s millions of restaurants. In fact, the former Soviets even brag that you can find the museum “between a McDonald’s and a casino.”
One unfortunate product of capitalism is that, just as people can improve themselves in the system, they also are completely free to harm themselves, and, to an extent, their children.
McDonald’s food is cheap, easy and tasty, perfect for the American family on the go and on a budget. Plus a toy to keep Timmy quiet or to use as a bribe to eat his McNuggets is exactly what people want. But the effects of this fat-filled feeding can have nasty effects on the body – just like anything else used without moderation.
The government’s job is not to excessively police restaurants. That is what some nations did before our McDonald’s got there. Happy meals themselves are not the enemy. To battle obesity, health education, an economy where people can afford quality food, requiring nutritional information on packages and youth sport and recreation programs should be the main goals. These tasks fit perfectly with the job description of the government. Restricting what children can eat with their families does not.
The city supervisors mean well and should be applauded for their efforts. But restricting freedoms and business practices is a step in the wrong direction. Americans don’t need any more decisions made for them. In 2007, Cornell University published a study that suggested the higher the level of parental education, the lower the percentage of obese children.
America needs education more than ever. Nothing fixes an economy and improves a government like college level education.
It also will battle obesity. The program for International Student Assessment ranked U.S. students directly in the middle of international students. This average position does not reflect one of the wealthiest nations. The government should be focusing on getting people educated – the rest of the problems will take care of themselves.
Ask any parent – or at least educated ones – and they will tell you taking away people’s decisions never gives them a chance to learn. Former Soviets may have an opinion on that, too.