Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, January 05, 2007

Picking and Choosing Your Freedoms

WSU Young Democrat officer Jimmy Blue recently opined in the Daily Evergreen that he was against the recent New York City trans-fat ban because:
I want to be free to eat what I chose; if something tastes good, I am likely going to eat it. But I am not going to eat trans fats every day because they are unhealthy. If people want to be unhealthy, that is their choice. There are no second-hand effects of trans fats, so they should not be banned. People need to take responsibility for their own health instead of being forced into it.
I happen to agree with Jimmy. But I also want to be free to shop at Wal-Mart if I choose, something Mr. Blue disagrees with.

Ah, but Blue might say, Wal-Mart affects the community negatively. Are you going to honestly tell me that trans-fat doesn't? Health care is a national crisis. People in poor health cause all of our insurance rates to be higher and put a burden on Medicaid and Medicare, thus raising our taxes as well.

It never fails to amuse me when liberals start flirting with libertarianism, especially when confronted with the excesses of the Nanny State of their own creation. It is a philosophical minefield fraught with peril.

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Paul E. Zimmerman said...

Actually, I don't think Mr. Blue is flirting with libertarianism, nor is he expressing any sort of philosophical viewpoint here. All he is doing, as I read this and compare it to his past writings, is demonstrating for us his mindset: "I want what I want, period." The core tenets of the philosophy of individual liberty are very far away from the psychology of people like this.

His primary reason for not wanting a ban on trans fats is "I want to be able to eat what tastes good to me without interference." The abstract ideological reasons offered after that (people should be free to eat what they want), are stated in a secondary position to his first statement, putting them into a position of lesser importance in his thinking. Basically, he has stated the correct philosophical point (individual liberty) only as a afterthought to his initial self-centered demand.

When this is compared with the way he and others like him (PARD) have approached the Walmart issue, their view is that "Walmart should not be allowed to be here." Substitute "Walmart" with "Trans fat," however, and you have the essence of the ban Jimmy is against because of his own preferences: "Trans fats should not be allowed to be here."

Taking the essence of Jimmy's other statement, "people should be allowed to eat what they want," then replacing "eat" with "shop", gets a very different reaction from him and others like him: change the window dressings to some that do not suit their tastes, and they will disavow the abstract idea used in their own statement in a second.

And this, I think, says it all. These people could not care one bit for the ideals of individual liberty; they are only concerned with having their narrow interests fulfilled, no matter what interference or cost this would visit upon others. They will claim abstract principles of liberty only if they come draped in their particular fashions, but will toss them away should someone present the same ideas in a different manner, one that people like Jimmy don't happen to like.

So Jimmy demands his burgers and fries, and he demands also that a store he happens to not like be kept out of the place he temporarily lives, because in both cases, it's all about what he wants, regardless of what others want to do that will not affect him in an unreasonable way.

There is no flirtation with libertarian ideals here, just the shrieks of a mental child throwing a tantrum.

April E. Coggins said...

Jimmy would defend himself by telling us that eating trans-gendered fats hurts no one but himself. He would tell us that shopping at Wal-Mart harms children, especially the ones at some far off dark continent. You know, the ones that have bloated bellies and mothers dieing from AIDs. Better to boycott them so as to salve the concience of the liberal elitist. When they close their eyes hard enough and protest Wal-Mart enough, THOSE people won't exist.

Paul E. Zimmerman said...

Heh... yeah, I have heard that one many times: "well, shopping there supports sweatshops overseas!"

Never mind the fact that "sweatshop" gets tossed around so much and so broadly that it's nearly meaningless (and frequently wrong), it's like you said: the thing that the anti crowd cannot deny is that a job is created. So they have to cook up "reasons" like the slave labor canard to avoid having to be completely honest about what they really want: their way, only their way, and nothing but their way. To them, their yard is their yard, and your yard is their yard, so to speak.