One of the little-noticed provisions in the recently passed Affordable Care Act mandates that restaurant chains with more than 20 locations will have to post the calories contained in all their offerings. There's a lot of skepticism about whether this will actually have much of a practical effect in reducing obesity, but I think it could actually increase it among a certain portion of the population.
Seeing as conservatives are looking hard for ways to express their displeasure with Barack Obama's jackbooted heel being pressed on their necks, this provides a great means of civil disobedience, one I predict they will avail themselves of as soon as the policy goes into effect. Want to show Big Government you won't stand for their paternalistic meddling? You could swallow the new KFC Double Down, a bacon/egg/cheese sandwich that replaces the bun with two fried chicken patties. But that's got a mere 540 calories -- a Freedom Appetizer, perhaps. While you may not be able to find Homer Simpson's "Good Morning Burger" ("We take eighteen ounces of sizzling ground beef, and soak it in rich, creamery butter, then we top it off with bacon, ham, and a fried egg") in real life, our nation's fast-food franchises have been preparing for just such a political movement. Whether it's Carl's Jr.'s Double Six Dollar Burger (1520 calories), Hardee's Monster Thickburger (1420 calories) or the Dairy Queen Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Blizzard (1320 calories, see more here) there are any number of ways to show Washington you're mad as hell and you aren't going to take it any more.
And the nice thing about it is that unlike declaring April "Confederate History Month" or filing pointless lawsuits to have the Affordable Care Act declared unconstitutional, this is the kind of symbolic political act anyone can undertake. I look forward to seeing the staff of the Cato Institute marching down to Hardee's to strike a bacon-slathered blow against The Man.
-- Paul Waldman