Salt, Again.

The libertarian take on the Federal Drug Administration's plan to lower the amount of salt in certain kinds of food over the next decade is that, of course, people should be able to choose what they eat. This, and other efforts to tax sugary foods like sodas always spur that response: Food is personal and cultural, and government interference in this realm is a step toward the creation of a nanny state.

One obvious argument against this is that salt and sugar are bad for everyone, and it's in our societal interest to curb the kinds of population-wide problems they cause, like obesity and hypertension. That's especially true if the government is involved in the health-care market, which it is. And this is also what conservatives fear about a government-involved health-care system. Agencies will try to discourage bad behavior and encourage good.

But Mario Rizzo missed the point yesterday when he wrote in the Christian Science Monitor that the government is trying to regulate how much salt we eat. Obviously, that's not what it's doing with this new FDA initiative. What it is trying to do is regulate the amount of salt companies put in a serving of food. People are as free to buy salt and add it to meals as they ever were. Many of the coming health-care reform provisions regulate companies, not people. The idea that that's somehow bad for our ability to operate freely in the world is ridiculous.

-- Monica Potts

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