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Outside the Beltway: The Day the Happy Meal Died

Posted By Mike Brownfield On April 30, 2010 @ 10:30 am In Economics | Comments Disabled

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There might be 14,000 things to be happy about [2], but there is one less reason in Santa Clara County, California: the government there voted to ban toys in Happy Meals.

Toys that come in those delightfully colored boxes filled cheeseburgers and fries that have brought joy to millions of children will go the way of bottled water and salt, trans fat and soda pop, all of which have fallen victim to regulation-happy local governments.

The reason? No, it’s not because the toys are unsafe. It’s not because they’re filled with lead or cause choking. It’s because, well, they’re an effective way for businesses to legally market their products.  The Los Angeles Times reports [3]:

This ordinance prevents restaurants from preying on childrens’ love of toys” to sell high-calorie, unhealthful food, said [Santa Clara County] Supervisor Ken Yeager, who sponsored the measure. “This ordinance breaks the link between unhealthy food and prizes.”

Proponents of the ban argue [3]that using toys to promote the sale of high-calorie kids meals lure children toward eating unhealthy food, leading to obesity. But as Supervisor Donald Gage says, “If you can’t control a 3-year-old child for a toy, God save you when they get to be teenagers.”

And that’s an important point. In Santa Clara County, the local government has assumed the mantle of a nanny state, presumed that parents are unable to make choices for their children, and restricted businesses’ ability to market to customers.

Santa Clara County isn’t alone in attempting to enact absurd regulations over food consumption. The New York State Assembly is considering a bill [4] that would prohibit “the use of salt by restaurants in the preparation of food,” and so is the federal government. According to the Washington Post [5], “the Food and Drug Administration is planning an unprecedented effort to gradually reduce the salt consumed each day by Americans.”

Individual choice and personal responsibility have no place in the nanny state, and it’s anyone’s guess what the toy police will ban next.


Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org

URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2010/04/30/outside-the-beltway-the-day-the-happy-meal-died/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.foundry.org/wp-content/uploads/happymeals.jpg

[2] 14,000 things to be happy about: http://www.thingstobehappyabout.com/cgi-bin/book.cgi?t=14000&list=happy

[3] The Los Angeles Times reports: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-happy-meals-20100428,0,6355743.story

[4] considering a bill: http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?default_fld=&bn=A10129&Summary=Y&Text=Y

[5] According to the Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/19/AR2010041905049.html?hpid=topnews

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