Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Producer regulation does not imply consumer restriction

The FDA is moving towards regulating salt. My first thought when I saw that was "wtf?" Then I started actually thinking and decided to see what they meant. Were they looking into salt types? Purity? Sources? Turns out I was entirely at the wrong end. The regulation would be on salt levels in manufactured foods.

As I finished the article I looked over the comments. In summary they expressed outrage at Obama telling them what to eat.

Let's start at the place where you would start if you were being logical. Or complete illogical. The Soviet Union and the Communist Party's regulation of industry. In this extreme example, regulation of the producers is a direct restriction of consumer choice. If there is one car design, one apartment layout, there is no choice beyond buy or not buy.

At the opposite extreme, no regulation at all, there is theoretically unlimited choice brought on by the wonderful productive nature of the free market. Until you introduce patents, copywrite laws, and all the other restrictions which are necessary to prevent intellectual property being ripped off, and all of which restrict consumer choice to some degree.

It appears inevitable that regulation would restrict choice. But that's at overly-general extremes.

Let's look at the specific example: salt. I go to buy my soup and that damn socialist has reduced the salt in it. What an outrage! I take it back home, heat it up, and grab my salt shaker. At this point Obama personally takes away my salt shaker and dumps it in the trash. Actually that second part doesn't happen. I have just as much control over what I eat as I did before. In fact, I potentially have more. If the soup starts with less salt, I have the choice of having less salt, or more salt, or the same salt as right now.

Just to review the facts: Obama has not killed my grandma and he has not stolen my salt shaker.


G-Rebel said...

Interesting, I'd have to say that I agree with you in that regulation doesn't necessarily restrict choice.

I think what bothers some people is the level of regulation that the federal government has taken upon itself. Effectively bloating the size and scope of the federal government has been going on for a long time, and it's this issue, not salt per se, that many people take issue with.

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