Protect me, oh mighty government – don’t let me eat cake – NOT!

A very obese gentleman with a prominent double chin and mustache dressed in black with a sword at his left side.

During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance obesity was often seen as a sign of wealth, and was relatively common among the elite: The Tuscan General Alessandro del Borro, attributed to Charles Mellin, 1645. Wikipedia

The fact the we live in a very permissive and indulgent society is a common topic of conversation; critics say we have created a generation of people who believe they are entitled not just to the right to pursuit happiness, but to happiness itself, guaranteed and delivered by government.  Now I have not joined the Romney campaign, nor do I intent to argue against social security, public education or even welfare for unwed mothers – but, I think we might give some consideration to putting more weight on individual responsibility and less on governmental control of personal behavior.

As I have said many times, my grandfather was a member of the Democratic party; it was the party of his father and his grandfather and it is my party as it was my father’s party.  But our Democratic party is not necessarily the one represented by Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Harry Reid or even John Kennedy, Lydon Johnson, Sam Rayburn and Mike Mansfield; our party is one of individual and state’s rights.  In our believe system, we want the right to govern ourselves and to be responsible for ourselves – we only require a minimal amount of federal, state and local government to serve our common needs.  We promise not to ask you to feed us, dress us or gives a job and a house and we would prefer not to provide those things for  you.  Not that we are against giving help, when help is needed; but we would like to the right choose when, where and to whom we give – willingly we help our friends, family and fellow citizens.  It is only reluctantly that we pay into a system of unrestricted welfare giving.

We also would prefer not to have any rules that control our private behavior, except when we are in public and interacting with you – then we need some broad general rules to maintain public safety and welfare – you know, such as it is not allowed to kill, steal, push and shove or to leave your grandmother to starve in the street.   For the rest, we think we are capable of doing the right thing and making the right choices in our lives; if we do not and cross the lines of law – arrest us, convict and send us to prison.  However, don’t think you, your party or your government has to protect me from myself or the dangers you perceive lurking all about us – like bake sales, corrupting immoral books and radical speeches.  We don’t need or want your protection, thank you very much.

Bake sales? Yep, bake sales, Montgomery County in Maryland is going to protect the county’s children from obesity by preventing those most evil of evils, bake sales; Google gave me 166 hits in 15 seconds on the subject today.  National Public Radio tipped me off this morning; NPR is engineering itself, trying harder to compete with commercial radio – in the process it now routinely covers sports, entertainment and the bizarre.  This morning that included the bake sale issue in Maryland.  It struck me as being exactly like the days leading up to prohibition, or laws against various sex acts or books banned in Boston.  Somewhere in the great state of Maryland there are people who feel so superior to the rest of the population that they are going to forbid the sale of cakes; a traditional way to raise money for school activities. They want to forbid it, because it leads to obesity.


We’re coming, we’re coming, our brave little band,
On the right side of temperance we do take our stand.
We don’t use tobacco because we do think
That the people who use it are likely to drink.

CHORUS: Away, away with rum by gum,
With rum by gum, with rum by gum!
Away, away with rum by gum!
The song of the Temperance Union!
(Salvation Army)

We never eat fruitcake because it has rum
And one little bite turns a man to a bum,
Oh, can you imagine a sorrier sight
Than a man eating fruitcake until he gets tight?

We never eat cookies, because they have yeast,
And one little bite turns a man to a beast.
Can you imagine such a sorry disgrace,
As a man in the gutter with crumbs on his face?

And here again, I would like to defer to my grandfather and paraphrase him; “Get out of my yard and stay out.  I will stay out of yours.  Don’t try to tell me what to do in my yard. I will never tell you what do in yours.”   Some people may eat too much, drink too much, indeed fornicate too much – let them pay the price for their indulgences, whatever it may; let them make their own choices.    We do have an obesity problem in this country, but it is not a government problem it is a problem of self discipline – something we can only learn when we are responsible for ourselves.  We have a right to the pursuit of happiness, happiness itself is our responsibility, not our right.


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May 2012
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