Sometimes it feels as if there is a contest to see who can be the nanniest of nanny states. The latest silliness comes from New York where a salt ban has been proposed. There is no end to the number of things that the government either has or can ban in the name of protecting society. The problem of course is that it is not the government's job to protect us from ourselves.
My son asked me today how this country reached the point where personal liberty is under constant attack. Busybodyitis isn't a new condition. Consider this chart:
In 2008 there were nearly 900,000 marijuana arrests in the United States. I think it is safe to say that the "war on drugs" was primarily the brainchild of Conservatives and that the cost to society to prosecute that war has far outweighed the benefits. I would also argue that an unintended consequence of prohibition is increased demand. Lastly, I will admit that until recently I never put much thought in to Conservative attacks on personal liberty because it didn't affect me.
Now that we have the food police, the tobacco police,etc., the stampede to totalitarianism is primarily being led by the Progressives. They argue, just like the Conservatives before them, that society shoulders the costs of individual's unhealthy behavior and therefore, has a right to regulate individual behavior. If you buy in to that line of reasoning it follows that there is nothing that society shouldn't regulate. In the end the choice is whether people should be regulated based on Conservative values, Progressive values, or allowed to regulate themselves based on their own values.
Functioning societies require some regulation of individual's liberties but less really is more. A good place to start is by eliminating busybodyitis.