05 December 2011

Just Ban It Already

A while back, San Francisco decided to force McDonald’s to stop offering a toy as part of its happy meal in an effort to discourage the marketing of unhealthy food to children.  Here’s the result:

The reaction has been that, OK, we won't give away a toy with a hamburger meal. You make a 10cent donation to charity alongside the purchase of a hamburger meal and you can have the toy. What a neat little solution you might think.
Except, it gets better than that. Previously, if you just wanted the toy and a salad (or something similarly defined as "healthy" for the little one) you could buy whatever food you wanted and also pay $2,18 for the toy. Cheap at the price as anyone with young children can tell you. However, now, you cannot: you can only have the toy for that 10 cents plus the price of the greasy hamburger meal that comes with it. It is now toy plus unhealthy food as the only option.

In what appears to be another attempt at demonstrating how idiotic bureaucrats can be, San Francisco regulations have backfired in a surprisingly entertaining way.  Not only has the city failed to discouraged the marketing of unhealthy burgers to children, it has actually made the problem worse.  Well done.

What surprises me, though, is that they haven’t just already gone ahead and banned the sale of fast food hamburgers to minors.  What, are they worried that might be fascistic?  Get a clue already!  If San Fran going to tell a business what it can sell to whom and how so, it may as well come out directly and ban what it wants.  It’s the same principle; the only difference is of degree.

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