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Public Health and Libertarianism vs. Liberalism

By Dustin Rowles | Miscellaneous | November 15, 2010 |

By Dustin Rowles | Miscellaneous | November 15, 2010 |

A couple of weeks ago, a reader, hayley, suggested we discuss the legalization of marijuana and other drugs in Pajiba Debates. However, the more I considered it, and took into account our audience of mostly liberals, libertarians, and even socially liberal conservatives, the more I assumed there wouldn’t be much debate. I think there’s a general consensus among our readership that marijuana should be legalized.

But there is a related topic, and it’s public health. If you haven’t seen them yet, the FDA has unveiled their proposed new labels for cigarette packs. They look like this:



But cigarettes, obviously, aren’t the only place that the government has attempted to step in. In New York City a couple of years ago, the mayor outlawed trans-fats in restaurants, a move that was met initially with skepticism — especially by restaurants — but has not only been effective there, but it’s slowly spread across the entire country, the fast-food industry, and even your grocery store items.

More recently, however, San Francisco has passed an ordinance that requires meals served with toys to meet certain nutritional guidelines on fat, sodium, and calories, effectively killing the Happy Meal in San Francisco, or at least forcing McDonalds to either provide vegetables in their Happy Meals or stop giving away toys with them. Meanwhile, in Berkeley, you can no longer smoke on public grounds.

So, when it comes to public health, I believe there is a split between the liberals and the libertarians. So the question I put to you all today is: How much control should the government have over what we eat, drink, or smoke? Do you find the above regulations, and those similar, good for the overall public health or do you think it’s too invasive and overreaching?

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.