“Heavy-handed,” “unduly intrusive” and “reeks of overreach.” The Washington Times must have read our minds this morning when they took on the issue of SNAP benefit restrictions.
Recently the government program – better known as food stamps – has come under fire from “healthy-eating zealots” and the “obesity-obsessed” as yet another misguided way to address the complex problem of obesity and force low-income Americans into leading healthier lifestyles. There are many reasons why these types of efforts, despite their best intentions, simply will not work. For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), our government’s very own regulator of food safety and inspection, called these proposals arbitrary and said that they would be overly difficult to enforce. From the Times:
According to the USDA, there are more than 300,000 food products available on the market, and each year about 12,000 new products find their way on to supermarket shelves. The department observes that “the task of identifying, evaluating, and tracking the nutritional profile of every food available for purchase would be substantial.” Government officials would squabble with manufacturers over whether their food items meet USDA standards. Marketplace winners and losers would be decided by a political process instead of by sovereign consumers.
Education is at the core of changing behavior, not passing laws and regulations limiting choice. The bottom line is: it’s not the government’s job to grocery shop for our families; it’s ours. Politicians should do what we elected them to do. We don’t tell them how to build roads and bridges using our tax dollars, and they don’t need to tell us what to put in our shopping carts.