There’s a perplexing dichotomy in America right now between a population that is getting increasingly older and lawmakers who are increasingly trying to tell people what to eat and drink.

According to the 2012 U.S. Census Bureau, the nation will have twice as many citizens over the age of 65 in 2050 as there were in 2010. In the span of four decades, they predict, our population will increase to 88.5 million senior citizens.

The median age in the United States today is 37 – that’s two years older than in the 2000 census. As a nation, we are growing older. So why are politicians trying to impose public policies that imply we don’t know what’s good for us?

Writing about proposed beverage taxes in two California cities, the Las Vegas Review-Journal warns:

“Expect governments to keep treating us all like children, using their taxing authority to attempt to manipulate public behaviors - for our own good, of course.”

If the New York City Board of Health approves a ban on soft drinks larger than 16 ounces next month, you’ll be able to visit Yankee Stadium and purchase a hot dog, French fries and an ice cream sundae. But you won’t be able to wash it down with a root beer larger than 16 ounces – for your own good, of course.

In El Monte, Calif., a suburb of Los Angeles, the city council wants to charge businesses an additional penny-per-ounce tax on any sweetened drink sold within the city limits.  Lollicup Coffee & Tea, an El Monte restaurant that sells sweetened Boba Milk Tea (aka “Bubble Tea”) with chewy tapioca balls that are consumed through a large straw, would have to collect a new tax on their fun drinks – all for the city’s own good, of course.

Benjamin Franklin famously wrote, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” One might add to that the hubris of politicians who think they have particular insight into what’s for our own good.