The Ministry of Wellness
As a restaurateur, I've been following the heath care debate especially attentively. I have already determined that the health care bill, if passed, will cause a significant reduction in our net profits -- depending on how many employees we can shed. After reading the fifty or so pages of the Senate "Affordable Health Choices Act" devoted to "Employers' Responsibilities," I still have no idea whether my businesses are "small" or "large" -- but I am pretty sure that it will cost me $100-$150 a month in bookkeeping, accounting, and payroll service fees just to find out. Again, I suspect that there will be a distinct incentive to shed employees in order to stay "small."
But what really caught my attention was a part of the Senate bill called "Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items at Chain Restaurants" (Section 325, Subtitle C, "Creating Healthier Communities," of Title III, "Improving The Health Of The American People"). This section requires nutritional content labeling at any point of sale, as well as labeling indicating "a succinct statement concerning suggested daily calorie intake as specified by the Secretary by regulation." Other language in this section gives the secretary the power to determine any nutrient that must be disclosed by regulation. ...
Read it all, I did and thought, "these are not unintended consequences, these are intended consequences," and that is even worse.....On nearly every page of the Senate bill is some phrase giving the Secretary of Health and Human Services the statutory power to determine, regulate, and generally micromanage anything related to public health. This is not just insurance, doctors, or hospitals -- but food. Think of the size of the bureaucracy (unionized, of course) that will be needed to write and promulgate these regulations. It is not a stretch to imagine the day when the secretary, at the urging of the department's grant partner, The Center for Science in the Public Interest, will regulate the fat, salt, and sugar content of everything we eat and drink. It's bad enough that the FDA was poised to start regulating food as though it were a controlled substance. Now Congress is codifying food and menu regulations in a health insurance bill? We could soon be living in a sugar-free, low-fat, lactose-intolerant world courtesy of the food police and your local nanny -- I mean, congressperson.