Mississippi is just the kind of place one might expect to find a backlash against the “organic agenda.” Apparently spurred on by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s (newly tossed out) pet ban on big sodas, Mississippi is currently on the verge of passing a bill that would bar every local government in the state from requiring that restaurants post calorie counts or cap portion sizes.
A far-reaching, big-government bill to counter other far-reaching, big-government bills? Uh, sure, Mississippi. NPR has the full scary deets:
“The Anti-Bloomberg Bill” garnered wide bipartisan support in both chambers of the legislature in a state where one in three adults is obese, the highest rate in the nation.
The bill is expected to be signed by Gov. Phil Bryant, a Republican. It was the subject of intense lobbying by groups including the restaurant association, the small business and beverage group, and the chicken farmers’ lobby.
“The chicken farmers’ lobby” could be a caption for an unfunny New Yorker cartoon, but in Mississippi it’s also apparently a powerful business group — though hardly the only one with skin in this game.
Mike Cashion, executive director the Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association, says the bill is a direct reaction to Bloomberg-style government intervention in public health.
“If you look at how menus have changed, whether it be in fast food or family dining, you are seeing more and more healthy options,” Cashion says. “Not because of legislative mandates or regulatory mandates, but because of consumer demand. Our industry has always been one to respond to the marketplace.”
Cashion is on a real free-market trip! But free markets and consumer demands always seem to go hand in hand with business profits, and Cashion’s loyalties are with the restaurants, not with the people who eat at them. The Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association’s website proclaims that the “industry is represented by a team of government affairs experts that is dedicated to protecting you from harmful legislation while promoting legislation that will benefit the industry. We estimate that our Government Affairs victories have saved the average restaurant over $10,000 over the past 4 years.”
This isn’t a story about how Mississippians don’t want to know what they’re eating. It’s yet another example of business buying government — the food business has proven to be pretty good at that over the years. And in that way, it’s hardly news at all.