Saturday, December 08, 2012


What are politicians to do when problems are massive and solutions bound to offend the powerful interest groups that pull their strings? Answer: Focus attention elsewhere.

That’s what the Los Angeles City Council did a couple of weeks before the national election when it adopted a “Meatless Monday” resolution “in support of comprehensive sustainability efforts” that would also “encourage residents to eat a more varied plant-based diet to protect their health and protect animals.”

Councilwoman Jan Perry, whose district extends southward from downtown L.A., introduced this zany motion. As an encore, she hopes to ban new fast-food restaurants in the area—a move that would lessen the number of jobs available for her constituents where unemployment far exceeds the county’s dismal rate of 10.5 percent.

The councilwoman is only following in the footsteps of other politicians like New York City Mayor Bloomberg who, having little success doing what politicians are elected to do (i.e. manage finances and provide basic government services at reasonable rates) have assumed the mantel of Nanny-in-Chief.

In Bloomberg’s case the latest object of his wrath was sugary soft drinks in excess of sixteen ounces. Other Bloomberg crusades have been waged against trans fat, salt, and outdoor smoking.

In Southern California the specter of thin plastic shopping bags has captured the fertile imagination of officials whose schools are often performing as poorly as the public employee pension funds that were mindlessly expected to grow as quickly as the number of retirees tapping these exorbitant benefits.

Other faux-crises that fascinate Golden State politicians include endangered critters like the three-inch delta smelt—a species-of-sorts whose protection trumped the water needs of Central Valley farmers and put thousands of unprotected homo sapiens out of business.

Put simply, “meatless” diversions shift attention away from yawning budget deficits, a high-tax, high-regulation environment that’s driving entrepreneurs out of state, illegal immigration issues that have only been ameliorated by a lousy economy, a graduation rate of 61.6 percent in the LA Unified school system, and a plethora of problems related to crime, drug smuggling and drug abuse.

The situation reminds me of a scene at the beginning of the film “Sex, Lies, and Videotape” where Andie MacDowell is explaining to a psychiatrist her obsession with a garbage-laden barge searching for a friendly port-of-call—an extraneous event that allows her to ignore a dissolving marriage.

Politicians fixated on “plant-based diets” are engaged in a similar delusion that detracts attention from budgets, jobs, education, public safety, and infrastructure. Believe it or not, constituents can plan their own diets without bureaucrat tutorials.

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