Ryan Chartrand

Happy Pi Day everyone! Yes, that’s right, it’s 3/14, a day where mathematicians, scientists, engineers, nerds, and all lovers of Pi celebrate one of the world’s favorite irrational numbers. One easy way to celebrate Pi Day is to eat foods with “pi” in it, like pie (lemon meringue or strawberry-rhubarb are good choices) or pizza pies.

It may surprise you to know that this holiday and others like it are under attack by several Democrats in our state Assembly. It’s true, though. Just recently, a bill-authored by Assemblyman Tony Mendoza (D) and supported by other Democrats-that would ban trans-fats statewide has passed through the California health committee and will soon be up for a vote.

In an effort to promote the healthiness of all Californians, certain Democrats would destroy one of my favorite foods: pie. This is because the good tasting pie crust contain trans-fat and taste dramatically better than the trans-fat-free pie crust alternatives.

Unfortunately, not only would this bill destroy the taste of pie, but it would actually raise the price of it. Trans-fats exist not only in pie crusts, but in many cooking oils used across the country and switching to different oils is often expensive. A trans-fat ban would particularly hurt small restaurant owners, who may be forced to pass the increase along to the consumer.

For instance, The OC Register reported that Chris Simms, owner of Lazy Dog Cafe, a Huntington Beach chain, saw that trans-fat free oil costs 5 to 25 percent more than oil containing trans-fats. Russ Bendel, Mimi’s Cafe CEO, recently adopted trans-fat-free oil that costs 20 percent more than his previous oil and had to raise food prices to accommodate the change.

In an effort to make us healthier, certain Democrats in California have decided to restrict the individual liberties of all Californians. Perhaps these Democrats in our state Assembly should fine people who don’t go to the gym often enough, put a limit on how many times you eat fast food in a week, or have mandatory spinach eating days. Of course, most nutrition experts will tell you it’s not the trans-fats in our diet that makes Americans overweight; rather, it’s eating too many calories and getting too little exercise that causes obesity.

Instead of acknowledging that living a healthy lifestyle is up to the individual, not up to the state, these Democrats are trying to legislate an answer to a problem that can’t be solved through legislation. This attitude isn’t uncommon for a party that believes that the state knows what’s best for the individual. There defiantly is a health problem in America, but it’s up to the individual to decide what to eat, when to exercise, or when to get gastric bypass surgery. With the free markets that we have, people have a choice about choosing products that contain trans-fats or choosing products that don’t. If consumers demand a healthier product, they will do so through their pocket books, and companies will meet this demand.

In fact, without legislating any ban on trans-fats, companies like McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Wendy’s have taken steps to eliminate trans-fats from their foods. While demand from consumers has prompted this change, I don’t think you will find many nutritionists who will be advocating a french fry, fried chicken and milkshake diet, anytime soon.

People in America have a fundamental right to choose what they eat. It may be that trans-fats clog the arteries, but those are your arteries and my arteries, not the government’s. Instead of legislating answers to solutions, government should give more freedoms for people to find their own solutions.

This issue applies not only to trans-fats but to a wider variety of issues. Instead of forcing people into Social Security, people should be allowed to choose their own retirement and investment strategies. Instead of forcing people to help the homeless through wasteful, ineffective government welfare programs, people should choose to help the homeless through private charities and volunteering, which are much more effective. The answers to today’s problems ultimately rest with the individual, not the government.

Brian Eller is a materials engineering junior and Mustang Daily political columnist.

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