Conservatives and government admonitions on obesity

July 15, 2005  ·  Michael Fumento  ·  Weblog

How should conservatives view government efforts against the obesity epidemic? This exchange might be useful.

Dear Mr. Fumento:

When getting someone else's comment about your obesity article at, I heard that you are considered libertarian in your thinking. When I saw in the article, however, I sensed a strong dose of "Do Something". Don't throw away your conservatism on your war against obesity. Many people whom we call "liberals" are just conservatives who got all consumed on ONE issue that needs urgent government action. A government that has the right to tell you not to eat a big mac has the right to tell you what to do in your bedroom.

Billy [omitted]

Dear Billy:

Actually, in just the last few days hate mailers or bloggers have referred to me as "a liberal twirp" and a "neo-con" along with other things that are usually written out as &%$#^ or *&$#@+. But yes, I've also been called a libertarian. None of the above is true. I'm just an old-fashioned conservative, or to be more specific I refer to myself as a "Burkean conservative." Despite my disgust with politicians who call themselves conservatives and actually believe in nothing more than power and money, I will not "throw away" my core beliefs. On the other hand, you are the one who seems to be adopting the libertarian position that even government advice on food consumption is going too far. I'm sorry, but I draw a huge distinction between told something is bad for you and having a law passed against it. We have a Public Health Service for a reason – to protect public health. When it strays into areas like divorce, as the CDC has, it needs to be slapped down. When it lies, as it did about the AIDS epidemic, likewise. But weighing in (pardon the pun) on the second-greatest controllable cost of premature death seems to be exactly what public health people should be doing.

Michael Fumento

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