Under an Ownership Society, the Public’s Health is Voluntary

The feds yesterday acknowledged finally that junk food is bad for kids, and the soft drink industry finally admitted its products don’t belong in school vending machines. Today, the administration is unveiling a pandemic-control plan, one element of which is the federal government pushing off to states, localities and private business the main responsibility for protecting people.

The junk food report is welcome, but it relies on voluntary standards by the confection industry. The same with the soft drink decision. The country’s sundered patchwork of health insurance is voluntary, too. Yet it turns out that even the prosperous get just as lousy care as the poor do if they don’t have insurance that will pay for prevention and screening.

Detect a trend? Apparently the people who should be the arbiters of public health are junk food manufacturers, soft drink bottlers, state police, small business owners and insurance companies – i.e., any group that doesn’t have the regulatory clout of the federal government. Remember, we are living in an “ownership society” of “personal responsibility” where even the Four Horsemen are volunteers.

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