Home > Primacy of Society, Solution-Problem, Unintended Consequences > Unintended Consequences, and the Futility of Regulation

Unintended Consequences, and the Futility of Regulation

A quick note to regulators: you will never be effective, because we are smarter than you, and we will find a way to get what we want.

On that note, I am happy to point out that the nannies in San Francisco have been thwarted in their plans to make children cry force people to be “healthier.”  On December 1, a law went into effect requiring that toys, such as children might find in Happy Meals, only be offered in conjunction with meals that meet thoroughly unrealistic and unscientific nutrition characteristics.

First, the assumption that good science forms the foundation of what we “know” about nutrition is complete bunk, and every time the government has gotten involved, it has only managed to make the ignorance more pervasive.  Secondly, the idea that regulators know better than we what we should put into our bellies is patently ridiculous.

Finally, every single time things like this happen, they have perverse consequences.  See: anti-marijuana PSAs, cigarette health warnings, and posting of calorie counts in restaurants.

Why should we expect the new nanny law to be any different?  In fact, the new law has forced a policy change at San Franciscan McDonald’s restaurants:

Today and tomorrow mark the last days that put-upon parents can satiate their youngsters by simply throwing down $2.18 for a Happy Meal toy. But, thanks to the new law taking effect on Dec. 1, this is no longer permitted. Now, in order to have the privilege of making a 10-cent charitable donation in exchange for the toy, you must buy the Happy Meal. Hilariously, it appears Mar et al., in their desire to keep McDonald’s from selling grease and fat to kids with the lure of a toy have now actually incentivized the purchase of that grease and fat — when, beforehand, a put-upon parent could get out cheaper and healthier with just the damn toy.

Another hat tip should go out to Baylen Linnekin, guest blogging at Reason.com, especially since his article is far better than the one I linked to.

Most especially because he links to the Bullitt chase scene at the end.  Which I will do too.

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