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Commissioner Gottlieb Strikes Again

Piled on top of grille lighter fluid that has difficulty catching fire, faucet aerators that take half a minute for the hot water to reach the tap, toilets that don’t do their job in one flush, and gardening chemicals engineered to be minimally effective, the United States is about to take another leap into managing the herd, and to hell with the people in it. The Washington Times reports that, on Monday:

one of Obamacare’s big social changes kicks in: a requirement that chain restaurants, supermarkets and movie theaters begin posting information for all of their offerings.

This was one of the measures stuck in the 2010 Obama-care law, remember, the one about which Speaker Pelosi told us, “We have to pass it, so that you can find out what is in it,” and on Monday, you will find out more. The article says the provision — which President Trump delayed for a full year because, you see, Trump is a deregulator who is getting the American economy moving again — will affect 230,000 businesses. The provision dictates the size and the font of disclosures, on printed menus, wall menus, and website menus.

But Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told the paper, “Nobody is going to be hammered for not having everything in place.” That is, he is playing the Good Cop. The Bad Cops — those doing the actual hammering — are his subordinates at the Food and Drug Administration.

I wrote on March 17 and Tim wrote on March 25 about Gottlieb’s last brainstorm: Slashing the amount of nicotine in cigarettes, as though that would make smokers smoke fewer rather than more cigarettes, and also doing something about vapes, seeing as they solve all the ostensible problems entirely. On Gottlieb’s new measures for compelled speech at restaurants:

The FDA says it has worked to make the rules “maximally beneficial” to consumers and “minimally burdensome” to companies….Dr. Gottlieb said….“We’re going to be flexible.”

Because, you see, Democrats set the policy goals and more mature Republicans implement them with welcome gentleness. Obama-care itself was a Mitt Romney alternative to an NHS-style total takeover of health. “Repeal Obama-care” would have nixed menu fascism too, in one fell swoop. But that morphed into “Repeal and Replace,” and no one knows what that means. Except that even that didn’t happen.

Gottlieb did not see that people smoke to get the effects of nicotine, and does not see that people go to restaurants for a pleasant experience, not to be nagged by government nutritionists.

His goal is for every American to consume 64 fewer calories per day. That will help the FDA meet its goals for youth obesity by 2020, unless patrons tend to leave the restaurant slightly hungrier and add a snack later in the day. As for unforeseen side-effects:

Sara Bleich, a professor…said there is evidence that labeling rules prompt restaurants to slash calories from their dishes, largely because of a small but “very vocal” pool of consumers taken aback by high calorie counts might ask, “Why do you have a 900-calorie appetizer?”

“I think there’s a lot of consumer shock. It’s those well-educated, vocal consumers,” she said.

In short, the mandated disclosures are fodder for activists (who are not shocked at all) to start confrontations with store managers (who still do not set corporate policy or decide the menu). Just as gay activists targeting the only Christian bakery in town to order a wedding cake were emboldened by knowing they could parlay resistance to their trolling into fame and a Public Accommodations lawsuit.

Sadly, Gottlieb thinks he is some sort of libertarian.

Dr. Gottlieb said the rules inject transparency and competition into a free market, so they shouldn’t be seen as the long arm of the government reaching in where it shouldn’t be.

“There is a place for providing a basic level of information and having a uniform playing field for the disclosure of that information,” he said. “You’re comparing apples to apples — literally. I think that’s a pro-market notion.”

You see, if the government imposes mandates on 230,000 businesses, down to the size of the lettering, but they are the same mandates for everyone (except pizza houses, where the customer specifies the product, and maybe your joint, if you hire a lobbyist), then big government is doing nothing but helping us compete. Which we could not do, without Gottlieb, any more than the restauranteur could resist his natural tendency to poison his patrons.

Gottlieb is more self-deluded than Straight Arrow James Comey, the former FBI director who stated that his agency’s function was to “rein in” the President. And as long as the process that Comey started keeps running, Trump will never get free enough from distraction to do anything about Gottlieb.

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