The state of New Jersey has recently announced that it will be creating a state agency to deal with the growing problem of obesity among that state's citizens. This follows on the heels of many other local and state governments taking action against trans fat and other health measures designed to slim down the collective waistlines of the state.

The creation of such an agency is a dangerous political trend. We'll call the political thought behind such actions part of the "Coalition to Protect People from Themselves." People get obese purely through actions (or inaction) of their own. As a society, we eat more and move less than any other nation in the world (though obesity is a growing problem world-wide).

The smoking ban movement, largely successful, has brought into the public consciousness a perception that health decisions are supposed to be part of public policy. In that realm, they could at least pretend to hide behind the effects of second-hand smoke, though anyone who watched close enough knew it was really about sticking to smokers, not about second-hand smoke.

Moves against trans fat, such as what has happened in New York City, and attempts to ban foie gras in Chicago have no such communal health risks. If one person plumps up on trans fat, it means jack to everyone around them. The only one arguably at risk would be the person who ended up underneath these trans fat consumers. These laws are directed purely at citizens who the government believes are not making the best choices and need to be instructed on proper living habits with the force of law.

This near-daily encroachment by the elites in telling us plebes how to live is as meddlesome as it is dangerous. The idea that somehow bureaucratic busy-bodies are better equipped to judge and prescribe our dietary intake is absurd. The key to healthy living is to get the people involved motivated to do it. You can't control peoples' food intake unless you toss them into prison; personal responsibility is key.

More information, sure. Some ads on TV, fine. Trying to do it for people by creating yet more useless state agencies on an already strained budget isn't going to motivate people. Bureaucracies breed dependency, not responsibility. That being said, here's some food for thought.

For now, obesity, smoking, and other "bad health" behaviors are no one's business but the individual involved. There is no societal harm. With the universal health care being pushed by those of the same ideology as the "Coalition to Protect People from Themselves," that dynamic changes greatly. Any personal activity that may theoretically increase the cost of health care no longer is a private matter under a universal health care system. If you get fat and need 12 bypass surgeries, it is society that foots the bill.

One only needs to look to Europe to see how they are handling the problem, since it is their health care system (the one they are moving away from) that the Coalition seeks to emulate. The Health Secretary in the UK has said that the overweight and smokers should be denied health care until they quit smoking or lose weight. That's right, the government says you can't have that "single payer" health care (which should be more appropriately called taxpayer-funded health care) they promised unless you dance to their tune. It's called the Golden Rule. You take the King's gold, you play by the King's rules.

In a universal health care system, the government and society at large have a vested interest in how you live your life – what you eat, how much you workout, your drinking and smoking habits, and so on. You're spending their money, after all.

Government, on one hand, can't be trusted to wiretrap terrorist conversations, but on the other, not only can they be trusted with all of your medical records, but also with authority to make medical decisions regarding your care – indicating how little people have thought through "single payer" health care.

The New Jersey Agency for Fat People is yet another encroachment on the freedom to live out lives undisturbed by silly intrusions by governmental busy-bodies. A free country is no longer free when it has to get Uncle Sam's approval for the family dinner.

John Bambenek is the Assistant Politics Editor for BC Magazine and is an academic professional for the University of Illinois. He is a syndicated columnist who blogs at Part-Time Pundit and the executive director of The Tumaini Foundation which helps AIDS orphans and other children in Tanzania to get an education. He is the current owner of BlogSoldiers, a blog-only traffic exchange.

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