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The L.A. Times ran a story today about a proposal floating around Los Angeles City Hall: banning new fast-food restaurants in certain parts of the city.
First of all, when did Los Angeles City Council become the San Francisco Board of Supervisors? This nanny state approach is definitely not L.A. The logic behind this is that someone has noticed that people in South Los Angeles have a high obesity rate — higher than people in fashionable Brentwood or Hollywood or Malibu.
Now what is not said in this story is the fact of who it is living in South Los Angeles. They are talking about minorities, particularly Hispanic and African-Americans.
So the L.A. city council thinks Latinos and Blacks are too fat, and they're thinking of doing something about it by banning permits for new fast-food restaurants. This intrusion into the lives of ordinary people who have done nothing wrong, nothing illegal, nothing immoral, is justified by implying that people in South Los Angeles don't know what's good for them.
Now the obesity rate for South L.A. is 29 percent. For the rest of the county it is 23 percent. Is six percent such a huge difference that people in South Los Angeles must be told they may no longer have what they have been choosing up until now? Does the L.A. City Council realize that lower-income people might need places to eat that are inexpensive?
But it strikes me the Los Angeles City Council doesn't have enough to do. Or worse, it is trying to mandate what the marketplace does not support without government mandates.
A guy named Mark Vallianatos said: "While limiting fast-food restaurants isn't a solution in itself, it's an important piece of the puzzle." Vallianatos is the director of the Center for Food and Justice at Occidental College.
The Center for Food and Justice? Who knew there was such a thing?
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