Pay, or I’ll eat myself to death

I withhold my children’s allowance when they misbehave, and I reward them when they get good grades.  European governments, as De Tocqueville foresaw, obviously consider their adult citizens in the same light:  they won’t be good unless they’re given goodies.

This WaPo story conveys some reasonable grumbling by French wine producers about new mandatory health warnings on the sacred wine bottles.  The principle involved seems to be that pregnant Frenchwomen, otherwise insatiable when it comes to wine, will be unable to drink it if they see a little pregnant icon with slash over it.

But other European efforts reported in the story, aiming to combat the creeping “epidemic” of obesity, are much funnier.

The Netherlands’ minister for health, welfare and sport has proposed a “fat tax” on unhealthy foods such as candy and potato chips, similar to the taxes imposed on alcohol and tobacco products. The European Commission is asking food manufacturers to accept a code of conduct governing advertising aimed at children.

The mayor of the northwestern Italian town of Varallo recently challenged residents to a group diet with financial incentives: $70 to every man who drops nine pounds and to every woman who sheds seven pounds within a month. If they keep the weight off for five months, the city will hand them another $285.

I suspect that in a year’s time the streets of Varallo with be choked with the bodies of monstrously round persons — many of them tax refugees from Holland — who will lose hundreds of pounds and earn a fortune thereby.

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