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Words vs. Subsidies

Here’s a letter to the New York Times:

Many of my friends wonder why I’m annoyed by Michelle Obama’s constant mother-henning insistence that Americans eat more veggies.  “She’s just encouraging people to voluntarily make healthier choices,” my mystified friends tell me.

Part of my reaction is a matter of taste: I simply dislike preachy people trying to save others from evils du jour.  But part of my reaction springs from the contradiction between Ms. Obama’s preaching and Mr. Obama’s legislating.

Obamacare severely and artificially restricts insurers from applying exclusions based on a patient’s pre-existing conditions. People choosing unhealthy diets, therefore, no longer have to worry that their choices will reduce their access to health insurance.  This legislation thus removes an incentive – one supplied by market forces – for people to make healthier dietary choices.

So on one hand we have Ms. Obama using smiles and words to encourage Americans to eat healthier foods, while Mr. Obama uses other people’s money to pay Americans to ignore his wife’s advice.

Wanna guess which of these Obamas will have the greatest effect on people’s actual diets?

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030


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