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March 24, 2013
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Publisher's Notebook: Uncle Sam can't stop the devil from making us do it

I don’t blame McDonald’s for my high cholesterol. No more than I blame the bag of chips in the vending machine down the hall, or the deep-fried calamari tucked inside a freezer at one of my favorite downtown eateries.

They were sitting there minding their own business when I walked in, bought them and shoved them into my pie hole.

I’m guilty and I take full responsibility for my actions.

It’s important that the government understand what personal responsibility is all about before our government leaders turn all of us into victims.

“The burger made me fat!”

“The cigarettes gave me cancer!”

“The gun made me rob a store!”

Choice is a cool thing. Every morning we get to wake up and choose how we are going to spend our day. We have the right to “pursue” happiness, but there is nothing in the Constitution, or anywhere I can find, that we are guaranteed happiness. If you choose to pursue happiness from the couch all day eating doughnuts and watching TV, don’t blame the government, or me, because you’re too fat to walk and need a handicapped parking space and a push through the airport terminal in a wheelchair.

Nobody forced you to eat two Whoppers and a giant carton of onion rings for breakfast.

I saw a protest sign once that read: “A JOB IS A RIGHT.”

No, it’s not. You have a right to pursue a job. How you choose to do that is, again, totally up to you. If you think you can get a job by dropping out of high school, great. If you think you can land a job with the three nose rings running through your nostrils and cool tattoo of a naked lady on your forehead, go for it.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg thinks he can legislate the behavior of the Big Apple’s citizenry, which is why most everything in the Big Apple has been banned. He believes it’s up to him and the government to save people from themselves because he doesn’t believe choice works, unless it’s the ability to choose between a life.

“Pro-choice” apparently doesn’t include a woman’s ability to choose between a large and small Pepsi at a Manhattan restaurant.

Until a higher court shot him down, Bloomberg wanted to ban “sugary drinks” that were more than 16 ounces. He and the Board of Health members he appointed defined a “sugary drink” as a drink that contains more than 25 calories per 8-ounce serving.

They seemed to be after those Big Gulps you find roaming the streets of New York causing all kinds of problems, usually attached to a human hand large enough to hold one. Problem was, as the court pointed out, the Big Gulps at the 7-11 were exempt from the city ordinance because supermarkets and convenience stores are controlled by the state, not the city.

Instead, those restaurants and mom and pop stores that sold those large sugary drinks would be cited and punished under the Bloomberg proposal. I assume it would have been still legal for someone to buy or sell two eight-ounce drinks instead of one 16-ounce “sugary drink.” Or perhaps get five or six refills with lunch or breakfast.

If someone wants to drink more than 16 ounces of a sugary drink he will find a way to do it, with or without Bloomberg’s approval.

“I don’t have a problem with the mayor wanting us to be more healthy,” one New York City bartender told the Wall Street Journal, “but I don’t think it’s his place to ban certain-sized glasses.”

The mayor thinks it’s his responsibility to force people to make better choices by reducing the number of choices. “It would be irresponsible not to try to do everything we can to save lives,” he told reporters.

Under that logic he should ban cars, since more New Yorkers are killed in them than inside a Big Gulp. And while he’s at it, maybe ban ice cream sundaes and those giant pretzels and hot dogs they sell on every New York City corner. You don’t want to know what’s in a hot dog.

Which takes me back to my 265 cholesterol level that is supposed to be no higher than 200. The doctor gave me a list of food that would help get that level down. French fries, onion rings and Big Macs weren’t on the list. Fish oil was, but I’m not going to order a side of fish oil any time soon.

Rather than march into my favorite eatery demanding that the owners ban the deep-fried calamari from the menu, I simply ordered salad instead. In fact, if I wanted to I could have chosen cottage cheese. I’ve also substituted oatmeal for hash browns several times over the past couple of weeks and haven’t been back to the vending machine in several days.

The doctor basically left it up to me to make better choices if I wanted to keep from dropping dead in my office anytime soon. At the end of the day, I got to choose how I spent it. The sooner the government figures that out, the better off this country will be.

In fact, I’ll make a deal with the government: You worry about my money and my enemies and I’ll take care of the sugary drinks.

Jeff Ackerman is publisher of The News-Review. He can be reached at 541-957-4263 or

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The News-Review Updated Mar 25, 2013 10:32AM Published Mar 24, 2013 12:04AM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.