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Paul Krugman has found a terrifying new threat to America – Big Pizza. Yes, the Nobel Prize-winning economist turned columnist for the New York Times is deeply worried that owners of pizza franchises donate more money to Republicans than to Democrats.
Of course this could be because pizza parlor owners, as small businessmen, tend to be worried about the high cost of taxes and regulations. Obamacare, in particular, has been a burden for the restaurant industry. And, although Krugman invokes big corporate chains like Pizza Hut, in reality more than half of pizza restaurants are owned by independent proprietors. Even with the big chains, most stores are owned by individual franchisees. The average store employs about 15 workers.
Krugman disdainfully accuses pizza purveyors of cloaking the defense of their businesses in the rhetoric of personal choice and responsibility. “It’s up to the consumer, so the argument goes, to decide what he or she wants to eat, and we don’t need a nanny state telling us what to do.”
Silly us. Krugman knows better. Pizza owners are really out to make us all fat. Personal choice, Krugman avows, is a myth. “Even if you know very well that you will soon regret that extra slice, it’s extremely hard to act on that knowledge.” Pizza, he says, is very much like smoking.
Besides, he continues, eating pizza is not just a personal decision. Obesity imposes costs on society as a whole. Therefore, Krugman says without irony, “there’s a lot to be said for a nanny state.” To believe otherwise, Krugman warns, is to be “a free market fundamentalist.”
After all, Krugman says, failure to recognize the threat from pizza is anti-science, part and parcel with not believing in evolution or, worse, being skeptical of global warming. “Health experts may say that we need to change how we eat, pointing to scientific evidence, but the Republican base doesn’t much like experts, science, or evidence.”
There you have it. Pizza is evil. That’s not an opinion – it’s scientific fact.
Krugman doesn’t say whether he would ban pizza outright or just put a limit on it – say two slices per person per day. Or maybe just a special pizza tax – no doubt a progressive one based on income. Do the Koch brothers eat pizza?
As someone who has occasionally struggled with a few extra pounds, I can attest that we should all watch our diets. I will even concede that dieting is hard. But I’ve exercised more and cut out some sweets and generally tried to eat healthier. I’ve done this through the same individual choice that allows me indulge my taste for pizza on Friday nights.
But Krugman perfectly typifies the modern nanny state liberal. That which is good for you must be mandatory; that which is bad for you must be prohibited. Trans fats. Big gulp sodas. Salt. And now pizza.
Remember, first they came for the peperoni…