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The National Research Council and Institute of Medicine put out a report about fast food and minority neighborhoods, so of course I took all that astroturf money I’ve been earning and spent $32.40 to read it.

Or not.

I did, however, get to see this CNS News article about it.

“One of things that has been shown in studies all across the country is that there is a proliferation of certain types of restaurants in certain neighborhoods,” said Adewale Troutman, director of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness in Louisville, Ky.

“If you look at areas where the socio-economic status is a bit low or predominately African American and Latino and you compare it to other communities that are more affluent, with different racial and ethnic mix,” he said, “you’ll find that there is an overwhelming propensity for the location of fast food restaurants in those communities.”

Hmm…  Let’s see.  Fast food restaurants are more common in low-income neighborhoods than affluent neighborhoods.  I wonder why that could be?

Could it be that fast food restaurants offer inexpensive food, and healthier choices generally cost a good deal more, on a per meal basis, than fast food?  Could it be that more affluent areas attract restaurants with a higher price-point, and that healthy food restaurants are generally priced higher than fast food?

Nah.  That can’t be it. It’s racism, pure and simple!  Those evil low profit fast food restaurants are squeezing out those high dollar, high profit stores and keeping the minorities and lower classes down!  And of course it’s not the responsibility of the parents to take charge of what their kids are eating!  It’s the government’s job to take care of the little children.  Take a look at this quote from Toni Yancey, a professor of health services at UCLA’s School of Public Health:

“In lower-income communities and African American and Latino communities there is more advertising for unhealthy food choices and less advertising for healthy food choices,” Yancey said.

Well pardon me, but duh.  If there are more fast-food restaurants in low-income and minority communities and fewer healthy food restaurants, it only makes sense that more fast-food advertising dollars and less healthy food advertising dollars would be spent there.  Advertising is tricky enough, why waste the ad dollars on people who live far away from the restaurant?  Yancey also states:

“And on top of that – and this hasn’t been discussed much or even documented before to my knowledge – there is more advertising for physically inactive services and goods…  So, for instance, (advertising) for films and automated transportation, cars and so forth, or video games,” Yancey said. “That’s also being pushed disproportionately in certain communities.”

Again, duh.  Low-income areas will have more people who don’t own cars and so residents are more likely to use public–that is, “automated”–transportation!

The report, as reported by CNS at least, is ridiculous.  They recommend governments enact zoning ordinances to keep fast food away from schools and put taxes on “low nutirent density” foods.  Why stop with fast food?  Why not also enact zoning to keep away convenience stores, which sell candy, potato chips, cigarettes and alcohol?  Zone away the electonics stores that sell video games.  Restrict gas stations, since those support our automobile-centric society.  Let’s put a 1-mile perimeter around schools where you can’t have a gun shop while we’re at it.  There’s no limit to what the government can do!

Let’s use the power of government to absolve parents of their responsibility and punsih entrepreneurs trying to make an honest living.  That’s a responsible activity for society!

Or, we could just let people take charge of their own lives, forcing them to make their own decisions, their own choices for themselves and their children.  We could ask people to take responsibility for themselves.  We could allow normal economic processes to sort themselves out and put restaurants where they will be most desired and effective.

But that would involve letting people hold on to their freedom.  Can’t have that.

Cross-posted at Seeking Liberty.