by Bob Barr
The government’s long-running and destructive effort to control our nation’s economy at all levels, which went into overdrive this year with the advent of COVID-19, barely slowed for the speed bump that was the November 3 election.
The current pattern has become distressingly clear and sadly predictable: issue declarations and then shame people into following them.
Without any science to support many of their recommendations, unelected bureaucrats and politicians enamored of the power their status provides, continue to propose radical and often nonsensical measures.
The American people can see this system at work simply by skimming through Joe Biden’s official transition agenda. It includes implementing mask mandates nationwide and many other Nanny State proclamations. Others have proposed mandates even worse than Biden’s, including wearing a mask between bites at dinner and refraining from getting together during Thanksgiving. Some have even suggested that failure to wear a mask should make one an accessory to murder in the eyes of the law.
These decrees have hurt all 50 states, including my home state of Georgia, in a big way. Mandates have caused the loss of over 60,000 jobs in the Peach State’s food and accommodations sectors alone. Unfortunately, Uncle Sam is not yet done interfering in Georgia’s affairs.
Biden’s COVID advisor already is discussing another four-to-six week nationwide lockdown to “control” the pandemic. Doing this would devastate Georgia’s already struggling businesses and the workers they employ. But even that is not enough for the Nanny State.
If not overruled soon, this bureaucratic intervention is on track to hit Georgians even harder, by reaching into one of the people’s small pleasures — enjoying a beer or other alcoholic beverage. This could be accomplished with a typical regulatory punch, called “Guidelines.”
The federal government’s Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) recently announced a plan to change long-standing, science-based alcohol consumption recommendations for adult males, reducing them by half down to just a single drink per day.
It is not exactly clear why the committee, which helps the government revise the dietary guidelines every half-decade, chose to make this new recommendation. The preponderance of science clearly shows no health risks with adults enjoying a couple of glasses of beer or other alcoholic beverage each day. Moreover, nearly half of the studies the DGAC reviewed showed that there may be health benefits to moderate consumption, but the DGAC still has plowed ahead with its restrictive recommendation.
Beyond its impact on an adult’s ability to make responsible decisions about what they drink, the DGAC proposal will cause further financial harm to thousands of restaurants and bars in Georgia and every other state.
The government’s dietary guidelines frequently are used as the basis for other stifling regulatory methods to limit consumption based on bureaucratic whims. Assuming this to be the desired goal in this instance is hardly an irrational fear. In fact, one of the advisors on the 2020 DGAC happens to be a well-known advocate for policies to reduce alcohol sales.
Even viewed in the most favorable light, the DGAC’s new recommendation constitutes an irritating display of the warped priorities too often underlying government actions. Right now, officials in Washington should be focusing on passing the moribund stimulus bill that small businesses in Georgia and elsewhere need and deserve, instead of spending their time and our money convincing grown men to stop drinking a couple of beers during a Braves or Falcons game.
But there is hope. While it may fall to the DGAC to make recommendations, it is the president who makes the final call.
Within just a few weeks, the Trump Administration will decide whether or not to adopt the committee’s recommendations. Unlike many bureaucrats and politicians, those in this White House have been refreshingly hesitant to impose mandates and orders not grounded in either science or common sense.
It is to be hoped that this Administration will in this instance do what is needed to crack down on regulatory nannies, and thereby protect home-state businesses and ensure Georgians and our fellow countrymen retain their freedom to choose.
Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He served as the United States Attorney in Atlanta from 1986 to 1990 and was an official with the CIA in the 1970s.