El Paso Senator Eliot Shapleigh is worried about the country's obesity epidemic. He has seen the horrid results of unchecked waistlines - diabetes, heart disease, guest spots on Jerry Springer. So he recently authored a bill that would ban trans-fats in Texas restaurants starting in 2010. Shapleigh points out that California and New York City have passed similar measures with great results.
Hair Balls is a proponent of this bill, because if there's one thing that defines "democracy," it's telling people what they should and should not eat. Government's first place is to not allow people to make bad decisions, because, as anyone with half a brain knows, The Man knows what's best for you and your family. Anyone who thinks such measures are condescending intrusions into the lives of business owners and fat-asses is simply a communist.
We spoke with Shapleigh this morning, asking him why such a bill is necessary (even though we already knew the answer).
"For years, government has taken a role in public health positions," he said. "When we learned that that tobacco use led to...various cancers, we regulated tobacco, banned advertising and took strong steps. Why did we do this? Because that is a preventable public health threat."
And a trans-fats bill would help educate the public about making "better lifelong choices." Plus, fewer fatties seeking emergency care at Ben Taub means reduced taxpayer-funded health costs.
We totally agree with that, especially the premise that "education" means "the taking away of one marketplace choice so the consumer is forced to purchase the alternative." (Or, as Shapleigh told us, it will "induce better choices.")
Frankly, we don't feel this bill goes far enough to protect us from ourselves, so we'd like to see the bill expanded to include other bad things that need to be banned.
Stairs: The Silent Killer
Unbelievably, the culprit behind 6,000 deaths and 5.1 million injuries a year (according to the Home Safety Council) is something a lot of us welcome into our homes, like Jehovahs Witnesses on a cold day. Stairs put on a good front -- generally not saying much, while providing egress and ingress between floors. But if you're old, or perhaps just uncoordinated, stairs sense that weakness and pounce, revealing their true selves. That is why all owners of split-level homes should immediately replace their stairs with fireman poles.
Toasters: Would You Prefer Butter or Death?
In 2007, the US Consumer Product and Safety Commission announced the recall of 5,200 toasters that - brace yourself - turned on by themselves. That's right; as Isaac Asimov predicted, man's hubris finally caused his erstwhile servant machines to turn on him. These previously harmless countertop classics developed minds of their own, luring God knows how many people into a false sense of security, not even realizing that taking that box of frozen bagels out of the freezer would be their last act on Earth.
The Catcher in the Rye: The Exact Opposite of the Bible
Mark David Chapman, John Lennon's killer, patterned himself after Holden Caulfield and referred to the book as his "statement" to the public on why he shot the former Beatle. Reagan's would-be assassin, John Hinkley, read it. Arthur Bremer, who attempted to assassinate presidential candidate George Wallace, was a fan. There is only one conclusion that can be drawn from these facts: this book is evil, and will turn anyone who reads it into either an assassin or a lousy shot. Imagine how many high-profile deaths would be avoided if the government banned this monstrosity.
Ligers: Part Lion, Part Tiger, All Death
No clear numbers exist for how many Americans are killed each year by these malevolent creatures, but one is bad enough. They may look soft and cuddly, but a million demons in the bowels of hell with a million animal parts and a million years could not assemble such a perfect killing machine. Last month, a worker at an Oklahoma animal sanctuary was mauled to death by one of these beasts (Editor's Note: Possibly.) No doubt the liger was laughing the entire time. Adding to the tragedy, the owners of the sanctuary decided against euthanizing the savage tabby, allowing it to bask in the glow of its first human kill. But now that it has a taste of human blood, there will be no stopping it. These beasts need to be banned.
-- Craig Malisow
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.