Thursday, November 14, 2013

The FDA May Cause Blindness

A few days ago, we learned that the ever-wise FDA banned trans-fats from existing. They will be phased out from restaurants, processed foods, and wherever else they may be used. This is all for our protection, mind you. Trans-fats cause people to get fat. And fat people are bad because they increase healthcare costs due to our Obamacare system of taxing healthy people to pay for unhealthy people. So it goes.

I think the regulations are ridiculous, and I want to draw attention to the worldview that underlies the whole operation. Doug Wilson gave an astute observation of how food regulations should work in a free society here, but I want to dig a little deeper. I understand that trans fats are probably bad for me. Side effects of over-consumption may include obesity. Ok, I get it. But should we be ok with supporting the onerous regulations that will require businesses to substantially change their operations? This may help people eat healthier, but it certainly won't make food cheaper or more available for lower income families. And why can't I choose to eat healthy under the freedom of my own conscience? But that's just the economic side of things.

The real mindset is an issue of worship. The government is saying "We know what's best for you, you don't. We will provide for your needs, so you better get with the program." People who idolize the State are on board with this, of course. The State knows best, because the State is god. But people who understand that we are a nation run by fallen and sinful men will look on with a more dubious gaze. By what standards does the FDA promulgate these dietary restrictions? Why saturated fats? On what authority do they presume to control our diet? What about people who want to eat trans-fats anyways? Who negotiates what the regulations will regulate? (Hint: lobbyists hired by big corporations). As Wilson once quipped, "'regulations' to 'reform everything' get us crony capitalism."

A better question is this: what are you not willing to allow the government to control about your lifestyle? Why? What if the FDA says that car emissions pose a serious threat to national health? Would you willingly allow the government to prohibit you from driving a car? What about exercise? Would you gladly submit and support state-mandated exercise regimes three times a week? All of these may be good things, but we should be allowed to do them in the freedom of our own conscience. I can think of some areas of life where the government should exercise some control over our decisions, but that's based on the Bible's authority. I'm not sure what the FDA is basing their authority on. The sanctity of life? Please...

A government hungry for people to worship it as almighty will do anything within (or without) its power to keep the people distracted from what's going on. All in the name of "daddy knows best." And people blind to the god of this age will take the bait and think that they are being taken care of by a faithful legislator. The true God says not to worry about the suffering that is to come, but to entrust our souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. The god of this age tells us not to pay attention to the oppression, but to entrust our souls to a faithful legislator while eating good.

Of course, the greatest irony in all of this is that we are talking about dietary restrictions, the very thing that the intoleristas point to in the Bible for evidence of its oppressive and archaic nature. As the kids say, I'm ROFL. CAN YOU NOT SEE?

I think this whole thing is (subliminally) intended to remind us that we should serve and worship the state (and man), not God. Because when we truly worship God, reformation happens. That's a threat to the god of this age. As long as we wallow in blindness, there will be no reformation. But we worship a God who has the power to remove blindness wholesale. And I am thankful for that. May he start with me.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Astro-doomed?



Yesterday Harris County voters rejected a bond proposal that would have turned the now-defunct "8th Wonder of the World" into an exhibition hall. Essentially we were voting to "save the Dome." But we didn't, and now the Dome may be doomed.

It's interesting how the situation played out over the past few months. First, Harris County citizens were told that the Dome cost millions of dollars per month in maintenance just to keep it from being condemned by the city. Then they said demolishing the stadium would cost hundreds of millions of dollars, which we obviously did not have laying around in the petty cash drawer.


So the Harris County Sports and Convention Corp set out to elicit some ideas of what to do with the Dome. Could we save it? Could we profit from it? Is it still relevant? The HCSCC actually held a contest in which they solicited ideas about what to do with the Dome. Ostensibly, the best idea would win the contest, and that's what they would do with the Astrodome. Except that's not what happened. Instead, the HCSCC decided to go its own way and put the decision on the ballot.


In my own opinion, it looks like the HCSCC merely issued the request for proposals in order to save face among a nostalgic and expectant public. In their minds, however, they knew that there would be no selection from among the public's ideas; HCSCC would have its cake and eat it too.


But all that depended on the ballot measure passing yesterday. Which—to many peoples' surprise—failed by a healthy margin. So now the prevailing talking point is that the Astrodome is Astro-doomed to destruction. However, there is a silver lining that we may be overlooking: the imminent failure and demolition of the Dome may drive down the purchase price for any potential investor/developer looking to turn the Dome into the magical place it could be (and without raising taxes to do it). I think it's the best of both worlds. The HCSCC will have a strong incentive to cut a big discount for any developer wishing to buy the Astrodome (instead of facing demolition and associated fess), and the whole process is given to private industry where it belongs. It's a win/win/win (if the Dome stays alive). Imagine the possibilities.


In the end, the HCSCC will reap what it sowed. They held a "contest" without the possibility of a winner. None of the redevelopment ideas were "acceptable," but the criteria for acceptability were unreasonable from the start. They had an end game in mind, and they put all their eggs in one basket—passing the $217 million bond package to renovate the Dome. Because that plan didn't hatch, it looks like HCSCC's plan has backfired. Big time. But HCSCC could mitigate the loss by passing the Dome on to an innovative and interested developer. I'd like to see what we could create without all the bureaucratic red tape—or at least less of it.


I don't want to see the Astrodome become a pile of mangled steel and rubble. But I balk at saddling taxpayers with this kind of obligation after the way HCSCC handled the situation.