Paul Weyrich March 2, 2000

Well, I'll have to cross off Colorado as a place to vacation anytime soon. I don't want to go near the place. I am afraid of either being thrown in jail or being taken off to some clinic to be rehabilitated.

In that beautiful Rocky Mountain State, some officials want to pass the "Obesity Prevention Act." And under their definition, I am obese. This, you understand, is not because I like to eat. No, according to the Colorado health police, I have a disease.

These are the same folks who insist that pregnancy is a disease. Anyway, the Colorado health police want to make dieting an official policy of the state of Colorado. Now, it is unclear to me if I start on a diet they will leave me alone if I go out there. Or, do I have to actually show results? You see, over my lifetime I have gained and lost the equivalent of several people.

I don't know if I get any credit for that or if my disease starts with my weight today.

I am curious as to how this policy will be enforced. Will cowboys patrol the borders and turn away the obese? Will obesity inspectors board incoming planes and refuse to let anyone off who is overweight? Maybe this policy just applies to permanent residents.

I can see it now. Your company transfers you to Denver. You call a real estate agent and she asks you your weight. When you tell her, she says to call back when you lose 60 pounds as she is forbidden to sell you a house if you are overweight. Some smarties will send surrogates to buy homes for them. I have an uncle who has always looked like he just emerged from an Eastern Orthodox monastery after Great Lent. I could send him to buy a house for me. Then I'd move in under cover of darkness.

That probably won't work, though. No doubt neighbors will be rewarded if they turn in fat people. So as soon as I step out into the light of day...

It is fun to joke about such things, but there is a serious side to it. It is very clear that such a policy is aimed at doing to the food industry what has been done to tobacco. If so-called obesity is, as proponents of this health policy claim, killing thousands of people every year and if it is truly a disease, then someone is spreading the disease. Sounds like a great case against any number of food processors, fast food places, restaurant chains and so on.

Just as the tobacco nonsense was not about stopping kids from smoking, but about reaching into the deep pockets of the tobacco companies, so also is this kind of health policy about money -- not overweight or unhealthy people. Those who want to spend more on social programs and have been frustrated by the fact that lately there have been too many conservatives holding office at both the state and national level, have found a new way to extort money. Just watch the class action lawsuits against everyone connected with the processing and distribution of food. Wow!

Tobacco affected a distinct minority of Americans. On the other hand, everyone has to eat! The possibilities are endless. I used to have lots of fun ridiculing absurd ideas like this purported health policy. It isn't any fun anymore. Today's joke becomes official policy three years down the road.

Here is a warning then. Either stomp this sort of stupidity to death now or watch the slow nationalization of the most successful food industry in the world, in the name of better health.

Better health, my foot. It all makes me sick.

Paul Weyrich is president of the