Will Coggin: Beware of animal liberation warriors!

Read the original article by Will Coggin at wacotrib.com here.

This time of year serves as a reminder to be grateful for the robust freedoms we have in this country. Perhaps none is more important than the plethora of choices we all have — not just at the Thanksgiving table but throughout the year.

While the Pilgrims struggled to find food, we live in a time of plenty. Strawberries in January? Have at it. There are millions of possible topping combinations for delivery pizza. You can even buy grilled-cheese-and-ketchup-flavored potato chips, if that’s your thing.

Unfortunately, not everyone wants people to have free choices. Leading the pack against your mother’s Thanksgiving Day turkey (or turducken, if you’re one of those families) are so-called animal liberation warriors.

In the past, your second cousin who’s a PETA member might have lectured the family on why they should eat tofurky instead of the real thing. But this year some vegans are taking it up a notch.

A group called Direct Action Everywhere, which works with PETA, has a new tactic to protest inside grocery stores and harangue customers in the meat aisle. So if you’re turkey-shopping, bring some earbuds.

Direct Action Everywhere is also taking turkey pardons to the vigilante level. Vegan activists have announced plans to “rescue” (read: “steal”) 100 turkeys from a farm in Utah.

According to the FBI, direct action is defined as “criminal activity designed to cause economic loss or to destroy property or operations.” It should come as no surprise that members of this group face felony charges in multiple states.

Animal liberation warriors are not alone on the table of anti-consumer choice crusaders. There are a number of “side dishes” that also deserve mention.

A few years ago, it would have seemed ridiculous to envision 2018 as the year the plastic straw died, yet we live in strange times. The straw wars have been raging across the United States this year, and some localities have enacted bans on disposable straws, citing a flawed statistic and claiming straws pollute oceans.

That statistic, however, is a rough calculation done as part of a 9-year-old child’s science fair project, which was later found to be incorrect. Kudos to the precocious kid for moving past multiplication tables, but shame on lawmakers and corporate executives for making policy on flimsy data.

Here’s the real figure: While ocean pollution is an issue, 90 percent of all plastic pollution in the oceans comes from eight rivers in Asia and two in Africa. Banning straws in the United States does next to nothing besides give your virtue-signaling relative something to crow about at the table.

If straw bans aren’t bad enough, the nanny state is also focused on what you choose to drink. Over the past few years, an increasing number of cities and localities — two of the most famous being Philadelphia and Seattle — have passed soda taxes.

These taxes are passed under the auspices of public health — that the government needs to tinker with what people eat and drink to reduce obesity. Not only does this not work — a calorie is a calorie, no matter what food it comes from — but if we accept this logic, then taxes on pizza and nachos aren’t far behind.

In reality, food or soda taxes are just a way to raise money for the government. Unfortunately, this revenue is a regressive tax that disproportionately harms the poorest Americans.

On the bright side, California, a state not exactly known for sound fiscal policy, decided enough was enough and enacted a ban on the increase or institution of any new soda taxes through 2030. More places would be wise to adopt such a ban — and make the ban permanent too — in order to not diminish consumer choice by taxing a common grocery item and discouraging its purchase.

Even a brief survey of human history reveals freedom is far from guaranteed. And so we must remain vigilant to ensure we don’t lose the freedom to choose what we want to purchase and to remain free from policies aiming to restrict that choice. This Thanksgiving, while people eat delicious food with loving families, we should remember that consumer choice is an essential ingredient of a free society.

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