William Saletan is appropriately appalled by the action of the Los Angeles City Council, which has moved to prohibit the opening of new fast food restaurants in South Central. Law and public health activists are trying to obtain similar legislation in New York and elsewhere, often pretending that they are not seeking to override the actual food choices of local residents. It’s a good idea not always to accept their factual assertions at face value:
“You try to get a salad within 20 minutes of our location; it’s virtually impossible,” says the Community Coalition’s executive director. Really? The coalition’s headquarters is at 8101 S. Vermont Ave. A quick Google search shows, among other outlets, a Jack-in-the-Box six blocks away. They have salads. Not the world’s greatest salads, but not as bad as a government that tells you whose salad you can eat.
(“Food Apartheid”, Slate, Jul. 31).
More: Several thoughts from Hans Bader, including this: “When Domino’s, a private company, decided not to deliver pizza and other fast food to certain dangerous parts of Washington, D.C., based on geographic region, not race, it was accused of racism by civil-rights groups, sued for discrimination, and demonized by D.C.’s City Council. … Why the double standard in favor of government bullies?” From commenter “Shine” at Matthew Yglesias: “What’s ironic is that many of the mom and pop restaurants were burned out during the 1992 riots. And the fast-food franchises promised two things that the post-riot LA political establishment (i.e., Rebuild L.A.) demanded above all else: minority ownership and jobs.” Another commenter there, “Too many Steves”, sniffs “a political favor to the existing franchise owners”, who stand to benefit from the throttle on competition, and whose interests of course diverge from those of the national franchisors, who are probably quite sincere in their opposition.