Individual choice for calories and water.

Here are two approaches to trying to influence people’s behavior for health or environmental reasons.

The first is a move to require some restaurants to state on menus the calories in each item.

This is in keeping with the perfect competition approach.  Give consumers as much information as possible and let them make their own decisions according to their values.

If a person wants to eat a high calorie meal they should have the right to do so.  The important thing is that they are able to know what they are doing and that they should be prepared to take the consequences whatever they are.

The second concerns a move to ban bottled water.  It is good to see that the colleges mentioned have so for resisted calls for an outright ban and are trying to provide alternatives.

Once again consumers should have the option to make their own decisions according to their values and circumstances.

Perhaps we could  deal with this by requiring water bottlers to include on the label a statement something like: “Some people are concerned about the environmental impact of water sold in plastic bottles.  In many cases tap water is at least as pure as bottled water.”

Unfortunately there are too many people who think they should have to right to force their version of the truth onto everyone.

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