Unhealthy Snacks: Your Tax Dollars at Work

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Politicians from Mike Huckabee to Michael Bloomberg to Michelle Obama have been hectoring Americans about their eating habits. (What is it about the name “Michael,” anyway, that seems to encourage paternalism and nanny-state politics? Well, it turns out that “Michael” comes from a Hebrew name meaning “Who is like God?” Maybe Michaels just get the idea that they are.)

But meanwhile, I was struck by this report buried in a Washington Post story titled “Obama showering Ohio with attention and money”:

[A] company making potato chips and other snack food about 100 miles from Cleveland … has received three Small Business Administration loans totaling $3.9 million since Obama took office, along with a $2 million loan during the Bush administration. In August, the agency’s head, Karen Mills, toured his facility for the launch of a kit that allows people to flavor their own gourmet potato chips. Last year, Biden singled him out in a speech near Cleveland.

So while the first lady stumps for healthy eating, administration appointees heap praise—and millions of tax dollars—on a company making potato chips. I think we should stop giving subsidies to all businesses and let them compete in a free market. But examples like this might lead even advocates of subsidies to wonder if this makes sense.