Over and over, you hear Democrats describing themselves as the "pro-choice" party. They believe that they are those with the philosophy that we should be "free to choose." And - when it comes to abortion, they are correct. They do believe that women should have more choice when it comes to both birth control and the ability to end a pregnancy.
But leave the realm of childbearing and preventative measures - and - I describe Democrats as the party of "no-choice." What do I mean? In a wide swath of modern life, Democrats want to proscribe - by law - what the rest of us can do. They want to mandate what we can and cannot eat, the types of light sources we must use, the type of fuel we put into our cars and the way our cars are built. Frankly, however - they don't much really like cars. Many of them excoriate those of us who don't use mass transportation. Never mind that some of us have jobs that require personal vehicles, or transport many children, or live either in suburban or exurban areas. (That, too is something they find fairly evil.)
They also are utterly convinced that a few brilliant souls in the government should be mandating what each individual, every company, etc. should have to do - by law. Here is but one of half a zillion examples:
Some consumers may want to know whether products contain GMOs, just as others may wish to know whether a product was made with union labor, a company’s executives donated to particular political candidates, or its products were blessed by shaman priestesses. Yet it must take more to justify compelling speech in the form of product labels. Were it otherwise, there is no end to what could be the subject of mandatory labeling requirements, and there would be no meaningful constitutional protection of compelled commercial speech.
Most existing labeling requirements can be justified on the grounds that they protect uninformed consumers from potential adverse impacts. Ingredient labels, for example, protect those with allergies or specific dietary needs. GMO labels, on the other hand, do no such thing. Rather they stigmatize products, suggesting there is something significant, or even potentially wrong, with a product that was produced in this way, even there is no scientific basis for making such a claim. Some consumers may have moral or other objections to GMO products, and that is their right. Such consumers are free to seek out producers who will make products in accord with their preferences. But GMO opponents should not have the right to force others to modify product labels, at their own expense, just to satisfy one group’s set of subjective value preferences.
Does this mean there will be no GMO labels? Not at all. There is no requirement that producers identify whether products are “organic” or “kosher,” and yet such labels proliferate. Where such information is likely to influence consumer behavior, producers have ample incentives to provide the information consumers want. That is, those producers whose products are GMO-free have every incentive to disclose, and perhaps even advertise, this fact. Such disclosure is sufficient to let those consumers who oppose GMOs shop accordingly without imposing the cost of such preferences on others.
Can someone die from eating a food that contains peanuts? Yes. Thus, mandating that consumers must be aware of something that can cause immediate and irrevocable harm or death is a reasonable function of the government. The rest of it, however, as Professor Adler explains, is a combination of personal preference and ideology.
We are blessed to live in a nation that bestows upon us many freedoms, one of which being the freedom of speech. Speech should not be denied - nor should the government compel it. Individuals and groups and free to speak about the horrors of genetically modified foods - and - consumers are free to request that companies give them this information.
And so it should be with the rest of our lives. We should be free to choose - as much as is possible - throughout our lives.