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The State Tells Us Where We Can and Cannot Eat

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An Amish farm has come under attack from the paternalistic welfare state in Pennsylvania. According to a story in the New York Times, many Amish families are offering hungry tourists a home-cooked meal in return for a donation. This has put both the State Bureau of Food Safety as well as the Pennsylvania Restaurant Association in an uproar. Why? Well, not because the food’s no good: On the contrary, tourists rave about the “oven-fresh bread, ham loaf, noodles, and shoofly pie.” And, no, not because eating conditions are unsanitary: Dee Dee Meyer, a restaurant chef in Pennsylvania, noted, “I’d eat off the floor in an Amish house.” So, what’s the problem? The Amish, who historically have believed that life, liberty, and property are inherent and fundamental rights that preexist government (as the Founding Fathers of our country believed) refuse to ask the state for a license to operate a restaurant. As Don Ranck, a farmer who isn’t Amish, put it, “They basically want to be left alone.” Well, then who’s complaining? Surprise, surprise: Not the customers but rather other restaurants, who don’t like the competition, and the state, which has the power to shut down non-licensed eating establishments. Attempting to justify its “get a license or shut down” order, the state pointed to an e-coli infection suffered by people who had dined at an Amish farm run by Elam and Barbara Fisher a few days earlier — even though, according to The Times, “no fault was firmly tracked to the Amish.” Faced with the state’s ultimatum, the Fishers have decided to shut down. John Stoltzfus, a neighbor, commented, “Elam’s health is not good and this was a way for him to make a little money and survive.” Just chalk it up as another success story for the paternalistic welfare state and its modern-day tyranny in America.

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    Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.