Friday, April 27, 2012

The War on Food Borne Illness

The Pike County Board, over the objection of every citizen who spoke, that was not directly associated with the Pike County Health Department (PCHD), passed the licensure requirement for restaurants, etc.  I kind of wonder, “Why bother with the hearings?” 

I thought the PCHD officials did a great job of presenting their own case for why it WASN’T ‘necessary’ for a food licensure law.  They stated that statistically there are approximately 3.5 million meals served per year in Pike County.  Out of those meals there were, statistically calculated, 15 food borne illnesses (FBI).  I inquired what the actual number was, since I am under the impression that FBI is a reportable condition – the Citizens present heard that the actual number of FBIs was 2.  Regardless, the point they were trying to make is that we need licensure to be able ENFORCE compliance with the Rules. 

Now my impression is that new laws are to address a real need, or correct an imminent real problem.  Somehow I found myself impressed with what a great job that the PCHD is doing with the tools (I think “tools” has nicer sound than hammers, chains, steel pry bars, guns, etc) already at their disposal.  I failed to see how adding a new law, another layer of bureaucracy, an additional theft of just a little bit more Liberty, was going to make any meaningful improvement to public safety.

I would remind the board that all laws, even this simple little law, is ultimately enforced by the barrel of a gun.  Imagine if you will a restaurateur who has a little flaw in his refrigerator door seal.  The inspector says, “correct it or else.”  The owner says, “it is insignificant.”  The war is on.  If the owner continues in non-compliance long enough, and resists enough that he would rather die than close the business, then eventually there will be a Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) or SWAT team who will be dispatched to take care of the “problem.”  All of this over a door seal.

Now I realize that this example might be considered extreme, but I would argue that it is no more extreme than trying to eliminate 2 FBIs out of 3.5 million meals served.  That is like sweeping up a pile of 3.5 million grains of sand but somehow 2 grains escaped us so we need to pass a law to eliminate 2 grains of sand.  In the case of FBIs, it could happen from lettuce that came from outside the county and all the licenses in the world will not stop that.

My hope is for a reconsideration of this additional encroachment upon that “Jewel of Liberty,” as our Founders would term it.  Where does government stop?  Liberty by its very nature has an element of risk.  The Declaration of Independence made the purpose of government clear, “…[We] are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights… that to SECURE these RIGHTs governments are instituted among men…” (emphasis mine).   I didn’t see a thing about “public safety” there.  Preserving our rights to Liberty exceeds public safety.  I don’t think anybody objects to reasonable regulation; however 2 grains of sand out of 3.5 million just isn’t reasonable, in my opinion.

I am convinced that the PCHD means well.  I am convinced that their purpose is NOT to steal our Liberty; I believe that they are trying to gain tools to do their job more efficiently and to meet their mission of increased public safety.  I commend them on a job well done, however there is a logical limit, and I think this new licensure law exceeds the logical limit for the whole People.  In the process the new law fails to add real and meaningful increased public safety, while it encroaches on Liberty.  The county board, comprised of our elected officials, is a guard to our Liberty and should pass only necessary laws. 

If you would like to correspond with me, Dan A. Mefford, D.C., on this topic contact me at: or or leave a message at 217-285-2134.

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