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The Tosa Compass

Wauwatosa East and West Student News

The Tosa Compass

Wauwatosa East and West Student News

The Tosa Compass

Keep the Government Out of My Breakfast


The writer of the bill discussed in this article (SB 567), Senator Kelda Roys, has replied in an letter to the editor. It can be read here. The author, along with his fellow editors at the Tosa Compass have agreed that this opinion article may be misleading to some. We encourage all readers to read the bill here. The author no longer stands by his criticism of SB 567, rather he would prefer that readers use this article as a method of understanding libertarian principles.


Who doesn’t love pancakes? Furthermore, who doesn’t love pancakes with maple syrup? Maybe you’ve reached for that bottle of syrup and taken a glance at the ingredients. Oftentimes it contains no actual maple syrup but rather a deliciously slimy concoction of corn syrup and other processed products. However under a proposed Wisconsin law (SB 567), you will never taste anything but maple syrup “made entirely of maple syrup” when eating in a Wisconsin restaurant. Sounds amazing…right?


Requiring maple syrup to be “entirely of maple syrup” may appear to be insignificant and maybe even a common sense decision. However if you dig a little deeper, it is an illustration of the government’s constant overreach, and an accessible way to explore libertarian principles. 


One of the fundamental beliefs of libertarianism is limited government intervention. That doesn’t just mean low taxes, gun rights, gay marriage, and legal weed, but also the little things in our day-to-day lives, even what we drizzle on our pancakes (or waffles for those with underdeveloped palettes). 


Choice is what governs our lives (and our economy), what to wear tomorrow, who to sit by at lunch, what homework to do, what to eat in the morning. We all agree fundamentally, choice is good, and the more choices we have the better off we are. Unfortunately, no matter how well intentioned this law is, it unnecessarily limits the choices Wisconsinites have. Many (including myself) much prefer the taste of that ultra sweet, processed high fructose corn syrup and love to smother the pancakes from their favorite restaurant in it. However our state government is willing to deny us that choice. 


One can imagine a finger wagging Madison politician condescendingly saying ‘No! You must not consume anything but pure maple syrup in a restaurant.’


Regardless, as consumers we should have the right to choose and this absurd law implies that we are too stupid to make informed decisions about the food we eat. 


But it’s not just the choice of the consumer we should be worried about, but also that of the business owner. Some businesses may deem it more profitable to only serve cheap ‘fake’ maple syrup, some may naturally choose the higher quality option, some may serve both. No matter what they choose, it should be decided by individuals operating in the free market and not politicians in Madison.


This law will also disproportionately affect small businesses, who have tighter margins and less room to spend on things like pure maple syrup. They would be put at even more of a competitive disadvantage than their larger competitors who have much more insulation for operational cost increases. 


Also, consider the resources the state must devote to enforce this law. It must inspect businesses’ maple syrup, it must pay people to do the inspection, it must hand down some sort of punishment to businesses that violate this law, and so on and so forth. All of that takes money, not just any money, but taxpayer money that could be better spent, or even kept in the pockets of Wisconsin residents. 


Ultimately, just as with all new government regulations, there is a heap of unforeseen consequences. Although this bill is comical at face value, it is nonetheless an unnecessary overstep, and about more than just syrup. This proposed requirement is a small example of a much wider ideological debate. One that involves liberty, prosperity, the free market, and the role of government in our lives. 


Libertarians argue for a more free world, with more choice, even if that means one that is less ‘pure’ or less healthy. So we shouldn’t just kick the government out of our breakfast, but also out of many of the facets of our personal lives that it does not need to be involved in. 


Portions of this article have been edited for accuracy.

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About the Contributor
Malik Boyd
Malik Boyd, Editor
Malik is a Junior at Tosa East, this is his third year writing for the Tosa Compass and his first as an editor. He currently manages social media for the Compass at East as his primary responsibility.
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