The Tyranny of Having Too Many Choices

Imagine you are at a fast food restaurant. You have selected your sandwich and your side order of fries, and you realize that this meal will make you thirsty. You will need -- nay, you will require -- a beverage to wash it down. So you say to the woman at the register, "I would like a soda."

And she looks at you with her dead eyes, her soul withered away by years of menial work in the service industry, and she utters the immortal question, "Small, medium, or large?"

You look at the three cups -- your three possible destinies. Pick one too small, and you will be unsated -- your throat parched from the salty food, crying out for relief. But picking one too large is dangerous as well. These beverages are filled with sugar, which could bloat your body and erode your muscle, leaving a flubbery blob where once there was a man.

You are frozen in indecision, the gravity of this choice crushing you. If you make the wrong call, your life could be ruined! You want more time, but now the look of indifference from the lady at the register is turning into hatred, and you can hear the grumbles of the patrons behind you. You must make a choice, and... You. Must. Make. It. Now.

The panic builds inside you and finally bursts. You scream, "Large!"


That's right. You picked too large a beverage, and now you will die from obesity or obesity-related illnesses, such as a porch collapse.

Now, imagine the scenario again, but this time you look down to see a heroic figure scurrying forward to save the day: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. With a short hop, he clambers over the counter and then climbs a step stool to swat away the large beverage choice. Now you only have the small and medium sizes to choose between. Are you a little thirsty or a lot thirsty? It's a simple question now, and you make your choice with confidence. You have been saved from the tyranny of choices!

America was built on the principle that a man could make choices about his own life. This has been a complete failure. You remember when pioneers set out by themselves into the untamed frontier? And you remember what happened to them? That's right: They all died. Lacking a government to tell them how much soda to drink or salt to eat, they became too obese to run away from bears and mountain lions. It's a sad chapter in our history, but luckily when people headed out west the next time, they brought lots and lots of government with them and founded California. And thanks to its huge amount of laws telling people what to do, that area has flourished (well, I haven't read any news about California in a decade or so, but I assume it's still doing pretty well).