One of the blessings of a change of government is that it changes the prevailing ethic. Should National win this year we might not see another headline like this week's: "Rugby cards promo breaks anti-fat rules".
The news, in case you missed it, was that the Advertising Standards Authority had upheld a complaint from the Ministry of Health against Bluebird Foods who are putting cards of the All Blacks in their chippies.
Ten years ago that sort of complaint would have invited such universal derision there would have been no need to suggest health is not the only consideration. Back then, commercial freedom was considered fairly important too.
Freedom in fact was the default principle after 1984; if it was to be compromised the reason had to be watertight.
No regulator would have dared argue, as the Health Ministry has, that a child might buy 50 packets of chips and consume more than a kilogram of fat to get a complete collection of All Black cards.
Even five years ago somebody would have pointed out that children don't collect things alone. They trade. Those who don't want a collectable item give it to one who does, usually for something in return.
Children have myriad ways of maximising their wealth without buying very much. Instinctively they know that to buy 50 packets of chips would be the most inefficient way to collect the whole set. They could blow all their pocket money and end up with far too many they didn't want. It is more fun - and fun is their driving value - to build their acquisitions by trade.
If this is obvious, it appears to be news to our dietary monitors. The ministry complained that to collect all the cards people would have to buy at least 50 - but probably more than 80! - chip packets of chips, consuming 1kg of fat.
And the Advertising Standards Authority half-believed it. Director Hilary Souter said it had reservations about the number of cards in the promotion as well as the use of hero figures.
The complaint, explained the ministry's Margie Apa, was based on concerns about childhood obesity, a scourge that for the life of me I cannot see. Kids don't seem any fatter on average than they used to be. But like global warming, the obesity epidemic is no longer open to question.
Such is the dominance of health, personal and environmental, in public debate today that Bluebird's defence of its All Black cards was almost apologetic. The promotion was "a short-term competitive marketing strategy designed to encourage a person to select one brand of snackfood over another", which means: "We just needed to boost our market share a bit; we won't do it for very long."
Sorry kids, nobody is likely to do this sort of thing for a while. Ms Apa and Ms Souter agreed the decision sets a precedent for the use of heroes as collectibles to promote unhealthy treats.
The darkest hour in a phase of unbalanced ethics comes just before the dawn. Right now the promoters of health above all else seem blithely unaware that a change of government will probably soon restore some weight for individual rights and personal responsibility.
When John Key declared the other day that National would tackle obesity mainly with sport and recreation programmes to get children more active, he was quickly rubbished on National Radio by a woman who wants to ban unhealthy advertisements.
What's the point, she said, of her putting out healthy eating messages when children saw contradictory enticements on television.
Food nazis is not a term I want to use but there is something very chilling in the attitude that the expression of conflicting interests is not permissible.
Public health campaigns produce some of the most powerful material on television. I'm not sure which is more repellent, the drunk swinging his child, the ladies getting together for their smear test, John Kirwan's depression or the road crash simulations, but the campaigns insist they are effective. So why ban happier stuff?
Helen Clark, who tackled tobacco advertising when Health Minister in the late 1980s, has resisted most of the excesses suggested during her premiership but at times it has seemed a close call.
Deliberately or not, she brought a wowser culture to power which prefers to address problems like obesity and binge drinking by restrictions on liberties that her outlook doesn't value as high as health and safety.
A change of government will not put an end to public health campaigns and nor should it. We are better off for being aware of the fat in fast food, for ridicule of uncivilised drinking and the expulsion of smokers from confined places.
But it is time to for some balance. Credit us with the intelligence to make choices, especially children, before we create a community of fools.By John Roughan Email John