Monday, December 11, 2006

THE NANNY STATE REACHES INTO THE KITCHEN

I remember making jokes about a decade ago, when the government started going after cigarette smokers (and their revenues) with a vengeance, that it was only a matter of time before they started going after cheeseburgers and fried chicken-eaters. Maybe some of you saw the slippery slope better than I did, because I honestly never thought that government would honestly feel that regulating fatty foods was part of their mandate. As you may have heard, New York City thinks that it is. Take a look at this recent editorial, and watch the dominoes begin to fall. Because no one knows what to put into your body better than your local government does, right?

18 comments:

Tom Bailey said...

I think this is a reaction to the health problems in america. Health care costs are high at least in part due to overweight people.

Jay said...

Tom, with all due respect, I think that’s ridiculous. Health care costs are high in the US for a myriad of extremely complex reasons, and blaming it on fat people is a red herring to say the least. When I look at articles that purport to blame overweight people for the US tax burden or for the way we structured employer-based health care, I want to scream. Excessive trans fats are one of many ways that a person can get fat – others include lack of exercise, overeating, portion sizes, too many sweets or carbs, excessive alcohol, you name it. You can say that you’d prefer that people ate better, and I’m sure that many of them would prefer that you brushed your hair more, or that you wore more flattering clothing. It’s just as preposterous to me that we’d keep people from eating Oreos as from wearing their hair long, but I guess we’ll just see where the 21st century takes us.

Anonymous said...

No one is keeping people from buying or eating Oreos yet, though - the ban is just on restaurants in the city using these chemically-modified ingredients. That piece seems very slanted to me - "Has Mayor Mike been taken in by activists and alarmists?" etc.

I'd be interested to know how a laissez-faire, pro-big business political agenda might have been involved in companies developing this crap and food companies using it in the first place.

Julie Cooper said...

I think this trend is alarming and dangerous. It is the beginning of the end of compassion, where people are more or less blamed for their illnesses. Strangely enough, it seems to me that it is an extension of the 'new age' attitude of owning your illness/taking responsibility for it - ok to a point maybe, but now governments have a hand in it, what's next? Refusing health care to fat people or people who smoke?

Anonymous said...

"I'd be interested to know how a laissez-faire, pro-big business political agenda might have been involved in companies developing this crap and food companies using it in the first place."

That's it right there -- libertarianism sounds good on paper but in practice, in our society, less government power just means more big business power -- meet the new boss, worse than the old boss -- I dunno -- of course people and not the government should decide whether they want trans-fats in their food, but healthy food is less advertised, less distributed, more expensive (not to mention insensibly stigmatized as "hippie" and "new age" but that's really a different point)....

MoeLarryAndJesus said...

How can someone support Rudy "Lock 'Em Up" Giuliani one minute and then bitch about something like this the next? You're the most confused and self-contradicting "libertarian" on the planet, Jay.

With the War On Drugs and the War On Terra leading to more and more ridiculous bullshit every single day this is what you choose to zero in on? Let me know when someone goes to jail for possession of trans fats and then I'll give a damn. Until then there are much worse things going on and they don't seem to bother you at all.

sdd said...

For more food hysteria see Washington Monthly (December 11)
http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/

The great Kupcake Konspiracy (wasn't that a Kinks' album?)!

Jay said...

Dear “Moe Larry & Jesus” – I’ve never claimed to be a Libertarian, either, at least not one that’s ideologically pure. For instance, for many years until very recently I’ve been a huge proponent of gun control. I think the government should be in charge of certain types of spending – like infrastructure (highways, etc.). And I get really excited when people who commit real crimes (as opposed to drug crimes) go to jail. I also have some sympathies toward the military and no doubt believe their role in protecting this country should be larger than you feel it does. What bothers me is we-know-best nanny liberalism that purports to protect you from yourself. And like many others, the ranting, intolerant, sneering liberal blog poster is pretty tiresome and bothersome to me as well. Your posts on here – which I nonetheless encourage you to continue – are falling deeper & deeper into the stereotype many of us have of the outraged “netroots”/Moveon.org activist who’s quick to call someone a nazi or stupid or intolerant while being entirely clueless of their own unthinking prejudices. Take a breath before you type, and remember that not everyone who disagrees with you is dumber than you or fits some ideologically pure box you’ve put them into.

MoeLarryAndJesus said...

What are YOUR "unthinking prejudices," Jay? And what makes you think I have anything against the military protecting this country? I'm just not stupid enough to think that our excursions into Vietnam, Iraq, Panama, or Nicaragua even arguably fall under the umbrella of "protecting" us.

I notice you can't even begin to square your support for Giuliani with your attack on this new NYC policy, which isn't anywhere near as "nanny-statish" as numerous things Rudy championed and continues to champion. Instead you resort to crap about "MoveOn" like you work for Fox News.

"Netroots" somehow managed to play a large part in kicking Repiglican ass in the last election - what exactly are they wrong about? What's wrong with their assessment of the last 6 years?

Of course I'm pissed about the direction this country has moved in, and I'm amazed when I meet someone intelligent who isn't. But I've also voted for a moderate Republican or two - Bill Weld, for example - and I'm no superlefty. But the current GOP IS dominated by lunatic Christianist fascists, and I'm not making that up. I'm not saying anything some conservative commentators haven't said, also - see Andrew Sullivan in particular.

MoeLarryAndJesus said...

By the way, Jay, it was Rudy G who first banned smoking in restaurants in NYC - he banned it in all restaurants seating over 35 people. He also banned the private ownership of ferrets, and spent a lot of energy harassing porn shops.

So which is it - you support the nanny state or you don't? Inquiring minds want to know. Is it just liberal nanny-statism that bothers you, but he-man kick-ass conservative nanny-statism is cool?

Jay said...

Well, if I must be forced to an opinion on each of the aforementioned – then regarding the smoking thing, I’m nervously and not wholeheartedly supportive of a ban on smoking from certain public places. This follows my “your rights end when mine are abridged” philosophy, which is very different than the trans-fat argument, which harms only the consumer. But I only got to that point recently, when I realized how much more pleasant it is for me and the 90% of us who don’t smoke to go to smoke-free bars. It still makes me nervous, because it’s the start of the slope that led us to this inane fear of fat people. Ferrets? I have no idea. Do they bite? Harassing porn shops is ridiculous if all they are doing is peddling porn. Rudy G’s got a few nanny-state tendencies of his own to answer for.

Seanrude said...

repiglicans. That is so funny.

Barry said...

Where did Jay say that Republican nanny-statism is accepible, moelarry...? When I use the term "nanny state", I apply it to all examples of it, not just the ones comin' from the Left; I consider Gitmo a particularly horrendous example of it; I think Jay would,too.

MoeLarryAndJesus said...

Pay attention, Barry. Jay says he's against the nanny-state but then he endorses Giuliani for president, when Rudy's one of the biggest nanny-state supporters around.

Would Jay come out against Gitmo? I don't know. I know I do. But Jay supports Rudy, who sure as hell hasn't had a single negative word to say about Gitmo or anything else the Bushpigs have done during their silly-assed War On Terra.

Jay said...

“Gitmo”? It’s hard to believe anything you read, isn’t it, since neither you nor I nor Rudy Giuliani has any real idea what does or doesn’t goes on there. This is why I – and maybe Rudy G – typically keep my mouth shut about it, because I don’t really believe anyone involved. I do know, as you do, that allegations of torture from the recently-released are very much in line with articulated Al-Qaeda and general terrorist strategies of turning the enlightened & humane enemy upon itself, so I believe them least of all. When the West accepts that we are in an asymmetrical war, and that “they” are far better at it than “we” are, we might be able to write about and think about things like “Gitmo” a little more clearly. I will take the brave and very daring stand that I am against torture of any kind, except the hypothetical kind where the bomb’s about to go off and only the accused knows where it is – you know, the kind that never happens except in the movies. We lose far more than we gain as a society when we sanction the government to torture humans in our name. But am I “against Gitmo”? I have no idea.

MoeLarryAndJesus said...

"Allegations of torture"? Damn, there's a lot more information than that out there. Here's what we know has been done - waterboarding, forced standing (a neat one where they cuff you and wire you to the ceiling with just enough give so that you can't lie down), hypothermic "treatments," beatings, and so on. Over 100 prisoners have died in American custody. (That's not just in Gitmo, of course.) As for the credibility of the released men, it's a whole hell of a lot higher than the credibility of the Bush administration which denied for many months that any of the above was going on.

Most of the information about these techniques has come from AMERICAN personnel who were disgusted by what was going on. Try googling "Ian Fishback" (I think I have the spelling right.) He's the West Point grad and serving Captain who went to John McCain and blew the whistle. Of course McCain eventually caved and went along with Bush because he's eying 2008.

"I don't believe anyone involved" is a good way to say "I really don't give a damn," and that's all it is. Which is fine, but pretending the information isn't out there is sort of lame.

By the way, I use "Gitmo" as shorthand for all of the prisons - Gitmo itself, Abu Ghraib, and the secret gulags the Bush people were running in Europe.

But I'm glad you're against torture. I am, however, wondering how it is that you're able to read Giuliani's mind and see what he knows about all of this and why he hasn't said anything about it.

Mike said...

Giuliani banned dancing in unlicenced businesses in 1998. That was a good one.

Anonymous said...

The first (successful) target of the “trans-fat” campaign was Oreos. To me this matter is a simple issue (a lot simpler than smoking). I think the FDA should impose an outright ban on artificial trans-fat (only labeling so far) and I suspect that this will happen in the next few years. I don’t view this as unwarranted restriction of individual liberties. The advantages of using trans-fat are strictly monetary for the food companies (and the trickle down savings to consumers). These savings are tiny compared to the health costs to society. There are no culinary benefits. So I’m supposed to be insulted that the government is forcing me to pay a penny more for healthier french fries that taste exactly the same? I’d be grateful to the government for taking an interest in preventive health care. Coronary heart disease is one of the most pressing problems in America (and has very little do with being fat). Get this shit out of the food supply. A no-brainer.