Free Markets, Free People

SF’s attack on Happy Meal’s is an attack on freedom

It is nanny-staters like Joe Ozersky who drive me up a wall.  They represent that group of people with mindset that common Americans simply don’t have the ability and wherewithal to run their own lives or those of their families.  And, as expected, they applaud government’s unrequested and unwanted intrusion in their lives to control aspects (or modify behavior) that they simply cannot fathom real Americans doing.  Or at least not doing to their satisfaction.

Ozersky has decided obesity is a problem (he apparently was a fat kid who ate lots of hamburgers).  Ozersky has decided that one of the main reasons for the problems is fast (processed) food and in particular McDonald’s Happy Meals.  So Ozersky is just tickled to death that the intrusive board of supervisors in San Francisco has chosen to ban Happy Meals.  He correctly identifies the source of such intrusion:

Last week’s elections may have seemed like a repudiation of liberalism, but the San Francisco board of supervisors appeared unfazed. The city’s governing body went ahead and fired a bunker buster into the Happy Meal, decreeing that restaurants cannot put free toys in meals that exceed set thresholds for calories, sugar or fat.

One of the reasons liberalism, or in its new incarnation, "progressivism" is in such disrepute is because of foolishness like this. Ozersky’s next line claims "libertarians are livid".

Everyone should be "livid". Since when is it up to a city board of supervisors – elected to keep the peace and make sure the garbage is picked up on time – to decide what is or isn’t appropriate to feed one’s child?

Ozersky, however, applauds the effort but believes it is just a beginning and, in fact, needs to go further:

No, the problem with the ban is that it doesn’t go far enough. America’s tots aren’t getting supersized simply by eating Happy Meals. In a recent nutrition commentary that is making waves in food-politics circles, in part because NYU’s Marion Nestle posted excerpts of it on her blog, University of São Paulo professor Carlos Monteiro makes the case that "the rapid rise in consumption of ultra-processed food and drink products, especially since the 1980s, is the main dietary cause of the concurrent rapid rise in obesity and related diseases throughout the world." And reversing that trend will be a lot harder than making Happy Meals a little less happy.

But still, you have to start somewhere, and I understand why the San Francisco supervisors picked Happy Meals as their beachhead.

So the war, apparently is on "processed food", all of which Ozersky would prefer to see eliminated. But is processed food really the culprit behind the obesity "epidemic". Ozersky cites Nestle’s work as a definitive yes. However, a nutrition professor recently shot the claim in the head with an experiment he ran on himself:

Mark Haub, who teaches at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan., told he has lost 27 pounds in two months eating approximately 1,800 calories a day – and those calories came from foods like snack cakes, candy bars and even potato chips – basically anything he could get from a vending machine.

Haub said before the diet, he was eating up to 3,000 calories a day and weighed 201 pounds.

Key take away – it isn’t necessarily the type of food that makes you obese – it is the amount of that food, in calories, that does so. Always has been.

The point, of course, is obesity is caused by eating too many calories and not exercising sufficiently to burn off the excess.  Banning Happy Meals won’t change that at all.  As Tanya Zuckerbrot, a NY dietician noted, “it doesn’t matter if you’re eating Twinkies or Brussels sprouts – it’s all about your caloric intake.”

And unless the state plans on issuing meals and monitoring your every bite, banning a specific meal isn’t going to  change the habits that have caused someone to become obese.  Nor will bans on salt, sugary drinks or any other choice the nanny-staters think they can take from the public.  It is a fairly simple concept to understand – “The laws of thermodynamics dictate that if you consume fewer calories than your body burns, you will create a caloric deficit resulting in weight loss.”

Yet those like Ozersky choose to ignore it in favor of government action to take choices and freedoms away from people.  McDonalds is obviously – at least in progressive circles – an evil purveyor of bad “processed” food.  And progressives believe it is their sworn duty to protect you from yourself and those corporations which prey on you.

Why?  Because you’re brainwashed:

Again and again, efforts to promote fresh fruit and produce in low-income urban areas have failed for the simple reason that Americans have been brainwashed. We have been conditioned, starting in utero, to prefer high-fat, high-salt, high-sugar concoctions rather than their less exciting, more natural culinary cousins.

Really?  I simply don’t recall that as being conditioned preference of mine.  Instead, visits to places such as McDonalds were irregular and not particularly common.  They were “treats” on occasion.  But they were hardly conditioning me for such a diet.

Where such conditioning takes place, if anywhere, is in the home.   It is there the bulk of all food is consumed and, pretty much, in the quantities desired.  It is there where children (and adults) are either encouraged to be active or left to decide for themselves (play outside or do XBox) their activity level. 

Banning toys in Happy Meals is simply an intrusion with no effect.  It’s an exercise in power, nothing more.  It has no beneficial effect and it is another in a long line of government imposed restrictions on freedom. 

In his conclusion, Ozersky asks, “And why are eight people in San Francisco the only ones who seem willing to step up and do something unpopular to address such a serious issue?”

Because they’re as enamored with the power they wield as Ozersky seems to be and just as clueless. This isn’t about doing anything to address a "serious issue". This is an exercise in power cloaked in some feel good nonsense.  It is about a group of people who feel they are entitled by their position to decide what is or isn’t acceptable for others and how those others should live their lives. This isn’t about doing something good, this is about stretching the envelope and seeing if they can get away with it.

If in fact they are allowed too, you can spend hours imagining what they’ll next decide you’re too stupid to realize or control and need their enlightened and progressive hand to stay you from your self-destructive ways.

Freedom is choice – and this bunch of progressives are all about limiting choice.

ASIDE: check out the comments to the Ozersky article.  Heartening.



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17 Responses to SF’s attack on Happy Meal’s is an attack on freedom

  • Its not like we have bigger problems to worry about than Happy Meals.

  • First, it is instructive to know that the National Socialists would be very much at home with these views expressed by Ozersky, right down to the fettish regarding the evils of processed foods.
    Second, the laws of thermodynamics cannot be suspended, regardless of how much wishful thinking we may employ.  People get fat because they consume more calories than they expend.  That is the only way that happens.
    Third, when the term “junk food” was coined some decades ago, I took violent exception.  There is no such thing.  Our ancestors would…literally…have killed for our “junk food”.  There is a lot of witchcraft in the world of “science”, and one place it is chock-a-block is in nutrition and “food politics”.  Food is food, and man never needed any “brainwashing” to want to consume fat, sugar, and salt.  Each of them are essential to life, and we are hard-wired to crave them.  Duh.

  • Oh, yeah…  And anyone who lingers in San Francisco is daft, much less dreams of raising a kid there.  Yeesh…!!!!
    But McQ’s larger point is well-taken, and one I’ve long noted.  As the BIG GOVERNMENT state takes on more and more, it does essential things less and less well.  Still, it is DRIVEN to take more on, because that is its nature.  I HAS to expand.

  • In a recent nutrition commentary that is making waves in food-politics circles… University of São Paulo professor Carlos Monteiro makes the case that “the rapid rise in consumption of ultra-processed food and drink products, especially since the 1980s, is the main dietary cause of the concurrent rapid rise in obesity and related diseases throughout the world.”

    Surprise, surprise.  Some researcher with a lot of letters after his name did some work and published a report and hey, presto! that makes what these jerks want to do into SCIENCE.  It’s the same with global warming.  I really resent how people have twisted and perverted science and research into a propaganda tool.

    IMO, the “problems” are:

    1.  “Processed food” tends to be very calorie-dense.

    2.  Processed foods tend to be relatively cheap and certainly quick to prepare / eat.  For people who don’t have a lot of money or time to buy and prepare fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fresh, lean meats, etc., they are a natural and logical choice.

    3.  The stuff tastes good.  Especially when I was younger, I would have happily eaten at McDonald’s, Taco Bell, KFC, etc. for most of my meals simply because I preferred that food.  Ragspierre is right: the human body is genetically programmed to crave fat, sugar and salt because these are calorie-dense or otherwise absolutely vital to survival.

    4.  People live very sedentary lifestyles.

    Toys have nothing to do with it.

    McQ[Y]ou can spend hours imagining what they’ll next decide you’re too stupid to realize or control and need their enlightened and progressive hand to stay you from your self-destructive ways.

    Sort of scary, ain’t it?

    Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

    C.S. Lewis

  • Yeah, the toys…those cheap all look the same, don’t do anything unless  you have some imagination toys are what’s doing it.  Seriously, I question the credibility of anyone in authority who thinks THAT’S a significant motivational factor for kids eating happy meals on a regular basis.
    The rest is typical liberal clap trap – that they’ve been programmed, they can’t help themselves, the kids and parents WANT to do the right thing, but evil corporations STOP them from making good choices.  They aren’t to blame, it’s someone ELSE, (preferably someone rich, and conservative) who is taking advantage of them.  More of the same pap they’ve been feeding the last couple generations via the education system and mass media.  You are wonderful, you are entitled, you aren’t to blame for your problems, and you can’t fix any of it without government help (and if you TRY?  you’re stupid and probably a racist).

  • It’s not just SF.  Here in NYC we have the Nanny-In-Chief Bloomberg, who’s focusing like a laser on NYC’s problems and launching a massive campaign about salt in canned soup and frozen foods.

    Yup, that’s the crucial stuff that made it so vital he change the law to steal a 3rd term.

    And of course, the pictures of dead bodies and crying children on cigarette packs coming soon!

    We keep this up, it will be easy for Kang and Kodos to conquer us merely with clubs.

    • Like I observed a few days back…
      They will fix this so we have neither
      Happy, nor

      • I can never be a CEO of a big company, because the 1st thing I’d do as head of Mickey D’s would be to shutter all SF restaurants immediately.

        How many people (including minority kids) out of work and not getting taxed on income?
        How much in taxes McD no longer has to pay to the city?
        How much corporate philanthropy now removed from the area?

        People need to learn their lesson at some point.

        • Yep.  Me, too.
          Then there is the terrible outcome of Happy Meal Apartheid…
          Better-off families will simply drive into the Happy Meal-benighted suburbs to secure the poison and plunder for their kiddies, while the poorest parents in SF merely get their kids the poison…for the same price

  • First they get rid of Happy Meals, now they’re after Happy Mohels

    • Eggs at $8.50 a dozen….makes perfect sense.  You just have to pretend Southie just closed the gates to withstand a siege.

  • My favorite link for these stories on dietary fat and heart disease (applies the the AGW story too).
    Everybody “knew” that there was a link between dietary fat and heart disease, but it’s never been proven.

  • The toy thing is based on the idea people are weak and being preyed upon by evil capitalists.
    In reality Parents are deciding to eat ‘junk’ food.  Because its easier on them.  McDonalds uses the toy to make the kids prefer them over others.
    The other issue here is that childrens’ diet needs are not adult diet needs.  They whether the ill effects of excess sugar and fat better.  And a little fat in their diet can be a good thing.  In fact an adult’s fat restricted diet could actually be harmful to young children.