The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Overruling NYC’s Ban on Large Sodas

A judge has overruled this.  I’m not a lawyer, so I won’t comment on the legality, what I will say is that in this case, I actually support Bloomberg.  High doses of sugar and fructose contribute to obesity and the diabetes epidemic: they kill a lot of people.  A lot more people than, say, marijuana.  There’s very little difference, in harm, between processed sugar/fructose in large doses and cigarettes.

You could, of course, also tax it into the ground.

I would also put limits on plate size in restaurants, and would tax fast food very heavily, along with increasing the minimum wage to at least $14/hour.  Get rid of ALL the corn subsidies and move them over to subsidizing small independently owned farms growing vegetables while taxing large corporate owned farms at higher rates (about half the remaining family owned farms in America went out of business during the last drought, I’m given to understand.)  All of those things would have significant beneficial health effects.  If you believe in markets (not free markets, there are no such things) you believe also that incentives have effects.  Change the incentives and you change the behaviour.

Oh, and tax the heck out of lawns, which do nothing but waste water, and make it legal everywhere (by making it a requirement for a federally conforming mortgage) to grow and sell vegetables at your home.


The Cassandra Complex


Go Zen: Drop Deserve and Take Responsibility


  1. Oh, and tax the heck out of lawns, which do nothing but waste water, and make it legal everywhere (by making it a requirement for a federally conforming mortgage) to grow and sell vegetables at your home.

    Hear hear! The social institution of lawns and the strange community by-laws that accompany it always were an abomination.

  2. Celsius 233

    When we have to legislate peoples behavior (even in their own self interest), then the fucking trip is over.
    Soda size? Sugar intake? Another war on substances?
    God’s almighty; have we really come to this?
    Scotty? Oh yeah; you’re dead…

  3. We always had to legislate these things. It’s no different from “forced” retirement saving. In the anarchist utopia, where people’s true selves are permitted to match their ideal selves, it won’t be necessary by definition. Otherwise there are negative externalities that need to be dealt with.

    Now what exactly needs to be controlled is a matter for science…

  4. Ian Welsh

    That’s a very libertarian view. We already legislate people’s behavior in their own interest. Seat belts, helmets, prescription drugs, traffic laws, illegal drugs, what pesticides can and can’t be used, how animals are slaughtered, how food is cooked in restaurants, what additives can and can’t go into food. Lawn darts. Some of those laws are good, some of them are bad.

    There is NO substantive difference between many of those laws and regulating or taxing sugar. If you want to make the libertarian argument in pure form, then you have to argue for ending all forms of goods which might harm the person using them. If you don’t want to use the pure form, then you have to argue benefits and negatives.

    Do I need to do a post with a diabetes graph? An obesity graph? Do you understand how fat and sick Americans (and Westerners) are?

  5. Celsius 233

    …Oh, and tax the heck out of lawns, which do nothing but waste water…
    Having lived in an “emerging” third world country for the last decade this (above quote) is the thing that irks me most. The first world’s galactic waste of water; but not just water, water that is fit for drinking right out of the tap, used for everything but human consumption.
    Here, 90+% of tap water is NOT fit for human ingestion; for that we have to buy RO water separately. Nowhere, that I’m aware of, is drinking quality water used for anything else.

  6. Celsius 233

    Do I need to do a post with a diabetes graph? An obesity graph? Do you understand how fat and sick Americans (and Westerners) are?
    Not for this one, I already know. It’s a form of mental/societal illness.
    I’m all for nature taking its course; it’s how I plan to leave.
    And believe me, my clock is far older than yours.

  7. Ian Welsh

    It’s really shocking, especially in the fat belt. When I returned from Denver in 2008 to Toronto I saw more people of “normal” weight in the 30 minute subway ride back from the airport than I saw in 5 days in Denver. You go to NYC or DC and you stay in central areas and you don’t realize just how bad it is.

    I lived overseas (Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia, India) plenty when I was a kid, I’m aware of the drinking water issues.

  8. Very strongly correlated with economic well-being though. NYC sodas are only a stopgap measure.

  9. Celsius 233

    I lived overseas (Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia, India) plenty when I was a kid, I’m aware of the drinking water issues.
    Didn’t know that, interesting. Most have no idea (as you already know).
    The U.S. is so broken; I’ve no expectation of anything but a dystopian future.
    As the Borg were so fond of saying; resistance is futile.
    Of course, I’ll never lie down for that or any of the other stupid human tricks.
    Cheers Ian; don’t let the bastards get you…

  10. Celsius 233

    Very strongly correlated with economic well-being though. NYC sodas are only a stopgap measure.
    Of course. And of course your other points are well taken and on the mark.

  11. Leo

    I have no problem with what Bloomberg was trying to accomplish, but the judge was right that the exceptions (convenience stores, > 50% milk beverages, etc.) made the law capricious, and, IMHO, self-defeating. Hopefully the city will rewrite the law without the exceptions.

  12. If people will not live a healthy lifestyle on their own, can a government successfully force them to by passing laws? The idea strikes me as ludicrous, especially when I peruse the aisles in the grocery store today.

    I was behind a woman in the checkout line a month or so ago. She must have weighed 400# and had a cart filled to the top. It was exclusively of the “Twinkie” class of foods; sugar enhanced cereals, cookies, prepared dinners, etc. Is preventing her from buying a supersized soft drink going to help the cause for her and her family?

  13. To respond the way I think a conservative would:
    The government shouldn’t interfere in the market by eliminating subsidies.

    I like the lawn tax idea but Scotts is too important an interest group.

  14. If people will not live a healthy lifestyle on their own, can a government successfully force them to by passing laws? The idea strikes me as ludicrous, especially when I peruse the aisles in the grocery store today.

    A large-scale shift in distribution came about by the changing of large-scale conditions. Presumably the purpose of government prior to the establishment of anarchist utopia is for us to get a handle on large-scale problems. It’s exactly like retirement: most people do not have the foresight or even sometimes the ability to save all they need to retire from the labour market.

    My main worry about all of this is the excessive pathologization of obesity as moral incontinence, becoming a burden, *over*emphasis on the direct health risks, rather than as a symptom of other associated things.

  15. David Kowalski

    Lawns where I live serve a needed function. the nearby Passaic River floods and lawns and trees absorb the water. Overbuilding leads directly to rather frequent flooding. Overbuilding has taken the form of mcmansions on relatively small lots (on third to four tenths of an acre for a 4,000 to 4,500 foot house. The standard house of 1,500 to 2,000 square feet sits on on half an acre.

    The other forms of local over building are big box stores. Zoning which had been pretty restrictive has been taken out of local hands and moved to the state government which approves everything that is large and corporate. The power of local zoning now is restricted to permits for fences and other nonsense issues.

  16. Ian Welsh

    Of course government can change how people eat. It already has, by massively subsidizing certain types of foods, and not subsidizing other types of food. This is a relatively trivial exercise, if you don’t want people eating sugar and corn syrup, tax the hell out of them. Most junk food uses a ton of corn syrup, corn in other forms, or sugar.

  17. Zoning itself is highly problematic. In most of Western Europe, mixing most commercial and residential uses is done as a matter of course. Urban apartments and row houses sometimes exist facing an inner courtyard with retail and office space on the outer courtyard. A lot of US/Canada suburban pathology is created by demanding that no one buy anything where someone may build a house. The big box phenomenon is a natural extension of this.

    Lawns meaning greenspace is not itself the problem, inherently. The problem is the artificial watered manicured lawn, with an enforced grass monoculture and no other use permitted but decorative. It’s intended to let people ape English gentry—or force them to.

  18. I understand what you’re saying, Ian, and I’m all for certain incentives and taxes, blah blah blah, but Bloomberg is a nut case sometimes, and this is one of those times.

    He also just gave a boatload of money — again — to Johns Hopkins, a phenomenally wealthy institution; meanwhile, thousands of NY residents are still without homes after Hurricane Sandy. Bloomberg’s off his rocker.

  19. nihil obstet

    I’m puzzled by people who object to taxing corn and sugar products, but seem to have no objections to the very heavy federal subsidies that corn and sugar enjoy. Does it have something to do with preserving illusions about individual free choice? If I can see the tax raising the cost of what I buy, it’s the interfering government nanny state. If I can’t see the subsidy lowering the cost of what I buy, there’s no government interference. Is that it?

    The world is too complex now for any individual to know enough to make the wise, informed choices that we’re told we ought to make. The information we get is provided by corporations out to make profits, and the information is provided in ways that create emotional longings. In this context, agents supporting wise decisions should use incentives to mitigate the damage.

  20. Cigarettes, already touched upon in this thread, are the obvious comparison.

    As rather defiant smoker (I have no excuse or justification for this, it’s just so), the creeping regulations against smoking, stretching back to the late ’70’s in my experience, has been an ongoing burr in my ass. I have raged, I have cursed, I still sneer against the “harm” that I experience just trying to get a damned drag.

    My psychological capitulation to the smoking ban in bars (!) is aided by some ethical sense: Shouldn’t force people to suffer secondhand smoke at their job (eff the other patrons, who are there by choice), so I deal.

    For all of my squirming, however, my more benevolent civic side acknowledges that the anti-smoking Nudge from government and media propaganda has achieved a greater good – it might piss me off that my kid looks at me as if he is beholding Satan himself when I light up, but it’s kind of nice to see he doesn’t have the habit himself.

    Of course government (“us,” for all of its warts) can do a little successful social engineering. Even, at times, for the good.

    Now get off of my lawn!

  21. S Brennan


    I wouldn’t use marijuana laws to justify anything, there are already too many underclass rotting in jails while killers roam free.

    “limits on plate size in restaurants”, NO, how would you police that…TSA?

    “tax fast food very heavily”, NO, you’d kill off a lot of small business’s, while McDonald’s would use lawyers to make sure it got the lowest rate.

    “increasing the minimum wage to at least $14/hour”, YES and while we are at it, end all the practices that have led to a declining wage for average US citizens, H1-B’s, L-1’s, TN’s and a host of others that bring in 450,000/yr into the STEM professions

    “Get rid of ALL the corn subsidies”, YES, make Iowa the last primary in the United States, ban candidates selected by caucus for federal offices.

    “Subsidizing small independently owned farms growing vegetables”, WE ALREADY DO WITH OPPRESSIVE LABOR LAWS, put Salinas and the Central valley on next vacation route, or read about Chavez.

    “taxing large corporate owned farms at higher rates”, YES, break up farms to smaller parcels would be good for the environment. AND tax the shit out of Monsanto and it’s pinkertons

    “tax the heck out of lawns, which do nothing but waste water”, NO, c’mon the grass I have is less than 250ft^2 front and back, the rest is garden, it keeps weeds from growing [used to spend 1.5 hours every other week weeding…most people won’t they’ll just use weed killer]. Plus it’s great place for me and my dog to play. Most people use rain barrels in my neighborhood (remember, I am just south of BC).

  22. Ian Welsh

    If you’re going to use the “X large industry will lobby” argument, then we may as well admit we’re all fucked, screwed, and that a couple billion or more people are going to die from climate change than necessary. At which point I should stop writing.

    There are very few fast-food restaurants in Scandinavian countries. They do just fine without them. There are plenty of things we can hire people to do, but even if we couldn’t we’d be better off giving them a guaranteed annual income and having them rotate on their thumbs, because such restaurants do a great deal of damage.

    As for lawns, ok, overstated the case. However no covenants requiring them, no municipal laws disallowing gardens. And in a lot of places they do need to go (like desert states with water problems, and, well, most of California, and…)

    Where I live every restaurant gets inspected once a year. Those that don’t pass get shut down.

    Government works when you want it to.

  23. S Brennan

    I agree with this “Government works when you want it to”. Remember, I am the guy who keeps saying that if want to make progress in the US, we need to return to what brought so much progress during the FDR/New Deal years [1932-1978], what worked before, FDR policies, regulations and laws.

    But inspecting for portion control is not like inspecting for cleanliness…one is hard, the other damn near impossible.

    Besides, the reason people are getting fat is a combination of work related stress*, imposed idleness at work**, long hours*** [longer than Japan] and long daily commutes that range from 1.25 – 2.35 hours a day. All of this recent, all of it missing for most of the 1932-1978 period. These are the proximate cause, with stress being the biggest, lack of security triggers a hormonal response in primates that cause them to “get hungry” and sugar and fatty starch’s are what will stop the hormone flow.

    Now granted, as the rest of Europe returns to the 19th century economics of austerity and shreds the social contracts, things will worsen there as well…

    *[stuff like “do I get laid off this week” – “do I really have play the “Tom” role to keep this job” – “how much free overtime do I have to give to keep from being fired” – “if I don’t train my foreign replacement I’ll be fired, but if I do, I’ll be laid-off]

    ** A lot of workers are forced to remain seated, asking for something as simple as being able to go to the toilet.


  24. Bolo

    If people will not live a healthy lifestyle on their own, can a government successfully force them to by passing laws? The idea strikes me as ludicrous, especially when I peruse the aisles in the grocery store today.

    People do not decide their lifestyle on their own. We are all the focus of billions upon billions of dollars in advertising to get us to drink and eat certain products created by the private sector. The private sector has successfully gotten people to eat garbage (myself included) for the better part of a century now. It’s entirely possible. It’s been done.

    What NYC is doing is regulating the ability of the private sector to negatively influence the choices, lifestyles, and health of its citizens.

  25. Bolo

    As for lawns, ok, overstated the case. However no covenants requiring them, no municipal laws disallowing gardens. And in a lot of places they do need to go (like desert states with water problems, and, well, most of California, and…)

    I lived in Phoenix for 5 years. Watching golf courses getting watered at 2pm in 105 degrees and with 1% humidity… you could see the water sizzling off the grass and into the air.

  26. jcapan

    As lovely as many Scandinavians are, I’m not sure I’d hold them up as a success story. Their rates are still relatively high:

    The best model to emulate would be found on the islands I call home and no where better to start than with kids:

    And I’d add that McDonald’s is as ubiquitous here as in Fast Food Nation. As Ian says, I see more obese people at Dulles when I land stateside than I see all year here, not counting the sumo wrestlers I’m going to watch later this afternoon.

    In any event, once again our author illustrates how mindgobbingly obvious the solutions are if we only had the resolve. And I can’t just chalk it all up to evil corporations/media. If you can’t take ownership of your own backside …

  27. Celsius 233

    @ jcapan
    In any event, once again our author illustrates how mindgobbingly obvious the solutions are if we only had the resolve. And I can’t just chalk it all up to evil corporations/media. If you can’t take ownership of your own backside …
    Mercy; one would think we’re bots operating under some master droid.
    No minds, no will, no autonomy, no brains.
    I’m with you; we always have choice.
    As I stated above; the society is sick (mentally ill) and frankly, let things fall where they may.
    Maybe a culling is in order…

  28. jcapan


    Wiki: Culling is the process of removing breeding animals from a group based on specific criteria. This is done either to reinforce certain desirable characteristics or to remove certain undesirable characteristics from the group. For livestock and wildlife alike, culling usually implies the killing of the removed animals.

  29. S Brennan

    One myth rises above all others. It affects public opinion about what drives America’s diet, how politicians respond to increasing obesity, what we permit of the food industry, and the health of the nation.

    It is captured in two words — personal responsibility — The myth has strong, well-funded and politically powerful proponents, most notably the food industry, its trade associations and political figures influenced by industry lobbyists. One example is the National Restaurant Assn. and its state affiliates who use their considerable political muscle to oppose actions such as offering calorie values on restaurant menus (despite more than 80% of the public favoring such action) while trumpeting the personal-responsibility mantra.

    Personal responsibility is not a hard sell in a country steeped in Puritan values of hard work, discipline and self-restraint. It works in some contexts but has two fundamental flaws when considering the nation’s diet — it is wrong and it leads down a failed and unproductive path. Every country in the world has increasing rates of obesity. Are people becoming irresponsible in remote islands in the Indian Ocean, poor African countries, China, India and everywhere else? People who move to the U.S. tend to gain weight, and those who move from the U.S. tend to lose. Laboratory animals given calorie-dense foods sold in any convenience store will ignore healthy foods and as much as triple their body weight. When the environment promotes obesity, weight will rise.

    Economists use the term “optimal defaults” to describe conditions that promote beneficial or healthy choices…We could reduce traffic deaths by just imploring people to wear seat belts, drive slowly and avoid dangerous roads, but we install air bags. We could deal with air and water pollution by asking citizens to be responsible (wear masks and boil water), but instead we monitor industry, have emissions standards for cars, etc.

    The nation’s diet is driven by terrible defaults. Large portions, a tidal wave of food marketing directed at children, schools selling unhealthy foods, and economic policy that makes healthy food cost more than calorie-dense processed foods are but a few examples of defaults that take a massive toll on the nation’s health and well-being.

    The challenge is to create better defaults. This will be possible only when we turn from blaming people for irresponsible actions to giving the nation what it deserves — conditions that make responsible behavior the easy choice.

    Kelly D. Brownell is a professor of psychology, epidemiology and public health at Yale University, where he serves as director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.,0,5487871.story?coll=la-promo-opinion

  30. Celsius 233

    March 12, 2013
    I apparently used the wrong term.
    As S Brennan says above; personal responsibility!
    I’m not advocating killing anybody; however many Americans are committing a slow and expensive suicide; let them.

  31. S Brennan

    Celsius 233,

    Keep me out of your eugenic sentiments, experts in the field say you [and those like minded] are simpletons.

    Stress is factor #1 and that stress is directly related to hierarchical status. Cruelty is how you display status as a primate, which leads to premature death, you advocating death by cruelty is hardly new, monkeys express the same thoughts. The fact that you confuse primal urges with higher thought speaks volumes about your intellectual capacity and self realization.

    Stress May Drive Obesity Epidemic
    By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
    Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on May 14, 2008

    weightA new research study finds that some subjects consume calorie-rich foods at a significantly higher level when chronically exposed to a psychologically stressful environment.

    The behavioral impact of stress and weight gain occurred among subjects who were assuming subordinate roles in their social hierarchy.

    Because the relationship between diet, psychological stress and social and environmental factors is complex, researchers set out to determine whether individuals chronically exposed to psychologically stressful environments over consume calorie-rich foods.

    Scientists at at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, found socially subordinate female rhesus macaques over consume calorie-rich foods at a significantly higher level than do dominant females.

    The study, which is available in the online edition of Physiology and Behavior, is a critical step in understanding the psychological basis for the sharp increase in obesity across all age groups since the mid-1970s.

    The study also is the first to show how food intake can be reliably and automatically measured, thus identifying the optimal animal model and setting for future obesity studies.

    To do this, they studied the feeding patterns of socially housed female rhesus macaques, which are organized by a dominance hierarchy that maintains group stability through continual harassment and threat of aggression. Such structure is a constant psychological stress to subordinates.

    During the study, female macaques were given access to a sweet but low-fat diet and a high-fat diet for 21 days each. For a 21-day period between each test diet, the group was able to access standard monkey chow only.

    To track feeding patterns, automated feeders dispensed a pellet of either the low-fat or high-fat chow when activated by a microchip implanted in each female’s wrist.

    Researchers found socially subordinate females consumed significantly more of both the low-fat diet and the high-fat diet throughout a 24-hour period, while socially dominant females ate significantly less than subordinate animals and restricted their feedings to daytime hours.

    This difference in feeding behavior resulted in accelerated weight gain and an increase in fat-derived hormones in subordinate females. Dr. Wilson believes this may suggest profound changes in metabolism and the accumulation of body fat.

    “Subordinates may be on a trajectory for metabolic problems. As this study shows, they prefer the high-fat diet and, as a result of the stress of being a subordinate, they have higher levels of the hormone cortisol.

    This may be involved in the redistribution of fat to visceral locations in the body, something that is clinically associated with type II diabetes metabolic syndrome,” continued Dr. Wilson.

    Using Yerkes’ extensive neuroimaging capabilities, Dr. Wilson and his research team next will attempt to determine the neurochemical basis for why subordinate females overeat; specifically, whether appetite signals and brain areas associated with reward and satisfaction differ between subordinate and dominant females.

  32. Hamfast Ruddyneck

    ^ Ouch. Celsius got 0wn3d like Kunta Kinte.

    (I dated myself with THAT reference.) -_^

  33. Celsius 233

    @ Hamfast Ruddyneck

    Thanks so much for that erudite contribution to this thread.

  34. Celsius 233

    Celsius 233,
    Keep me out of your eugenic sentiments, experts in the field say you [and those like minded] are simpletons.
    Wow, that’s quite a leap. And totally misses the point.
    Personal Responsibility; your words.
    I agree whole heartedly and it’s the missing ingredient in 99% of what’s going on today.
    I learned along time ago to be highly suspicious of most psychology; because of “them” we are a Prozac Nation, ADHD/ADD infected, PTSD afficted (self), and millions of children on Ritalin.
    There are always “reasons” found for every pathology; but what is most generally lacking is any sense of personal responsibility. It’s rife in America (and where I’m expatting as well) and I’m a bit perplexed with your rational of this “research”, which once again, will likely be dealt with by some form of medication.
    When we, as a country, can finally mature past the post pubescent age of 17, we may just start to come to grips with the poor, the ignorant, the willfully under-educated, and mentally weak/scared/damaged citizens who populate the country known as the U.S.A.
    We’re a population bereft of any empathy.
    So, now you put your faith in psycho-anthropologists? Good luck with that…

  35. guest

    As I stated above; the society is sick (mentally ill) and frankly, let things fall where they may.
    Maybe a culling is in order…

    I’m not advocating killing anybody; however many Americans are committing a slow and expensive suicide; let them.

    We’re a population bereft of any empathy.

    Oh my god, are you drunk?

  36. Celsius 233

    And you are a jerk; posted every one out of the context of the sentence. FU!

  37. kj1313

    Honestly if Bloomberg cared he would’ve been better off banning HFCS instead of arbitrary regulations that didn’t were a mish mosh from place to place. That’s why the transfat ban worked while this didn’t.

  38. Ian Welsh

    Alright folks, enough. Be polite or drop it.

  39. I would like to give S Brennan a Gold Star on this issue for hitting the nail on the head re stress, excessive individualization of the issues, etc.

  40. I disagree with the ban, to me it would be like saying alcohol can only be sold in airline size containers because the bigger bottles lead to alcoholism.

  41. Bolo

    Genetics plus environment plus individual will.

    You can’t do too much about genetics, at least not with current technology and wealth distribution. Environment includes immediate peers, stress levels (place in the hierarchy), customs under which you were raised (of family, nation, etc.) , and larger societal influence (e.g. advertising, suburban development styles, etc.). Individual will is self-explanatory but, as Ian has pointed out repeatedly, is relatively weak. It is especially weak in the face of environment and genetics, as these are constantly wearing on the individual.

    Individual responsibility is important, but it is absolutely crucial to recognize that the vast majority of the population will succumb to the overall social currents of their time and place.

  42. Ian Welsh

    We highly regulate alcohol. In Canada you can’t get more than 40 proof, in many provinces it can’t be sold in ordinary stores, and so on.

  43. David Kowalski

    S Brennan and Mandos,

    The four years of “recovery” have not been good for most Americans or Europeans. The stock market may be back and “wealth”may have officially recovered but that is not what most of us are actually experiencing.

    Not long ago, 65% of Americans owned homes. Most households wealth was largely in the net value of their homes. That plunged dramatically with the banks keeping theirs and the homeowners, aka 65% of Americans, losing an average of 35% of value and nearly or all of their wealth.

    Real unemployment remains stubbornly above 10% probably closer to 15%. If you count WPA workers as employed, unemployment now is equivalent to that of 1934-35 and our recession actually is staying under 10% real unemployment longer than the Great depression did.

    Government is seen as making things worse by both conservatives and by liberals these days (tax cuts to re-distribute money upwards, shredding of the social safety net). Not true in the 1930s when Social security, FDIC, re-organization (not funding) of the banks, regulation of the stock market, unemployment compensation and the alphabet soup of government programs built up America.

    Workers ability to control their own fate has also decreased. Union membership continues its downward trend and it has accelerated during the Obama recovery years. Overall, membership (11.3% in 2012) is down to the rates before the Wagner Act was passed in 1935 and membership in private industry (6.6%) is down to the levels of the early 1900s. Some of this is desperation but much is due to deliberate policy by the Koch brothers and their allies.

    Among the states with a sharp downtrend in union membership since 2008 are Maryland, Delaware and D.C., areas with liberal democrats “in control” as well as large black populations (blacks are the racial/ethnic group most likely to join unions according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics). Of course, similar drops were recorded in some states with Republican governors (WI, IN, NJ).

    Two things seem to be pushing this. The immediate benefit of the investor class and the political advantage enjoyed by Republicans through weakening unions.

    It is time, past time, for a change for the better.

  44. S Brennan

    If you want to get a grip on the underlying problem of negative personal behaviors (caloric consumption being a small portion of the spectrum), you have to, [at the very least], explore long term stress. To explore long term stress you have to look at the role hierarchy plays in it’s imposition upon a social group. Bear in mind, that long term stress changes genetic expression through a mechanism called epigenetics (chemical switches that turn on/off our genes). Effectively, your genes will change if you are exposed to constant stress, the same way they do when humans are exposed to carcinogens.

    For a light and entertaining overview, you would be well advised to take the time to watch this National Geographic special, available on Netflix or this link.

    intro is ~3 minutes long and can be skipped, FYI the show is really about hierarchy’s role in inducing stress.

    Although National Geographic is pretty much an NSA organ, many of our National Security institutions survived the doctrinal purges of our comrade Bush [the 1st] and are quite useful…and somewhat subversive, think GINI coefficient.

    Yes, the GINI coefficient, is often fudged, or not given for countries that do well by policies that are deemed inappropriate by our ruling cabal, but the concept itself is highly subversive to hierarchical doctrine. That doctrine is often referred to as the “Chicago School of economics” which is the religion of our rulers and their minions. It is a religion that permits…no, change that…encourages primate cruelty, by redefining it as pious behavior.

  45. S Brennan

    David Kowalski, the comment you addressed to me is insightful and really opened my eyes to a reality that is quite country to my own.

    Thanks for letting me know things are worse than they have been in the past [in say, 1932-1978 period*], as you have read my comments dutifully you will notice my strong support for continuing on our present path and plunging my country further into darkness. Thank goodness you told me the truth about the Koch brothers and the Republicans, I never would have guessed they were meanies without your help! Fortunately we have the Democrats and Obama, who is both your hero [AND MINE!!!] to save us from those bad people.

    PS , you’re swell guy, thanks for the enlightenm…Oh wait a minute, I just checked my junk mail and there 6 emails saying pretty much the same thing you did…and asking me to send money to Democratic Party bundling organizations. …whoa…yesterday has the same…wait a MINUTE…Monday too…oh look, Sunday’s the same…Saturday too…and Friday…and… HEY, you not one of these guys are you? I guess I’ll have to take back all those nice things I said about you.

    *I don’t know why I keep picking that time period, over and over and over and over, since read my comments consistently, you must know, what do you think?

  46. Daniel Henry

    Regulating portion control is a tricky one…Now I am a 25y/o male active in grappling so I’m obviously an outlier, but I have been practicing my own take on “intermittent fasting” for the past few years…I will never go back to the rat race that is the standard, 3 meal a day, carbohydrate driven, satiety absent way of eating that is common (or the even more stress inducing 6 meal a day, whole grains based “healthy” approach). The waters are so thoroughly polluted…

  47. Hamfast Ruddyneck

    @ Celsius:

    You’re welcome. ^_^

  48. David Kowalski

    Ah, S Brennan. I never voted for Obama and never intend to vote for anyone with his views.

    I was agreeing with your comment, not arguing for Obama and placing it into context.

    I think many people would think that things are far better than in the late 30s. Some of the fools use the late 30s to “explain” why government can not sove economic problems even when the data shows the exact opposite.

    I see Obama as a right winger in disguise and at least a good chunk of the Democratic party as following in his foot steps.

    The de-unionizing of DC and Maryland is hard to explain unless one buys the influence of the federal government in that process. That may be partly the role of Republicans but Obama and the Democrats have a big part in it. Obama, after all, promised the Blue Dogs austerity before the vote for increased government spending and he has pretty well complied. Just not as much as Republicans have complied with the wishes of their donors (and corporate Democrats have complied with the wishes of many of the same donors).

    Virginia (the more military of the DC suburbs) is already pretty anti-union.

  49. S Brennan

    Dearest David Kowalski,

    I was talking about: “stress, excessive individualization of the issues, etc.”* before you started going off on your unrelated spiel…nothing you say to me is news…other than you addressing me for no apparent reason. And that…Dearest David Kowalski is why I gave your comment any notice…which is probably the purpose of your banal literary device…to get attention.

    * – Mandos

  50. Don’t forget GM wheat. Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune thyroid disease that has escalated since GM wheat showed up. And people with Celiac disease are having a bigger problem when their food is cross contaminated with this junk. GM wheat/gluten is making us sicker.

  51. It would be easier to teach people about proper diets and make sure they have access to real food. And this approach has about the same chance of being done as the policing approach. Most are forced into obesity and diabetes by economic need, availability of grocery stores or lack of knowledge. Although it is true that not just poor people are fat.

    Big Ag and with the rest of the MOTU run our diets/transportation/health care/etc. Nothing is going to change.

  52. “Large pops”…?

    Not the major point here, but I’m fascinated by the regionalisms. In NYC and environs, it’s “soda.” Nobody would know what you mean by “pop.”

  53. EverythingsJake

    Love this post, but unfortunately, I was misled by my education: facts don’t matter.

  54. Ian Welsh

    Ha, Thers. Didn’t know that. Pop is what we call it in Canada, at least in all parts of Canada from Ontario west (not sure about the rest.)

  55. I had to expunge the word from my vocabulary when I moved to the USA. Now I have to get used to words like “boissons gazeuses” and “sprudelnde Getränke” and “läsk” and …

  56. Peter

    If you want to get a grip on the underlying problem of negative personal behaviors (caloric consumption being a small portion of the spectrum), you have to, [at the very least], explore long term stress.

    Or short term pleasure. It’s always easy to zero in on a particular vice or excess, haul out a little scientific bafflegab and call for a sumptuary law. Who is going to defend the 32 oz. Slurpee? But I’m surprised that commenters on a left wing site seem so unaware that these “causes” always seem to target the excesses of the little people and address tastes and predilictions the beautiful people don’t by and large share. There was a picture in one of the NYC papers of Bloomberg’s “Health Commissioner” and her team when this plan was first announced. They all looked like anorexic Park Avenue matrons fresh from sessions with their personal trainers. The picture just oozed noblesse oblige and one could easily imagine them returning home for a few martinis and crudités to celebrate a hard day saving hoi polloi from themselves.

    I’m really sorry there wasn’t a populist politician from, say, Harlem with the wit to say that he too was worried about obesity, but he was also worried about excess alcohol consumption, and so he was prepared to support the Mayor provided the Mayor supported his call for a law that provided wine could only be sold in half-bottles in NYC.

  57. Bolo

    Ha, Thers. Didn’t know that. Pop is what we call it in Canada, at least in all parts of Canada from Ontario west (not sure about the rest.)

    I was born in “pop,” raised and educated in “soda,” and I now live and work right on the “soda/coke” border.

  58. Heh. They calls it “pop” out here in AZ, too. It was a tough transition for this Jersey boy. 🙂

  59. nihil obstet

    In the South, it’s “soft drink”, though “soda” seems to have made inroads in recent years.

  60. @Peter:

    Or short term pleasure… I’m surprised that commenters on a left wing site seem so unaware that these “causes” always seem to target the excesses of the little people and address tastes and predilictions the beautiful people don’t by and large share.

    I agree with your larger point (crack vs. cocaine sentencing reflects this, in a way) – but just wanted to point out that long-term stress, among other things, has an effect on one what might choose as short-term pleasure.

    If you’ve ever surprised yourself with an uncharacteristic eating-binge after a period of food insecurity, you’ll know what I mean.

  61. S Brennan

    Exactly Petro,

    One of the [many] reasons my thoughts are estranged from many on the “left” is that I was forced to spend my middle-later teenage years living on the street. The “voices” of the left seem to have lives of privilege and access, I think that is why they feel so comfortable with Obama and his policies. Comfort the comfortable and that maim and cripple those whose meritorious efforts might outshine the sycophantic minions whose jobs come from the easy entree afforded by going to the “right” school.

    I remember my first job that paid enough that I could afford to share a cold water flat. I remember getting a union labor job which allowed me to save up to buy a color TV, a table and chair. Working outside in subfreezing temperatures and being happy about it. I remember night school at a community college, joining the US Army at thirty to pay for University. I remember a Drill’s laugher as he implied that my easy days were over…and how I looked him straight in the eye and told him that the food and the cot were an upgrade compared to where I had been…I was not joking…and how he knew* that.

    I know food insecurity from that time. I know the intense pleasure food can create when you haven’t eaten for a few days, or how it calms the nerves when life hangs by a thread. It is comparable to afterglow. Wanting to recreate that feeling** when life creates similar tension is a reasonable response for those who are low born, or forced to live in ever more hobsian world of insecure/low pay/status work .

    In fact, when these issues come up it is an excellent opportunity to turn upper class lecturing around on them. Instead of buying into the trope, point out that the root problem is the poor treatment meted out by the ruling class. As I outlined above, work/social conditions have been deteriorating during a time of great wealth creation…and that is the proximate cause.

    Now let’s discuss that Mr. Bloomberg. Why did your class suddenly decide to engage in ruthless exploitation of the very American system that made you so very wealthy? Surely, you knew from previous experience in the gilded age what it would do to our society? Surely you know of primate studies that show cruel hierarchies manifest all sorts of medical maladies that result in a disparity of longevity? And what are you offering now, blame for people who victims of your depravity? To withhold retirement in order than that they may die from your abusive treatment while working?

    Are you truly that uneducated Mr. Bloomburg? Are you fit to rule, doesn’t your gross ignorance negate the superiority argument? How come our rulers are so much weaker that their predecessors, why do they require so much more pampering?

    Forget super-sized soft drinks, why do you need to be served “portions” of society that are so much larger* than you parents required?

    *his life had a similar tune
    **hormonal rush
    ***portions ten to fifteen times larger than the uber-rich of yesteryear

  62. S Brennan

    While the article is very careful to edit out the actual causes, this goes back to what I was saying about enforced idleness in the workplace and daily commute:

  63. David Kowalski

    I was talking about stress, lack of control over one’s own life, and a diminished future and present.

    The reason that your junk mail is sent is that it is based on a kernel of truth that is then wrapped up in nice packaging and sold down the river.

    I abandoned various sites due to the presence and enforcement of the Obots. Is it time to move on from here? Read what I say, not what you “think” I say.

  64. Another comparison with cigarettes (industry response), and some words on how the “oppression” trope is used:

    How Big Gulps Are Exactly Like Cigarettes

  65. S Brennan

    Petro, I read the article, I don’t disagree with what was said, but my point is the the whole conversation is wrong, it always goes back to blaming the victim of our excessively hierarchical society.


    Why do high urban professionals walk more?

    Are they better educated on health, higher moral character, better genes? That’s the conversation…only at the bottom of the article is there an un-noticable sentence that brings up the most pertinent fact…walkable neighborhoods tend to have housing that 2-3 times the cost of suburbia.

    I would love to live in such a neighborhood. But comparing my near burb at 950/6,000 house/lot to an urban 800/1,000 townhouse/lot results in a $200,000.00 vs $525,000.00 difference, a factor of 2.625. Unlike the hipsters, I grew up in a heavily urbanized area of a major city, today as an engineer, I could barely afford to park there now…and my education far surpasses either of my parents.

    These conversations are just the upper class justifying there immoral behavior. Why does the uppermost class[s] require on average 10 times the share of the nations wealth that their uber wealthy parents required?

    Bloomberg thought process is easily revealed in this comment from TBP:

    Joe Friday Says:
    March 14th, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    Finally got around to watching a Charlie Rose from a week or so ago with Mike Bloomberg and Bill Gates. In the span of about FIVE MINUTES, Bloomberg stated:

    * “Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are SO big they are going to take over the whole budget” MYTH. Social Security isn’t part of the federal budget and has nothing whatsoever to do with federal deficits, and the only problem Medicare & Medicaid have is where they are purchasing their medical care.

    * That we should “Raise the age that [Medicare & Social Security] kick in, because life expectancy has gone up DRAMATICALLY from when the programs were created” NO, it hasn’t. For those reaching 65, it’s barely moved.

    * “When Social Security was started, there were 33 people who worked for every single recipient, today it’s 3 or 2 or something like that” BLAH BLAH BLAH. There will be about 79 dependents (children and retirees) for every 100 workers in 2030, compared to 95 dependents per 100 workers in 1965. ‘Nuff said.

    * “There is no Social Security Trust fund” BLINDINGLY RIDICULOUS. It’s right HERE.

    * “Business needs specificity. Of they new what the tax law was gonna be, if they knew what the regulations were gonna be, they would go and create businesses, you would go and buy a new house, he would take a vacation, we all stimulate the economy, and UNCERTAINTY is one of the real problems” GOOD GRIEF. This is NOT how the national economy functions. We are a DEMAND economy. It’s nothing but regurgitated gibberish that has been debunked numerous times.


    Bloomberg strikes me as an intelligent guy, and he doesn’t seem to have some Looney Toons ideological agenda like the RightWingers, so just how does a man of his caliber get to be so dangerously uninformed ?

  66. patricia

    S Brennan: Unfortunately, IQ intelligence has nothing to do with drawing accurate meaning out of complete data. Personal bias is at work here. It’s an equal-opportunity resource with the consistently trashy product of blooming idiocy, no matter in which corner of the country it grows.

    It’s a weed that spreads untrammeled when one’s ethical ground has been ignored. In these ways, Bloomburg is as big a dolt as, say, Pat Robertson.

    We need to start making char out of those weeds so as to improve the soil.

  67. Mark

    Cheap high-sugar products and cheap alcohol should be regulated.
    What’s your take on minimum pricing (in this case on alcohol) that David Nutt talks about?

  68. I think David Nutt has too much time on his hands and should probably mind his own business. OK, his business is neuropsychopharmacology, so I’ll forgive him his lens.

    He has a point – however patronizing it may be – but I would prefer that we’d look into the problems of poverty and homelessness before we price one of the rare pleasures they can enjoy out of their reach.

  69. Celsius 233

    March 17, 2013
    …but I would prefer that we’d look into the problems of poverty and homelessness before we price one of the rare pleasures they can enjoy out of their reach.
    There’s been far too much bullshit and hyperbole for comfort. How about “personal responsibility”? It was actually mentioned but shoved under the table by a lot of psycho-babble and personal attacks against those who disagreed.
    Personal responsibility doesn’t start at the beginning of the problem; it’s the most likely reason FOR the problem!
    Personal responsibility predates all problems; it’s the cause célèbres of a life well lived.
    God’s be good; can we have really come this far? Pricing a legal drug out of reach of the poorest?
    This whole thread has been a huge disappointment in the discourse of communication via people; are we really this dysfunctional, threatened, frightened, insecure? Can we not simply ask a question of those who speak (so to speak) to clarify their meaning? Rather than launch into an instant attack? We rarely know the people we interact with; so how can we assume to know, what they mean, by what they say?
    That we can’t have civil discourse speaks volumes…
    And what hope for a future…

  70. Celsius 233

    Personal responsibility doesn’t start at the beginning of the problem; it’s the most likely reason FOR the problem!
    For those too dull to understand my mistake; let me clarify;
    it’s LACK, is the most likely reason FOR the problem.
    Thank you…

  71. Formerly T-Bear

    Sometime in the ’80’s I recall reading about a study made about diabetes and the Arizona Pima Indian tribe. The gist was that survival biology endowed the tribe, selected through generations of living in their environment and that their metabolism was highly developed to store energy whenever it was available in their bodies as fat. What was found was that modern conditions removed the normal feast and starvation from their experience, in effect continuous feast had become the norm, weight gain and diabetes were the result.

    It is not hard to imagine that that same metabolism is shared by a great portion of the human species. But instead of feast or famine in foodstuffs from the natural larder available to hunter gatherers or early agriculturalists, an increasing portion of the population find themselves locked in ghettos without possession of the means to feed themselves and are economically coerced into accepting whatever larder industrial food is willing to provide them without going through feast or famine – an infinite feast of twinkies, if you will.

    The health consequences given the dystopian health system available is dire and it is not unreasonable to attempt to head off foreseeable catastrophe which what seems to be attempted. Granted the plan arrived at was ill thought out and harshly applied upon the victims rather that exploring cause and systematic fault and addressing those issues, the wide range of opinions suggested here are nothing but opinions, some with merit, others a vacuous as those calories being consumed. Everything stated so far is opinion and has no more weight than opinion. Little fact has been provided and those who have linked to some presumed authority that agrees with their opinion need to consider their argument much more closely for flaws, you would be better rewarded by finding authority that disagrees and showing where that authority is in error. Some need to grow up as well.

  72. It is difficult when you are “concerned with things.” That is part of the reason that I said that Nutt should mind his own business (the other part is the Friedman-esque lede to his piece wherein he comes off as voyeuristic and patronizing).

    For example, I am just as “concerned” with those who might exploit the situation by offering cheap alcohol as “loss leaders” (the equivalent of free hits by Steppenwolf’s “goddam pusherman”), as I am with the social engineers. It all depends upon what language and which perspective the attention is focused. Thus, I become torn, and my ambivalence is reflected in this thread. In that context, I am inclined to go full-metal-personal-responsibility like @Celsius.

    However, the attempt at a soda ban seems, morally, a bit more acceptable than the alcohol & cigarette bans. This obviously needs clarification!

    The former “feels” like a collective correction to the incremental corporatization of our lifestyle choices – as if we have become “aware” that this craziness with the sugar-water has crossed a line. Indeed, it evokes the idea that there is a collective “personal responsibility” at play. Of course, if you are Margaret Thatcher and believe that society is a myth, you will sneer at this.

    The latter is somewhat more ham-handed in that it imposes a regressive prohibition via taxation. It reeks more strongly of patronage-from-above, if “above” is to be defined as those wealthy enough to shrug off the inconvenience. While there remains the “pusherman” argument, it is weakened by the form of the response. In this framing, the “personal responsibility” argument becomes less of a fulcrum.

    Of course, I could be Zen about it and stop being so damned “concerned,” in which case the personal responsibility gallery leaps to its feet in applause.

  73. S Brennan

    Thanks Petro!

    Celsius, thanks for informing me that everybody who doesn’t agree with your view is “dull”.

    From my point of view, dictating your “idea” of personal responsibility reads like a slave owners manual.

    As you see Ian, these tropes are thinly disguised cats paws of upper class warriors…let them carry their own spear, shield, sword…and water into battle, they have enough advantages without our help.

  74. Celsius 233

    Celsius, thanks for informing me that everybody who doesn’t agree with your view is “dull”.
    I didn’t say that. Your words. There you go again.
    You’re a genuine sophist, twist away. Cheers.

  75. Formerly T-Bear

    @ Petro, @ S Brennan
    So some of the cohort still survives. Must be the part that didn’t get the clue, or couldn’t get the clue, two hands, a flashlight and a basket to boot.

    This forum is not about your opinions. This is a forum where you can express your opinions. This forum allows others their opinions as well. You do not get to decide which opinions will be voiced, or if they are voiced, erode that voice with endlessly stated drivel. This is what you both do. It is tiresome. It is boring. It is jejune. Grow up.

  76. S Brennan

    Formerly T-Bear ,

    This forum is exactly what Ian says it is, you don’t get a vote…and you don’t get the dictatorial powers you claim.

    If Ian says says you have the power you claim…fine, otherwise you are full of poop. Got it?

  77. Formerly T-Bear

    @ S Brennan

    That was not dictating, that was informing. Pull your head out of your ass.

  78. Celsius 233

    Formerly T-Bear PERMALINK
    March 18, 2013
    I recall you quoting something like this;
    Don’t argue with idiots; they’ll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.
    Cheers T-bear… 😉

  79. Formerly T-Bear

    @ 233ºC

    That smarts when some old petard goes off.

  80. Celsius 233

    ^ 😉

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