Food justice?

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Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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24 Responses

  1. Avatar E.C. Gach says:

    Rather than ban the happy meals, I’d rather see them regulated. And by regulated I mean the following. If you want to sell happy meals, you have to pass certain health guidelines set by the municipality. Or if you’d rather not submit your happy meal or it’s ingredients to inspection, you may still sell as many as you’d like, but would nee to post a sign at the checkout line in view of all saying that your products may or may not be safe, may or may not be very unhealthy, may or may not contain diseases x, y, and z, etc.

    Wouldn’t that just increase consumer knowledge and make the market produce more optimal outcomes?Report

  2. Avatar E.C. Gach says:

    “The measure will make San Francisco the first major city in the country to forbid restaurants from offering a free toy with meals that contain more than set levels of calories, sugar and fat.”

    So it seems like you can still sell a happy meal, as long as it’s not a heart attack in a box.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to E.C. Gach says:

      @E.C. Gach, E.C. what’s next? Banning candy? Banning cookies? Banning butter? This is idiocy, there are proposed government activities that are utterly ineffective, intrusive and wasteful; and trying to control what Junior shoves into his maw has to be right at the top of the list. Since when is this any of San Francisco’s business? Don’t they have -a lot- of more important things to do other than plague low income family’s trying to get food?Report

      • Avatar E.C. Gach in reply to North says:

        @North, Again, all the law does is separate the toy from the burger.Report

        • Avatar E.C. Gach in reply to E.C. Gach says:

          @E.C. Gach, In doing that, they separate the kid’s wanting the toy from the kid’s wanting a burger. If he want’s the burger for burger’s sake, then fine. But if the intent behind buying the latter is to get the plastic piece of crap, well, why build up the connection early on between eating unhealthy foods and having fun play with toys?Report

          • Avatar E.C. Gach in reply to E.C. Gach says:

            @E.C. Gach, We’ll obviously know if it achieves it’s ends after watching the regulation take affect. At which point, I’m sure the city council that voted for it with a veto-proof majority will either get rid of it, or be elected out of office in favor of ones who will.

            The idea that a piece of regulation like this at the city level is somehow an overreach or meddlesome seems pretty far fetched. I mean, you have elected officials, those elected officials are implementing an ordinance, and they will pay the consequences or reap the dividends. And because this is happening at such a small and local level, if it screws everything up, people can move and it can be reversed, though not before the first generation of small children is psychologically traumatized by not having the opportunity to play with painted pieces of plastic while munching on beef patties so full of fat that the cows they came from couldn’t even survive long enough to be slaughtered properly.

            All I’ll ask from you North is a small concession, either the ordinance is a nuisance and waste of time, because it does nothing to stop the toys and burgers from still being sold at the same place and time, or it is illiberal and disastrous because of it’s far reaching consequences and its being a huge power grab by the city. But it can’t be both pointless and an overreach.Report

            • Avatar North in reply to E.C. Gach says:

              @E.C. Gach, I will happily give you this E.C. At least it is local and that is indeed a good thing. Localists can rejoice.

              Now I’m more skeptical on the idea of it easily being rolled back. You and I both know that wasteful inefficient regulations typically stay around forever unless someone can prove that they’re catastrophically harmful. There’s an institutional bias towards more regulation.

              Objectively yes: The regulation is a nuisance and a waste of time. In the grand scheme of things it’s just another distortionary local government regulation. It is also not over reach (nor did I ever say it was); the local government is well within their appointed powers to enact this stupid counterproductive rule.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to North says:

        @North, So they replace the toy with a candy? A sticker? A colorful box it’s delivered in? When exactly did liberals decide that we were going to declare war on marketing of all damn things?

        The point remains that this is the kind of meddling intrusive regulation that really screws liberals in over in general perception. Also the rules are distortionary so the big companies liberals hate end up getting around them via lobbying or clever loophole evasions while small businesses end up mired in them. Finally, is there any empirical evidence at all that banishing the toy from the happy meal is going to reduce obesity? If a parent doesn’t care if Junior crams his face full of happy meal is that parent going to care if Junior crams it full of cheetos at home?

        So we have intrusive, expensive, wasteful meddling that doesn’t accomplish the ends we’re seeking? Why are we doing it then???Report

        • Avatar misantroper in reply to North says:

          @North, Of all the things one could declare war on, marketing is one of the few I’d agree with. It’s why I don’t believe in free markets, because “marketing” is basically “brainwashing people into acting against their self-interest”, but is fully endorsed by libertarians. Non-coercion, my butt.Report

          • Avatar North in reply to misantroper says:

            @misantroper, You’ll have to unpack that a bit more Misantroper because I am not seeing the leap you’re making from marketing to coercion. Wouldn’t it be more like persuasion?Report

          • Avatar E.C. Gach in reply to misantroper says:

            @misantroper, I’d argue it can only be persuasion in the positive sense if the persuader and persuadee have the same information, and former convinces the latter based on particular forms of reasoning using that information. Most marketing though is usually premised on trying to convince an audience who is known not to be working from the same information base. Those who market withhold facts that are negative to their case, all the while being aware of them, making any kind of persuasive interaction inherently one-sided.Report

            • Avatar North in reply to E.C. Gach says:

              @E.C. Gach,
              Well yes, but all kinds of persuasion occur in situations where one side has more information than the other. Global warming for instance or really any scenario where experts or people more closely informed are attempting to persuade people who are more casually informed. Certainly in the case of marketing and advertisements there is manipulation and persuasion going on but I fail to see how or when this can ever cross the line into coercion.Report

            • Avatar E.C. Gach in reply to E.C. Gach says:

              @E.C. Gach, I think persuasion crosses into coercion over the information issue.

              For instance, a company drilling for natural gas would make countless arguments for fracking, and I would be at a loss to supply specific information as to why they are misleading because I myself don’t have access to the information regarding trade secrets. Coercion can happen on many levels I admit.

              At the bottom of it all, I think the distinguishing factor is choice. Coercion can replace persuasion in a number of ways, but all of them seem to limit the audience’s real choices. You can limit choices by limiting information, forcing people to choose between false dichotomies, etc. At times I have trouble not viewing all persuasion as coercive, but for now I’ll be optimistic and argue that there are some defining characteristics, with marketing/propaganda being coercive.

              For instance, one can be coercive, arguing that cigarettes are cool, classy, and relaxing (a traditional TV ad) and that would be coercive. Or one could say, lots of people perceive cigarettes as being cool and classy, they are in fact relaxing, often compliment the effects of alcohol, and have a long and colorful history. They also have many negative health side effects as well, but some people feel the the pros out way the cons, you decide.

              Would we both agree there is more choice in the second example, and that marketing’s attempts to guide an audience’s reasoning by cherry picking information and limiting the options while it may or may not be “persuasion” is certainly coercive?

              , e.g., cigarettes are cool and relaxing (and leaving out theReport

  3. Avatar North says:

    Damn San Fran psycho-liberals makin the rest of us look bad. What a joke.Report

  4. Avatar E.C. Gach says:

    Also, you can still get a happy meal, you just don’t get the toy.

    Maybe it’s just another way of fighting our trade deficit with China.Report

  5. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    I don’t know if parents give their kids fast food in response to tantrums- it seems to me that many of them simply work too many hours a week in order to keep afloat to also cook meals and it’s just easier to bring home drive through food. Also, I’ve certainly lived in areas in which your choices were a. drive through fast food, or b. Fritos from the convenience store. None of that should apply however to SF, which last time I was there still had $5 burritos the size of your shoe. Of course, that was also nearly 20 years ago.Report

  6. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    Can I just suggest that E.D.’s haste to defend McDonald’s proves him to be a McRibertarian?Report

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