The Nutrition Crisis of 2148

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52 Responses

  1. Avatar Robert Greer says:

    I see what you did there.Report

    • Avatar Major Zed in reply to Robert Greer says:

      For the record, I started writing this mid-August and had most of it done last month. But your post motivated me to submit it pronto.Report

      • Avatar Robert Greer in reply to Major Zed says:

        It’s certainly a very well-crafted send-up of certain kinds of nutritional thinking, so I gotta give props for that, as much as it kinda stings.

        But it only kinda stings: I think as a critique of my project in particular it falls flat — I’ve been quick to agree with the criticisms of the government’s handling of food issues, and as will be apparent when my next article is posted, I’m skeptical of these kinds of centralized bureaucratic solutions. So it’s good to hear that this was written beforehand — it means I have less of a quarrel with this fine piece of writing!Report

    • Avatar Notme in reply to Robert Greer says:

      Yes this is a funny snarky reply to your emotional appeal to snobbery.Report

    • Avatar Notme in reply to Robert Greer says:

      This post is a funny snarky response to the orginal emotional appeal to snobbery.Report

  2. Avatar James K says:

    Jay, this post is a thing of beauty.Report

  3. Avatar greginak says:

    Wow that was some artisnal, gluten free strawmaning mixed with some free range paranoid slippery slopeism.

    The Soylent Green sign was good though.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

      In the 90’s, when everybody started with the smoking bans (you couldn’t smoke in Denny’s anymore?), people started saying “what are they going to ban next? Soda pop?”, they were accused of strawmanning and paranoid slippery slopeism.Report

      • Avatar Owen in reply to Jaybird says:

        Who has banned soda?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

        Bloomberg? It was totes in the news.Report

      • Avatar Owen in reply to Jaybird says:

        You mean the soft drink size limit?Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

        Lordy knows i remember the days when i could get a 64 oz soda for a buck at 10 places within 5 miles of my house….those were the days. Well that is today. Of course is NY you can’t get that….well you can get all the soda you can drink in NYC…..but you know…..bloomers is a dink.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

        Yup plenty of paranoia to go around, just listen in to Alex Jones. Plenty of crazy crazy stuff out there. I’ve heard that smoking is still legal, just not where, you know, other people have to breathe the smoke. I might suggest libertarians would be first in line to pronounce other people shouldn’t have to breathe their noxious fumes. That whole my freedom ends when it start to go into your lungs or something. Yeah that is being snarky and you could make it more complex but whatever.

        All this talk of soda bans makes me thirsty. I better go drink some more before it is outlawed, because that is a thing.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

        I hear that Colorado may legalize soda pop sometime soon. Coke and Root Beer, anyway, not the hard stuff like Dr. Pepper.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

        That was the great thing about Bloomy’s ban, though. It turned “you’re making a strawman slippery slope!” into “they didn’t *BAN* it… you could still buy two of them if you wanted to drink more…”

        The problem with the ban was not that it didn’t go as far as its critics were criticizing it for, but that it was created in the first place.

        Compare to, say, abortion. Let’s say that they wanted to ban all abortions in the second half of the pregnancy. Is “you can still get an abortion in the first half!” a good counter-argument to the argument that you should get your government out of my uterus?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

        Or, as Mike points out, “It wasn’t in all states, your state wasn’t affected!”Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

        If a regulation that would have affected a single city and was declared illegal by three different courts before it ever went into effect isn’t the sign of a dangerous trend, I don’t know what is.

        Anyway, the silver lining is that success in overturning it might inspire free-market crusaders to overturn other anti-busness regulations, like pointless building and fire codes.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

        Dude, I didn’t say that the argument given the anti-smokers was “there’s no way that courts will find such legislation to be legal”. It was “nobody’s ever going to try that, you’re arguing against a strawman and engaging in the slippery slope fallacy!”Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

        Yup, there is one counterexample. When did we all turn into mathematicians?Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Jaybird says:

        Mike, I’m surprised to see you arguing that gun regulation is unnecessary since there aren’t very many school shootings per year (either on an absolute basis or on a per-school basis).

        Oh wait, that wasn’t what you were arguing? Maybe you should go back and think about what your reasoning is actually saying, then, because when you claim that it’s just a numbers game then you kind of are saying that.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

        If there had ever been only one school shooting and the gun jammed immediately, you’d have a point.Report

    • Avatar Barry in reply to greginak says:

      I would say that it’s a parody of right-wing thinking, but it’s not.

      However, props to a couple of spots on your timeline where you mentioned something being blocked for over a decade.Report

    • Avatar Major Zed in reply to greginak says:

      Would one have been paranoid, in observing the beginnings of the income tax in the US, a temporary measure affecting a tiny fraction of the population, to think that in a few generations it would take in a significant fraction of nearly every working person’s income?

      Would one have been paranoid, in the early 1800s, to imagine that the provision of health care would become the monopoly of trained experts, with unelected persons controlling the number and operation of educational institutions that train and certify such experts, with an acknowledged goal of maintaining the incomes of such experts?

      Would one have been paranoid around that same time, to think that in a bit more than a century, not only would all bank notes be government issued, but that they would no longer be convertible into real money (i.e., gold)?

      In the midst of the cold war, fighting “Godless communists,” would one have been paranoid to think that in two generations, religious expression in public (i.e. government) settings would be regarded as unconstitutional?

      My answers: probably yes, you would have to have been paranoid to think that. But you would also have been right.Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to Major Zed says:

        Except, if a 19th century person could have foreseen today’s developments, would they see it as a dystopian nightmare, or a terrific advancement?

        I mean, to tell a 19th century person that he would pay about 20% of his income in taxation, he might be horrified; but then show him what those taxes purchase, he might be delighted.

        Telling him that his granny is no longer able to sell her potions, he might be affronted; but tell him that her potions were poisonous, and he could be safely assured of getting effective and pure drugs instead, he might be happy.

        And if this 19th century person were Jewish, being spared constant admonitions to praise Jesus Christ his personal Lord and Savior might be a refreshing advancement.

        See, you’re trying to warn us of scary nightmares, but your examples aren’t that frightening.Report

      • Avatar Owen in reply to Major Zed says:

        Does the correctness of their (hypothetical) predictions tell us anything meaningful about the correctness of other predictions made today?Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to Major Zed says:

        No, actually, and this is an important point.
        The logic behind Zedd’s post is the issue of creeping loss of freedom. It isn’t just a slippery slope fallacy- it defies empirical analysis.

        When have we seen this happen? Lets take the best examples of tyranny, Soviet Russia and Maoist China.
        They didn’t introduce tiny steps leading to tyranny- from the outset they were tyrannical. There was never a moment when the people actually had control of the government.

        An example- Russia nationalized its health care system; so did Britain. Why were the results so different?
        Because the Russian nationalization was issued without the participation and consent of the people, while Britain’s was. The Russian example was just a tiny part of an already tyrannical state, whereas Britain did it as part of free civic participation.

        In Zedd’s scenario, are all these restrictions enacted with the full support and backing of the people? Or are they imposed against their will?

        In virtually every regulation in free countries, there are hardship exemptions, thresholds, individual carvouts allowing dissenters to exercise without regulation; this is why you can cut your friend’s hair, just not do it as a ongoing business. Does this occur in Zedd’s scenario?

        Zedd assumes that tyranny has already occurred, and the food regulations merely a part of it. In his world, the state has already assumed a terrifying power, regardless of whether it regulates food or haircutting.

        Almost every single piece of regulation, from child labor to Social Security to Medicare to Obamacare, there have been cries that this was the first step to serfdom, that tyranny was Just. Around. The. Corner.

        Yet it has never arrived.

        Because the slope is only slippery when people are enslaved first, then regulated. Regulations enacted with the people’s consent don’t normally lead to tyranny, because a free and empowered people can dismantle regulation as well as erect.Report

      • Avatar Major Zed in reply to Major Zed says:

        @lwa …
        Except, if a 19th century person could have foreseen today’s developments, would they see it as a dystopian nightmare, or a terrific advancement?… See, you’re trying to warn us of scary nightmares, but your examples aren’t that frightening.

        I think early 19th century people would marvel at the technological achievements and incredible benefits brought about by the industrial revolution, and would welcome many public improvements such as sanitation and public health. However, they would wonder if it was necessary to adopt the Prussian model of social organization to reap all of the benefits of modernity. They would be absolutely horrified to see the size and reach of modern (especially central) government power. Those examples would have been scary to them.

        Money well spent? Over half of US “discretionary” spending funds a globe-encompassing standing army, thrusting the country into an endless series of undeclared and dubious wars. “Mandatory” spending consists mostly of transfer payments that would be considered highly offensive to all but a few utopians of the day. Another big block of spending goes to paying interest on an ever-increasing debt incurred because the tax receipts aren’t enough! And then there’s the fiat money and a long, steady decline in purchasing power that dwarfs even the 15th-17th century European “price revolution.”

        Safe and effective drugs are one thing; a tightly-controlled monopoly on health care is quite another.

        A devout person of the day would be aghast to think that in modern times, morality would dictate that expressions of faith be restricted in order not to offend atheists. (NB: The 10 Commandments came from the Jews.) That the culture would also morph in the direction of worshiping the State, or the Collective, or Nature (sans humans), but God – not so much…. Now that would be scary to them.

        You are not scared, because you are here. You were raised in this culture, you accept the narrative of how we got here and that the tradeoffs were both necessary and worth it. You accept that we lurch from crisis to crisis because, well, um, because that’s the way it is; there are simultaneously too many things to blame and nothing to blame; it’s too complicated.

        Regulations enacted with the people’s consent don’t normally lead to tyranny, because a free and empowered people can dismantle regulation as well as erect.

        Well… sometimes. It’s generally a lot harder to undo bad law and bad regulation than to put it in place, for several reasons. There is regulatory capture and the politics of concentrated benefits and dispersed costs. There is the all-too human desire to get something for nothing (and to believe, fervently, that is possible). There is “ce qu’on voit est ce qu’on ne voit pas.” And there is the ability of humans to adapt and get used to just about anything.

        Since the introduction of compulsory schooling, and the widespread adoption of government as the funding and directing mechanism of that, schools have been teaching the basic lessons of technocratic society: (1) sit down and shut up, and (2) defer to authority. Despite the debates and revolutions concerning what else to teach and how to do it, those lessons remain, and are being reinforced. Zero-tolerance policies in the lower grades double down on both principles. Speech codes and “free speech zones” do it at the collegial level.

        Outside of school, the Millenial generation is being taught (well, all of us actually, but they will absorb the lessons the best) that 24-7 surveillance and checkpoint frisks are no big deal and really, in the end, good for them! Police get military-grade weapons and equipment and are trained to effect mass social control, starting with the neutralization of dissidents terrorists. The mechanisms of “turnkey totalitarianism” are being put into place. Some people are alarmed, but what really is being done about it?

        Seven years ago, Naomi Wolf wrote that the Bush administration was following the “10 easy steps” to establishing a dictatorship in America. She reveals in a 2009 podcast that she feels Obama is doing more of the same. There, she emphasizes how easy it is to relinquish your rights, to accept as “the new normal” what was previously unacceptable, and how hard it is to roll back those changes.

        If recent trends don’t trouble you, if you don’t see storm clouds on the horizon… I can’t imagine what else I could say.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Major Zed says:

        What would most horrify the hypothetical observer from the early 19th Century is social acceptance of homosexuality. Same-sex marriage would seem particularly insane and evil, as if Satan has established his rule on earth and had begun mocking everything that was holy. Interracial marriage would be only a bit behind that, though as less of a surprise: he’d always known that’s what those d____d abolitionists were after, as much as they denied it.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Major Zed says:


        I’m reminded of a joke…

        Should anyone ever ask, “What would the Founding Fathers say if they were alive today?” in response to some social or political change — real or proposed — the best answer would be, “Holy shit, you guys can fly?!?!?!?!” the moment an airplane flew overhead.Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to Major Zed says:

        I agree with you wholeheartedly about the surveillance state and security apparatus- we all should rightly be alarmed by this.
        I just think a big claim (such as Tyranny) needs big evidence. Too promiscuous use of the term makes it unconvincing.
        I’m thinking of the quip made about Jonah Goldberg, that to him, government torture of prisoners at Gitmo is a wise use of power, while a smoking ban is fascism.
        Yes, he’s a ridiculously easy target, but the underlying point is that it is an error not just of tactics but of logic to lump petty and parochial concerns (like food regulations or Big Gulp bans) in with serious concerns (like torture and domestic spying).

        Further, a big claim needs a sharp focus- lets stipulate that tyranny is the loss of freedom and agency, coupled with a crushing of the human spirit and dignity.
        We can easily see that the plight of black people, or migrant farmworkers or poor women seeking reproductive care can easily fit that description.
        But do barbers and doctors who are subject to regulation, or people who want to smoke in the public parks also fit into that category of victims?

        Like Mike Schilling’s retort to notme below, this is why the libertarian and conservative cries of tyranny about taxes and gummint regulation sound so false to liberal ears- they pass over real injustice in favor of the petty concerns of the comfortable.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Major Zed says:

        “Except, if a 19th century person could have foreseen today’s developments, would they see it as a dystopian nightmare, or a terrific advancement?”

        We would show them our modern world, and they’d say “wow, so everybody in America lives to be like a hundred and fifty because of the magic drugs and machines you have now, right?”

        And we’d say “well, we can’t really research drugs or machines like that, because the FDA would never approve research like that.”

        And they’d say “what’s an FDA?”

        And we’d say “a government body that reviews all drug and medical device research and decides what gets to be researched and sold to people.”

        And they’d say “how often do you vote for the FDA?”

        And we’d say “never, it’s part of the Executive Branch.”

        And they’d say “you fucking what? We had a war about that!”Report

      • Avatar Major Zed in reply to Major Zed says:

        (Sorry to have taken so long to reply – from Black Friday to Cyber Monday I’ve been a good little consumer, doing my part to boost aggregate demand.)

        it is an error… to lump petty and parochial concerns (like food regulations or Big Gulp bans) in with serious concerns (like torture and domestic spying)…. cries of tyranny about taxes and gummint regulation… pass over real injustice….

        I agree with you that a person condemning the small injustices but not the large cannot be taken seriously. But two points beg to be made.

        (1) Too much regulation, inappropriate regulation, and captured regulation all contribute to the plight of people who find they cannot better their position in life. The barbers and doctors you mention are not the victims of regulation, they are the beneficiaries! It is the people who might have made a living working on hair or helping people with their health, but who were kept outside the moat of monopolized professions, who are the victims. It is much harder to see this kind of victim. The ambitious woman in the inner city who has a business idea but finds she cannot make it work due to burdensome requirements imposed by unelected bureaucrats, she is an important unseen victim. Her success might have raised up the lives of dozens of others in her neighborhood, too.

        (2) A Big Gulp ban is indeed trivial, taken out of context. But the attitude exposed by the phrase “petty and parochial concerns” is telling. There are individuals who feel they have a certain basic right to make their own life decisions, “petty and parochial” as they might seem to the outside expert. They accept restrictions on their behavior when it makes sense as a matter of public safety and order, etc. They do not respond well when they are treated like children by the State. The more trivial the law, rule, or regulation, the more evident it is that the promulgating authority does not respect their autonomy. Hence the reaction appears inversely proportional to the seriousness of the regulation. And this perplexes the promulgating authority, because it truly doesn’t respect their autonomy; it really doesn’t understand what individual freedom means.Report

  4. Avatar Road Scholar says:

    @major-zed , congratulations on a well-crafted piece in the hoary old tradition of classic pulp sci-fi. It’s a time-tested formula of taking some current trend that you find alarming, or perhaps just annoying or interesting, and extrapolating to the point of absurdity.

    I’m just surprised — and pleased! — to see a libertarian such as yourself coming down so strongly against the corporate McDonald’s/Monsanto/PepsiCo dystopian paradigm. Here’s to grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, vine-ripened tomatoes, and all things organic! Real food for real people!Report

  5. Avatar James Hanley says:

    This was great. Thanks for the shoutout to my great great great grand-nephew.Report

  6. Avatar zic says:

    Did you know that cows have four stomachs? (Not just cows, either!) The first is a giant fermenting vat. They’re drunk all the time; have their own wine-barrel on board! But they prefer grass liquor, their stomaches are not designed to digest corn liquor. (nothing’s designed for that; which is why it’s best used as a cleaning solvent.)

    Did you know that a vegetable that’s been chewed on a bit (snails, slugs, beetles, grasshoppers, crickets are all potential chewers) release chemicals to defend themselves? These chemicals, often called phytonutrients, are good for you if you eat from the same poor, abused plant?

    Did you know that we still don’t know all the types of species that inhabit healthy soil? That fungi in the soil seem to help release minerals from rock, making it available to plant roots? A friend of mine actually started a college to study soil; it’s a relatively new field of science. I understand that most people think ‘organic’ is about the lack of stuff on their free-range veggies, but it’s really about healthy soil.

    Did you know that drainage is one of the biggest farming problems? There are two extremes; sand, which doesn’t hold water at all, and clay, which doesn’t release it? And that the best way to solve both problems is adding organic matter (compost!) to the soil?

    Did you know that the single biggest source of water pollution in the US now is chemical fertilizers we put on our lawns? And we let our kids play on that stuff?

    Did you know that stoop labor — picking strawberries and string beans and tomatoes — actually requires skill?

    Did you know that when you pull a carrot from healthy soil, the smell of carrots is released, sweet and fresh and better than any smell of carrot you’ll find otherwise?

    Did you know that crop rotation is important; and a four-year schedule works best: legume, root, leaf, fruiting body?

    Did you know that companion planting is an ancient tradition, and that carrots and tomatoes grow well together, peas and potatoes don’t?

    Just give my my messy back yard, some animal dung (pref. from a grass-eating animal), a compost pile, and a handful of seeds.

    Food begins at the farm.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to zic says:

      corn liquor [is] best used as a cleaning solvent

      If that isn’t in violation of the commenting policy, the policy is in need of revision. Some things just shouldn’t be said.Report

  7. Avatar North says:

    I think it was a very cute bit of fiction. Well done.Report

  8. Avatar Jim Heffman says:

    I get the sense that a lot of you think this is just a satirical fiction. It isn’t.Report

  9. Avatar LWA says:

    The gap here between the anxiety and the feared offense is so wide, it becomes sort of a self-parody of Comfortable White People’s Fears, Level 11.

    I mean, in 1984, the state crushes the human spirit; in The Handmaid’s Tale, the state reduces women to chattel; in The Hunger Games, the state brutalizes young people.

    Here? The state cruelly takes away your Ho-Hos and Slurpees and forces you to eat a balanced nutritious meal.

    Its sort of the Not-Really-Hungry-But Kinda-Got-The-Munchies Games, Mocking-Jay.Report

  10. Avatar Notme says:

    It is amusing to see liberals refuse to acknowledge that this coubtry is on the way down hill due to liberal nannyism, between Bloomberg’s attempted soda ban, Michelle o’s starvation lunch program or that town that wanted to ban tobacco. They tell us that we should accept their oversight bc they know what is good for us.Report