Tuesday, 5 June 2012

"The Diet Debacle" debacle.

What's that funny smell?

According to Robert H. Lustig in The Diet Debacle,"If a calorie is a calorie, then any food can be part of a balanced diet; and, if we are what we eat, then everyone chooses what they eat."

Firstly, the first nutritional maxim isn't "A calorie is a calorie". It's actually "Where bodyweight is concerned, a calorie is a calorie". Leaving out the first four words makes a huge difference to the meaning.

Secondly, the second nutritional maxim actually means "Your body is made out of what you eat. Therefore, if you eat/drink rubbish, you get a rubbish body.

Apart from that, the rest of the article is absolutely fine*.

*The above sentence ending in "*" is pure irony. See also Review & Critique: The Skinny on Obesity ~ Intro and Part I and Review & Critique: The Skinny on Obesity ~ Part II Sickeningly Inaccurate.

The sad thing is that I actually sympathise with Robert H. Lustig's aim, which is to reduce the humongous amount of sugar that Americans shove down their throats in solid or liquid form each year.

I don't want to come across as a Socialist Asshole (it's Arsehole, Sean!), but intervention is sometimes needed to stop certain humans and groups thereof (e.g. companies/corporations) from harming other humans and groups thereof (e.g. the general population).

In City of New York Bureau of Food Discipline, Sean wrote "Never mind that the record of government diet intervention is abysmal, this time it will work." I can't speak for the US, as I don't know how things work over there. Here in the U.K, DEFRA aims to maintain standards in the way that crops are grown and in the management of farm animals. The FSA aims to maintain standards for food safety, although they do occasionally issue some dubious nutritional advice (read the comments to see some familiar names).

Just because government agencies occasionally cock things up, does that mean that we should have zero government intervention where food is concerned? I obviously think not!

See also What Is Food? and Former Coke executive slams ‘share of stomach’ marketing campaign.

Addendum: If (as I believe) corporations should be prevented from unduly influencing the general population in their food choices by banning all advertisements for foods & drinks, then governments should also be prevented from unduly influencing the general population in their food choices by banning food policies and crop subsidies. All that governments should do food-wise is enforce food safety standards.

36 comments:

praguestepchild said...

I think the defining characteristic of a free society is the right to do stupid things (as long as you don't harm anyone else in the process). I take that as an axiom and you (and people like Lustig et al) don't, so it's rather pointless to argue about it. Like arguing the existence of God.

I do think the government has an important role in enforcing the rule of law, so if someone is selling you something labelled 'grass fed beef' that's actually sewer rat, then consumers ought to be able to bring action in the courts. I believe this is a better way to keep bad players out of the market than layers and layers of bureaucracy.

I also believe, though I can't offer any hard facts, that in a more open, less regulated, less crony society there would be a lot more small businesses. Take a look at the food industry. Big Farma sucks, but it's very difficult to operate as a small food producer. The regulations and subsidies favor big corporations.

praguestepchild said...

As far as Lustig goes, I don't know that much about him other than his excellent talk on fructose and his favoring nanny-state interventionism.

While he is apparently a world authority on fructose (and leptin I believe) when he steps outside of his field he has the capacity (like all of us) of being a total moron.

Still I don't understand the quote.

"If a calorie is a calorie, then any food can be part of a balanced diet; and, if we are what we eat, then everyone chooses what they eat."

Is it taken out of context? Otherwise it does look pretty stupid. I'm glad to see that you agree with Taubes about good calories and bad calories ;)

Nigel Kinbrum said...

On BlackBerry, so can't copy & paste.
1) "as long as you don't harm anyone else in the process"
But companies *are* harming others in the process of maximising profits. That's what you're not getting.

2) You're putting the onus on the consumer to prove that their dodgy beef is sewer rat? That's a bit harsh. Do you know how much lab tests cost? ;)

3) For an "authority" on fructose, Lustig gets an awful lot of biochemistry wrong.

4) I never claimed that Taubes got everything wrong. However, as long as he persists with his "you can be as gluttonous as you like blah blah", I and others will persist in prodding him with a sharp stick!

Nigel Kinbrum said...

The qualification "Where bodyweight is concerned," limits the applicability of the last five words to bodyweight only.

Taking the last five words out of context changes the applicability to all circumstances.

Words (and the lack thereof) mean things!

praguestepchild said...

Nigel, get yourself an iPad! Actually I haven't tries posting comments with it, but it's pretty awesome for reading blogs in bed.

"But companies *are* harming others in the process of maximising profits. That's what you're not getting."

Maximizing profits as opposed the the typical bureaucrat who wants to maximize their budget?

If people voluntarily choose to shop in the middle aisles. If people choose to buy alcohol, cigs, mj, heroin, etc, then that's their choice. Do you know anyone who smokes and thinks it is healthy?

"You're putting the onus on the consumer to prove that their dodgy beef is sewer rat? That's a bit harsh. Do you know how much lab tests cost? ;)"

Yes, but people can choose to do such things collectively or collect such info from a private organization. In the US there actually are such organizations, such as Consumer Reports. Also groups on which we place trust, newspapers, bloggers, etc, can help us sort out the marketplace.

There's a huge incentive for companies to backup their brand name with quality, which is why brands are so important and should be protected by the rule of law. If I buy a pair of (real) Levis I know they aren't going to fall apart in 6 months. This isn't because the government regulated my jeans. And there's an incentive for reporters and busybodies to root out fraudulent practices. And this can all be done in a much more efficient manner than with layers of bureaucracy.

Chuck said...

the major problem is our "health authorities" have their shit all wrong. they educate their sheeple the wrong ways to eat and it is harming our country. people need to step away from the forest, realize the shit is all wrong, and educate themselves. don't rely on your government to save you from the wrong food.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

praguestepchild said...
"Nigel, get yourself an iPad! Actually I haven't tries posting comments with it, but it's pretty awesome for reading blogs in bed."
Tell me again after you've tried posting comments with it!

"Maximizing profits as opposed the the typical bureaucrat who wants to maximize their budget?"
Isn't that another straw man? Corruption in politics needs to be stamped out. Some socialist governments (e.g. Finland) have low levels of corruption. I think that we've been here before!

"If people voluntarily choose to shop in the middle aisles. If people choose to buy alcohol, cigs, mj, heroin, etc, then that's their choice. Do you know anyone who smokes and thinks it is healthy?"
Are their actions purely voluntary? Marketing (also peer-pressure) contributes towards people starting to smoke & drink. Inhaled drugs like cigarettes, mj, crack & heroin are more moreish/addictive than oral drugs like alcohol, chocolate & sweets. Once addicted, repeat purchase is pretty much guaranteed.

"Yes, but people can choose to do such things collectively or collect such info from a private organization. In the US there actually are such organizations, such as Consumer Reports. Also groups on which we place trust, newspapers, bloggers, etc, can help us sort out the marketplace."
Should this be necessary? Can we trust these organisations? I know you don't trust the government!

"There's a huge incentive for companies to backup their brand name with quality, which is why brands are so important and should be protected by the rule of law. If I buy a pair of (real) Levis I know they aren't going to fall apart in 6 months. This isn't because the government regulated my jeans."
What if your Levis turned out to be counterfeit and fell apart in 6 months due to no Trading Standards officers checking market stalls (assuming that's where you got them from)? People are so sneaky. Remember that meat glue (transglutaminase) con for turning cheap beef scraps into expensive steaks? I wonder whether that practice got banned.

"And there's an incentive for reporters and busybodies to root out fraudulent practices. And this can all be done in a much more efficient manner than with layers of bureaucracy."
Is DEFRA/Trading/Foods Standards officers "layers of bureaucracy"?

Nigel Kinbrum said...

Chuck said...
"the major problem is our "health authorities" have their shit all wrong. they educate their sheeple the wrong ways to eat and it is harming our country. people need to step away from the forest, realize the shit is all wrong, and educate themselves. don't rely on your government to save you from the wrong food."
I see you live in the US. I think that the big problem there is corruption in politics, resulting in food policies being excessively influenced by the manufacturers of CIAB.

Rather than banning the sale/purchase of certain foods/drinks (which governments are good at cocking-up), I'd like to see a total ban on all food marketing in every media. Point-Of-Sale marketing of confectionery should also be banned. Farm subsidies should be stopped. That should level the playing field a bit.

As I believe that we are what we eat (by my definition), what we eat is important and should not be influenced by companies for the sake of money.

Chuck said...

@nigel

in the meantime while hoping and dreaming for miracle legislation people would be best off educating themselves. the more you rely on others for your health, the greater chance you may be steered in a direction that equals more money for someone else and not necessarily better health for you.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

Chuck said...
"@nigel
in the meantime while hoping and dreaming for miracle legislation people would be best off educating themselves. the more you rely on others for your health, the greater chance you may be steered in a direction that equals more money for someone else and not necessarily better health for you."
I'm all for education, but I believe that brainwashing (marketing) is more powerful than education, which is why I believe that food marketing has to be banned.

praguestepchild said...

Come to think of it, the iPad can cut-and-paste but it's a pain, especially when you want to just cut out a link or sentence, or accidentally rest your finger on the screen.

This is turning into a game of whack-a-mole so I'd just like to address the main points.

The government ought to enforce the rule-of-law. If someone sells me a pair of knock-offs as Levis then they've engaged in fraud and fraud is illegal, for a good reason.

If someone tries to convince me that Cheesy Poofs are awesome, then that person (or corporation) has every right to try and do that, as long as they don't do it fraudulently, such as tell me Cheesy Poofs lower the risk of CHD or something.

I don't trust the government but I don't trust anyone. Actually I have levels of trust and government is pretty low on the totem pole. I trust Emily Deans' opinion over that of an FDA bureaucrat. I trust Consumer Reports over a Senate committee, etc. Isn't learning to be skeptical and establishing levels a trust an important part of being an adult and critical thinker?

You are saying that people can't have free choice because the evul corporashuns can manipulate our minds or get us addicted, while minimizing the role of government in getting us here in the first place.

I'm saying that the government's track record is abysmal but even if it wasn't, but more importantly it's not their job to coerce people into living the way it thinks best, not if you want to consider yourself a free society.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

praguestepchild said...
"Come to think of it, the iPad can cut-and-paste but it's a pain, especially when you want to just cut out a link or sentence, or accidentally rest your finger on the screen."
I can't log-in to Blogger with the default BlackBerry browser, so I have to use Opera Mini (Firefox isn't available) which is a PITA to c/p with. Can you log-in to Blogger on your iPad?

"This is turning into a game of whack-a-mole so I'd just like to address the main points."
Fair enough.

"The government ought to enforce the rule-of-law. If someone sells me a pair of knock-offs as Levis then they've engaged in fraud and fraud is illegal, for a good reason."
The market trader will almost certainly have vanished without a trace if they were knowingly selling knock-offs as the real thing.

"If someone tries to convince me that Cheesy Poofs are awesome, then that person (or corporation) has every right to try and do that, as long as they don't do it fraudulently, such as tell me Cheesy Poofs lower the risk of CHD or something."
How about regularly bombarding children with adverts for Cheesy Poofs? A lot of parents don't teach their children that Cheesy Poofs/w.h.y. are a load of old crap and give in to their persistent pestering to buy them.

"I don't trust the government but I don't trust anyone. Actually I have levels of trust and government is pretty low on the totem pole. I trust Emily Deans' opinion over that of an FDA bureaucrat. I trust Consumer Reports over a Senate committee, etc. Isn't learning to be skeptical and establishing levels a trust an important part of being an adult and critical thinker?"
Yes. I don't trust organisations either. This is why I want their power via marketing to be removed.

"You are saying that people can't have free choice because the evul corporashuns can manipulate our minds or get us addicted, while minimizing the role of government in getting us here in the first place."
Some people (especially children) are more easily manipulated than others, so free choice may be an illusion. If corporations weren't prevented from forming cartels and fixing prices, you wouldn't have the free choice to shop around. But yeah, corrupt governments are also to blame.

"I'm saying that the government's track record is abysmal but even if it wasn't, but more importantly it's not their job to coerce people into living the way it thinks best, not if you want to consider yourself a free society."
I agree. That's why the only things that I'm in favour of banning are marketing and government subsidies. People should be free to buy whatever food/drink they want without being influenced by either corporations or governments.

As marketing & subsidies haven't yet been banned, banning certain products is all that politicians can try to do at the moment.

praguestepchild said...

"can't log-in to Blogger with the default BlackBerry browser, so I have to use Opera Mini (Firefox isn't available) which is a PITA to c/p with. Can you log-in to Blogger on your iPad?"

I just tried it and it was no problem, I was able to login and edit a post. BUT, I wasn't able to comment with my Disqus and the edit post function was in html mode. However I was able to create a new post with the typical blogger CMS mode.

""The government ought to enforce the rule-of-law. If someone sells me a pair of knock-offs as Levis then they've engaged in fraud and fraud is illegal, for a good reason."

The market trader will almost certainly have vanished without a trace if they were knowingly selling knock-offs as the real thing."

More whack-a-mole stuff. If you buy cheap knock-off Levis from a boot sale then you ought to be aware that there is a high likelihood that you are buying something fake. It's still fraud, of course, and not germane to the rule of law argument I made.

What this boils down to is whether you believe that people ought to be allowed to do stupid things. You believe the right to fuck up (in someone else's mind) ought to be abridged because some people are just too dang stupid to not be brainwashed by a benevolent Big Brother--because otherwise they will be brainwashed by evul corporashuns.

I believe that people ought to be able to do whatever they want as long as they aren't hurting anyone else.

I'm not interested in playing whack-a-mole. You might find it amusing and consider it to be clever or contarian or poking sharp sticks but I find it tedious.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

praguestepchild said...
"I just tried it and it was no problem, I was able to login and edit a post. BUT, I wasn't able to comment with my Disqus and the edit post function was in html mode. However I was able to create a new post with the typical blogger CMS mode."
Your iPad appears to be superior to my BlackBerry.

"More whack-a-mole stuff. If you buy cheap knock-off Levis from a boot sale then you ought to be aware that there is a high likelihood that you are buying something fake. It's still fraud, of course, and not germane to the rule of law argument I made."
I'm talking about proper markets with proper traders, not car boot sales.

"What this boils down to is whether you believe that people ought to be allowed to do stupid things. You believe the right to fuck up (in someone else's mind) ought to be abridged because some people are just too dang stupid to not be brainwashed by a benevolent Big Brother--because otherwise they will be brainwashed by evul corporashuns."
That's not what I meant at all. I wrote "People should be free to buy whatever food/drink they want without being influenced by either corporations or governments."
In what way does banning marketing & subsidies take away people's right to do whatever they want? By "people", I mean individuals, not corporations.

"I believe that people ought to be able to do whatever they want as long as they aren't hurting anyone else."
That's almost exactly what I wrote, unless you're counting corporations as people.

"I'm not interested in playing whack-a-mole. You might find it amusing and consider it to be clever or contarian or poking sharp sticks but I find it tedious."
I don't want a to-and-fro all night either as I'm going out soon to do some musical stuff. Misunderstanding what I wrote doesn't exactly help.

LeonRover said...

Veritas non sequitur
Gaudeamus igitur!

"To wit, to WOOOO, a merry note,
While greasy Joan keel the pot."

praguestepchild said...

"I'm talking about proper markets with proper traders, not car boot sales."

Okay, so the point remains the same, if someone fraudulently sells you knock-off Levis then they can and should be prosecuted for fraud. This is the proper role for government. Any sort of fraud should be dealt with by the courts, and it's quite easy to do this collectively or use private watchdogs for this.

"That's almost exactly what I wrote, unless you're counting corporations as people."

Actually I do count corporations as people, they are simply a voluntary collection of people. Governments are also a collection of people, but they are a monopoly that can impose its will by force and obtains its income by force. So there's a huge, huge, difference in incentives and responsibility. These FDA SWAT teams who are raiding raw milk Amish farmers with machine guns aren't elected by the people (nor accountable to the market to provide a competitive service) they are part of the bureaucratic machine where the chain of accountability to elected politicians is extremely tenuous.

I would like to point out that there is an important difference between corporations and people, in that corporations have limited liability. I'm not convinced that this isn't a flaw. You can sue a corporation of course, but you can't hold the people who made idiotic decision personally responsible (unless they violated the law). I'm not convinced limited liability is a net bad but I can see a solid argument against it.

"In what way does banning marketing & subsidies take away people's right to do whatever they want?"

So you didn't just write a post implicitly advocating Lustig and Bloomberg's vision of direct intervention, ie regulating the consumption of sugar and other unhealthy foods. All you want to do is make marketing illegal in order to counteract the influence of evul corporashuns? Did some other Nigel write:

"I don't want to come across as a Socialist Asshole (oops, too late!), but intervention is sometimes needed to stop certain humans and groups thereof (e.g. companies/corporations) from harming other humans and groups thereof (e.g. the general population)."

So you are say that you believe in intervention, but not the type of intervention that Lustig et al believe in? Just get rid of the power of corporations to brainwash people and that will fix things?

Nigel Kinbrum said...

praguestepchild said...
"Okay, so the point remains the same, if someone fraudulently sells you knock-off Levis then they can and should be prosecuted for fraud..."
So, in your world, there are no standards that need to be met by people/companies selling goods/services and it's the responsibility of the customer to deal with any problems through the courts? I'm glad I don't have to live in your world.

"Actually I do count corporations as people, they are simply a voluntary collection of people. Governments are also a collection of people, but they are a monopoly..."
Voluntary vs monopoly is irrelevant. The raison d'etre of businesses is to maximise profits, unlike people (I hope!). Corporations aren't evil, but they are greedy. If there weren't any enforced rules & standards, they'd screw us over at every opportunity. There's nothing that we could do about it as they would have agreed prices amongst themselves so we couldn't shop around and they would also have much better lawyers than us so we wouldn't stand a chance in court.

"So there's a huge, huge, difference in incentives and responsibility. These FDA SWAT teams who are raiding raw milk Amish farmers with machine guns aren't elected by the people (nor accountable to the market to provide a competitive service) they are part of the bureaucratic machine where the chain of accountability to elected politicians is extremely tenuous."
Things in the US are fucked-up. I think that we can agree on that.

"I would like to point out that there is an important difference between corporations and people, in that corporations have limited liability. I'm not convinced that this isn't a flaw. You can sue a corporation of course, but you can't hold the people who made idiotic decision personally responsible (unless they violated the law). I'm not convinced limited liability is a net bad but I can see a solid argument against it."
In my world, if the company kills somebody and it can be proved that the CEO knew what was going on, the CEO would get the death penalty. I think that companies would be run more carefully in my world!

"So you didn't just write a post implicitly advocating Lustig and Bloomberg's vision of direct intervention, ie regulating the consumption of sugar and other unhealthy foods."
When I wrote "People should be free to buy whatever food/drink they want without being influenced by either corporations or governments", the word "should" shows that it's my desire rather than actuality. As people aren't actually free from being influenced by corporations, they can't be free from being influenced by governments. It's only fair.

"All you want to do is make marketing illegal in order to counteract the influence of evul corporashuns?"
They're greedy, not evul!

"Did some other Nigel write:
"I don't want to come across as a Socialist Asshole (oops, too late!), but intervention is sometimes needed to stop certain humans and groups thereof (e.g. companies/corporations) from harming other humans and groups thereof (e.g. the general population)."

So you are say that you believe in intervention, but not the type of intervention that Lustig et al believe in? Just get rid of the power of corporations to brainwash people and that will fix things?"
I don't know whether removing the power of corporations to influence/brainwash/w.h.y. where food is concerned will fix things. I believe that it will help. I don't have a problem with the advertising of non-food items and services.

Health is the most important thing that we have and we are what we eat, so corporations should not be allowed to influence people in their food choices. Ditto for governments. CIAB is also cheaper than proper food thanks to government subsidies, so subsidies should be stopped. I want to reduce human suffering. What do you want?

praguestepchild said...

"So, in your world, there are no standards that need to be met by people/companies selling goods/services and it's the responsibility of the customer to deal with any problems through the courts? I'm glad I don't have to live in your world."

What government regulations force Levis to make quality jeans? If someone is selling fake Levis they are committing a crime. That crime is called fraud. You can notify the police. You can also rely on private sources like Consumer Reports or say a reputable blogger to keep you aware of the market. Which is what we do already.

Do you think Amazon would tolerate having its reputation tarnished by selling fake stuff?

I don't know if you are now arguing dishonestly or are simply this indoctrinated in the power of government. I suspect a little of both.

"In my world, if the company kills somebody and it can be proved that the CEO knew what was going on, the CEO would get the death penalty. I think that companies would be run more carefully in my world!"

What do you mean if the company 'kills someone'? If someone falls off a ladder made by ACME ladders and dies, the CEO ought to go to prison for manslaughter? Should the CEO of a sugar company go to jail for giving people diabetes? There are always risk factors for every product made, as an engineer you know that these things are balanced in a (hopefully) optimal manner. If I want to sell someone a car without an airbag and they want to buy a car without an airbag, am I responsible for their death?

"Things in the US are fucked-up. I think that we can agree on that."

And things in the UK are idyllic? Does the UK even have an equivalent to the ACLU or Institute for Justice? The libel laws in Britain are insane. The UK has less libertarians, I'm sure.

"When I wrote "People should be free to buy whatever food/drink they want without being influenced by either corporations or governments", the word "should" shows that it's my desire rather than actuality. As people aren't actually free from being influenced by corporations, they can't be free from being influenced by governments. It's only fair."

So you believe that government intervention is necessary to counterbalance corporate commercials that brainwash people into zombies living on cheesy puffs and cokes?

But it was government intervention that led the way on this, the market just follows. Now you want more government intervention to counter commercials for sugary cereals? You know what the next thing they will go after is? That's right, SFAs. And the market will be happy to follow.

This is ignoring the fact that people ought to be allowed the freedom to make their own choices, even if they are stupid ones. Your position is, yes they should, but...

The typical leftie position is that the ends justify the means. In this case, health trumps freedom because the greedy corporations have brainwashed us. As soon as we fix that with some good ole government intervention then we can get back to the business of freedom and rights and stuff.

"I don't know whether removing the power of corporations to influence/brainwash/w.h.y. where food is concerned will fix things. I believe that it will help. I don't have a problem with the advertising of non-food items and services."

This is the first nuance I've seen from you, Nigel. Sure it would help if I were benevolent dictator for life. Okay, not me, because I believe people ought to be allowed to make stupid decisions, but let's say you. You would regulate sugar without regulating fat. The problem is, and this is always the problem with leftie interventionism, is that it always boils down to this: we need to government to intervene, but not fuck it up this time. We just need Top Men (insert Indiana Jones clip) to get it right.

I think it would help a lot if the government got out of the propaganda business altogether, but I can't prove this either.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

praguestepchild said...
"What government regulations force Levis to make quality jeans?..."
I'm talking about merchants selling goods that are not of merchantable quality. That's a job for Trading Standards, not the police or county courts.

"Do you think Amazon would tolerate having its reputation tarnished by selling fake stuff?"
How would somebody tarnish Amazon's reputation? E.G. If they wrote a blog post slagging-off Amazon for selling dodgy stuff, I think that they would get an email from Amazon's solicitors pdq ordering them to cease & desist.

"I don't know if you are now arguing dishonestly or are simply this indoctrinated in the power of government. I suspect a little of both."
You keep misunderstanding what I write.

"What do you mean if the company 'kills someone'?..."
If it was proven that the death was caused by a defective ACME ladder (rather than negligence by the user) and verifiable email(s) came to light that showed the CEO of ACME ladders knew that defective ladders were being sold but kept quiet about it, then the CEO should be made to climb an equally defective ACME ladder.

"Should the CEO of a sugar company go to jail for giving people diabetes?"
No, because moderate sugar consumption doesn't cause diabetes.

"...If I want to sell someone a car without an airbag and they want to buy a car without an airbag, am I responsible for their death?"
That's a grey area. Do airbags save lives? We already have mandatory seat-belts in the UK.

"And things in the UK are idyllic?"
I never said they were idyllic, but we don't have armed squads going around confiscating our food.

"Does the UK even have an equivalent to the ACLU or Institute for Justice?..."
I haven't a clue. It's never affected my life.

"So you believe that government intervention is necessary to counterbalance corporate commercials that brainwash people into zombies living on cheesy puffs and cokes?"
At the moment, yes.

"But it was government intervention that led the way on this, the market just follows."
I will never agree with you on this.

"Now you want more government intervention to counter commercials for sugary cereals?..."
You already know what I really want - no intervention from anybody, where food is concerned.

"This is ignoring the fact that people ought to be allowed the freedom to make their own choices..."
As long as people are influenced by food advertising, they don't have the freedom to make their own choices where food is concerned.

"The typical leftie position is that the ends justify the means..."
I want to free people from undue influence by corporations and governments. I guess that makes me more of a libertarian than you, who only wants to free people from undue influence by governments.

"...I believe people ought to be allowed to make stupid decisions, but let's say you. You would regulate sugar without regulating fat."
How am I (as benevolent dictator) regulating sugar by banning the advertising of all foods?

Under my "rule", people would still be free to make stupid decisions e.g. jump off a bridge to their death, if they wanted to.

"The problem is, and this is always the problem with leftie interventionism..."
The problem I have with you is that you believe corporations should have the same rights & freedoms as individuals, even though they have completely different motives. I will never agree with you on that.

"I think it would help a lot if the government got out of the propaganda business altogether..."
I agree with you on that provided that corporations do likewise.

praguestepchild said...

"I'm talking about merchants selling goods that are not of merchantable quality. That's a job for Trading Standards, not the police or county courts."

I thought it was a job for the consumer. Thank fuck for Trading Standards. So it's the government's job to make sure I don't buy a pair of shitty jeans? Seriously? Why not get rid of brands altogether, and let the government regulate the quality of everything, comrade?

"If it was proven that the death was caused by a defective ACME ladder (rather than negligence by the user) and verifiable email(s) came to light that showed the CEO of ACME ladders knew that defective ladders were being sold but kept quiet about it, then the CEO should be made to climb an equally defective ACME ladder."

Defective how? If a ladder was said to support a 100 kg person but some ladders crumpled under the weight of a 99 kg person and the CEO was informed that the 100 kilo limit was plus or minus 1 kilo then that CEO should be marched to the guillotine? The real world is full of these sorts on nuances.

""...If I want to sell someone a car without an airbag and they want to buy a car without an airbag, am I responsible for their death?"

That's a grey area. Do airbags save lives? We already have mandatory seat-belts in the UK."

Well I'm glad you admit that there are grey areas. I was getting worried.

""So you believe that government intervention is necessary to counterbalance corporate commercials that brainwash people into zombies living on cheesy puffs and cokes?"

At the moment, yes."

Because the ends justify the means. Anything to counteract the brainwashing of the greedy corporations.

"I want to free people from undue influence by corporations and governments. I guess that makes me more of a libertarian than you, who only wants to free people from undue influence by governments."

V.I. Lenin wanted to free people from the undue influence of the bourgeois and if a few eggs had to get broken in order to make that omelet, well that's life. I guess that also made him more of a libertarian than I.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

praguestepchild said...
"I thought it was a job for the consumer. Thank fuck for Trading Standards. So it's the government's job to make sure I don't buy a pair of shitty jeans? Seriously? Why not get rid of brands altogether, and let the government regulate the quality of everything, comrade?"
Whereas, in your world, completely unregulated corporations shit all over you and it's your job to clean up the mess.

"Defective how? If a ladder was said to support a 100 kg person but some ladders crumpled under the weight of a 99 kg person and the CEO was informed that the 100 kilo limit was plus or minus 1 kilo then that CEO should be marched to the guillotine?
No, duh. If the CEO knew that there were cracks in a batch of ladders that increased the chance of catastrophic failure and decided to sell them as is rather than pay for rework. That sort of thing.

"Well I'm glad you admit that there are grey areas. I was getting worried."
Oh, dear!

"Because the ends justify the means. Anything to counteract the brainwashing of the greedy corporations."
And your laissez faire attitude achieves what?

"V.I. Lenin wanted to free people from the undue influence of the bourgeois and if a few eggs had to get broken in order to make that omelet, well that's life. I guess that also made him more of a libertarian than I."
Ooh. Argumentum ad Leninum! It makes a change from Argumentum ad Hitlerum.
Lenin was well-known for banning food advertising and abolishing state interference in people's food choices whilst leaving everything else alone including the monarchy, right? Oy!

Disclaimer: I know sweet-F/A about Lenin other than what's on Wikipedia.

Kade Storm said...

Nigel,

I am all for regulation where it can work and be effective; protect the vulnerable and maintain a basic standard of living and health for the citizens. Not so in this case. This just happens to be one of those subjects where I genuinely think that with the present American climate, we will never reach a consensus. Despite the fact that I'd rather be a socialist asshole than a Darwinian capitalist, I do believe that with the nature of American politics and constitutional puritanism, the country is not going to benefit from this as it'll only fuel more prejudices and existing issues the public are developing with their very extension: the government.

Andreas Eenfeldt is right, but most likely for the wrong reasons. I think his dietary allegiance might be a bit fractured, but that's my opinion. Furthermore, he lives in a country that knows how to make government work. The same cannot be said for America that tends to be ideologically at odds with government. In that land, we just let the fools fall, even if their freewill or informed decision is nothing more than a sick, distorted, classically conditioned sum of bad commercials and media manipulation. So long as they freely follow their programming to make a stupid decision, we're all happy libertarians.

I agree with you that it's not about fixing everything – point blank. It's about at least making better options in a paradigm where people are becoming increasingly confused over mass information – both honest and market-hype in nature – hitting them from all corners; let's not even mention the cleverly devised products that are being sold. Unfortunately, culture factors in; some countries aren't a good base for considerable government intervention, and America's one of 'em, alongside many other countries, including that unfortunate and disastrous morass that is the middle east.

Of course, places like Syria aren't an argument for how bad government is when the public of Finland, Sweden, Norway, and others, can make government work to the benefit of the public and its civic standard. Britain's still well off with its own, and hey, at least our regulation provides us wheat that ain't genetically modified and even decent quality red meat from super market shelves – largely grass fed and none of that GMO crap, although this will be changing for the worse now, from what I hear.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

Hi Kade,

It's all a bit sad, really. Certain groups have amassed certain amounts of power and they don't want to give up that power. If anything, they want to increase it. In the US, I think that everything will change in such a way that everything will stay much the same. It's safe to say that I will never emigrate to the US.

"...although this will be changing for the worse now, from what I hear."
What did you hear?

praguestepchild said...

"Whereas, in your world, completely unregulated corporations shit all over you and it's your job to clean up the mess."

Because the only thing stopping Marks and Spencer from selling fake Levis are all the benign regulators keeping the greedy corporations from shitting all over you.

Or maybe it's in their best interest to sell a quality product for a reasonable price? Because there are a lot of other companies willing to do the same thing.

Again, you can have private watchdogs that can keep an eye who who's shitting on who. We already do, in fact, and not surprisingly they do a much better job of it than the public sector bureaucrats.

And again, there would be more smaller businesses to buy from if there wasn't so much government regulation and cronyism. Regulations, handouts, a complex tax code, etc, these things hit small businesses the hardest. Big government and cronyism go hand-in-hand. You are never going to get the 'right people' in charge to implement the right policies.

"And your laissez faire attitude achieves what?"

Allowing people the right to make their own decisions, even stupid ones, as long as they aren't harming anyone else.

Allowing people and VOLUNTARY associations of people the right to say and think whatever they want. Even if they are saying, "Eat Cheesy Poofs."

The right for people to engage in voluntary transactions, unhindered by the State, whether they are transacting sex, drugs, raw milk, 24 ounce glasses of soda, or a grass-fed steak they butchered themselves.

Is it really so shocking to imagine this happening without a nanny state constantly hovering above?

Nigel Kinbrum said...

praguestepchild said...
"Because the only thing stopping Marks and Spencer from selling fake Levis are all the benign regulators keeping the greedy corporations from shitting all over you."
M & S is a bad example. M & S is very good when it comes to giving refunds on returned items. M & S profits ain't too good!

"Or maybe it's in their best interest to sell a quality product for a reasonable price? Because there are a lot of other companies willing to do the same thing."
But in your world, there is no competition, thanks to corporate cronyism (e.g. price-fixing agreements).

"Again, you can have private watchdogs that can keep an eye who who's shitting on who. We already do, in fact, and not surprisingly they do a much better job of it than the public sector bureaucrats."
"Which" magazine isn't free. Not everybody has internet access.

"And again, there would be more smaller businesses to buy from if there wasn't so much government regulation and cronyism. Regulations, handouts, a complex tax code, etc, these things hit small businesses the hardest. Big government and cronyism go hand-in-hand. You are never going to get the 'right people' in charge to implement the right policies."
I agree with you that petty regulations (that have no impact on product quality), handouts and overly-complex tax codes should be abolished. There's too much petty bureaucracy.

"Allowing people the right to make their own decisions, even stupid ones, as long as they aren't harming anyone else."
As long as people are being unduly influenced by ads, they aren't freely making their own decisions.

"Allowing people and VOLUNTARY associations of people the right to say and think whatever they want. Even if they are saying, "Eat Cheesy Poofs.""
Not if it unduly influences people into making bad decisions.

"The right for people to engage in voluntary transactions, unhindered by the State, whether they are transacting sex, drugs, raw milk, 24 ounce glasses of soda, or a grass-fed steak they butchered themselves."
Agreed, but these activities must be uninfluenced by others.

"Is it really so shocking to imagine this happening without a nanny state constantly hovering above?"
Is it really asking so much to ban all food advertising and all food subsidies?

praguestepchild said...

"M & S is a bad example. M & S is very good when it comes to giving refunds on returned items. M & S profits ain't too good!"

M&S is a bad example because they aren't making enough profit? And who is making more profit in that market?

Why do you think M&S are very good when it comes to giving refunds on returned items? Because the government regulated them or because they decided that that policy is good for business?

"But in your world, there is no competition, thanks to corporate cronyism (e.g. price-fixing agreements)"

Really, is that my world? Because it seems more like your world. Cronyism is collusion with Big Government and I see that everywhere.

""Which" magazine isn't free. Not everybody has internet access."

Ah yes, the government needs to intervene because of the 'digital divide'.

"I agree with you that petty regulations (that have no impact on product quality), handouts and overly-complex tax codes should be abolished. There's too much petty bureaucracy."

And your solution is what? To get rid of the wrong regulations, to get rid of regulatory capture and croneyism? The only way that's going to happen is to reduce the scope of government altogether.

"As long as people are being unduly influenced by ads, they aren't freely making their own decisions."

As long as people are subjected to free speech they are brainwashed. Gotcha. Let's fix that by restricting free speech.

It was common knowledge here, before the iron curtain fell, that everything the communist party said was bullshit. Very few people bought into the propaganda, it was a running joke.

Perhaps all these people are lying, or perhaps you think that corporate advertising is more pernicious than totalitarian propaganda. Because you think that the proles are be unduly influenced by ads for cheesy puffs.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

At a gig. Back later.
When I asked "Is it really asking so much to ban all food
advertising and all food subsidies?", it looks like your answer is "Yes".
I finally worked out how to c/p on Opera Mini.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

praguestepchild said...
"M&S is a bad example because they aren't making enough profit? And who is making more profit in that market?"
I meant that M & S is a bad example of a company that shits on its customers. Tesco & Sainsbury's make more profits, I think.

"Why do you think M&S are very good when it comes to giving refunds on returned items? Because the government regulated them or because they decided that that policy is good for business?"
Somebody made a decision to do it. I don't know who introduced it or when, but I think that M & S are now locked-in to it. If they get rid of it, they might increase their profits, but they might lose a lot of customers and decrease their profits.

"Really, is that my world?"
You keep evading answering my question. Without competition laws, what's to stop companies from forming cartels to screw you over for more money?

"Because it seems more like your world. Cronyism is collusion with Big Government and I see that everywhere."
Cronyism is partiality to long-standing friends, especially by appointing them to positions of authority, regardless of their qualifications. You used the word first.

"Ah yes, the government needs to intervene because of the 'digital divide'."
Watchdogs are all very well in theory, but if the information they produce is seen by almost nobody, in practice they're useless.

"And your solution is what? To get rid of the wrong regulations, to get rid of regulatory capture and croneyism? The only way that's going to happen is to reduce the scope of government altogether."
What I would like to happen will never happen, as nobody wants to give up power that they have gained. It's all moot.

"As long as people are subjected to free speech they are brainwashed. Gotcha. Let's fix that by restricting free speech."
So, brainwashing of the population by corporations is fine in your book because it's "free speech". *shakes head*

"...perhaps you think that corporate advertising is more pernicious than totalitarian propaganda."
Damn right it is. I think that you have no idea how influential it is.

"Because you think that the proles are be unduly influenced by ads for cheesy puffs."
Why do you think so many people eat so much CIAB? Because they've been bombarded by so much advertising and because it's cheap thanks to subsidies.

Do you seriously think that people spontaneously decide to live on a diet of utter crap of their own free will? *shakes head some more*

Kade Storm said...

Lol! No wonder the foundational work of Dr. B. F. Skinner has been side-lined. Delusions of absolute, self-determined free will. "How dare ye taketh away my righteth to follow my programming?"


Anyway, to address your question, Nigel.

I can't seem to find the actual link -- since it was at least a year old or something -- but it related to some hum-drum back in 2011 regarding the introduction of GMO feed for animals, or something along those lines.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

I need to read up on Skinner!

RE GMOs: I'm not particularly worried about them. In a properly-functioning human gut (i.e. one that doesn't have excessive permeability), incompletely-digested protein fragments don't enter the circulation.

If animals fed GMOs have leaky guts, they'll produce antibodies to the protein fragments. I don't believe that that's a problem, once the animal is slaughtered & its meat is cooked.

I'm just about to go out for a spot of karaoke, followed by some open mic night singing. The karaoke venue (1st Bowl in Aldershot) serves food, with the following sign:- "Cooked in Genetically Modified Oil". It made me smile.

Kade Storm said...

True, Nigel.

My issue isn't so much with the meat as it is with the underlying thought that some of this stuff might end up directly in our food supply. I don't believe I have a properly functioning gut. While I can certainly tolerate quite a few things, I know that I get long-term reactions to certain food items. Wheat, likely due to gluten, is just one of those things that I can't take at staple doses in its supposed supposed 'whole food' form, or otherwise.

Also, I am not too keen on grain-fed animals in general, but that's a minor quip for another time.

On the whole though, even with these possible changes, the atmosphere and climate surrounding our beef (and even meat) industry is quite decent.


And har har at the 'Cooked in Genetically Modified Oil'. Nice one.

julie said...

Good lord, what a conversation. I think government would do a much better job at EVERYTHING if corporations didn't have so much lobbying power and government influence. I've been hearing commercials against soda by Santa Clara County, and a few psas to eat less processed, more fruits and veggies. I think if there weren't the food ads, maybe people wouldn't assume eating all that overly processed crap was normal and good.

Every encounter with libertarians only convinces me even more of how delusional they are.

praguestepchild said...

"Every encounter with libertarians only convinces me even more of how delusional they are."

This really made my delusional brain laugh. I wish I could join in reality with you Julie. BTW, how's that War on Drugs working out for ya? How about the War on Terror? Torture? Guantanamo? Drones? Sorry I'm just deluded. A few more PSAs will straighten me out, I'm sure. No wait, I've been deluded by those evul corporashuns!

Nigel Kinbrum said...

Anybody who believes that anarchy could ever work in a highly-populated, densely-populated & multiracial society is delusional.

Anybody who believes that greedy corporations aren't regularly "touching" you (without you even noticing it) is delusional.

Pointing out that corrupt governments cock some things up is not a valid argument for getting rid of government.

Shipping Steel said...

"Pointing out that corrupt governments cock some things up is not a valid argument for getting rid of government."

I disagree.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

Hello Shipping Steel.

Would you care to expand on your reply? How do you think large numbers of racially-diverse and densely-packed people should be managed?

Cheers, Nige