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Government Medicine Science

The Fresca Rebellion 776

theodp writes "They can ban the Marlboros, tax the Cokes, and zone the Whoppers, says Slate's William Saletan on the subject of today's morality cops. But it's time to put the brakes on the paternalistic overreaching of the food police, Saletan argues, when they come after his editor's beloved Fresca ('there are concerns that diet beverages may increase calorie consumption by justifying consumption of other caloric foods'), which will have to be pried from his cold, dead hands. '40 states have enacted special taxes on soda or junk food. And the soda taxers are becoming ever bolder. Their latest manifesto is an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, co-authored by the health commissioner of New York City, the surgeon general of Arkansas, and several others. It declares soda fair game for government intervention (PDF) on the grounds that "market failures" in this area are causing "less-than-optimal production and consumption."' Where do we draw the line?"
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The Fresca Rebellion

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  • Re:Market Failure (Score:3, Informative)

    by uuddlrlrab ( 1617237 ) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @10:06AM (#29555821)
    Read this...: [] ...then, just to make sure, read this: [] Basically, the premise is that because of indifference from both the drink manufacturers and consumers overall on the possible* negative impact on health nationwide of softdrinks & similar items, the government should step in. *qualifier in b4 everyone screams "IT'S NOT PROVEN!" at me. []
  • by d3ac0n ( 715594 ) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @10:08AM (#29555835)

    Um... Gattaca, Soylent Green, The Matrix series and about a dozen others I can't remember the titles to right now.

  • Re:taxes (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jurily ( 900488 ) <jurily@gmail.COLAcom minus caffeine> on Sunday September 27, 2009 @10:09AM (#29555845)

    I would much rather the government got income through 'sin' taxes than through the income tax.

    Except they do both. You know, in the land of freedom, adults over 18, etc.

  • Re:Market Failure (Score:3, Informative)

    by NotBornYesterday ( 1093817 ) * on Sunday September 27, 2009 @10:21AM (#29555963) Journal

    The problem isn't the market, or even necessarily the food. The problem is that there are a lot of people who shove more in their mouths than they should. I can't believe that such a simple equation like "what you eat, minus what you burn, is what you wear on your ass and thighs" doesn't make sense to people. More likely, it makes sense, but they still can't or won't force themselves to change.

    To whom is may concern, a few words of wisdom:

    "You are what you eat" - The government shouldn't have to tell you what you can and can't eat any more than it should have to wipe your ass for you. Grow a brain stem and stop ruining things for those of who manage to eat right, but still enjoy the occasional culinary sin. Which brings me to my next point:

    "All things in moderation" - There is nothing wrong with having a Whopper, fries, and soda. There is everything wrong with doing it often. Oh, and moderation applies to sitting on your ass, too. Get out there and walk some.

    And finally: "Monkey see, monkey do" - Parents, exercise some judgment and self-control. If not for your own health, for your kids. Teach your kids to live with some healthy discipline in their lives. Get some exercise in with them. Kill the TV every now and then. Keep the McD's to a minimum, and make them drink juice, milk, and water at home. It's not that hard, trust me. If a numskull like myself can do a halfway decent job at it, so can you.

    None of this is new. We all know it because it's common sense, and it's been said over and over. It's bad enough some people can't do their own thinking. It gets worse when the government believes that gives them the duty to think for all of us.

  • But consider... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 27, 2009 @10:24AM (#29555989)

    If we tax luxury items (including sugary food with little-to-no nutritional value) we can then subsidize the basic necessities (such as bread and canned veggies), thus making it much easier for the poor to survive.

    This, in turn, prevents them from having to turn to crime in order to eat, and thus everyone benefits from living in a safer place.

  • Re:Market Failure (Score:1, Informative)

    by d3ac0n ( 715594 ) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @10:29AM (#29556035)

    Market Failure: A term coined by the Utilitarians which were part of a larger body of thought that was related to and gave rise to modern socialism and communism. The term has been used most prominently by the progressive movement of the late 19th century and early 20th century and is used widely by socialists, neo-communists and communists to excuse massive government intervention in the Market.

    In other words, it's bullshit.

    The only time The Market fails is when the government gets in the way. ANY OTHER RESULT is a market success. Period.

  • by pla ( 258480 ) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @10:29AM (#29556037) Journal
    I've heard tons of stories from cyclists in the US detailing how people in vehicles purposely drive as close as possible to them, cut them off, throw things at them etc.

    First, I agree with you in spirit... I fully believe that the US having such poor pedestrian and cycling accommodations largely ties in with the current obesity epidemic (though I would point out that the latter doesn't exist solely as a US phenomenon).

    That said, you have to understand that American cyclists, for the most part, ride like complete assholes. Despite a legal obligation to obey the exact same rules of the road as cars, they completely ignore 99% of those rules. They don't feel a need to obey speed limits (in either direction - They'll blow through a 15mph zone as fast as their bike can go, and they'll crawl along in a 45mph zone as though on a leisurely ride in the park). They routinely ignore traffic signals, running red lights and stop signs whenever convenient. They make no strong distinction between "road", "median", and "sidewalk", using whichever will get them to their destination quickest (ie, they'll pass a half mile line of cars in the right shoulder, only to proceed to run the light at the intersection all those cars have waited for). I've actually had my mirror clipped by a cyclist trying to squeeze up to a light between two lanes of traffic (and the bastard had the nerve to try to accuse me of queuing up at the light too close to the other lane!).

    Now, as with any generalization, this doesn't hold true of all cyclists. But I've seen a hell of a lot more of them behaving as I describe above, than I have obeying traffic laws. When you wonder why Americans generally hold cyclists in low regard, you now have your answer.
  • Re:taxes (Score:2, Informative)

    by selven ( 1556643 ) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @10:30AM (#29556041)
    A high enough tax is a de facto ban.
  • Re:taxes (Score:5, Informative)

    by russotto ( 537200 ) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @10:47AM (#29556225) Journal

    For poor people in particular, there is a cost to society from their consumption of alcohol, cigarettes and high-calorie, low-quality food. That cost comes about when they expect society to pay for medical treatments to remedy the consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle. That expectation will only grow if plans for universal heathcare come to fruition.

    Or we could, you know, deny those expectations and preserve freedom. Sure, that means an obese two-pack-a-day smoker in need of medical treatment for liver failure and emphysema isn't going to get it, but we can't have personal freedom and socialized responsibility at the same time.

  • Re:taxes (Score:5, Informative)

    by seededfury ( 699094 ) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @11:21AM (#29556581) Homepage
    first link on google searching for "cause of bankruptcy in usa" []
  • Re:makes sense (Score:3, Informative)

    by El Torico ( 732160 ) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @11:31AM (#29556681)

    Both are being children; a perfect government and a perfect market are both idealized abstractions.

  • by EEBaum ( 520514 ) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @11:53AM (#29556911) Homepage
    Sidewalks are actually a quite dangerous place for cyclists. One of the most dangerous interactions between cyclists and motorists is the intersection between sidewalks and parking lot entry-exit. The visibility can be exceptionally poor, the cyclists are going faster than the motorists expect, and sometimes the motorists simply don't look at the sidewalk. This is in addition to the need to dodge bus stops, telephone poles, pedestrians, and other cyclists on a fairly narrow path. Dedicated bike paths are one thing, but run of the mill sidewalks are a poor location for cyclists.
  • Re:makes sense (Score:2, Informative)

    by SmilingSalmon ( 1143805 ) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @12:52PM (#29557447)

    It's not like the right isn't offering any positive ideas, they're just being ignored by the left. Senator Baucus's panel took up 61 amendments this week. They accepted 4 from Republicans and rejected 28. They accepted 20 from Democrats and rejected 1. source []

    The reason you don't hear much about this is obvious to me. If you're a news director or editor, which do you think will play better among your news consumers -- "DEATH PANELS" or a list of 28 rejected Republican amendments?

  • Re:makes sense (Score:5, Informative)

    by Vellmont ( 569020 ) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @01:14PM (#29557643) Homepage

    Health care is not an entitlement or a right.

    Maybe it isn't for YOU, but it is for people in many countries. In the United States it actually is an entitlement for people over 65, Veterans, the extremely poor, (and I think recently children?). So except for the majority of people in developed countries, and a significant portion of Americans, you're right.

    Among the major options that many right-leaning politicians in America have been pushing is tearing down regulation that has prevented insurance companies from offering low-cost catastrophic-only insurance, and removing regulation that prevents cross-state offerings for insurance.

    His point wasn't that he couldn't get catastrophic only insurance, his point was that because of the way the insurance pools work, he had to pay a LOT more for as a self-employed individual than he and a large employer would pay when you join a much larger pool that large businesses can get into. For all we know catastrophic insurance was an option.

    Just because it is a choice you don't like doesn't mean you don't have a choice. You ALWAYS have a choice,

    Talk about bending over backwards to try to fit your own viewpoint into a word definition, sheesh. So using your definitions, if Charles Manson escaped from jail and kidnapped you and gave you the "choice" between strangling you, and shooting you, you shouldn't really complain about being murdered because Charlie is "nice" and gave you a "choice"? It seems you can't see the forest through the trees.

    And yet, ANY PERSON, regardless of insurance or socioeconomic status, is able to walk into an emergency room in America TODAY and receive full treatment without concern over the final cost.

    Hahahah! Wow.. do you really believe that emergency rooms are really a good form of healthcare? The truth is that treating people in an emergency room is far more expensive than it would have been to treat someone BEFORE the problem got so bad they had to go to a emergency room. Your statement just astounds me in its ignorance. From a vaccination and public health standpoint and spread of disease standpoint ALONE it's idiotic to have an underclass of people with limited access to healthcare. Ever heard of herd immunity? Vaccines aren't 100% effective and never will be. Much of the protection you receive from life threatening illness is from other people being immunized against the disease. Having un-vaccinated people in the population is like having dry kindling in a forest. It only encourages disease to start and spread like a wildfire. There's a ton of reasons why Emergency only healthcare is simply idiotic. Do you really think that all illness is emergency only? You don't even have to be compassionate here. Your own greed and self interest can guide you away from this very stupid form of healthcare, if only you'd be a bit less ignorant.

    Sounds like an imperfect, but otherwise pretty good system to me. Why trash it?

    Spoken by someone who's obviously in the 95% of the 85%, and has never had a life threatening illness. Did you understand that many people covered by health insurance go BANKRUPT who when they get a major illness like cancer and the health insurance provider cancels their policy?

  • Re:taxes (Score:3, Informative)

    by ObsessiveMathsFreak ( 773371 ) <obsessivemathsfr ... minus threevowel> on Sunday September 27, 2009 @01:23PM (#29557713) Homepage Journal

    While everyone can be replaced, their premature deaths are still going to be a net loss. All they could have done is lost to us and it will take time to get a replacement. Essentially, this is a human version of the broken window fallacy.

  • Re:taxes (Score:2, Informative)

    by SocratesJedi ( 986460 ) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @02:26PM (#29558249) Homepage
    A 1997 article in the New England Journal of Medicine [] even seems to indicate that the cost of having a mixed population of nonsmokers and smokers (like we do now) costs less (strange as that sounds to me) than a completly non-smoking population in the long run due to the exact way in which the following factors balance out: (a) smokers do not live as long, but (b) smokers consume more health care resources while still alive. The taxes against smoking has everything to do with promoting a public health policy (the wisdom of which can be supported or denied individually) and not much to do with somehow forcing smokers to pay for the (non-existent, according to NEJM) additional long term social costs of smoking.

    Just to be clear though: Smoking cessation is the number one positive thing a smoker can do for their health and I wholeheartedly encourage any smokers to seriously think about if they're ready to quit and speak with their family physician about it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 27, 2009 @06:43PM (#29560255)

    What's interesting is that one of the prime reasons soda is bad for you is that it's made with high fructose corn syrup, which requires many more calories than sugar to provide the same sweetness. Why do soda companies use HFCS? It's cheaper. Why is it cheaper? Because of Federal sugar import restrictions, designed to drive up the price of sugar at the behest of the homegrown sugar lobby. Yet another example of the Law of Unintended Consequences.

    Many Americans have never even tasted "real" sugar-sweetened soda. If you haven't, you should; it's delicious.

  • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @09:06PM (#29561225) Homepage

    ('there are concerns that diet beverages may increase calorie consumption by justifying consumption of other caloric foods')

    That's not how it works. "Diet" sodas usually contain aspartame, which, aside from being an artificial sweetener, is also a neurotoxin/suppressant and an appetite enhancer. In other words, people don't increase their calorie consumption in justification of drinking diet soda; they eat more because they are, indeed, hungrier due to drinking it. It's no coincidence that overweight people can usually be seen with a diet soda in their hands; it's a cyclical loop.

    I'm against regulation in general, but there's no reason that aspartame should be allowed to be put in foods. There are quite a few people - primarily, children - who have a very negative response to the stuff: everything from severe asthmatic response to waaaay over the top hyperactivity.

  • by Civil_Disobedient ( 261825 ) on Monday September 28, 2009 @09:55AM (#29565037)

    If they simply replaced all of the HFCS in everything that seems to have it nowadays, with pure cane sugar (not that processed white shit), then there wouldn't be half the problems there are now with weight issues.

    I used to think this, too. Unfortunately, this is simply not true []. Not that HFCS isn't terrible, but that the "pure" cane sugar is some panacea of health. Sugars wreak havoc on your liver, and are directly responsible for what's called metabolic syndrome []. Not just HFCS, which (deservedly) gets plenty of bad press, but all fructose--doesn't matter if it comes from cane or corn. The only reason fruits get a pass is because they're wrapped in fiber, which naturally satiates the appetite.

    This is coming from a former soda-junkie.

Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success. -- Christopher Lascl