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February 25, 2013

Comments

Stuck-Record

"Somehow, leftists have convinced us that reading The Guardian is a matter of personal liberty, and that the government has no place in regulating how much bullshit can be contained in a single article."

There. That's better.

David

It’s quite stunning, really. Some people would actually rather the state didn’t reach into even more areas of life - say, regarding the size of soft drink they’re allowed to purchase. And for Ms Filipovic, this heresy is inexplicable. It must be false consciousness at the hands of the Coca-Cola Company. Without its dastardly mind-bending influence, “every socially conscious person” would agree with Jill Filipovic. Obviously.

Sandman

Couples / children / friends often share a large drink when going to the cinema / theatre / concert as it is cheaper than buying two or more smaller drinks.
I thought this was an example of sharing resources for mutual benefit.

But no - sharing is bad. Instead of sharing one slightly overpriced large drink, we must each buy a heavily overpriced small drink. It's the only way that our betters can control our behaviour!!!

Joan

If I take the kids to the cinema I buy a big drink and use three straws because it's cheaper and saves on waste packaging. Does that mean I'm not 'socially conscious'? I'm so confused...

David

It’s remarkable how many Guardian readers assume they have a right to barge into other people’s business, other people’s lives, even down to the level of whether they should be permitted to buy a large soft drink. One Guardian reader adds,

Ban food and alcohol advertising same as we did with tobacco products. It’s that fucking simple.

It’s because they care so much, you see.

And if you regard human beings as little more than livestock – as caring people do, apparently – then statist coercion is always the answer.

Spruance

Why should we consider to believe such an incredibly dumb person, which could be persuaded by Coca Cola?

BenSix

That is indeed a ludicrous sentence, which is a shame because had Ms. Filipovic observed that food companies had convinced people that massive portions represented a normal meal or sensible investment she would have been onto something. What regulation obsessives do overlook is that educating people in order that they can make the right decisions for themselves has been shown to be effective.

I wish that writers wouldn't say "us" when they are not referring to themselves. If they mean "other people" they should have the stones to say it.

rjmadden

It’s remarkable how many Guardian readers assume they have a right to barge into other people’s business, other people’s lives, even down to the level of whether they should be permitted to buy a large soft drink.

And they assume they have a right to spend other people's money. All that new regulation and bureaucracy isn't going to be cheap.

David

If they mean “other people” they should have the stones to say it.

That might make their motives seem a little less noble. It’s rather like how campaigners tend to prefer eliminating choice for everyone through government coercion rather than, say, personally lecturing parents who are taking their children to the local McDonald’s for the fifth time that week. The latter option would risk acknowledging the role of individual agency, which would undercut the narrative of consumers as passive dupes. And to attack consumers for in effect making proletarian choices – of which the campaigners disapprove – would jar with any professed egalitarian credentials. This may be why a common strategy is to insinuate some variation of false consciousness, whereby fast food enthusiasts are effectively side-lined as victims of some ill-defined but morally corrupting influence, against which they can’t possibly be expected to have any resistance.

It’s easier to imagine you’re being righteous and heroic if you target the provider of a service rather than the people who choose to seek it out. And who, to a very large extent, dictate the range of products it offers. But even this manoeuvre implies things that are rarely said directly for fear of how it would seem: The customers, by implication - unlike the campaigners - can’t see through advertising. The customers, unlike the campaigners, don’t know their own minds. Of course saying this explicitly would make the campaigners sound presumptuous and conceited, which they quite often are. And saying it face to face with Those Who Need Saving might invite a suitably frank and colourful response.

And they assume they have a right to spend other people’s money.

Yes, it’s odd that being “socially conscious” doesn’t seem to entail any reservation about spending, or indeed wasting, other people’s earnings. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Shubes

It warms my heart that there are so many liberty-loving people still in the UK.

mojo

"I have to help you help yourself! it's my DUTY!"

Grundy Uber Alles

David Gillies

One upshot of Bloomberg's idiotic ban on sale of soft drinks bigger than 16 fl. oz. is that pizza delivery companies can no longer provide the size bottles that their customers would prefer. No 2l bottles for you, peasants! You can buy two 1l bottles, of course, for more money, and generate more plastic waste, but heaven forfend you exercise agency and buy the volume you want. The restaurants couldn't give a stuff, of course. It's no skin off their nose. Slightly higher margin, if anything. I doubt that demand for carbonated pop with one's (carbohydrate and fat-laden) pizza is terribly elastic so consumption will be lowered by a vestigial amount. No doubt a new army of prodnoses will be needed to police the nefarious Fanta-dealing business, at taxpayers' expense.

That this makes no sense is immaterial. The desire is for control; whether it has a beneficial effect is thoroughly secondary.

JuliaM

No wonder 'onesies' are in vogue - we seem to be, as a society, regressing into children...

JuliaM

BenSix: "That is indeed a ludicrous sentence, which is a shame because had Ms. Filipovic observed that food companies had convinced people that massive portions represented a normal meal or sensible investment she would have been onto something. "

If I'm full, I stop eating/drinking. I don't simply carry on stuffing what's on my plate into my mouth.

Do you?

luke

The government can tell you what size soft drink you can consume. That's fine.

Let the government try to prevent you from murdering your unborn child and THAT'S the sign of incipient fascism.

Puzzle

At the risk of attracting the ire of my fellow readers, I do believe that those organs of the state with a public health mandate such as the NHS do have a role in encouraging healthy, balanced diets, and I don't have a problem with that being done through pricing. However, I believe it is quite sick that the suggestion is always to make unhealthy food more expensive. I would prefer to see the price of basic, nutritious staples such as fruit, veg and meat reduced in price.

And Luke, I'm with you and would see copies of the Guardian burnt in huge daily bonfires as propaganda in the war on babies. Unfortunately you cannot burn the internet. I wonder who is funding this loss-making organ?

David

and I don’t have a problem with that being done through pricing.

Which means that people who enjoy the occasional burger, bag of crisps or whatever are being penalised for the idiocy and incontinence of others.

John D

Which means that people who enjoy the occasional burger, bag of crisps or whatever are being penalised for the idiocy and incontinence of others.

And people who make burgers, crisps etc.
And shops that sell burgers, crisps etc.

BenSix

Julia - If I'm full, I stop eating/drinking. I don't simply carry on stuffing what's on my plate into my mouth. Do you?

Yes. We might not be representative of all people, though (strange as it is to think). And, besides, is "fullness" a measure of optimal nutrition? No. Different foods, for example, as I'm sure is no surprise, make one more or less full depending on their water, fibre and protein content, effects on blood sugars and so on. Thus, people can gain lots of weight without feeling satisfied and lose a lot of it while feeling stuffed.

Puzzle - I would prefer to see the price of basic, nutritious staples such as fruit, veg and meat reduced in price.

Fruit and veg is cheap. Meat is cheap as well, and its cheapness depends upon the animals being tortured as a means of saving on production costs, so I would hate to know what they would do to make it cheaper. The thing is that combinations of sugar, refined starch and processed oils, which taste good, last for months without going mouldy and do not demand hours of prep., are even cheaper. You can change the latter or you can teach people that if they want to feel and look better they will have to fork out more cash and put in more effort. And, indeed, ignore a lot of rubbish advertising.

AC1

Puzzle,

Maybe you should use logic and conclude that the group punishment is inherent in extortion funded treatment rationing systems, therefore the incentive of the NHS is wrong. It's the worst treatment, funded in the worst way.
The worst mistake behind the NHS is the removal of the payment for service. This just means that the money currency of treatment is replaced with the "currency" of staff interest.
My "experience" of the NHS is that if you cannot get someone interested in your treatment, you get nothing.
I think Stafford's part of the NHS killing 3000 and no-one arrested demonstrates that if you're not a customer, you're a cost, and costs are minimised...

Bart

"Somehow, big food companies have convinced us that drinking a 32oz soda is a matter of personal liberty"

What? They've managed to convince us that being personally at liberty to buy what you wish is a matter of personal liberty?

What diabolical and Svengali-esque machinations must they have employed to have duped us so?

bgates

Bart, it's worse than you suspect - they didn't just convince us, they traveled back through time to plant their wicked ideas in the 18th century.

I suppose one could try to convince Filipovic that this is a good reason to argue against subsidizing corn production, until she's reminded that we have to subsidize corn production as a part of subsidizing biofuels to make green energy "economically competitive".

Darleen

oh for heaven's sake ... where do I begin with Jill? Certainly, as amazing is the sentence quoted above, is the several times she pretty much says "people" (not her, no matter how many "we"s she writes) are too stupid to be trusted with choice (on food, of course, let's not get into negligent use of uteri shall we?)

Glenn Reynolds had linked to this ... look at those students and don't think we didn't have "junk food" back then.

So, what was the difference, mmmm?

Mike James

A 32 oz. drink is nice to have if one has to make that tedious drag the length of California on Interstate 5. Actually, they're handy for any long, long trip when you are settled in to put the miles behind you.

But that's only a reason that I like them. Jill Filipovic or the Mayor of New York city have their reasons why they don't like them. Jill Filipovic and Michael Bloomberg, and all the Guardian hacks and crummy little wardheeleers everywhere, are cordially invited to mind their own goddamned business.

David

Jill Filipovic and Michael Bloomberg… are cordially invited to mind their own goddamned business.

But this is the thing we’ve noted before. Once you’ve socialised medicine, and socialised the cost of Barney’s obesity, smoking and bad diet, etc, there’s then a foothold for obnoxious coercive urges - and a justification (of sorts) for all manner of interference. Usually some variation of this: “The medical consequences of Barney’s fatness stress the NHS and cost the public X, therefore I, as a member of the public, have a right to interfere and determine Barney’s diet and which size soda he may drink.”

And so the solution is always more interference, more control, more socialism.

JuliaM

BenSix: "Yes. We might not be representative of all people, though (strange as it is to think)."

And, because we have better willpower and more intelligence, we must pay more so that those without those things don't have to struggle. I see...

"The thing is that combinations of sugar, refined starch and processed oils, which taste good, last for months without going mouldy and do not demand hours of prep., are even cheaper. You can change the latter or you can teach people that if they want to feel and look better they will have to fork out more cash and put in more effort."

And that's far too hard and takes too long. So we'll look for another way. It's the modern approach.

JuliaM

"And to attack consumers for in effect making proletarian choices – of which the campaigners disapprove – would jar with any professed egalitarian credentials."

Oh, don't worry - they are getting over that pretty fast:

"Wilson will argue that it is irresponsible drinkers abusing the drink, but by the same turn he must surely know his is not a beverage served at soigne dinner parties in Hyndland."

The whole article is filled with the same sort of rubbish - how will knowing where your sozzled drunk bought his bottle of Buckie 'solve a crime'..?

Make mine a fizzy one

The thing is that all these things are measurable, thanks to weights and measures. It isn't just that drinking pop is bad for you, but that the measured amount is bad.

Once the bansturbators get their teeth into (or lips around) any issue they aren't going to let go -- after all, what's the point of being 'right' unless everyone can applaud you -- and measuring quantities and volume is so helpful in forcing a ban. It also gives the inevitable Office Of Fair Imbibing something to publish statistics on. Imagine how weak a report would be that just said 'people do things we disapprove of' without quantifying and measuring.

Plus, legislation for the masses is so much easier with numbers. However beware the inevitable loophole: banning a 32oz however may lead to drinking two 16oz quantities, and this will need to be referred to the EU for clarification.

Puzzle

David, your polemic doesn't touch my proposal. I don't want to punish anyone, I want good quality food to be a basic right. Your argument only scores a hit if I propose prices be falsely inflated. I don't propose this. In fact, I condemn the manner in which prices are falsely inflated, and then much of the food ends up in the bins at the back of the supermarkets.

BenSix, I agree with you in that our attitude to meat and other good foods should be one of gratitude, and our attitude towards it is certainly cheapened by easy availability that makes us take it for granted. The excess of good food in our society is a good thing and something to be grateful for. However, the mind still boggles at the fact much good food ends up in the bins when many people can't afford to eat. Why does it end up there? Because the prices are set higher than those with families, or old people, and sick people,can afford. It is all about money, and money polices the boundary between the hungry and the full.

Please continue with the polemic against avariciously increasing prices and pretending it is in a good cause. I will add my voice to the chorus. But also address my point that good food being made more affordable is a good thing.

Puzzle

AC1, your logic is flawless and I am against group punishments. I ask you to address what I said, which rather implies a reward or boon rather than punishment.

As for treating sick people, I won't negotiate on the right of the sick to freely receive medical care. You appear to me to be on the wrong side of a very important line there.

AC1

They have a right to healthcare means the state will not get in the way of a doctor patient relationship.
That's what rights are, restrictions on the scope of the state. Please don't confuse rights and entitlements.

Free healthcare means ONLY that the doctor works for nothing.
It's not free if there's extortion.

David

Puzzle,

David, your polemic doesn’t touch my proposal. I don’t want to punish anyone,

I’m sure you don’t, but your proposal seems unlikely to be pursued. How much cheaper should carrots be? And when activists and governments talk about “encouragement through pricing” what they tend to have in mind is making Item X more expensive by insisting on a minimum price and/or taxing it to buggery. Which, as I said, penalises those who manage to eat or drink Item X without doubling in size or leaving a trail of vomit across the city centre.

As noted before, there are surprisingly few common foodstuffs that are hazardous in moderate quantities. There are only unhealthy diets, especially if coupled with sedentary lifestyles or chronic idiocy. Of course lifestyles, stupidity and idleness are harder to tax and outlaw, and for some interference is the primary objective. The thought of “direct intervention” gets some people quite excited. To the extent that “limiting individuals’ freedom to consume junk” is the cherry on the (forbidden) cake.

AC1

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/mar/07/its-your-own-good/?pagination=false

Time for someone to start making choices for Mr Sunstein...

David

In a previous discussion on this subject, someone suggested that supermarkets and other retailers should be made to promote products deemed healthy above those deemed unhealthy, with prime shelf positions being given to state-approved items. Now, whatever the intention, the result of this idea would be to penalise supermarkets and retailers, which generally position products so as to optimise their profits. It is, after all, their livelihoods we’re talking about. As a general rule, businesses try not to dissuade customers from buying certain products. Forcing supermarkets and retailers to lose money by repositioning goods on ideological grounds is presumptuous and unfair for much the same reason that “corrective” pricing is. And yet this is the kind of thinking most commonly, and vigorously, pursued.

Dominic

In my local supermarket fruit and veg is the first thing you see when you walk in. How much more prominent could they make it? You already have to walk past it to get to anything 'unhealthy'.

David

In my local supermarket fruit and veg is the first thing you see when you walk in.

It’s the same in my local supermarkets. I’d imagine it’s a standard layout, or very common at least. The sinful items tend to be positioned much further in or at the end of the circuit, as if they were a reward for all that roughage and low-fat virtue. “Dammit, I bought broccoli and swede. I deserve a decent Shiraz.”

And I can’t be the only one to have figured out that, for instance, a home-cooked stew is generally cheaper than a trip to the nearest World of Meat Slathered In Cheese.

Puzzle

Hi David

In a previous discussion on this subject, someone suggested that supermarkets and other retailers should be made to promote products deemed healthy above those deemed unhealthy, with prime shelf positions being given to state-approved items

I must take ownership of that argument, which was put forward by myself under a different handle. I am also the same person who defended faith as compatible with reason on this blog a fair while ago. I withdrew from the argument on supermarkets and product shelf placement because I realised I was making a stand along the wrong battlements. I would be grateful if we can forgo my previous words so that I may make a fresh attempt. My basic point was, with all due acknowledgement of your sarcasm aside, that we are already being influenced, manipulated and outright deceived on a daily, hourly, minute by minute basis.

I find it ironic that the mere suggestion of rearranging a bit of fruit and veg can inspire such ire, yet my calls for the burning of heretical literature passed by without comment. I make no apologies for advocating, as you put it, 'repositioning goods on ideological grounds'. There are certain goods (or might I call them 'bads') that I want to reposition right into the centre of a blazing inferno.

Puzzle

AC1, I believe you are correctly alive to the dangers that state involvement in our lives can lead to. Your words about NHS neglect of the old and sick are terrifying because they are true, and I bless you for your powers to call out these evils.

I want to pick up on the idea that “Free healthcare means ONLY that the doctor works for nothing.” I would dispute the word 'ONLY', for indeed while one model is to have the poor doctor working tirelessly for a thankless task, there are other possibilities. The other model is for us all to live up to our responsibilities and, where we have not the skills and gifts ourselves to serve the sick in the very specific manner of the medic, to provide the means for him to practice his vocation effectively. That can be done with or without the state. The more I reflect upon it, and upon parliament's sovereignty, the more clearly I am seeing a higher sovereignty which will eventually shatter parliament if she does not wise up. I hope you will agree with me when I say that the state is a bitch, and she needs to know her place.

David

Puzzle,

My basic point was… that we are already being influenced, manipulated and outright deceived on a daily, hourly, minute by minute basis.

Yes, people are trying to sell us things, from age-retarding face creams to stuffed crust pizza. And yes, it’s possible to eat Meat Slathered In Cheese five times a day, if one is so inclined. And yet thin people still walk among us. Goodness, I wonder what their secret is. It’s also worth bearing in mind that while the manufacturers of Meat Slathered In Cheese tend to spend their own money on enticing customers – customers who make choices, for better or worse - the authoritarian Professor Swinburn and his Guardianista cheerleaders plan to spend our money influencing us, as much of it as they can, however they see fit, and whether we want them to or not.

I find it ironic that the mere suggestion of rearranging a bit of fruit and veg can inspire such ire… I make no apologies for advocating, as you put it, “repositioning goods on ideological grounds.”

It’s barely ire. Mild disgruntlement, perhaps. And as noted above, supermarket layouts already tend to position fresh fruit and veg quite prominently. It’s pretty hard to miss and generally not expensive. Exactly how much obstinate stupidity do we have to compensate for? And how much will that cost us? In cash and dignity. My basic point is that when activists start demanding more meddling, they usually want to make something more expensive or in some way harder to buy. And therefore harder to sell. Their “nudging” and “encouragement” is almost always of a punitive kind - by which I mean it’s unfair to lots of other people, who, not unreasonably, object to the nannying, cost and inconvenience. Given the language so often used by such campaigners and the evident eagerness to coerce (see previous links), I tend to question the purity of their motives.

Terribly cynic that I am.

Puzzle

David, I largely agree with everything you have just written. I do, however, feel that you are consistently cutting out the bits of my text that I feel really matter, hence, to repeat myself, I don't believe your polemic touches me. I have quite clearly set myself against the worthless men who write for and fund the Guardian.

You are against me repositioning goods on ideological grounds. Account for why you would stop me burning every single copy of the Guardian, which certainly comes under this charge.

David

Puzzle,

I don’t believe your polemic touches me.

You weren’t the target.

I have quite clearly set myself against the worthless men who write for and fund the Guardian.

I wouldn’t presume to guess whether the people writing for the Guardian are “worthless,” as you put it. I just point out that sometimes their assumptions and arguments are.

You are against me repositioning goods on ideological grounds. Account for why you would stop me burning every single copy of the Guardian, which certainly comes under this charge.

I don’t follow you. Likewise your earlier comment,

There are certain goods (or might I call them ‘bads’) that I want to reposition right into the centre of a blazing inferno.

I just don’t feel that way about products I don’t like. Not even leftwing newspapers. Much as I’ve mocked the Guardian and the kinds of worldview it propagates, I’ve no interest in seeing the paper wink out of existence. When the thing eventually goes belly-up, I might actually miss it. After all, it’s brought so much laughter to our lives.

Darleen

Puzzle

I want good quality food to be a basic right

Stop. Right there. Do not continue. "Food" is not now, or ever, a "basic right", good quality or bad.

Until you understand, really understand, that, then no further discussion is possible; because you will always find some new "right" that improves "quality of life" (as defined by The Benevolent) to trot out and restrict the liberty of the hoi polloi.

Puzzle

David,
I am grateful that I've now become the target of your critique. Perhaps now I will have a chance of making myself understood. I really must dash (school pickup approacheth), so in lieu of the longer response I intend to write later, please forgive me straying needlessly into biblical inspired hyperbole (re: worthless men).

Darleen,
Thank you for your input. I suppose where I come from is that the food is already there, fresh and inviting. As long as it exists, it exists for a true good, and that true good is to provide nourishment. The first priority ought to be getting that to the hungry. I regret that dressing such reality in the language of 'rights' obscures for you the truth I am pointing at. I think the critique you provide is a valid one.

sk60

And yes, it’s possible to eat Meat Slathered In Cheese five times a day, if one is so inclined.

http://www.steaknshake.com/menu/late-night/late-night-menu/7x7-steakburger-n-fries

Yikes. That's… disgusting. :D

David

Yikes. That’s… disgusting.

No, it’s not the loveliest thing I’ve ever seen on a plate. And I say this as someone who eats the occasional home-made burger. (Aberdeen Angus patties with caramelised onions and American cheese. It has to be American cheese.)

More to the point, it’s not the kind of thing you could eat by accident, as it were.

Jess1

"And yet thin people still walk among us. Goodness, I wonder what their secret is"
Their "secret" is that they're thin. Nothing more. More to the point, what is the obsession w/weight numbers? "Health" is a subjective term - not a repeatable, reliable baseline, and while "weight" (mass) can be quantified, so what? (BTW, please don't be an insulting, barely educated in statistical analysis parrot by squawking "fat makes healcare costs go up" or similar twaddle)...

pst314

Puzzle "I do believe that those organs of the state with a public health mandate such as the NHS do have a role in encouraging healthy, balanced diets"

Organs of the State? How very Soviet of you, Comrade. :-)

pst314

Puzzle 09:37 "I condemn the manner in which prices are falsely inflated"

What ARE you thinking? Basic, unprocessed foods are cheap. Show a contemporary grocery store to a working person of a hundred years ago and they would weep tears of joy at the abundance, nutritiousness, and cheapness of quality meat, fresh vegetables, and fruits.

Puzzle 09:37 "David, your polemic doesn't touch my proposal. I don't want to punish anyone, I want good quality food to be a basic right."

Funny how the demand for "basic human rights" is endless and ever-expanding, usually as an excuse to rob and bully people.

Puzzle 14:36 "Darleen, Thank you for your input. I suppose where I come from is that the food is already there, fresh and inviting."

No it isn't just "already there". It is there only because a vast network of people did the work to create it and put it in the stores. When you advocate your "help the hungry" policies you are, whether you realize it or not, saying that the government should punish people that it is neither intellectually nor morally qualified to give orders to. If the people you claim to care about are not choosing to buy the right foods it has nothing to do with price and everything to do with choice, and you should cease your efforts to coerce sellers into lowering their prices and reorganizing your stores, and go out into the streets to persuade the customers that they should change their buying (and eating) habits. But I suppose it's more fun (and safer) to bully businesses than to do the hard work of peacefully persuading people to choose healthier habits.

Jess1

"But I suppose it's more fun (and safer) to bully businesses than to do the hard work of peacefully persuading people to choose healthier habits."
Again - what exactly is a "healthier habit"?

AC1

>Yes, people are trying to sell us things, from age-retarding face creams to stuffed crust pizza.

Their also trying to "sell"* us the idea that they can run other people's lives better than the person can run it themselves.

I'm sure lots of people would like to be a pet, however pets are not adults.

*Well force

Puzzle, I could wade through your religious style drivel. You still confuse the concept of a right (restriction on the state) with "nice things" that will magically happen with a nudge of lovely coercion... So I repeat the only possible free healthcare is the one where the doctor does not charge.

pst314

Jess1 16:45 "Again - what exactly is a 'healthier habit'?"

Theodore Dalrymple has written at length about unhealthy eating habits in England: too much fast food, too many carbs, not enough fruit and green vegetables. And the connection between obesity and a high-carb diet seems pretty clear.

But it is one thing to see a problem and an entirely different thing to solve it. Compare today's health fascists who seek to "help" designated victims by bullying and robbing designated "exploiter" classes, with, for example, the evangelical Christians of earlier generations who worked tirelessly in poor communities to persuade people that certain behaviors were harmful and should be replaced with other, more beneficial ones. So why do our progressive "friends" cling to their destructive policies? Because although they claim to care about people, it's really all about power.

AC1

http://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2013/02/18/richard-lehmans-journal-review-18-february-2013/

537 Most doctors are very uncomfortable with the fact that people over 65 who are overweight or obese live longer than those who are of “normal” weight. Not only does this run counter to the deep puritanism of medical culture, but it also flies in the face of logic, because such people are much more likely to have diabetes, heart failure and hypertension.

And yet obese people with hypertension have the best outcomes, in trial after trial. And if you give them thiazide diuretics and so increase their insulin resistance, they do even better. And if they get heart failure, they will greatly outlive their thinner peers. Here is an analysis of the ACCOMPLISH trial – don’t even try to remember which one that was – which clearly shows that thiazide treatment gives better outcomes in hypertensive fat people.

By all that’s holy in mechanistic reasoning, this should not be true, and it is all too much for the authors of the accompanying editorial. They list their objections and state:” Therefore, we reject the conclusion of Weber and colleagues that diuretic-based regimens are a reasonable choice in obese patients. On the contrary, we surmise that thiazide diuretics are contraindicated in obesity, relatively speaking.” So surmise trumps evidence? I don’t think so.

Jess1

AC1,
For such heresy you must be silenced... Note the bias even there: "Most doctors are very uncomfortable with the fact that people over 65 who are overweight or obese live longer than those who are of “normal” weight"
Seriously? Here's a flash: those who are now dead no longer qualify as part of any "weight" standard/s.

"And the connection between obesity and a high-carb diet seems pretty clear" No kidding - the great Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin pointed that out nearly two centuries ago. The issue though, is this: define "obese", please, and clarify as to exactly why that's an issue deserving of such vitriol.

pst314

Jess1 "The issue though, is this: define 'obese', please, and clarify as to exactly why that's an issue deserving of such vitriol."

It's silly to demand that I give you a precise definition of 'obese' in order to talk about obesity. And since any vitriol is not coming from me, it is inappropriate to ask me to justify it. (Nor do I detect any such vitriol in this thread, so what gives?)

carbon based lifeform

Aberdeen Angus patties with caramelised onions and American cheese. It has to be American cheese.

This thread is making me hungry.

carbon based lifeform

Nor do I detect any such vitriol in this thread, so what gives?

Was just going to say the same. Mr T keeps this place civil. Weird sometimes but civil.

pst314

"It has to be American cheese."

Fine with me, as long as it's American cheddar. Sorry, I couldn't resist. :-)

A naive friend once walked into a cheese shop in Geneva and asked for some Swiss cheese. The clerk replied "It's all Swiss cheese."

Jess1

"It's silly to demand that I give you a precise definition of 'obese' in order to talk about obesity"
So it's one of those "I don't know what it is but I'm 'again it" things?
BTW, the "vitriol" comment goes to the heart of most "obesity" commentary - read the link/op.

David

[ Dabs mouth with napkin and reaches for glass of red. ]

So, did I miss anything?

Fine with me, as long as it’s American cheddar.

Specifically, Kraft processed cheese slices. Yes, I know, they’re a bit tacky and technically barely cheese at all. But they seem to suit a burger better than anything else I’ve tried. Hey, the heart wants what it wants.

pst314

Jess1: I cannot give you a precise definition of a planet vs. planetoid vs. asteroid, but that does not prevent me from talking usefully about planetary physics.
Regarding vitriol: I repeat: I am not the one delivering vitriol, so why do you demand that I justify it?

Ted S., Catskill Mtns., NY, USA

It's silly to demand that I give you a precise definition of 'obese' in order to talk about obesity.

No it's not. We know whatever definition of "obese" is given will be changed, seing as it's already happened in the US, where our "public health" [sic] people lowered the BMI range for normal healthy weights. They've also redefined the word "epidemic" to include obesity, which isn't contagious.

And the people who want to be left alone don't have to justify anything. It's the people who wish to use the force of the state to butt into other people's lifestyles who have to justify it. The like to talk about "quality of life": but I for one know I'd have a higher quality of life if I didn't have people trying to bully me indirectly for making dietary choices they don't like.

Here in the US, we had a woman whose main claim to fame is sleeping with a prominent elected official go on national TV and bully an Olympic gold medallist because the gold medallist made dietary choices the woman didn't like. Such bullies need to be hounded out of polite society, and deserve to be treated with vitriol. They're not well-intentioned.

pst314

"Hey, the heart wants what it wants."

I won't argue with that: Embrace the foods you love, you'll get no insults from me. I don't like processed cheese very much, but see no reason to sneer at those who do. It seems like a sport invented by jerks who need to have someone to hate and despise but don't dare use skin color as a criterion. If you're ever in Chicago I'd happily buy you a burger with processed cheese (Kraft is headquartered here, so you could go on a pilgrimage) and raise a glass of red.

pst314

Ted: In case you haven't noticed, I wrote against the state using its power to bully people into doing whatever the current leftist fads demand. If the definition of obesity changes, okay, that's fine, I'm all in favor of the improvement of health sciences, but do you deny that obesity exists? I think that obesity does have negative health consequences, and so would be happy if obesity declined. But I'm not in favor of government coercing people in what they eat--or grocers in the prices they charge.

Jason

Just a couple of things I'd like to mention. Not trying to get into an argument with anyone, just thought I'd add fuel to the fire:-).

Regarding the "obese people live longer" thing, that appears to have been debunked: http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2013/02/weight-and-mortality/ though I can't swear that the linked article is debunking the study reference by AC1.

On the topic or "rights" being restrictions on the actions of government, those are "negative" rights. There is also the concept of "positive" rights, some of which can better be described as "entitlements" of course, but then there's "the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury". A right that required government, and coerced citizen, action. That's the nature of positive rights, they require that someone be coerced into providing them.

Carry on:-)

David

Kraft is headquartered here, so you could go on a pilgrimage.

Bugger the pilgrimage, and the burger, just crack open the wine.

pst314

Jason: No, the right to a speedy and public trail is a constraint on the power of government.

pst314

Well, that was an amusing typo: Am I now on the record as demanding speedy and public trails? Magnificent, multi-lane affairs criss-crossing the nation with separate lanes for bicycles, pedestrians, roller skaters, and prams, and with rest stops serving Healthful tofu-based Foods?

David

Thank God you kept the ‘l’ in ‘public’.

WTP

pst314 - It never ceases to amaze me the righteousness of the righteous in their damning of the righteous. Not saying it's wrong...that would be wrong.

Rob

It is now extremely obvious that the bedroom is only room in the house the Left believes the State has no place in.

Think back to those heady days when they loudly shouted that "the State has no place in the bedroom". We all believed they were talking about individual liberty, but in fact we missed the obvious point that they were, in fact, making a specific and exclusive point about a particular room.

pst314

Rob: Not even the bedroom. If a woman dislikes a man she can charge him with rape.

Jess1

"I cannot give you a precise definition of a planet vs. planetoid vs. asteroid, but that does not prevent me from talking usefully about planetary physics." Certainly so, but I will ignore your talk @ the specific motions of small orbital bodies.
"Regarding vitriol: I repeat: I am not the one delivering vitriol, so why do you demand that I justify it?"
Why do you keep insisting that you're the one I'm referring to?

Jason, no, it doesn't refer there... note, however, that these are all "studies" of already existing data trimmed to fit whatever goal said researchers wish. FWIW, this is a howler: "These studies, in aggregate, show that the highest survival rates are in normal weight people"

No kidding. Tell me, is "normal weight" a condition that determines longevity or simply the result of measuring a population?
And this is supposedly the "cream" of higher education...

pst314

Jess1: You wrote "'And the connection between obesity and a high-carb diet seems pretty clear' No kidding - the great Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin pointed that out nearly two centuries ago. The issue though, is this: define 'obese', please, and clarify as to exactly why that's an issue deserving of such vitriol."

You were quoting me, so it's reasonable to conclude that you were asking me to justify the vitriol. If you meant to direct the demand to someone else then you should have phrased your comment to make that clear. So who did you have in mind?

pst314

Jess1: Must I specify an acceptable pollution level before I am allowed to state that it seems pretty darn clear that heavy metals are a serious health hazard? I'm happy to pay attention to serious evidence on any side of various nutrition issues, but it seems as if you're playing games here.

Steve In Tulsa

Families must not be allowed to buy in bulk. It isn't fair and totalitarian democrats can't allow it.

Jess1

No, I wasn't, and furthermore I have no say in what you specify, post, believe, or otherwise. Nor do I particularly care.
What I do know is that these various "crisis" well, aren't. Nor are the various "dangers" actually "dangerous". Obesity is neither an "epidemic" nor a "crisis"...

(I really shouldn't have to point out that this is still in reference to the link in the OP as I pointed out previously. Not planetoids, asteroids, or hemorrhoids)

jakee308

There may actually be a case for limiting the amount of food advertising permitted on TV.

We do have an obesity epidemic and it can't be helpful for the ones who need discipline the most are inundated with food while watching TV.

As to what you can buy, it's not for any bureaucrat or politician to say what I can spend my money on.

They feel they have that right because so much of the money the public spends comes through the coercion of the state having been taken from others. That's way more heinous than the government telling you what you can do with other people's money.

Pellegri

The fact that the Harvard panel raises a concern about the legitimacy of science should the current ideas on obesity and health be shown to be wrong-headed is what makes me walk away from it. Science is about the pursuit of what's factually valid, even if it doesn't support our long-held ideas about what's true.

They really should know better. /fades back into the woodwork

Jess1

"Science is about the pursuit of what's factually valid, even if it doesn't support our long-held ideas about what's true."
Note with alarm by Eisenhower, in his famous "science/government" speech: "a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity...
The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present, and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientifictechnological elite. "

It seems that bar was crossed long ago by the likes of Ms.Filipovic...

Jason

pst314, how is a right to a speedy trial a constraint on the power of government? Such a trial requires a courtroom, a judge, and a jury of one's peers, very few of whom are there voluntarily. I know I've never volunteered for jury duty. Rather I've been coerced, on pain of...well, I'm not certain how I'd be punished if I didn't bother to show up, especially had I ever actually been selected for a jury, but I'm confident that punishment would be forthcoming.

A right to due process is a constraint on the power of government, to prevent it from arbitrarily imprisoning or executing anyone who irritates the local bureaucrat-in-chief, but jury trial (which I don't think is a logical necessity for due process, though it's nice to have) definitely imposes obligations on people not involved in the crime itself. Note, I'm not arguing against the civil obligation, just pointing out that there are positive rights enshrined in law (in the U.S. anyway) that most people wouldn't disagree with. The question, in my opinion, is just how far should such positive rights be permitted to extend. Jury trial is a positive right intended to secure due process. Food stamps, socialized medicine, subsidized housing etc, are positive rights to, de facto, encourage dependence on government at the expense of private citizens. I favor the former, but not the latter.

Andrew C

The Filipovic article is confused even by Guardian standards.

Filipovic: "low-income folks… face systematic impediments to healthy eating and exercise."

Er, what 'systematic impediments'? Healthy food has never been cheaper (thanks to those evil food companies and supermarkets). Walking and jogging is free.

David

The Filipovic article is confused even by Guardian standards.

It does rather jump about without mustering much of an argument on any particular point. (Childcare, vacation time, body image, parental leave, “social justice,” “cultural polarisation,” the size of soda cups, etc.) As others have noted, there’s also a lot of the paranormal we, a Guardian signature, and no reference at all to personal responsibility. Apparently what other people choose to eat is something “we” should all fixate on and interfere with wherever possible.

Tom Foster

Andrew C:

"Healthy food has never been cheaper (thanks to those evil food companies and supermarkets). Walking and jogging is free."

I may have mentioned this here before – the argument seems to come around so often at the Guardian – but pointing out how cheaply and easily people *could* keep fit if they really want to seems to equal hate speech over there. This article (by Zoe Williams, of course):

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/dec/14/obesity-diabetes-cheap-food-poverty

. . .claims that eating at McDonald's is actually the best and cheapest way to manage on a tight budget. So poor people just can't *help* being fat.

Notice how, as people do her sums for her and she gets the usual kicking in the comments, she becomes more and more narked before opting out altogether and resorting to calling her critics 'tossers' on twitter.

David

Notice how, as people do her sums for her and she gets the usual kicking in the comments, she becomes more and more narked before opting out altogether and resorting to calling her critics ‘tossers’ on twitter.

Yes, that happens to Zoe quite a lot. Luckily, being shown to be wrong over and over again doesn’t impede her rush to blame pretty much everything on a lack of socialism. She really is impervious.

dcardno

pst314, how is a right to a speedy trial a constraint on the power of government?

Because it establishes a standard of conduct that the government must meet before (legitimately) using the powers of the state to deprive you of liberty or property. Absent this requirement the preferred government response is to throw undesirables in jail, and simply never get around to the trial part...

Puzzle

Hi David

I applaud you and your fan club's suspicion of the state, although it does stray into kneejerkism. For example, it is perfectly possible to hold to a belief in basic rights without bringing the state into it. And as I've noted already, most people here seem to be happy with influence, manipulation and deceit being conducted for the sake of profit, but balk at the idea of it being done for the sake of ideology. It reminds me of Orwell's essay "The Lion and the Unicorn", where he describes the way capitalists in England knew that Germany was gearing up for war in the late '30s, yet continued to sell them war goods because of the short term profit motive. There's an odd idolising of money, in that you often object to things on the grounds of cost and that you will have to pay for them through your taxes. However, money derives its value from the state, specifically from Her Majesty.

OK, so you are merely disgruntled with the people you write so much about. You are merely lukewarm. I tend to lose interest in that case, which is a shame when I think you make some good, sharp, insightful analysis.

AC1
I seem to have made you grumpy. I apologise for that. Where do I talk about nice things magically happening? And where, specifically, is the coercion in saying the sick have a right to medical treatment? I've never heard of the definition of 'right' being 'restriction on the state', but if that is the case why are you against restricting the state you appear to hate so much? I'd rather the state expended its resources on the common good. What else is the state for? I rather see rights as an expression of certain duties which are incumbent on us all.

I'm very sorry for your view of human relationship. I believe it is possible for people to give freely to one another without being forced into it, as well as to build structures in which a doctor can serve the sick without having to demand payment from them.

WTP

However, money derives its value from the state, specifically from Her Majesty.

Money derives its value from the productivity of those who use that money as a medium of exchange. Her Majesty isn't out there milking the cows, soldering the electronics, or building the robots.

Puzzle

It's still her face on the paper.

Puzzle

Sorry, glib answer, but so was yours. I used the word 'value' for want of a better one. The point is that you know very well that the ability of our currency to serve as a means of exchange is guaranteed by the gentlemen with guns and bombs and their networks of courts, armies and prisons and suchlike. They are all people or things which are subject to the the crown. Try trading your milk, electronics and robots without a currency likewise guaranteed by a state.

WTP

In a free society, and even in one that is not, all the queen's horses and all the queen's men cannot dictate the means of exchange of goods and services between two economic entities. Many despots have tried but ultimately failed as black markets emerged, alternative currencies are chosen, or barter systems arose. Many a country has inflated their currencies out of existence and now the USD, GBP, etc. have become the means of temporary storage of wealth. Like most people, most educated people, and even most highly educated people you do not understand wealth, money, or where wealth and money come from. See pst's post from above:

Puzzle 14:36 "Darleen, Thank you for your input. I suppose where I come from is that the food is already there, fresh and inviting."

No it isn't just "already there". It is there only because a vast network of people did the work to create it and put it in the stores.

The state's power comes from the productivity of its people. It can only pay its "gentlemen" and purchase its bombs with the wealth created by the people under its domain. If the people of the UK cease to make things people in or governments of other countries want, then the UK's ability to purchase goods from other countries begins to spiral down.

BTW, the people pictured on my currency are all dead. Not much power there.

Simen Thoresen

Hi Puzzle,

it is perfectly possible to hold to a belief in basic rights without bringing the state into it.

Of course, but even with negative rights, your right somehow needs to be enforced. With positive rights, your right is an obligation on someone else - and if they do not voluntarily fulfill their obligation, where are you with your right?

The state as being the entity we've created to employ force both for and against us, is the obvious one to also enforce our rights. It's when it starts granting positive rights that it becomes a problem.

-S

Puzzle

WTP, I acknowledge that I don't fully understand the magic behind what makes money works, but neither do I believe you understand it. I believe ultimately there is something of a con trick keeping it going, and part of that con trick is the sovereignty of the state.

BTW, the people pictured on my currency are all dead. Not much power there.

I believe you underestimate the power of the dead.

Simen, at the risk of seeming stupid, could you remind me of the distinction between positive and negative rights?

David

Puzzle,

And as I've noted already, most people here seem to be happy with influence, manipulation and deceit being conducted for the sake of profit, but balk at the idea of it being done for the sake of ideology.

I’d imagine most here would agree that, as a general rule, deceit isn’t a good thing. But given the context above, when companies try to manipulate customers their efforts are generally confined to swaying preferences in fairly trivial matters: “If I use this styling product my hair will be as shiny and voluminous as hers. Then those bitches at work will be envious. Huzzah!” Or, “There’s a nonzero chance that this new breakfast cereal will make me fractionally more attractive. I’ll take those odds.” It’s generally things of that nature. Fairly silly stuff and widely understood as such.

And if the makers of Envious Bitch Styling Mousse fail to deliver the expected fantasy of volume, shine and jealous co-workers, you can go elsewhere and try something else (or rethink your priorities in life). But with the state in the role of manipulator and peddler of fantasy, where else can you take your custom?

[ Added: ]

The fantasy is this case being that the state can make you thin. Or that making people thin is a proper duty of the state. Or that the state can serve as a benign, all-knowing parent and that, given enough leverage, its bureaucracies can care for your wellbeing and correct your imperfections. Or that one can doze off in the ample bosom of the state without any bothersome and unforeseen consequences. Yes, let’s give them even more power to “nudge” and “intervene,” to take away certain choices, to steer us to the light. For our own good, because they’re such good people and, being such good people, they know best.

What could possibly go wrong?

Rob

Has anyone in this thread ever been influenced by advertising to buy something they didn't already want? I haven't, and I don't consider myself to be particularly special or 'Progressive'.

So why does the Left feel the need to ban advertising? Do they simply think everyone else is stupid and gullible?

David

Rob,

Do they simply think everyone else is stupid and gullible?

It’s strange how readily some people assign enormous coercive power to advertising, as if it could fundamentally change the nature of the beast, and as if people in general didn’t understand the game being played. George Monbiot, for instance, claims that advertising makes “us” “atomised” and “grasping,” though he doesn’t explain how or provide any evidence. Mr Monbiot seems to believe that customers are invariably passive victims, devoid of the autonomy and discrimination that he presumably feels he has. As I said at the time, my desire for a clean shirt has very little to do with adverts for detergent.

Anna

Envious Bitch Styling Mousse

I need this product. I need it NOW.

Tom Foster

David,

'George Monbiot, for instance, claims that advertising makes “us” “atomised” and “grasping,” though he doesn’t explain how or provide any evidence.'

What I'd like him to do, just once, is explain how *he* has managed to face down the blandishments of the evil advertisers and come out of the other side all clear-sighted and whole and morally spotless. Surely if he just tells us how *he* does it, we'd all be equipped to avoid being duped and the 'problem' would simply go away.

And then there'd be no need for government action to whip us all into line, would there?

Oh, I see. Maybe not then. . .

Simen Thoresen

Puzzle, could you remind me of the distinction between positive and negative rights?

Sure, it's an interesting topic that at least for me clears up a lot of misconceptions about 'rights', and how the 'right to free speech' differs from the 'right not to starve'. Please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_and_positive_rights

In short, negative rights are your rights not to be interfered with, while positive rights are your rights to claim property or services from others (which of course could be in violation of their negative rights).

This gets muddled for instance when the right to free speech gets interpreted as the right to be heard - freedom of speech is your negative right, while the right to impose your speech on (possibly) unwilling listeners would be your positive right.

Yours,
-S

WTP

Puzzel,
WTP, I acknowledge that I don't fully understand the magic behind what makes money works, but neither do I believe you understand it. I believe ultimately there is something of a con trick keeping it going, and part of that con trick is the sovereignty of the state.

If you don't understand how something works to the point of viewing it as "magic", how can you judge that someone else doesn't? One would think a fundamental inability to understand basic economic concepts would disqualify one from making economic demands on society. No product of another person's effort can possibly be free. It has to be paid for or accounted for in some manner. If you want to understand economics before pontificating on economic matters, I highly suggest you start with the Robinson Crusoe economy. There's a wiki link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robinson_Crusoe_economy

Though perhaps others here could provide a better source. I have to get back to work to pay the taxes so that others can get their "free" health care, food, housing, etc.
On another note, this positive/negative rights thing...I was hoping that wouldn't catch on. It's so counterintuitive, like the red/blue state thing over here. Or that damn word "nonplussed".

David

It’s when it starts granting positive rights that it becomes a problem.

See also Mark Steyn’s video on identity politics and the collectivist inversion of human rights.

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