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May 08, 2013

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Tim

The vengeance of nudge economics. Please tell me the Tories won't fall for this.

David

It’s tempting to laugh, but a question comes to mind. When the state wants to control the size of your biscuits – your goddamn biscuits - on what basis can we assume that it will eventually stop meddling of its own accord? Does anyone here have confidence that people bedeviled by such urges – people like this, and this bag of idiots - will ever get tired of interfering and exerting control?

randian

I love how they call using the coercive power of government an "agreement" or "deal".

svh

coffee shops using “low fat milks” as the “default option.”

*Reaches for pitchfork*

Anna

Ministers have suggested that if companies fail to sign up to the Responsibility Deal voluntarily the government could legislate to force them to act.

So companies and the government are 'responsible' for all the biscuits being eaten but people actually eating the biscuits aren't responsible at all?

David

but people actually eating the biscuits aren’t responsible at all?

Being little more than children, we need expert “encouragement” and continual supervision. We simply can’t be trusted near custard creams.

Horace Dunn

Well look, the sooner they get round to legislating about biscuit size and other important matters, the sooner they can get on to secondary things such as sorting out the vast national debt and ever increasing deficit. Then everything will be fine. Really. What could possibly go wrong with such people in charge?

Henry

When the state wants to control the size of your biscuits – your goddamn biscuits - on what basis can we assume that it will eventually stop meddling of its own accord?

All rather annoying, as I more or less live on custard creams dipped in Twinings teas (Ceylon for preference, but I vary it). I'm slightly underweight, by the way, so you folks can stop that thought right there!

I've often seen in action the knee-jerk response that identifies a problem and thinks the government must pass a law to fix it. Perhaps there's something of a hole left by the decline of Christianity in the UK. Certainly politicians try to win votes in their tiresome short-term way by promising lots of law-making activity.

A difficult trend to do anything about, as it would involve lots of people thinking, a pastime they are unaccustomed to. But I'm starting to sound like our leftist intellectual superiors, hehe.

perhaps it’s time to rethink the scope, staffing and budget of the Department of Health. A much slimmer one seems in order

:)

Greg

The bureaucratic functionaries of our superhuman overlords can have my shortbreads when they pry them from my cold dead hands.

AC1

Populations tend to "Nudge" the political classes with tree branches and loops of rope.

Steve 2

They're starting the bansturbation bandwagon to punish people for using e-cigarettes as well, despite no evidence of them being harmful. Can't have people enjoying themselves.

David

It’s interesting how those gushing with concern for our wellbeing are often strangely drawn to the prospect of coercing us, frustrating us and robbing us of choice. Which is to say, robbing us of some adulthood. They seem awfully keen for the state to take “radical action,” as they put it, to “intervene more directly” - all at our expense - thereby “limiting individual’s freedom to consume junk.” Or do whatever it is they, our betters, think we shouldn’t be doing. It’s the neotenous effect of socialism - we must all be treated as children because we can’t be trusted to eat an occasional piece of fruit or buy the right size biscuits.

The latest farce is another extension of what’s been happening in pharmacies for years. If, for instance, you try to buy two months’ supply of antihistamine, the odds are you’ll receive a patronising interrogation. You may even be denied. I recently discovered that if you’re feeling rough and trek to the pharmacy to stock up on Day Nurse and Night Nurse, you’ll not only face the usual condescending questions, you’ll now also be warned, almost with a note of triumph, that Night Nurse may soon be banned on account of some people using it as a sleep aid when they don’t have flu. And so the rest of us will soon have to make do with an inferior product.

For our own good.

AC1

>Night Nurse may soon be banned on account of some people using it as a sleep aid

Can't have people self diagnosing and self-treating!

rxc

Maybe this would be a good start on withdrawing from the EU. Afterall, the French do not have any controls in place (yet) on how many chocolate eclairs, or apple tarts, one might purchase, or the size that they should be. Where-oh where are the Brussels bureaucrats when we need them to act?! France is a too-tempting and too-easily reached destination for people without any sort of control on their behavior.

Clearly it is time to shutdown the channel tunnel and institute full controls on travel outside the UK, limiting it to people under a certain Body Mass Index. This will also serve the needs of the greens, who want people to all stay home, sipping thin gruel and discussing Marxist theory with one another.

rxc

I just read the article, and it is now all clear -

"It is all about protecting the vulnerable children!!

Of course it is...

Frank Ch. Eigler

When the revolution comes, and they're the first against the wall, they'll be honestly shocked. "... but we did it for you ..."

David

It is all about protecting the vulnerable children!!

They should put that on the official DoH notepaper. “Saving your children from insufficiently petite biscuits since 2013.”

TG

Of course the question on whether saturated fat is actually bad for you is far from settled. And the idea that some horrible low fat pseudo cheese is healthier than the cheese people have enjoyed for millennia would get you laughed out of the room if you mentioned it in France. Not that it would stop our betters. Maybe we should get everyone at the Department of Health to read this article in the morning, to give them some perspective: http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/?p=2527&print=1 .

Dr Cromarty

I'm celebrating this stuff by buying and eating a fuck-off sized muffin with by cappuccino from the cafe in my hospital's foyer. Cheers!

JuliaM

AC1: "Populations tend to "Nudge" the political classes with tree branches and loops of rope."

Clearly, not often enough...

rjmadden

Food is a choking hazard. Something must be done.

Snowman

Agree with all of the above, of course, because I'm not insane.

I must take issue with one thing, though: the matter of pharmacies and what they can and can't sell you. My better half is a 'health care assistant' at a chain pharmacy (i.e. the till girl) and she basically has ZERO leeway. She thinks it's stupid, too. But if she went outside Teh Rules and someone did something daft she would be in a world of shit. So less of the indiscriminate imputing of petty malice to all such workers, if you please! *miffed face*

The problem as I see it is that everything is increasingly modelled around the lowest common denominator (i.e. lazy, braindead cunts). That such modelling makes work for our grotesquely bloated state is, for the superfluous legions who 'work' therein, a happy consequence. It's like an unholy alliance of the useless, all paid for by us.

You do get lots of braindead customers in pharmacy work, apparently. Often irate ones. I am told that one woman came into my missus's emporium all Righteously Pissed Off, slammed the packet of suppositories she had recently purchased on the counter and declared that they were "Fucking useless. Might as well have shoved them up me arse."

Jonathan

Apart from the soft Fascism of this idea, eating fat doesn't make you fat:

http://ultimatepaleoguide.com/why-eating-fat-doesnt-make-you-fat/

Steve

I wish someone would ban mayonnaise so that I could be the thin & joyless person that I have always wanted to be.

Charlie Suet

What grates with me is that the bureaucrats behind this sort of rubbish try to deny that theirs is a progressively intrusive programme. Despite the evidence of history ("first they came for the smokers..") and despite the obvious fact that multi-causal problems cannot be solved by single laws, however intrusive, they sneer at the thin-end-of-the-wedge argument.

The claim is always that the problem is critical and needs urgent action, but the proposed cure is minor in its effect and not to be followed by more laws.

David

Snowman,

she basically has ZERO leeway. She thinks it’s stupid, too… You do get lots of braindead customers in pharmacy work, apparently.

I’m sure that’s all true. Some assistants do appreciate how condescending the dynamic can be, and how odd it is for a business to treat its customers in this way, as if they might be idiots or were trying to score for an all-night antihistamine rave. Unfortunately, their being aware of this (and of the fact that frustrated customers will buy the rest of their order from the nearest rival pharmacy) doesn’t make it any more fun for the customer.

mojo

What about chicken and gravy?

(That's a joke, son. The Brits call cookies "biscuits". God knows what they call biscuits..)

David

mojo,

The Brits call cookies “biscuits”. God knows what they call biscuits.

I don’t think we have anything equivalent to an American “biscuit,” except perhaps a scone gone horribly wrong.

Gerard Leun

Rethink? RETHINK? Long past that time. Time to decorate lamposts with those who actually work for such operations. Nothing short of that will reverse the rot.

mojo

No, scones aren't raised, it's like gnawing on a lump of baked wet flour. Biscuits rise, and get all fluffy (or flakey, depending on the amount of fat used) and just BEG to be gobbled down with a wide variety of add-ons.

David Gillies

As Gerard Leun says, the problem is that there are no negative repercussions for the the people who propose these measures. But the truly terrifying thing is that there is a very significant portion of the populace who cannot see anything wrong in government coercion to decide on how big biscuits can be. I wish it were otherwise: a huge, untapped libertarian constituency just waiting to rise from its torpor and harry the bansturbators with fire and sword, to make their lives an affliction and their works a ruin. But it ain't so. Read the comments section in the Daily Mail if you want a depressing insight into Middle England's outlook on the Nanny State.

Mr. Saturn

Seriously, do the British like being treated like half-brain dead children?

Snowman

Seriously, do the British like being treated like half-brain dead children?

Some do. Some don't. The ones who don't are probably in the minority. I guess learned helplessness is quite addictive, as is the urge to cultivate and control pet humans. Us normals are squeezed in the middle.

A smidgen of good news re the nanny state: it looks like 'plain' packaging for fags and minimum pricing for alcohol aren't going to happen any time soon. (Scare quotes put round the word 'plain' as the packaging would have been plastered with grotesque graphic warning porn).

Wm T Sherman

I hope you all remembered to burn a tire on Earth Day.

David

David Gillies,

the problem is that there are no negative repercussions for the people who propose these measures.

Condescension, illiberalism and impracticality rarely stop intellectuals and campaigners from proposing their schemes in the name of “social justice,” or “public health,” or “the vulnerable.” The real world tends to involve trade-offs more often than perfect solutions, and what’s often traded away is honesty and freedom. But egalitarian thinking does tend to require a blunting of the senses, an appetite for coercion and enormous bad faith. And if a person is willing to become unrealistic, authoritarian and dishonest in the name of virtue, how do you make them blush at their own obnoxious ideas?

Simen Thoresen

...and here we've started the year with imposing an 18-year age-minimum for sunbeds, because of - you know, skin cancer. I would not be surprised if this is needed to compensate for the higher UV-doses we'll get from our new, you know - better CFL-bulbs.

I expect that black-market tanning-houses that cater to 16-year-old addicts will shortly become a social problem, and that a war against them is in order. Also, I believe underage kids will need to be pantone-matched against state records when they return after summer vacations, so that their parents can be prosecuted for neglect if they have caught too much sun while abroad.... Parents are so irresponsible, you know?

-S

rxc

"... everything is increasingly modelled around the lowest common denominator (i.e. lazy, braindead cunts)."

It basically amounts to collective punishment of the entire population to deal with a few outliers who do not behave in what they consider a "reasonable" fashion. Usually because most of those outliers are members of protected or "vulnerable" groups (eg, old people or children) and they can't be singled out for corrective action. So everyone has to suffer. It is a very Christian (and Marxist) model. Don't worry, we will all be rewarded after we die...

Watcher

I was led to believe that in many countries in the world, smaller portions was another way of saying hunger and starvation.

However, biscuit size (our rulers new catchphrase: 'Because it is measurable, we measure!') is another example of what I call speed-bump legislation. As there are a handful of people who speed in suburban streets therefore all drivers must be punished with badly laid speed bumps -- and yes, the size of them does vary. All you have to do is keep repairing your suspension and tyres. So, because a number of people are tubby lards who clog up hospitals the government thinks all should be made to eat smaller things.

It's only fair that all should be punished for the greed of a few. Or more likely we are all to be punished in case there are any greedy ones out there.

Richard Powell

The trouble is that it's the cautious and responsible who end up paying for the stupid decisions of the semi-braindead. One of the main news stories this morning is of the dangers breast implants may pose to the offspring of those vain, foolish or insecure enough to have had them installed on the cheap. The natural next step is for the NHS to reverse these procedures at our expense. The alternative would be to say that people should suffer the consequences of their bad decisions, even if these consequences take the form of damaged children. At the very least this is electorally unappealing. And I wouldn't be morally happy with it, either.

This may be some way down the slippery slope from outsize biscuits, but it is part of the same continuum. I would say that cosmetic procedures should be strictly regulated, and biscuits hardly at all. But it's not a straightforward line to draw.

AC1

Like I say before.

If biscuit size choice is a problem for the treatment rationing system, then we need to ditch the treatment rationing system

John D

including coffee shops using “low fat milks” as the “default option.” Caterers and shops could also use reduced fat cheese and spreads as standard.

Isn't this just low-fat cronyism?

Jess1

"I hope you all remembered to burn a tire on Earth Day."
Well, I did fire up the V10 ode to Dr. Diesel. But again, I do that daily, so perhaps indeed "every day is Earth Day".

"Or more likely we are all to be punished in case there are any greedy ones out there."
This is the key - but it is not "punish", rather, it is "control" - whether or not there are those impacted by "it" is entirely irrelevant.

rxc

"This is the key - but it is not "punish", rather, it is "control" - whether or not there are those impacted by "it" is entirely irrelevant."

I seem to remember that this strategy has a very old history in the UK. Something about occasionally hanging an admiral or two in order to encourage the rest of them...

Ed Snack

rxc, interesting that the actual comment is from a Frenchman (re the Admiral that is), reference to Admiral Byng I believe. Voltaire in Candide.

Rob

I could walk into a Pret in London and order a double Espresso (which is really a quadruple) with nae bother, even though my heart rate would practically double 1 minute after drinking it, but the person next to me should be forced to have skimmed milk in their coffee.

It isn't just illiberal, patronising and stupid, but arbitrary and completely illogical as well.

I'm sure these freaks want to ban coffee as well, but some deep instinct warns them that they'd be hanging from lamp posts before the sun had set.

Henry

It’s interesting how those gushing with concern for our wellbeing are often strangely drawn to the prospect of coercing us, frustrating us and robbing us of choice. Which is to say, robbing us of some adulthood....For our own good

This is no doubt a leftist trait, but it in fact very accurately describes the attitude of many physicians and nurses (precisely those people who will be advising on public health issues).

I'm sure there will be Guardian nitwits ready to take up the cause, of course.

Here's the latest on exactly how far things could go from Anna Raccoon: social workers and power of entry....into your home, should they so wish.

David

Henry,

This is no doubt a leftist trait, but it in fact very accurately describes the attitude of many physicians and nurses (precisely those people who will be advising on public health issues).

There is of course an overlap and authoritarian creeps abound in health-related lobbying, especially in a society with socialised health care. And isn’t this a basic feature of the state when left unchallenged – its tendency to bloat and overreach, to intrude into people’s lives and autonomy in ever more costly and obnoxious ways? Isn’t that why the state – even assuming, as one shouldn’t, the best of motives – needs regular pruning? As noted before, there’s also a tendency to assume that people in ‘caring’ professions are much nobler than the rest of us and never tempted by lower motives, despite their chosen professions offering endless opportunities to indulge such motives. But if you were the kind of person who found pleasure in tormenting and degrading the frail and elderly, or the mentally impaired, or just enjoyed having power over people in pain, what kind of vocation might you seek out?

svh

and authoritarian creeps abound in health-related lobbying,

Wow. This Monika Kosinska is a real charmer, isn't she? The EU only hires the best and brightest.

Spiny Norman

Apparently, Ms Kosinska's idea of "democracy" is the the same as the Muslim Brotherhood's: One Man, One Vote, One Time.

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