Thursday 4 November 2010

The State Is Father, The State Is Mother

I'm knocking this week on the head early and setting off for a few days in Prague tomorrow so, as you can imagine, have quite a lot to do.

However, I can't leave this story to pass without comment, especially since regular Link Tank readers will be aware that developments on the issue have been tracked there for a while now.

San Francisco bans Happy Meals: Restaurants no longer allowed to give away free toys with unhealthy food

The law, like an ordinance passed earlier this year in nearby Santa Clara County, would require that restaurant kids' meals meet certain nutritional standards before they could be sold with toys.
OK, it's only San Francisco, a city which desperately seeks to recreate itself on a model of 1980s Moscow, but as draconian healthist legislation goes, this is mountain-sized.

Purely and simply, the new law amounts to the San Francisco legislature declaring themselves not only more qualified to make decisions about the health of its citizens' children than their parents, but also perfectly entitled to dictate how a business is allowed to operate.

It is the state over-ruling freedom of choice, whilst simultaneously demonising an industry with which, daily, thousands of people willingly transact. No-one except the state and its fevered shroud-wavers asked for this law, but they passed it anyway to forcibly save supposedly 'free' people from their own considered choices.

That's bad enough, but the truly scary bit is there are plenty who actually believe it is a good idea. Blissfully devoid of forethought and ignorant to the consequences of allowing such a powerful precedent to be set, those softened up by decades of health scaremongery are offering up bovine self-righteous praise for a measure which has rendered their own self-determination obsolete should the legislature decree so.

Because, you see, they don't take their kids to McDonalds a lot, maybe never at all, so it's OK by them. It's those others. You know, the ones who take their kids there every day. They've read about them in the papers. Yeah, admittedly, they've never met anyone who actually does that, but they read it in the papers so it must be true. And the government said there are thousands of them, and they're all getting fat and dying. Piles of kids just getting fat ... and dying. Before their parents! And it's all the fault of McDonalds!

Quick! Grab a pitchfork, light a torch, text the angry mob.

The state usurping motherly and fatherly decision-making, the state intervening in freely-negotiated contracts, yet it's fine as it's only those other parents they're after. The ones who don't feed their kids exactly the same diet as the righteous do. They quite like the idea of other parents being dictated to, for the kids of others to be denied their little bit of pleasure.

Let's analyse this a bit, though. Why have McDonalds been so vindictively targeted here?

The San Francisco law would allow toys to be given away with kids' meals that have less than 600 calories, contain fruits and vegetables, and include beverages without excessive fat or sugar.
And how does that compare with what McDonalds are selling?

A typical Happy Meal, with its plastic "Shrek" toys or other action figures, includes either a hamburger or chicken McNuggets, small french fries and a soda, low-fat chocolate milk or apple juice, all to the tune of about 400 calories to 580 calories and up to a whopping 26 grams of fat. For a typical, sedentary 4-5 year-old that's about half of the average 1,200 daily calories needed and about 39 percent of calories needed by a typical 9-year-old.
If a kid 'needs' 1,200 calories a day, how is 400 to 580 as one of three meals a day outrageous enough to require legislation as intrusive as this? Not to mention, of course, the happiness derived by kids from Happy Meal toys (for health freaks, happiness has no value, they only consider health costs). And how is 39% of a 9-year-old's required intake a problem major enough to invite the abandonment of both parental choice and the rights of a business to interact freely with its customers?

Well, because it's just those others they're after, of course. There's no such thing as a slippery slope. No, siree.

Except that if one were to read the Reuters article on this subject**, there's a rather chilling comment appended to it.

Good idea, but it needs to go farther. To grocery stores to stop them from selling life threatening things like red meat, white bread, candy, sodas, and limit them to selling on healthy nutritious whole foods that do not contribute to the overweight diets of americans.
And thanks to this little vanguardly skirmish with Happy Meals, any of the above can now potentially be banned by following the same paternalist doctrine. The precedent is there and begging to be rolled out.

The melons are recycling cans like crazy in California, but the worms they once contained are running amok.

** Andrew Marr moment: The Mail story has been lifted word for word from Reuters with merely a changed headline and the omission of the fact that this law will begin in 2011. Those diligent, principled journalists, eh?


Pat Nurse MA said...

Let me know what Prague is like. I've got to do my Resistance cheap flight personal use baccy run soon. I can't decide which City to shop in at this time of year.

Dick Puddlecote said...

£1 a pint, Pat. In a 4* hotel. £1 a pint! :))

Oldrightie said...

Pat, a joyous city that reeks of new found freedom!

Mark Wadsworth said...

These people don't have a clue.

McDonald's is not a restaurant that hands out free toys. It is in fact a toy shop that hands out free food.

If you want burger/chips, go to Burger King :-)

Smoking Hot said...

Pat, cheapest is P&O Ferries, Hull to Zeebrugge. Offer is on till Jan l believe and is 2 for 1.Return trip with 2 nights on ferry is £74 (£37 each) and includes cabin.

Samson £4.30 50gm, Golden Virginia £4.20 50gm

Corrugated Soundbite said...

Prague, eh? I lived in the nearby Benešov-u-Prahý for a stint in 2003-4.

If you manage to bag yourself a little excursion down to Moravia at any stage (or indeed future visits to the Czech Republic), my favouritist pub in the world - the strangely named "Bermuda Pajzl" - is in a little city called Znojmo. Hostan (45p a pint) is brewed in Znojmo and is the only beer you can have 14 pints of with no hangover the next day. Plus the Czechs like their "beer days" (celebrations of local booze) and if you turn up late enough in the day, you can get yourself some freebies from the floats.

Enjoy your trip!

Anonymous said...

I live in San Francisco. While the rest of the nation voted to decrease socialist-authoritarianism, runaway tax and spending to increase government bureaucracies and control and generally begin dismantling the nanny state mechanism before it grows any stronger - San Franciscans turned out in massive numbers with 75% to 85% majority voting to further implement in San Francisco and California at large, more socialist-authoritarianism, more nanny-state micromanaging and fear mongering and more tax and spending for fake-charities and frivolous special interest causes, in direct contrast to the rest of the nation.

Please, nobody travel to San Francisco. Except for the fake tourist traps down by the wharf and a few other over-rated attractions, all you're apt to find in San Francisco is the most outrageous bans and restrictions in the world, something flattering to Stalin's pride and to the people who enact these rules, either by edict, such as the fast-food happy meals ban - or by vote, when enough public brainwashing has been established.

Here's the rule. If you can't walk down the street and smoke a cigarette without tripping over no-smoking signs in front of nearly every shop, cafe and pub - if they post illegal smoking warning signs on huge metal signs promising $500 fines if caught smoking outdoors, where the bans have since been extended to include everything but the yellow line running down the center of the street - then the rule is - do not visit that city - do not spend money there - do not finance and encourage the cancer of nanny-state socialism by spending one red cent in that city or with any business associated or located with-in that city.

That's the rule of thumb I tend to follow and San Francisco, I would not waste my money. Why support health fascist dictators, the likes of Stanton Glantz, who has a direct daily contact with City Hall, the mayor and the board.

As for Prague, my grandfather was born in Prague, emigrated to America in the late 1800's, lived 100.5 years and died of natural causes due to old age in his own home, having happily smoked and drank since about age 14 onward.

If he were alive now, he'd be happy to see that Prague is probably once again enjoying freedoms, such as right to smoke a cigarette or have a drink without government interference, now that the communists have all left from behind the iron-curtain and landed squarely in San Francisco and the entire western coast of the US.

But honestly, I don't suggest anyone actually go traveling there, to spend money there, just to prop such a hateful hate-monger healthist/fascist overlords, of the type in San Francisco who would deny a child a damn hamburger and a happy toy to brighten up their day.

How dour and mean can these people like Glantz and the others get - and the general population, 75% to 85%, like the Guardinista classes over in UK - seem to agree and support all these draconian measures.

If you're thinking of traveling to San Francisco, you might want to "just say no" - and head over to the former soviet colonies instead, where apparently they are enjoying freedom, but not in the western states of the US - I guarantee you.

Leg-iron said...

Let them ban red meat. No problem.

Council officials are made of it, and while they have hundreds of laws that say I have to let them in, they don't have a single one that says I have to let them out.

I'm sure sufficient added salt will hide the bitter taste.

JuliaM said...

"That's bad enough, but the truly scary bit is there are plenty who actually believe it is a good idea."

Yup. And sadly, that attitude is prevalent here too.

Take yesterday's 'Mail' story about the elderly couple run down by a woman with a disability scooter. The comments were full of cries to license them, tax then, have tests, registration numbers.

Why not, they said, cars have all that!

And yet, people are still run down by cars. Didn't that ever occur to any of these idiots?

Snakey said...

"What happens when authoritarian followers find the authoritarian leaders they crave and start marching together?"

Free downloadable book by Bob Altemeyer (psychology professor at Manitoba Uni) on authoritarianism. Chapter 3 is the most interesting.

7 traits of right wing authoritarian followers:
Illogical thinking, highly compartmentalized minds,
double standards, hypocrisy, blindness to themselves, profound ethnocentrism, dogmatism.

JuliaM: "And yet, people are still run down by cars. Didn't that ever occur to any of these idiots?"

Nope, due to the above list of mental faults and especially because of compartmentalized thinking. These people can hold two conflicting ideas at the same time, like a computer file in their heads that is never matched to other computer files to check for consistency. The PTB rely on this faulty thinking.

Milgram's obedience to authority experiments and Phil Zimbardo's studies are interesting as well.

Anonymous said...

Californias bankrupt.
America's bankrupt.
Don't worry our new chinese masters will at least let us have a fag in peace.

Junican said...

I have wondered why America, Britain and Ireland have these horrendous smoking bans. Do you know what? I think that the reason is that our people have never known what it is like to have been invaded and to REALLY be deprived of freedom.

Anonymous said...

As for boycotting San Francisco or any other place hell-bent on nanny-state hate-mongering and control over peoples' personal lives and freedom of choice, you can add to that list anything originating from within Santa Clara County, also mentioned in this article, as having banned the happy-meal before San Francisco following suite. Santa Clara County is 60 miles south of San Francisco and commonly known as Silicon Valley. It is headquarters to much of what everyone does on the internet and with their computer, including Yahoo, Google, eBay, Adobe, others. Just remember, every time you use Yahoo, Google or eBay, you are putting money and jobs back into a community where happy-meals outdoor smoking and similar intrusions against liberty have been normalized - and you are profiting companies who campaign these same measures on their own corporate workplaces - with the result being that the only people able to work in these businesses must be like-minded anti-smoking health-fascist intolerant hateful bigots. Remember that next time you use Google or Yahoo in particular, view on of their paid advertisements or press one of their links - you are in fact sending a small penny donation to those who will and already do suppress smoking, eating, drinking, fun, comaraderie, free speech, free thought, etc.