Lately I’ve been having more trouble than usual talking to average, everyday people, because nearly every topic is contaminated by invalid terms and ideas associated with government. I can only stare blankly at people in genuine confusion because the more I realize the inherent nature of government the less I can comprehend any standards it sets. This inability to communicate is probably not a good thing, especially if we hope to expose others to better ideas. Do any of you know what I mean? If yes, how do you work around this?
Here is an example.
Today at work I read the Food Institute Report, a weekly industry newsletter to which the company I work for subscribes. It reported that
I do not understand that seemingly simple sentence because I don’t understand what a “consumer” is and why they need special protection. I don’t understand how this bill increases “informed choice” because nutrition data is already available on websites, brochures, etc. Subway even puts calorie values on its napkins. The FIR newsletter says that 95% of restaurant patrons do not look at this voluntarily provided data. There is no basis to believe anyone would look at the data once it is emblazoned on neon billboards. So I can’t even coherently respond to people who support such a bill because its basic premises don't make any sense.
How can we begin to show the inaccuracy of this statement, since doing so would require accepting the governor’s (State’s?) implication that a “better” choice is a lower calorie choice, which is hardly the case? But assuming we accepted that false notion and wanted to factually disprove his statement, perhaps we could reference data showing that, since the introduction of food labeling on product packages, obesity rates have continued to rise. For example, in 1994, when The National Labeling and Education Act of 1990 (NLEA) required product nutrition labeling, the CDC reported that 10-14% of adults were obese in 23 states, and 15-19% of adults were obese in the remaining 27 states. By 2007 only one state had obesity rates below 20%, 19 states had obesity rates ranging from 20-24%, 27 states had obesity at 25-29%, and three states had obesity rates greater than 30%.
This argument would disprove Paterson's faithful assertion.
This argument would disprove Paterson's faithful assertion.But notice the hidden premises that using the argument would require us to accept:
- We’d have to concede that “consumers” looked at the product labels.
- We’d have to use data from the CDC, a government agency.
- We’d have to accept that eating high calorie foods is itself enough to cause obesity.
- We’d have to accept the government cut-off values for obesity.
- We’d have to accept the government measure of obesity, which is the Body Mass Index, a totally inaccurate assessment of health developed by a Belgian mathematician-astronomer in 1832.! (Ironically, the CDC’s own website admits that BMI is flawed—and admits its own incompetence. After listing some superior methods of measuring body fat it says, “However, these methods are not always readily available, and they are either expensive or need highly trained personnel.” Nice acknowledgement that highly skilled people tend not to work for the government ;-)
Using the CDC data to argue against
Richard Daines, the State Health Commissioner, “applauded the Governor’s efforts.” He said, “This legislation … demonstrates Governor Paterson’s dedication to addressing the obesity epidemic and will improve the health and lives of all New Yorkers.”
What does it mean to be “dedicated to addressing” something? How will shoving data in people’s faces and contributing to information overload improve their health and lives?
Senator Thomas Duane said, “New Yorkers can save millions of dollars in health care costs through this simple program and I will fight for its enactment.” Whose money is he talking about? Private insurance? Taxpayer-funded programs like Medicare? What is this “health care cost?” Would health care cost matter to him if private insurance companies were paying for it, rather than fascist state-affiliated programs whose lobbyists were pressuring him? Where is the connection between mandated menu data and improved health? Why does he think that a person who is overfat doesn’t know, in 2009, that French fries contain more calories than an equivalent mass of carrots? Why does he think that a person going to a fast-food drive-through would actually choose a different item when told that a given item has 2,000 calories? Why does he think anyone cares about this?
As you can see, I am genuinely confused and my thoughts are all in a jumble due to government making a complexity out of something that is really quite simple: customers are going to eat what they like and food services should have the freedom to offer those choices.
So when a newspaper article or a co-worker or a random person on the street says something like, “I think that bill is a good idea because it will help people be healthy,” I have no appropriate response.
When presented with similar comments, do you attempt to address them by conceding government standards in your argument? Do you attempt a lengthy explanation? Do you not bother? …