Beware of Mark Bittman and People Like Him

Many years ago some of us were sounding the warning that once the Nicotine Nazis mastered their blueprint for vilifying and marginalizing smokers, other nannies, with different agendas, would use that blueprint to force compliance with their cause. Those predictions have come true, and now the country’s foremost nanny movement wants to control our diets.

Before reading the rest of this article, please take a few minutes to read this column.

Done? If you’re Smartenized, your bullshit meter is smoking.

When Ronda Storms, a Republican state senator in Florida, is accused of nanny-state-ism for her efforts on behalf of a sane diet, it’s worth noting.

Note his choice of words: “A sane diet.” By implication anyone who disagrees must be insane.

And as someone who has called for the defunding of an educational Planned Parenthood program and banning library book displays supporting Gay and Lesbian Pride Month, she is hardly in her party’s left wing.

Trying to pin her to the left or right is a distraction, a complete waste of time and a perfect illustration of the false dichotomy driving American politics. She’s not right wing or left wing. She’s a Big Government, Big Nanny Statist. (I keep repeating this in hopes that it will sink in: We need to stop arguing about left vs. right. The discussion should be about government vs. liberty.)

Yet she makes sense. “It’s just bad public policy to allow unfettered access to all kinds of food,” she told me over the phone.

Let that sink in for a minute. Unfettered access to a variety of foods is bad public policy.  She wants  public policy (which is a nice way of saying Big Brother) to limit our choices to foods that meet her approval.

Mr. Bittman thinks that makes sense.

The argument for limiting the use of food stamps to actual food is consistent with established policy.

Ah yes, the old “we’ve always done it this way” argument. That’s compelling if you’re a statist, but not if you’re a grown up who wants to make their own decisions.

All of this is part of the bigger question: How do we regulate the consumption of dangerous foods?

He’s not asking if we should regulate our choices.  He assumes we must. His only concern is finding the most efficient way to do it.

There is no such thing as dangerous food. Danger comes from over consumption of otherwise harmless food. No matter how much fat or calories or other scary bogymen are lurking in a plate of Fetechini Alfredo or a Big Mac, occasionally indulging in them is harmless.

Last year a brigade of parents stood watch outside a corner store in North Philadelphia in an attempt to prevent their kids from buying junk food.

A group of adults, dressed as authority figures, stood outside a convenient store and intimidated children to keep them from buying candy, and chastise them if they did.  How would you feel if your children had been subject to such harassment?

Mr. Bittman finds this praiseworthy.

We need the government on our side.

There it is. The demand for Big Brother to step in and make all this mandatory.

It must acknowledge the dangers caused by the most unhealthy aspects of our diet and figure out how to help us cope with them, because this is the biggest public health challenge facing the developed world.

The kind and benevolent government must step in and “help us cope.” Not just provide information or encourage us to make the “right” choices, but “help” us cope with the horrible burden of choosing what we eat. Let us bask in the warmth of the helpful, loving hand of Big Brother, and pretend it never turns into a fist.

This battle isn’t just starting, folks.  It’s in full swing and gaining momentum. Studies that equate sugar with crack cocaine have been published. Cities like LA are preventing fast food restaurants from opening or operating. The FDA has conducted an armed raid, guns drawn, on the Amish for the horrible crime of selling fresh, healthy raw milk to willing customers. Mars Inc. has just given into Michelle Obama’s arm twisting and is not only reducing the size of regular candy bars, but also completely eliminating king size bars.

All of us need to wake up, learn about these weasels and their cause, and fight and oppose and discredit them at every opportunity. Unless, of course, you want bureaucrats writing and regulating every menu in the country.

…this is the biggest public health challenge facing the developed world.

And people like him are the one of biggest challenges to liberty in a free world. They must be stopped.

Other Info

F. Paul Wilson’s short story Lipidleggin’ predicted the current mess way back in ’78.  I recorded it as a Quick Hitts podcast, with Wilson’s permission.

10 Comment(s)

  1. It isn’t money, it is food stamps. They are intended to feed people. You can’t buy crack with food stamps, right? If the government feeds people for free, it can have some influence on what kind of food she is feeding.

    Over in Europe, a lot of food was pulped (mostly bumper crops) to keep prices high. This is now forbidden and a large distribution network is set up where poor people an get free food.

    Eur van Andel | Mar 2, 2012 | Reply

  2. This is how it starts. Choice is taken away one step at a time.

    Mars Co did not stop making the large size because of food stamp rules. It happened because of social pressures falsely applied by engineered data. Read the article.

    Fast food establishments rules are not being limited because of European pressures. It happened because of studies done in the 1950s, much of which have been disproven, but which persist in medical mythology and yellow journalism’s tactic of scare headlines. Do a little research.

    Anyway, you reveal your bias in your choice of words “SHE is feeding” – Women are not the only ones who utilize food stamps and it is not only used by children. If the program is being widely misused there are other ways of correcting the problem than socially demonizing the choices of people who do not utilize the program.

    Joy | Mar 4, 2012 | Reply

  3. Look we all thought the smoking ban would never get to the point it has—never thought I would have to stand in an alley 500 ft from the hospital where my godsister was fighting for her life to smoke a legal highly taxed product and guys drove up asking if I was a prostitute because I was in the alley smoking–now they want to tell us what to eat—they want our women to go off birth control and have a baby every time they have sex. The powers are becoming too strong and it is time we stop them in thier tracks before we all have to go out in the street and recite bible verses every morning.

    Paula Kling Luciano | Mar 4, 2012 | Reply

  4. I would never endorse telling an adult what they can and can not choose to eat or sell to other consenting adults, but I definitely believe that those who are responsible for the welfare of other human beings do have the right to try to keep them healthy. Parents, for example, should certainly be allowed to make diet choices for their own kids (not other people’s kids.)
    When my stepson was 18 and still living at home we had the ubiquitous “I’m an adult now!” argument, and I replied that age doesn’t make you an adult, living as an adult makes you an adult. Adults are responsible for themselves. If you’re not, if you’re asking for a handout or help to feed yourself, don’t the people doing the helping have any say?
    I’m not saying that everyone who gets any assistance is no longer an adult, but in the area they’re asking for the assistance, beggars can’t be choosers. If my pal gives me a ride to the airport I shouldn’t complain about the music he plays in the car. If I am asking for free food, I don’t HAVE to take the food I am offered, but I also don’t have the right to demand something different.

    Chris Lannan | Mar 5, 2012 | Reply

  5. The problem, Chris and Eur, is that this is a process, not an isolated instance. It’s a blueprint that other nannies have used countless times.

    First a nanny finds a seemingly small thing, a trivial thing, perhaps even a reasonable thing, and inserts themselves. Now a precedent has been set. The nanny says, “See, that works, so now let’s add this to the mix.” They’re not in a hurry, they do it a little at a time, baby step by baby step. It starts with something like, “Let’s require smoking and non-smoking sections in an airplane” and ends, decades later, with “Now you can’t smoke in your own home.”

    Note the generalities in Bittman’s manifesto. This clown isn’t interested in controling the food supply for food stamp recipients. He’s part of a very large movement that wants to control what you, and everyone else, eats.

    Dave Hitt | Mar 5, 2012 | Reply

  6. Exactly Dave—what starts out as we wnat you to be healthy so we will help force you to do it turns into loss of rights–over taxation on cigarettes and now soda and other bad foods and it turns into now we tell you what to do to live linger and then we tell you we can not give you YOUR social security payments to retire on!

    Paula Kling Luciano | Mar 5, 2012 | Reply

  7. I am partially convinced that politicians and high-level civil servants view the populace on similar terms to how a gamer would view the population in a Sim game. The goal is to have a high life expectancy and high revenue. Happiness, quality of life, freedom, and so on mean little.

    Harley | Mar 8, 2012 | Reply

  8. This was disappointing to read about bittman. I have one of his cookbooks and it’s always been a favorite.

    jbatch | May 3, 2012 | Reply

  9. Wonderfully done Dave! :) I’d read it 20 or 30 years ago, but it was good to be reminded of it!

    I wonder if Harlan Ellison would let you read “The Jigsaw Man” from Dangerous Visions as a complementary piece? They’d make a great pair!

    Michael, who’s obviously a bit late in finding this episode!

    Michael J. McFadden | Mar 24, 2016 | Reply

  10. I’m sure Harlan would demand money.

    However, I did get permission to do a show of F. Paul Wilson’s “Lipidleggin.” He said he liked it.

    It’s #62 of the Quick Hitts Podcast.

    Hittman | Mar 24, 2016 | Reply

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