The No-Fry Zone

|

Joel Rivera, the "youthful and slim" health committee chairman of the New York City Council, has an idea:

"What I want to do is limit the number of fast-food establishments within specific proximity of each other, and try to give incentives for healthy alternatives, and give people choices," he adds.

The main idea he wants the health department and fellow politicians to consider involves using zoning-laws to put a cap on the number of fast-food outlets in low-income neighbourhoods, where diseases like type-two diabetes are most prevalent.

Got that? Give people choices by limiting options, shut a bunch of profitable businesses (but only in low-income areas), and ignore the fact that poor people (even fat poor people) still retain the right to move outside their immediate surroundings. And there's more:

It's a legal restriction that has already worked in several other American cities, he says, and it makes sense to explore drastic measures, following on from the statistical success of the city's three-year-old smoking ban.

Whole thing here.

NEXT: Novak Fingers Rove

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Little Charlie Bucket was so poor he could only afford to taste chocolate once a year. And he was slim, and had a low BMI, and no fat-related health problems at all.

  2. We’re from the government, and we’re here to force you to be…err… I mean “keep you” healthy.

  3. Libertarians love this sort of news item as it is really pretty easy to ridicule.

    But the libertarian refusal to even admit that shitty food has become a real health issue in our society or to offer any other solutions is one reason why their philosophy doesn’t gain much traction I’m afraid.

  4. “following on from the statistical success of the city’s three-year-old smoking ban.”

    Hahahahahahaha!

    What about all those chips and stuff you can buy at the grocery store? What about high calorie meals at non-fast food restaurants?

    Oh what the hell, maybe they should institute a vast intrusive program to monitor everyone’s daily caloric intake and their weight in order to achieve whatever it is that the War Against Obesity is supposed to achieve.

    Or like, you know, just let people do what they want. As the Apple Jacks commercials say, “we eat what we like.”

  5. How exactly does a restaurant qulify for the moniker or “fast food” ?

    Is there a speed threshold? Do you have to have a drive-thru? Does you have to have a majority under 18 workforce?

    What a stupid piece of proposed legislation.

  6. But the libertarian refusal to even admit that shitty food has become a real health issue in our society or to offer any other solutions is one reason why their philosophy doesn’t gain much traction I’m afraid.

    Bullshit. I don’t recall anybody here arguing that eating Big Macs every day is a wise choice to make. The question is, is it the government’s business to force people to do the right, “healthy” thing when they’ve chosen not to? I have no problems with a parent ordering her child to eat vegetables instead of junk food, but damned if the government has any business saying this to adults.

    P.S. I make enough money to afford things like fresh veggies and whole-grain crap, but I still prefer rare meat and fried foods. Tell me, Dan, what do you think the government should do about this?

  7. “But the libertarian refusal to even admit that shitty food has become a real health issue in our society or to offer any other solutions is one reason why their philosophy doesn’t gain much traction I’m afraid.”

    Uhm, Dan, exactly which libertarians refuse to admit that obesity and crappy food are a health issue? You would have to be a complete dimwit to argue that point. What libertarians refuse to beleive is that this health issue, and for that matter any health risk resulting from personal choices (like smoking), should never ever be subject to invasive daddy-knows-best regulations.

  8. But the libertarian refusal to even admit that shitty food has become a real health issue in our society

    Bzzzt. Wrong. The libertarian argument is that the problem isn’t food, it is people’s decisions about what to eat. Typical statist move, trying to dress up a plan to control people’s lives by blaming the problem on an inanimate object.

    or to offer any other solutions

    This is code for “failure to offer any other governmental solutions.” Typical statist failure to see only government action as real.

  9. But the libertarian refusal to even admit that shitty food has become a real health issue in our society or to offer any other solutions is one reason why their philosophy doesn’t gain much traction I’m afraid.

    Dan T,

    I’m not a libertarian, and I believe this needs to be mocked quite thoroughly. Shitty food is a health issue for those who choose to eat shitty food. This whole pretending that people need to be saved from themselves in nonsense.

    Either we live in a free country — where people are free to make bad / stupid / self-destructive decisions or we do not.

    Most people know that things may be bad for them, but do it anyway because they are willing to take that risk. I think to a large extent the libertarians get it right when they have faith in most individuals to make their own risk analysis — They know what risks they are willing to take and no one has the right to tell them that what they are doing is too risky — so long as it doesn’t put the public at large at risk.

    It’s not as if there is a ton of misinformation out there, or that people don’t know that eating certain types of foods is bad. No one believes McDonalds or Burger King to be healthy, nor do they market themseleves that way. Want to eat food they enjoy eating, even if it isn’t what most nutritionists would reccomend….
    Isn’t that their right?

  10. Dan T: I think you would have to make the case that “shitty foods” are a “real health issue” before you do anything else first. Considering that Americans are living longer than ever, I think you would have real problems doing that.

    Malnutrition will kill you a lot faster than being a fatass.

    Also on a personal note: I eat healthy and am not one of those “fat and proud” people. I don’t really understand why they insist on being fat, but whatever. It’s their choice.

  11. …refusal to even admit that shitty food has become a real health issue in our society or to offer any other solutions ….

    The solution is education. And it starts pretty early. I took health class at age 13, and they covered basic nutrition even then. The cold hard fact is that people with your mindset don’t want to accept that there is no amount of coersion that will cause people to take better care of themselves, against their will. Most people know its not good for them, but they do it anyway…and people like you can’t stand it when others don’t fall in line and do what the experts reccoemnd or suggest as the best course — that’s why you defend and advocate regulation.

    Either people will take it upon themselves because they feel its appropriate or they will not because they just don’t see it as big a problem as the people who want to regulate these things. It is not the role of government to make sure that we always make the best and expert-recommende choices. Their role is to protect our rights to make our own choices from the intrusion of others, not to intrude on those rights. That’s communist thinking and has no place in the United States

  12. I’m beginning to think that a lot of this is due to all of the safety nets that the government has put in place in case people make mistakes. After a while it becomes very expensive to maintain those safety nets, so it becomes necessary to legislate behavior that could land you in a safety net.

    Bad health means that the taxpayers might need to foot the bill, so regulate unhealthy behavior (smoking, fast food). I’ve seen people make the argument for motorcycle helmet laws by saying that if you get hurt they don’t want to have to pay for it.

    And, actually, if you follow that logic I wouldn’t be surprised to see a strong resurgence of some sort of alcohol prohibition movement sometime in the future.

  13. Limiting the number of certain establishments in proximity to each other is a zoning technique done to prevent a certain area from become the regional center of certain types of business. For example, if you have three porn stores on the same block, that block will become the red light district that people from miles around come to for their porn. In classic “business cluster” fashion, this will attract other porn stores as well as “supportive businesses” like hookers. The purpose is to protect the residents and businesses in the area from the unwanted side effects of being in, or next to, the district that patrons from outside the area flock to.

    But that’s not how fast food outlets work. There is no “fast food center” – the very nature of fast food promotes dispersal, not clustering. And the residents and businesses in the area are not being bullied or harmed by the customers coming into the area – they ARE the customers, and the businesses don’t attract people into the area.

    Zoning is meant to engineer places, not people.

  14. Bingo!, Bingo. Every government solution addresses a prior government solution. Government is so intertwined in our day to day activities that any personal choice has the potential to incur expense in some government program. Mountaineering could require a rescue. Biking without a helmet could make me a mental vegetable (or a republican!) People will use the circular logic of proposing more collectivism to remove choices that can impose additional costs on the existing collectivism.

    Ideally, these would be arguments for less collectivism.

  15. But the libertarian refusal to even admit that shitty food has become a real health issue in our society or to offer any other solutions is one reason why their philosophy doesn’t gain much traction I’m afraid.

    Wow! I haven’t seen piling on like this since Mr. Bailey last posted a link suggesting Al Gore might not always be right!

    But what the hell, I wanna play to. Sorry, Dan, but the reason libertarianism doesn’t gain as much traction as it should is that too many people (you, for example) believe deep down in your hearts that your health is any of my damned business and vice versa. Or are you worried about the health risks of second hand trans-fat?

  16. are you worried about the health risks of second hand trans-fat?

    Well I mean there were all those rumors of Israeli soldiers coating their bullets with pig fat. Maybe they were trying to start an obesity epidemic in the Palestinian population!

    Just think, every McDonalds that opens up is a potential weapon of mass destruction.

  17. Sorry, Dan, but the reason libertarianism doesn’t gain as much traction as it should is that too many people (you, for example) believe deep down in your hearts that your health is any of my damned business and vice versa.

    Well, to some extent the health of people in my community is my business being that I depend on them and they depend on me. If too many people got sick, it would adversely affect my life.

    The knee-jerk reactions to my initial post here prove my point – any attempt to improve public health becomes in the Libertarian mind a fascist plot to force people into living lives of eating drab rabbit food. What the motive for this might be is never quite explained – one must only invoke the dogma that government is always bad. Meanwhile, places like New York City with all their laws are among the most popular places to live while small government shitholes like Mississippi remain just that, shitholes.

    I would like to thank the poster that pointed out that people are living longer than ever before – I guess such programs as Medicaid, Medicare, mandatory vaccinations, public hospitals, etc. are doing some good.

  18. Dan T:

    Well, to some extent the health of people in my community is my business being that I depend on them and they depend on me. If too many people got sick, it would adversely affect my life.

    You do realize with that sort of logic you can legislate anything right? One of the litmus tests for a law is that it must represent a compelling public interest. I don’t think health complication arising from poor personal choices represent a compelling public interest. Especially when the complications aren’t necessarily fatal and certainly not contagious.

    Meanwhile, places like New York City with all their laws are among the most popular places to live while small government shitholes like Mississippi remain just that, shitholes.

    And then of course there is the flight of people from California to states like Denver, Arizona, and Texas.

    And are those programs the cause or is it because of advances in technology and treatment facilitated by a free-market economy that leads to longer lives?

  19. If too many people got sick, it would adversely affect my life.

    So, what this boils down to is that I and others owe you our good health so that your life won’t be adversely affected? Mind you, we’re not talking about contagious diseases here but about obesity.

    Meanwhile, places like New York City with all their laws are among the most popular places to live while small government shitholes like Mississippi remain just that, shitholes.

    Yep, when I think about all the reasons living in New York is preferable to living in Mississippi, the first thing that springs to mind is more laws.

  20. The knee-jerk reactions to my initial post here prove my point – any attempt to improve public health becomes in the Libertarian mind a fascist plot to force people into living lives of eating drab rabbit food

    Dan, stop being dishonest…

    Why don’t you offer some potential solutions for improving public health that doesn’t involve forcing people to eat approved foods and not allowing people access to the foods they want to eat.

    Banning certain types of foods is not a legitimate way to deal with your alleged public health crisis. Education campains I could understand, but short of communist style bannings and trying to limit people from excersizing their free will about what to eat — what do you propose to do?

    I would like to thank the poster that pointed out that people are living longer than ever before – I guess such programs as Medicaid, Medicare, mandatory vaccinations, public hospitals, etc. are doing some good.

    Stop conflating issues — those programs may be doing good, but how is this relevant to a discussion of social engineering and policing people’s daily lives and food choices?

    I may part ways with libertarians in that I believe that Medicare/Medicaid and the like are necessary and effective to be provided by the government, but the fact that they provide these services to the public with OUR tax money does not give them the right to regulate the risk in our lives for us and to control our personal behavior. (and unlike many libertarians i dont believe that private enterprise should be able to either i.e. insurance companies / employers etc). If the cost of public services is the loss of free will about basic issues such as what to eat, then to hell with public services. Proving care for the downtrodden does not empower the state to control our behavior.

  21. So far as fat people being a drain on health care industry, I am the perfect example of why this is not true.

    I used to be almost 300 lbs.

    I then lost weight–150 lbs. I could not get health insurance. I was told by insurance company(s) that “losing weight implies illess” and that since I lost weight thru diet and exercise that was counted against me. If I had bypass surgery that would be ok.

    As soon as I lost weight I went on a hike and became infected with Lyme disease. I am more of a drain on the health care industry now than before. At 300 lbs I was not about to go on any hikes..and I would have never been infected with the disease.

  22. So far as fat people being a drain on health care industry, I am the perfect example of why this is not true.

    I used to be almost 300 lbs.

    I then lost weight–150 lbs. I could not get health insurance. I was told by insurance company(s) that “losing weight implies illess” and that since I lost weight thru diet and exercise that was counted against me. If I had bypass surgery that would be ok.

    As soon as I lost weight I went on a hike and became infected with Lyme disease. I am more of a drain on the health care industry now than before. At 300 lbs I was not about to go on any hikes..and I would have never been infected with the disease.

  23. “Well, to some extent the health of people in my community is my business being that I depend on them and they depend on me. If too many people got sick, it would adversely affect my life.”

    No, no, no, you selfish prick. I am not your slave, and you have NO stake in my health or my life.

    Jesus, I’ve heard a lot of crazy rationalizations and backpedalling in my day, but that just might be in the top ten list of “most batshit insane rationalizations”. So, hey, at least you’re a minor celebrity now…

    “The knee-jerk reactions to my initial post here prove my point – any attempt to improve public health becomes in the Libertarian mind a fascist plot to force people into living lives of eating drab rabbit food.”

    If you’re going to argue with folks, the least you could do is be honest and not try to mischaracterize people’s positions, Dan. When you say “any attempt”, you’re being entirely disingenuous. It’s not “any attempt to improve public health”, Dan, it’s “any attempt to improve public health by stomping on personal liberty”. You know the difference, you know it damned well, so stop being dishonest and own up.

    “What the motive for this might be is never quite explained – one must only invoke the dogma that government is always bad.”

    No, Dan, “government stomping on personal liberty” is bad. If government did good things (and it does, soometimes), then government is good. If government does bad things, like banning “unapproved” food, then it is bad. A fucking child could make this distinction, yet you have trouble.

    FYI, Danno: you’re not going to win this argument by plastering all “libertarians” with the “I hate government, no matter what” brush. It’s not gonna happen.

    “Meanwhile, places like New York City with all their laws are among the most popular places to live while small government shitholes like Mississippi remain just that, shitholes.”

    I forget what the official name of this particular logical fallacy is, but rest assured, it is just that: a logical fallacy. You know, conflating a cause and an effect that have no proven connection. Like, okay, if I said, “It’s hot today. The last three cars that drove by my house were red. Therefore, red cars cause the temperature to rise.” You’ve done the same thing by declaring that more laws have made Manhattan a popular place to live. Logical. Fallacy.

    “I would like to thank the poster that pointed out that people are living longer than ever before – I guess such programs as Medicaid, Medicare, mandatory vaccinations, public hospitals, etc. are doing some good.”

    You guess? Hey, look, the very same logical fallacy…TWO IN A ROW! Wanna go 3 for 3, Dan?

  24. Of course, when healthcare is subsidized by tax dollars, it all of the sudden becomes everyone elses business what you eat, drink, breathe, do for exercise, etc…

    ‘There, comrades! That’s how I want to see you doing it. Watch me again. I’m thirty-nine and I’ve had four children. Now look.’ She bent over again. ‘You see my knees aren’t bent. You can all do it if you want to,’ she added as she straightened herself up. ‘Anyone under forty-five is perfectly capable of touching his toes. We don’t all have the privilege of fighting in the front line, but at least we can all keep fit. Remember our boys on the Malabar front! And the sailors in the Floating Fortresses! Just think what they have to put up with. Now try again. That’s better, comrade, that’s much better,’ she added encouragingly as Winston, with a violent lunge, succeeded in touching his toes with knees unbent, for the first time in several years.

  25. Dan T. can’t possibly be serious.

    I owe him my good health?

    Holy Buddha’s dangling left testicle, that’s about the most selfish thing I think I’ve ever read.

  26. nice “1984” quote defunct

    So as not to be repititious…I agree with Jennifer.

  27. But the libertarian refusal to even admit that shitty food has become a real health issue in our society or to offer any other solutions is one reason why their philosophy doesn’t gain much traction I’m afraid.

    Nah. The Libertarian Party would probably gain more traction by giving away free fattening food (and beer) at its events.

  28. “I would like to thank the poster that pointed out that people are living longer than ever before – I guess such programs as Medicaid, Medicare, mandatory vaccinations, public hospitals, etc. are doing some good.”

    Dan and Evan, this logical fallacy is “post hoc ergo propter hoc”:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post_hoc_ergo_propter_hoc

  29. “Nah. The Libertarian Party would probably gain more traction by giving away free fattening food (and beer) at its events.”

    Which, of course, begs the question, how many fund-raising dinners has Joel Rivera attended where they serve t-bone steaks with a big fat marble running through it, with sides of all sorts of foods that have been fried and/or smothered in a cream sauce? How many of those dinners have had open bars where they’ve served liqour?

  30. You do realize with that sort of logic you can legislate anything right? One of the litmus tests for a law is that it must represent a compelling public interest. I don’t think health complication arising from poor personal choices represent a compelling public interest. Especially when the complications aren’t necessarily fatal and certainly not contagious.

    I’m fine with that – but it seems that the Libertarian viewpoint is that compelling public interest is not valid for creating new legislation or policies. And let’s face it, a number of experts do feel that obseity/bad food is a legitimate public health issue.

    And then of course there is the flight of people from California to states like Denver, Arizona, and Texas.

    But I think the general trend is people moving towards urban areas, and those usually have more of a government presence.

    And are those programs the cause or is it because of advances in technology and treatment facilitated by a free-market economy that leads to longer lives?

    Both, I’d say. Advances in treatment are great, but not much help if you can’t afford them.

  31. I’m fine with that – but it seems that the Libertarian viewpoint is that compelling public interest is not valid for creating new legislation or policies. And let’s face it, a number of experts do feel that obseity/bad food is a legitimate public health issue. -Dan

    Please define “compelling”…
    Please define “public interest”…
    Please define “experts”…
    Please define “obesity”…
    Please define “bad food”…
    Please define “legitimate”…
    Please define “public health issue”…

    All sorts of excessive government force and coercion could be easily justified depending on how those terms are defined. What makes you definitions any more valid than mine?

  32. Which, of course, begs the question, how many fund-raising dinners has Joel Rivera attended where they serve t-bone steaks with a big fat marble running through it,

    Well as Kerry pointed out, they’re opnly worried about bad food for poor people. If you’re rich you can eat all the crap you want. More of that good ol’ American denial of classism.

  33. If you go to lunch and have a double bacon cheeseburger with onion rings and a shake every day, and you do not burn off those calories somehow, you are going to become fat (if not morbidly obese).

    We’re back in the “government must solve the problems it has caused” trap. If zoning laws did not exacerbate the tendency for Americans to drive everywhere and walk nowhere, you could work off some part of your double bacon cheeseburger by walking to lunch and back.

  34. What makes YOU definitions any more valid than mine?

    D’oh! It should be…

    What makes YOUR definitions any more valid than mine?

  35. No, no, no, you selfish prick. I am not your slave, and you have NO stake in my health or my life.

    But of course that’s not what I said – rather that because we all depend on one another we all are affected by the health of one another. So I think that we all have at least duty to maintain a decent level of health for the good of society.

    If you’re going to argue with folks, the least you could do is be honest and not try to mischaracterize people’s positions, Dan. When you say “any attempt”, you’re being entirely disingenuous. It’s not “any attempt to improve public health”, Dan, it’s “any attempt to improve public health by stomping on personal liberty”. You know the difference, you know it damned well, so stop being dishonest and own up.

    Fair enough, but I’ve found from reading H&R that pretty much any attempt at improving public health short of free-market capitalism is subject to predictable and trite ridicule (eh, “comrade”?)

    No, Dan, “government stomping on personal liberty” is bad. If government did good things (and it does, soometimes), then government is good. If government does bad things, like banning “unapproved” food, then it is bad.

    That’s the theory, but a case could be made that the government banning certain things is not bad in the whole. Keep in mind that I’ve never advocating the banning of foods.

    FYI, Danno: you’re not going to win this argument by plastering all “libertarians” with the “I hate government, no matter what” brush. It’s not gonna happen.

    I’m probably not going to win this argument anyway but in general I have noticed a dogmatism among libertarians that if a government action does not fit within their narrow view of what is appropriate, then it must be bad, even if the results are positive on the whole.

    I forget what the official name of this particular logical fallacy is, but rest assured, it is just that: a logical fallacy. You know, conflating a cause and an effect that have no proven connection. Like, okay, if I said, “It’s hot today. The last three cars that drove by my house were red. Therefore, red cars cause the temperature to rise.” You’ve done the same thing by declaring that more laws have made Manhattan a popular place to live. Logical. Fallacy.

    Read carefully, I’m not saying that large government in and of itself makes a place more desirable, only that in general places in our country with a strong government presence, high taxes and good social programs have produced results that people find preferable to those that don’t. There are plenty of places a true libertarian could live in America if they want to be left alone by the government. Guess what? Nobody wants to live in those places.

    “You guess? Hey, look, the very same logical fallacy…TWO IN A ROW! Wanna go 3 for 3, Dan? ”

    I’m not sure how my public medicine example is a “logical fallacy” simply because you say it is. How could a program that allows people to recieve medical care that couldn’t otherwise afford it not improve a society’s health?

  36. “I’m fine with that – but it seems that the Libertarian viewpoint is that compelling public interest is not valid for creating new legislation or policies. And let’s face it, a number of experts do feel that obseity/bad food is a legitimate public health issue.”

    You know what I’m gonna do Dan T.? I’m gonna get myself a 1967 Cadilac El Dorado Convertable
    Hot pink!
    With whale skin hub caps
    An all leather cow interior
    And big brown baby seal eyes for headlights
    YEAH!
    And I’m gonna drive around in that baby
    At 115 miles per hour
    Getting one mile per gallon
    Sucking down Quarter Pounder cheeseburgers from McDonalds in the old-fashioned non-biodegradable Styrofoam containers
    And when I’m done sucking down those grease-ball burgers
    I’m gonna wipe my mouth with the American flag
    And then I’m gonna toss the Styrofoam containers right out the side
    And there ain’t a Goddamn thing anybody can do about it
    You know why?
    ‘Cause we got the bombs, that’s why!
    Two words: Nuclear Fuckin’ Weapons
    Okay!?
    Russia, Germany, Romania
    They can have all the Democracy they want
    They can have a big Democracy cake walk
    Right through the middle of Tienemen Square
    And it won’t make a lick of difference
    Because we got the bombs
    Okay!?
    John Wayne’s not dead
    He’s frozen!
    And as soon as we find a cure for cancer We’re gonna thaw out “The Duke”
    And he’s gonna be pretty pissed off
    You know why?
    Have you ever taken a cold shower?
    Well, multiply that by 15 million times
    That’s how pissed off “The Duke”‘s gonna be
    I’m gonna get “The Duke”
    And John Cassavetes
    And Lee Marvin
    And Sam Peckinpah
    And a case of whiskey
    And drive down to Texas
    And-

  37. “Well, to some extent the health of people in my community is my business being that I depend on them and they depend on me. If too many people got sick, it would adversely affect my life.”

    No, no, no, you selfish bast’ud! I am not your slave, and you have NO stake in my health or my life.

    Jesus, I’ve heard a lot of crazy rationalizations and backpedalling in my day, but that just might be in the top ten list of “most batshit insane rationalizations”. So, hey, at least you’re a minor celebrity now…

    “The knee-jerk reactions to my initial post here prove my point – any attempt to improve public health becomes in the Libertarian mind a fascist plot to force people into living lives of eating drab rabbit food.”

    If you’re going to argue with folks, the least you could do is be honest and not try to mischaracterize people’s positions, Dan. When you say “any attempt”, you’re being entirely disingenuous. It’s not “any attempt to improve public health”, Dan, it’s “any attempt to improve public health by stomping on personal liberty”. You know the difference, you know it damned well, so stop being dishonest and own up.

    “What the motive for this might be is never quite explained – one must only invoke the dogma that government is always bad.”

    No, Dan, “government stomping on personal liberty” is bad. If government did good things (and it does, soometimes), then government is good. If government does bad things, like banning “unapproved” food, then it is bad. A fucking child could make this distinction, yet you have trouble.

    FYI, Danno: you’re not going to win this argument by plastering all “libertarians” with the “I hate government, no matter what” brush. It’s not gonna happen.

    “Meanwhile, places like New York City with all their laws are among the most popular places to live while small government shitholes like Mississippi remain just that, shitholes.”

    I forget what the official name of this particular logical fallacy is, but rest assured, it is just that: a logical fallacy. You know, conflating a cause and an effect that have no proven connection. Like, okay, if I said, “It’s hot today. The last three cars that drove by my house were red. Therefore, red cars cause the temperature to rise.” You’ve done the same thing by declaring that more laws have made Manhattan a popular place to live. Logical. Fallacy.

    “I would like to thank the poster that pointed out that people are living longer than ever before – I guess such programs as Medicaid, Medicare, mandatory vaccinations, public hospitals, etc. are doing some good.”

    You guess? Hey, look, the very same logical fallacy…TWO IN A ROW! Wanna go 3 for 3, Dan?

  38. “If the cost of public services is the loss of free will about basic issues such as what to eat, then to hell with public services. Proving care for the downtrodden does not empower the state to control our behavior.”

    Tears to me very eyes. I dislike public services not because I’m some scrooge who disavows the role of luck in poverty and wants to see poor people die off, but because the more significant the presence of the public service, the more credible the public interest nanny state argument. Top down public run healthcare is a very scary thing when seen in this light, whereas some form of catastrophic coverage might not be so bad.

    Go forth, Tom, unto the darkest depths of the DNC, and spread your message.

  39. But the libertarian refusal to even admit that shitty food has become a real health issue in our society or to offer any other solutions is one reason why their philosophy doesn’t gain much traction I’m afraid.

    Libertarian philosophy doesn’t gain much traction because it flatters its audience only that they’re intelligent enough to meet their own needs. Unfortunately, people want to be flattered not that they’re intelligent, but that they’re special and entitled to have others meet their needs for them.

    Libertarians probably won’t admit that shitty food is a health issue because there’s no evidence that anything but bad personal choices are the health issue. (Libertarians are kind of funny about having “evidence” for stuff.) It’s a personal choice. The only “solution” is “choose to stop eating it.” BTW, the links between fat and poor health are dubious at best.

    People are smug bastards; they already hate fat folks, and exaggerated nanny-science claims about how all fat people are lazy, doomed, stupid gits mere minutes away from massive coronaries give them all the fuel they need to sustain their hatred. That gluttonous Mama Cass and her ham sandwich and all.

    Well, to some extent the health of people in my community is my business being that I depend on them and they depend on me. If too many people got sick, it would adversely affect my life.

    I have no doubt that if you were in a restaurant eating a chicken-fried steak, and a complete stranger approached you and demanded that you stop eating said steak and get a spinach salad with no dressing instead, because he depends on you to be at your job indefinitely and never, ever be ill, you’d immediately drop your fork and do exactly what he says. Right?

    And again, assuming that fat people are all sick or likely to become sick, based on personal prejudice and morally-charged Victorian nanny science.

    I wonder, Dan, does your water utility send out a newsletter periodically? Something containing reports on the quality of the local water supply? Do you read this? If so, do you take as much interest in the health of your water supply as you apparently do in the weight and health issues of fat strangers? Do you keep tabs on local air pollution levels in your area, or violent crime statistics? Do you buy exclusively organic produce, or verify that you’re only buying/eating produce grown in safe soil? Do you take nearly as much interest in any health issues that are much, much more likely to affect the quality of your life, as you do in the relative heftiness of your neighbors? I hope so.

    I’m a fat Libertarian, I’m healthy and active, and I’ve been to the doctor fewer times in the last 10 years together than my mountain-climbing, sporty-spice co-worker has been in under a year. Who is it who’s costing you more? I’ve got a lot of fat friends, and we all have great times eating whatever the hell pleases us and living active lives without diabetes or heart disease. And if that’s the way we go, then at least we’ll have enjoyed ourselves doing it. Personal choices, my man. Your “healthy” lifestyle, if that, is not superior to mine just because you say it is.

  40. Sorry, the comment engine squirrels have my number today. FUCKERS!

    “But of course that’s not what I said – rather that because we all depend on one another we all are affected by the health of one another. So I think that we all have at least duty to maintain a decent level of health for the good of society.”

    But THAT isn’t what you said EITHER, Dan. Having a “duty” to remain healthy because our society is interdependent is NOT the same thing as government-mandated health standards, at the point of a gun, in order to force people into fulfilling said “duty”. No matter how many times you switch your concept around, one thing is clear: you cannot see past the government as the only way to solve “society’s” problems.

    “Fair enough, but I’ve found from reading H&R that pretty much any attempt at improving public health short of free-market capitalism is subject to predictable and trite ridicule (eh, “comrade”?)”

    Your vague stereotyping and anecdotal claims do nothing to support your argument, Dan. All they show is that, when faced with the fact that you were wrong, you backpedal by throwing out unprovable generalizations. Congrats. I am impressed.

    “That’s the theory, but a case could be made that the government banning certain things is not bad in the whole. Keep in mind that I’ve never advocating the banning of foods.”

    Not bad “in the whole”? We’re not talking about the ends justifying the means, here, Dave. Either you have a free society or not. Just because banning french fries might have a positive net effect on health doesn’t mean that those ends justify the loss of liberty that they took to be achieved. If the principles of personal freedom can be shat upon based on the “end result” of a particular issue, then they’re not principles at all. The idea is that, in the end, even if certain issues might result in a better end result if personal liberty was taken, that the idea of liberty “in the whole” will result in a better society.

    You can’t just pick-n-choose which liberties we should get based on the results of taking or keeping each one.

    “Read carefully, I’m not saying that large government in and of itself makes a place more desirable, only that in general places in our country with a strong government presence, high taxes and good social programs have produced results that people find preferable to those that don’t. There are plenty of places a true libertarian could live in America if they want to be left alone by the government. Guess what? Nobody wants to live in those places.”

    I understand exactly what you’re saying, and that doesn’t mean that it’s any less of a logical fallacy—considering that you can provide absolutely no empirical evidence between cause and effect. In my opinion, you have the cause and effect reversed, but I don’t have any empirical evidence either. So, to declare that your argument holds any water is fallacious.

    “I’m not sure how my public medicine example is a “logical fallacy” simply because you say it is. How could a program that allows people to recieve medical care that couldn’t otherwise afford it not improve a society’s health?”

    It’s a logical fallacy because you have provided no empirical evidence linking the cause and the effect. It benefits your particular argument, so you make the claim…but you cannot back it up. As someone else said, it could be that technological advances in healthcare are the main reason for the increase in life expectancy, and not so much medicare/medicaid.

    Yes, Dan, I’m afraid that, without emprical evidence to back up your claims, it’s a logical fallacy. Just because it sounds like common sense that B would follow from A doesn’t mean that, in the absense of evidence, the claim holds any water.

  41. “forget what the official name of this particular logical fallacy is,”

    Argumentum ad numerum. Or asserting that something is right because it’s popular.

    -Godwin-
    Hey, it worked for Hitler.
    -/Godwin-

  42. “forget what the official name of this particular logical fallacy is,”

    Argumentum ad numerum.

  43. “forget what the official name of this particular logical fallacy is,”

    Argumentum ad numerum.

  44. One more thing, Dan…

    “Read carefully, I’m not saying that large government in and of itself makes a place more desirable, only that in general places in our country with a strong government presence, high taxes and good social programs have produced results that people find preferable to those that don’t. There are plenty of places a true libertarian could live in America if they want to be left alone by the government. Guess what? Nobody wants to live in those places.”

    Think for a second about what you’re saying here. In effect, you’re saying that big government, big taxes, and big welfare are the cause, and not the result, of successful population centers. In other words, Mississippi would turn into California if they jacked up taxes, increased legislation and the welfare state. jesus, that’s some ignorant shite.

  45. Mediageek:

    “Argumentum ad numerum. Or asserting that something is right because it’s popular.”

    Well, that applies I guess, but I was referring to the one where you claim that X is the cause of Y, even though there is no evidence to support your claim.

    For example: “I feel sick today. Today is the 3rd friday of the month. Therefore, the third friday of each month makes you sick”.

  46. But THAT isn’t what you said EITHER, Dan. Having a “duty” to remain healthy because our society is interdependent is NOT the same thing as government-mandated health standards, at the point of a gun, in order to force people into fulfilling said “duty”. No matter how many times you switch your concept around, one thing is clear: you cannot see past the government as the only way to solve “society’s” problems.
    Come on ? you?re doing exactly what I said libertarians tend to do. Who said that government is the only way to solve social problems? Not I. But it is one approach that can work in certain situations.
    Your vague stereotyping and anecdotal claims do nothing to support your argument, Dan. All they show is that, when faced with the fact that you were wrong, you backpedal by throwing out unprovable generalizations. Congrats. I am impressed.
    Gee, and I?m the only one who generalizes. Those are my observations and impressions. I?m not claiming they ?prove? anything but reading some of the reactionary and paranoid posts on this thread doesn?t do anything to change my mind.
    Either you have a free society or not.
    That?s not the case at all ? freedom comes in varying degrees. No society is completely free or completely unfree (is that a word?)
    You can’t just pick-n-choose which liberties we should get based on the results of taking or keeping each one.
    Why not?
    I understand exactly what you’re saying, and that doesn’t mean that it’s any less of a logical fallacy—considering that you can provide absolutely no empirical evidence between cause and effect. In my opinion, you have the cause and effect reversed, but I don’t have any empirical evidence either. So, to declare that your argument holds any water is fallacious.
    I?m not making a cause-and-effect argument. Just pointing out that places with a strong government presence seem to be popular places to live. I?m not saying that any podunk town that passes rent control laws will suddenly become Manhattan.
    It’s a logical fallacy because you have provided no empirical evidence linking the cause and the effect. It benefits your particular argument, so you make the claim…but you cannot back it up.
    A logical fallacy is not the same thing as an unproven argument.
    As someone else said, it could be that technological advances in healthcare are the main reason for the increase in life expectancy, and not so much medicare/medicaid.
    Sure, and I agreed with them to a point. But it seems pretty obvious that since medical care costs money, providing that care for people who have no money is going to improve their health more than them just going without. And keep in mind that may countries with more socialized medicine than the US have healthier populations.

  47. So I think that we all have at least duty to maintain a decent level of health for the good of society.

    Um, no, we have no such duty to anyone but ourselves.

    This isn’t 1890, Dan. We’re not all farm hands or railroad workers anymore. We don’t have to do our laundry on a rock down by the creek. A lot of us now have jobs and lives that simply do not require physical exertion. Cars, elevators, the Internet and other inventions have shortened the distances we have to walk, reduced the amount of time we must spend traveling to meet our needs, reduced the number of stairs we have to climb, and indeed, shrunk the whole world for us.

    I work in computer tech. At virtually no time in my existence do I ever need or want to lift more than 50 lbs. I rarely ever need to walk more than a quarter mile anywhere, though I do like to walk. With a few minutes’ exception, I spend the entire business day sitting on my ass in front of a computer, like a lot of people.

    My health and lifestyle are literally suited to my purposes. If I needed to change my weight or fitness level to complete assigned tasks, maintain my employment, and thus meet my expenses and needs, I would. If someplace I wanted to go or something I wanted to do required me to be slim, I’d probably make myself slim. If I wanted to marry someone who was attracted only to slim people, I’d probably have to get my fat ass on a treadmill and not get off until 2011. But I don’t have to. And neither do millions and millions of fat folks in society. If our lifestyles don’t require us to be svelte and toned, why should we be? Because you say so?

    Lives and bodies have changed, due to technological advances and the availability of abundant and convenient food. There’s simply nothing evil about these changes. Nobody’s going to make you hold hands with a fat chick or anything, so relax. In turn, you don’t get to tell her how to live. You can try stigmatizing fat as much as you like, but in the end, people’s bodies are going to suit their own purposes, not yours.

  48. zeroentitlement, why are you so selfish?

    Why don’t you get on a treadmill for me.

  49. Think for a second about what you’re saying here. In effect, you’re saying that big government, big taxes, and big welfare are the cause, and not the result, of successful population centers.

    I think it’s a little bit of both, actually. Clearly when you pack a lot of people into a small area, more restrictions on personal behavior are going to be needed. But these restrictions help create an environment where people tend to want to live.

    In other words, Mississippi would turn into California if they jacked up taxes, increased legislation and the welfare state. jesus, that’s some ignorant shite.

    I’m not saying that at all, but I do think that cities and towns that invest in infrastructure, public works, business, etc. can become more attractive places to live. But in many cases leaders are so scared of raising taxes that nothing much is possible.

    Mississippi and Montana should be libertarian paradises…with all that freedom and low taxes. Why aren’t people flocking there?

  50. Evan, he uses 4 logical fallacies — biased sample, false dilemma, hasty generalization and questionable cause.

  51. Post attempt # 4over 3 hours, this server sucks…

    With regard to Dan T.’s original post and the traction of libertarian ideas, I think the flipside of his assertion is that government threatening intrusion in the area of food is finally producing a “you gotta be fucking kidding me” reaction from the general public, which was sadly absent in other intrusive phases such as with tobacco. Most people plainly see the personal responsibility element when it comes to eating.

  52. It posted! It really posted!

    I’ll now point out that I live in low-government Colorado, which gains about 100,000 new people a year. But that addresses a topic of several fallacies ago.

  53. Most people plainly see the personal responsibility element when it comes to eating.

    What THEY are eating – not what those fat people with diabetes are eating! Those people need oversight.

  54. I am not so sure that people find New York perferable because of its laws and regulations. For instance, the population of NYC has fallen around 20% in the last 40 years (10 million people to 8 million people). The fact that a lot of people live there is more indicative of the fact that people were living there to begin with; it is not like NY and MS had the same starting population and the status quo was made through consumer choice. I believe NY lost 2 house seats in the last census and California only gained 1, with immigration being a large factor in that. TX and AZ both gained 2 seats and GA and NC also gained a seat apiece. This would seem to run counter to Dan T.’s assumptions. Regardless, economic factors probably lead more to peoples’ choices in residences. Interestingly, CA, NY, MA, and much of the rest of the northeast rank low on surveys of business friendliness which has both a direct correlation to job creation and an inverse correlation to government regulation.

  55. One of the main roles of the government is to regulate commerce, and this is prudent. I applaud Joel Rivera! New York City’s diabetes rate is 80 % above the country’s average, and we should be doing stuff about it.

    The real surprise here is that your quote comes from a foreign website. I haven’t seen any reporting on this in New York itself, or even the US.

    This is great, and I’m heartened by the Bronx Council’s activity. I would really like to see some decisive action on school nutrition as well.

  56. Mississippi and Montana should be libertarian paradises…with all that freedom and low taxes. Why aren’t people flocking there?

    Actually, Mississippi and Montana are ranked 24th and 20th out of the states, respectively, in population growth since 1990. The population of the square miles surrounding Glacier Park, for example, has increased from 8 persons/sq mi to 11 since 1995.

    And the state with the highest population growth since 1990? Nevada, with a growth rate of 66.27% in that period. (Clark County by itself is over 85%.) Nevada also happens to be among the most tax-hostile states in the union. For example, Nevada has no corporate income tax. Miraculously, despite its low taxes, Nevada manages to provide hundreds of thousands of low-skill, limited-education tourism workers with relatively high wages compared to other low-skilled U.S. workers. Nevada’s poverty rate is 10.48% compared with tax-happy Washington at 10.62%, or regulated-to-death California at 14.22%.

    States can be attractive places to live with lots of subsidies for parks, arts, indigent healthcare, etc. I think Vancouver, B.C., is a swell town, but those poor Canucks are butt-raped out of half their pay, and so I choose not to live there. It depends on what you’re looking for. Some people (like a lot of those in Montana and Nevada), their idea of paradise is a place where people leave them alone and let them do what they want on their own turf.

    Your fallacy, Dan, originates in the stubborn belief that what you think defines Utopia is necessarily Utopia for everyone else.

  57. New York City’s diabetes rate is 80% above the country’s average, and we should be doing stuff about it.

    We? What’s this “we” business, Custer?

    Diabetes has a strong genetic component. Perhaps what we should really be doing is forcibly sterilizing anyone with a family history of diabetes. And, of course, anyone with a family history of heart disease, cancer, or Alzheimer’s, because those are expensive diseases, too.

    Let’s assume people are eating themselves to death, like you say. What of it? Tasty food is part of a quality life for them. How is this any of your business, what your neighbors are enjoying? Oh, it’s “costing you money?” Debatable, but anyway, guess what, Toots: it costs you money when people without insurance have babies. It costs you money when extreme-athlete fools need to be rescued from their heli-skiing or rock-climbing mishaps. It costs you money to support whiny 9/11 widows who claim they can’t work. It costs you money to have the city put up stupid signs discouraging youth smoking and drug use.

    A lot of things cost you money. In turn, you make lifestyle choices that cost your neighbors money. (Have kids, by any chance? Use roads or water much?) Are you going to stop EVERYONE from costing you money? Little old ladies with broken hips, too? Or are you just hellbent on punishing people you find physically repellent?

  58. Maybe this has been iterated over-and-over-and-over (not by me here) but I feel it is true that people are only free to make good choices when they are also free to make bad ones rather than the one-size-fits-all “choice”.

  59. “The solution is education…. Most people know its not good for them, but they do it anyway.”

    Feeling a bit contradictory today, Chi. Tom? You were right the 2nd time. I goddam TEACH Nutrition (college course), yet I recently ate my way to a heart attack. And even with that in mind, I’m eating too much. Knowledge ain’t the solution.

  60. “What I want to do is limit the number of politicians within specific proximity of each other, and try to give incentives for anarchy alternatives, and give people choices,” he adds.

  61. Your fallacy, Dan, originates in the stubborn belief that what you think defines Utopia is necessarily Utopia for everyone else.

    Yes, but no more so that you highly dogmatic libertarians with your “every man for himself” old west style fantasy.

    Maybe that’s the reason you guys are so politically unimportant – most people are not so selfish as to advocate a philosophy of such rancid social Darwinism.

  62. Let’s assume people are eating themselves to death, like you say. What of it? Tasty food is part of a quality life for them. How is this any of your business, what your neighbors are enjoying? Oh, it’s “costing you money?” Debatable, but anyway, guess what, Toots: it costs you money when people without insurance have babies. It costs you money when extreme-athlete fools need to be rescued from their heli-skiing or rock-climbing mishaps. It costs you money to support whiny 9/11 widows who claim they can’t work. It costs you money to have the city put up stupid signs discouraging youth smoking and drug use.

    A lot of things cost you money. In turn, you make lifestyle choices that cost your neighbors money. (Have kids, by any chance? Use roads or water much?) Are you going to stop EVERYONE from costing you money? Little old ladies with broken hips, too? Or are you just hellbent on punishing people you find physically repellent?

    See the kind of amazing rant that you get over here simply by suggesting that the government has a legitimate function of trying to keep its population healthy?

  63. See the kind of amazing rant that you get over here simply by suggesting that the government has a legitimate function of trying to keep its population healthy?

    Oh dear God in heaven, it does not! Where the heck does it say that anywhere? Is this in the Constitution somewhere? (This is a document that explains what the government can and cannot do.)

    Even if we do have an obligation to each because we are all links in the Great Bicycle Chain of Life, does this imply that:

    1) We must all work to keep ourselves healthier so that it doesn’t cost everyone else money?

    or

    2) We must all work harder and earn more money, so we can pay more into the pot to provide health care for fat people so they can still enjoy life their way and yet get all fixed up if this ever causes them problems?

    Which value is higher — money, or sensual pleasure? Which is to be sacrificed in favor of the other? Who decides?

  64. Who decides?

    Not Dan T., I hope.

  65. NYC’s population increased by 9.4% from the 1990 Census to that of 2000. NY State increased by 5.5%. Both of these lagged the national average increase of 13.1%.

    Much of NYC’s increase comes from immigrants. While many of us born and raised in and around Gotham have relocated for various reasons, including the vampiric taxation, newcomers from abroad may well feel much freer in Flushing or Brighton Beach.

    Kevin
    (Yeah, I was born in Brooklyn. What’s it to ya?)

  66. One more thing: Rivera may succeed in snob-zoning the burger joints out of business, but does he think that will work against the hot dog carts and other street vendors?

    Gedoudahere.

    Kevin

    (Sabretts umbrellas, as far as the eye can see.)

  67. So, Dan T., I can’t decide whether you’re being facetious or not. Ususally when someone comes around and acts incredibly obtuse I assume he is, in fact, incredibly obtuse. But between the name of your blog and the fact that you seem pretty damn reasonable over there, I’m curious.

    So fess up…are you serious, or just yanking our collective chain?

  68. So fess up…are you serious, or just yanking our collective chain?

    Half-n-half, I guess.

    I would consider myself a liberal first but I am sympathetic to many views that fall under the libertarian umbrella, which is what got me reading Reason online and H&R in the first place.

    On the other hand, many posters here are way too much fun to poke with a stick – some of the overreactions on this thread alone are classic.

    In most civilized countries, the idea that the government should help keep its citizens healthy kind of goes without saying. Suggest it here in any way and all the sudden I’m advocating a 1984 kind of society.

  69. mostly because the notion is:

    a) impossible
    b) insane

    i mean, the most effective course of action would be mandatory exercise classes for people above a certain bmi or some other standard. (none of which would be perfect, but when you have a hammer, etc) yet that would strike most people, liberal conservative or otherwise, as rather draconian, if not totally nuts. so we get zoning law band aids.

    when it comes down to it dan, if people are not responsible for the food they put in their mouths, what’s really left of the notion of self direction?

  70. “Mississippi and Montana should be libertarian paradises…with all that freedom and low taxes. Why aren’t people flocking there?”

    Too late for this, but I’ll do it anyway. People are flocking to Montana and the Mountainous West(including me) but unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of them are Californicators. They flee California, but bring their nanny state mindset with them; in consequence, you end up with the People’s Republic of Gallatin County (Capital: Bozeman).

    TIP: if you want to live in a place that’s run like Santa Cruz, MOVE TO SANTA CRUZ!

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.