If You Did It Voluntarily, We Wouldn't Have to Force You

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Getting a jump on Chicago, the New York City Board of Health is poised to ban partially hydrogenated vegetable fat from restaurants:

The Board of Health vote comes a year after it conducted an unsuccessful campaign to persuade restaurants to eliminate trans fats from their recipes voluntarily. It said yesterday that despite mass mailings about the hazards of trans fats and training programs for 7,800 restaurant operators, about half the city's restaurants continued to serve trans fats, about the same as before the campaign.

Board member Lynne D. Richardson explains that "human life is much more important than shelf life."

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  1. But will they still be serving HFCS?

  2. Still new to libertarianism, so, serious question: Will this create a black market for trans-fats, and if not, why not?

    Don’t hurt me, please.

  3. Although the government certainly sticks its nosy head where it doesn’t belong far too often, I find it difficult to get upset over the banning of trans fat. I’m not sure anyone is done any favors by being allowed to consume it. I know: Slippery slope… blah blah… if they ban this what’s stopping them from banning… blah blah.

    I suppose in principle the government is overstepping its boundaries here, but on the list of government actions to protest, this is at or near the bottom. There’s plenty of other ways to kill ourselves that Big Brother’s trying to ban that are frankly a lot more fun than eating partially hydrogenated fats.

  4. Unfortunately, human freedom is not a thought that ever crosses these people’s minds.

  5. “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” -C. S. Lewis

  6. Andy,

    How far will they have to go and what will they have to ban before you actually give a damn?

    What if they decided to ban a whole class of political speech for six months before an election?

    Well it is only six months blah blah…

  7. “Still new to libertarianism, so, serious question: Will this create a black market for trans-fats, and if not, why not?

    Don’t hurt me, please.”

    No because you will still be able to buy it at the supper market, if you really wanted it.

  8. being allowed to consume it

    No, we mustn’t “allow” people to eat what they please, Andy.

  9. If I lived in NYC, I’d argue against it, but it probably isn’t something I’d leave town over. While I don’t like silly municipal ordinances, it’s hard for me to like bust out something deep like CS Lewis quote over them because people are free to leave town if they don’t like the law. Although I do feel bad for restaurant owners who have invested a lot of time, labor, and money in their establishments only to have their cash flow potentially lowered by not being able to sell trans fats any more.

  10. you will still be able to buy it at the supper market, if you really wanted it.

    Thanks, sam. So if it were entirely banned, which is not an inconceivable next step, it would create a black-market? And the new ordinance is inviting a black-market at the wholesale level, on the analogy of prohibitive tobacco taxes?

    Still trying to figure out the universe alternative to what we’re used to.

  11. M,

    I somehow don’t see there being a tremendous black market for partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. I doubt many people set out and say “I just gotta have me some trans fat today.”

  12. Andy, it’s not the end of the world any more than banning smoking in bars is the end of the world. Nor would it be the end of the world if unhealthy foods were banned entirely. What it’s the end of is a particular freedom; in this case, the freedom to sell food to customers that they want and are willing to pay for.

    I just don’t understand how someone can be ordered around by the majority and not get at least a little angry about it. Maybe we’re just submissive by nature, I don’t know.

  13. You can have my trans fat when you squeegee it from my cold, slimy, dead hands.

  14. So if it were entirely banned, which is not an inconceivable next step, it would create a black-market? And the new ordinance is inviting a black-market at the wholesale level, on the analogy of prohibitive tobacco taxes?

    No, people would just go back to frying in animal based fats, like they did before they told that they needed to use trans-fats becasue they were healthier.

    Becuase people don’t really care what oil they use to fry, it will only be after frying is banned altogether that we’ll see speakeasys serving fried chicken, french fries,fish and chips, etc 🙂

  15. Remeber when fries used to be deep fried in animal fat, and things were cooked in butter?

    But then the benevelent government stepped in, and put pressure on companies to use “healthy alternatives”, such as hydrogenated vegetable oil and margerine and what not?

    Now, the government is once again going after “Evil Capitalists” who are “Poisioning us with transfats”, and companies like Kraft are switching from vegetable products to trans-fat free animal fats.

    So anyone want to make bets on how long it will take for the government to force companies to start using trans-fats again?

  16. Selling substances without disclosing their ingredients seems to me like the initiation of fraud. If when I was younger I had known just what was in the food I was buying, I would have made a greater effort to obtain alternatives. I would love to imagine an alternative to a monolithic power (gummint) forcing vendors to explicate predictably unpopular features of their wares, and so I am slogging through Rothbard et al., and avidly reading this blog, trying to catch up to the certainties some of you enviably hold (no sarcasm here) as resolutions to traditional political controversies.

  17. I just don’t understand how someone can be ordered around by the majority and not get at least a little angry about it.

    What’s sad is that it’s not even a majority, just a highly motivated few.

  18. Selling substances without disclosing their ingredients seems to me like the initiation of fraud.

    What do you think those “Nutrition Facts” labels are for?

  19. it will only be after frying is banned altogether that we’ll see speakeasys serving fried chicken, french fries,fish and chips, etc

    And we’ll be subject to random cholesterol tests on the street, when applying for jobs, after exiting football stadiums, etc. Shudder.

    I thought that was a pretty good question, M. Welcome to Hit ‘n Run!

  20. I would love to imagine an alternative to a monolithic power (gummint) forcing vendors to explicate predictably unpopular features of their wares

    M

    That monolithic power is you, and your willingness to shell out cash for those products.

  21. M,

    Forget (for a moment) about the freedom of a man to choose what he wants, when he wants it, when that choice doesn’t hurt another person. Surely you can think of a more efficient use of tax dollars than the creation of trans-fat patrol officers to scour the kitchens of all eateries to ensure compliance of the new ordinance. Surely you can think of a more efficient use of court system resources where offenders of the new ordinance would ultimately end up. Surely you can think of topics the City Council could better spend their time on.

    Sorry I called you Shirley.

  22. Go to any public place and you’ll see lots fat people. How can you save people from unhealthy food when they just plain don’t care about their health? Smoke another cigarette, fatso, eat somemore burgers and fries.

  23. What’s sad is that it’s not even a majority, just a highly motivated few.

    Who then convince the majority that keeping the populace healthy is a primary function of good government. Either way I think they both share the blame.

  24. What would you all think of something like a junk food tax? If people being overweight imposes a financial burden on society (I would imagine that it does, although probably not as large as fearmongers might have you believe), then why not charge people Pigou-style when they engage in the activities that make overweightedness happen? The tax would also discourage people from eating the foods that make them fat.

    Then again, such a tax would be pretty silly considering how much the government subsidizes junk food like corn oil-fried corn meal and HFCS, but I suppose sending mixed messages is better than only sending a bad one.

  25. because people are free to leave town if they don’t like the law.

    Agreed, and you’re also free to leave the country if you don’t like your phone tapped. Or your internet records searched.

  26. But then the benevelent government stepped in, and put pressure on companies to use “healthy alternatives”, such as hydrogenated vegetable oil and margerine and what not?

    Trans fats have been around longer than the anti-fat crusaders. It was invented more than 100 years ago and Crisco’s been around almost as long. The stuff became popular because it was cheap. To blame the current state of affairs on health fanatics goes against the far more obvious economic incentives for its use.

  27. What would you all think of something like a junk food tax? If people being overweight imposes a financial burden on society (I would imagine that it does, although probably not as large as fearmongers might have you believe), then why not charge people Pigou-style when they engage in the activities that make overweightedness happen?

    Ignoring the problem with using taxes to make people behave a certain way, this needlessly burdens people who eat junk food without turning into porkers. Eating junk food does not make people overweight; eating too much junk food without burning off the calories does.

  28. “you’re also free to leave the country if you don’t like your phone tapped. Or your internet records searched.”

    *AHEM* ‘t ain’t necessarily so.

    One legitimate gripe that we Canadians do have with the Patriot Act is that many Canadian corporations [and Canadian subsidiaries of US corporations] use US data storage companies. Which records may be arbitrarily searched by Homeland Security.

    Even if the corporations kept their records in Canada, I’m quite sure that the NSA etc. would have no scruples about hacking those databases.

    Of course, we’re friends, right? Friends. Really. Right? Hello? [“Honey, the line’s gone dead again…”]

  29. What do you think those “Nutrition Facts” labels are for?

    David, just so. Hence, two concerns: 1) How do we get them there without legal sanctions, which is what I understand to be their pedigree, and 2) How do we get them, or their equivalent, onto restaurant menus? Yeah, that seems cumbersome, and in addition there would be the health benefits/penalties to comparative methods of food preparation to disclose; it gets very complicated. When I go to a health-food restaurant, I have more trust in the wholesomeness of the food offered, because of a shared (= freely joined) cultural rather than legal agreement. But soon (crtitique of capitalism) wanna-seem-to-be’s jump in and co-opt, camoflague, posture as the real thing, and the cycle of fraud starts again, more insiduously. Guerrila marketing, through which friendly and familial trust is exploited by freelance covert spokespersons in the employ of vendors, is an extension of this fraudulence.

    So I’m wondering how to bridge the gap in economic practice between exploitative practices and misguided ortho- or tyrannical pseudu-altruism. What, outside of gummint kontrol, can motivate a vendor to place the welfare of his client in cases that are not immediately apparent, over financial success/survival, when competitors are ready to sell attractive sub-parity products?

    Thank you for the welcome, Bee. Now I wonder what Bee is trying to screw me out of by welcoming me? 😉

    That monolithic power is you, and your willingness to shell out cash for those products.

    Sounds good, Andy; that’s why I’m here. How do learn from a reluctant vendor the downside of what s/he’s selling, and better yet, how without a gummint gun do I make it in the vendor’s conscious and immediate interest to volunteer that information?

    Cab, building all “my” policies around individual freedom, I find that freedom to choose is substantive only when the chooser knows all the available factors concerning the options. It’s the dissemination of that info that Shirley drives my inquiry.

    How can you save people from unhealthy food when they just plain don’t care about their health?

    Rat, many if not most people start to care once they become informed. Nutritional consciousness has boomed in the past 35 years, and with the boom in true value has followed tawdry imitations. I don’t want to force-feed anyone (oh, that’s another thread, isn’t it); I do regret concealement of hazards. How without Reggihlaytuhs will individuals be protected from fraud, is what I wonder.

    Thank you all for your condescension [in the original, benign sense; whenever I get nervous I cling to Burke’s skirts]. This might be a good moment to solicit bibliography rather than expect a continued public tutorial. Allocation of scarce resources and all that.

    Ahgubbidugubbiduhgubbiduh thanks, folks!

  30. Why not require restaurants that use trans fats to admit it in a not out of the way location on the menu or some such. Then people can choose whether or not that want to eat there and restaurants can choose whether or not they want to use trans fats to save money (if that’s what they’re good for).

  31. Rat, many if not most people start to care once they become informed.

    Define ‘many’. I would argue this is not so. Obesity has grown (at an alarming rate if you accept the Health nannies at face value) in proportion to the amount we’re informed. There are informational labels, safety, health, ingredients, side effects etc., on almost every product I purchase. So why the so-called health crisis and increase of bans?

    Which brings up another tangental issue: Why the increase of bans along with the increase of information? The suggestion might be that upon knowing whats in our products, we can’t abide by their sale or consumption. I think it’s more subtle, and more complex. I believe that the forced labeling is a prelude to an assertion of greater control.

    Distrust of corporations and their products have grown with the amount of disclosure. Why? Wouldn’t it be the opposite? One would think more openness would foster more trust. In my opinion, the reverse has occurred, and merely given health nannies ammunition to assert dominance over our every day choices.

  32. “Why not require restaurants that use trans fats to admit it in a not out of the way location on the menu or some such”

    Again: Not a bad idea, certainly better than banning trans fat altogether. My point was simply that, although the ban might be annoying to some restaurant owners, in the scheme of things it’s beyond insignificant. You all can work yourselves up over this giant breech of civil liberties, and I’m going to laugh at you because you act like they’re trying to ban firearms or beer.

    “How far will they have to go and what will they have to ban before you actually give a damn?

    What if they decided to ban a whole class of political speech for six months before an election?”

    It’s people who seriously ask questions like this that cause us to be a fringe party. How this guy equates trans fucking fat with the right to free speech is absolutely beyond me.

  33. How do learn from a reluctant vendor the downside of what s/he’s selling, and better yet, how without a gummint gun do I make it in the vendor’s conscious and immediate interest to volunteer that information?

    Your statement assumes that the vendor is reluctant, rather than ignorant. Remember, the most common source for trans-fats in American households since 1909 has been Crisco*. Who thinks of Crisco as hazardous? If your grandma ever made biscuits, she probably learned to make them using Crisco from her mother. This is mom-and-apple-pie stuff.

    No restuarant is going to tell you up front that they use shortening. This is not because they’re hiding it, but because it just wouldn’t occur to them. It’s a bit like saying there are eggs in their pancakes. It’s just assumed. These are standard ingredients for more than half a century. They are so ubiquitous that you should assume they are there unless they specifically state otherwise.

    * It should be noted that Crisco has recently changed their formulation to eliminate most if not all trans-fats in their shortening.

  34. You all can work yourselves up over this giant breech of civil liberties, and I’m going to laugh at you because you act like they’re trying to ban firearms or beer. […]How this guy equates trans fucking fat with the right to free speech is absolutely beyond me.

    Andy,

    While it’s tempting in the course of short blog posts and comments to sum up a (petty) outrage such as the NYC Health Dept banning partially hydrogenated oil by comparing it other macro outrages it does take us a bit far afield.

    So allow me to put this train back on track for the sake of my fellow libertarians, and greater cause.

    It’s not about partially hydrogenated oil– and bogging down in a discussion about the health detriments of trans-fats is exactly what the NYC health dept. wants us to do. It’s certainly reasonable to conclude that consuming large amounts of trans-fats without making other good lifestyle choices such as regular exercise can be detrimental to health. If we bog down in this debate, then NYC Health Dept. wins because we argue the ban on the merits of consuming trans-fats, not on the foundations of government overreach.

    The foundation (and I think I speak broadly for most libertarians) that we’re getting to is that government in gerneral has way overstepped its bounds and its mission by getting involved in these issues… at all. It’s not about trans-fats, it’s about government power.

    The health department should be concentrating on shutting down cholera infected pumps on Broad Street. Or more specifically, health departments are supposed to be dealing with things that post a clear and present danger to the health and safety of the populace. I, as a libertarian have no problem with general health codes which (admittedly to some restaurateurs may still seem burdensome) keep us from being poisoned due to pathogens which can be transmitted due to conditions which foster such hazards. But eating the “wrong kind” of food does not pose a clear and present danger. These foods only present a contextual danger when consumed after taking hundreds or thousands of other factors into consideration— and possibly not even then.

  35. Why can’t they look at this (and the cigarette bans) from a simple free market point of view? If the demand for restaurants that don’t use trans fat was so high, we would have more of them. If you don’t want trans fat, ask if they use anything containing it, and if so, go somewhere else. Why take the ability to get some nice fatty food away from somebody who can do it in moderation because others do not like it? This is less protecting the populace from a clear and eminent danger and more nanny policking.

  36. Slightly O.T.:

    I was watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory last night and it occurred to me that Willie onka’s father (Dr. Wonka) was the founder of enter for “Science” in the “Public Interest”. Dr. Wonka, a renouned dentist has young Willie trapped in headgear that was scarier than his halloween costume. After returning from trick-or-treating, Dr. Wonka (played by a dark and intimidating Christopher Lee) inspects the candy and derides lollipops as “Cavities on a stick”. The he proceeds to tell young Willie that he read an article where some kids are allergic to chocolate. Willie muses outloud that he might not be, to which Dr. Wonka replies, “Why take the chance?!!” and chucks the whole lot into the fire.

  37. Shortenin’ Bread

    Three little children, lying in bed
    Two was sick an’ the other ‘most dead
    Sent for the doctor, the doctor said
    Give those children some short’nin’ bread

    Mama’s little baby loves short’nin’, short’nin’
    Mama’s little baby loves short’nin’ bread,… (x2)

    Put on the skillet, slip on the lid
    Mama’s gonna make a little short’nin’ bread
    That ain’t all she’s gonna do
    Mammy’s goin’ to make a little coffee too

    When those children, sick in bed
    Heard that talk about short’nin’ bread
    Popped up well to dance and sing
    Skipped around and cut the pigeon wing

    Slipped to the kitchen, slipped up the lid
    Filled my pocket full of short’nin’ bread
    Stole the skillet, stole the lid
    Stole the gal makin’ short’nin’ bread

    Caught me with the skillet, caught me with the lid
    Caught me with the gal makin’ short’nin’ bread
    Paid a dollar for the skillet, a dollar for the lid
    Spent a year in jail eatin’ short’nin’ bread

  38. Selling substances without disclosing their ingredients seems to me like the initiation of fraud.

    No, it doesn’t.
    fraud? /fr?d/ Pronunciation Key – Show Spelled Pronunciation[frawd]
    -noun
    1. deceit, trickery, sharp practice, or breach of confidence, perpetrated for profit or to gain some unfair or dishonest advantage.
    2. a particular instance of such deceit or trickery: mail fraud; election frauds.
    3. any deception, trickery, or humbug: That diet book is a fraud and a waste of time.
    4. a person who makes deceitful pretenses; sham; poseur.
    [Origin: 1300-50; ME fraude-(s. of fraus) deceit, injury]

    They would have to lie or intentionally deceive you to commit fraud. Is the guy selling corn-on-the-cob on the street deceiving me because he hasn’t told me that he is using salted butter? I never asked, but he never disclosed, either.

  39. Simple solution to the “reluctant vendor” problem, M: if they refuse to tell you, or claim not to know, whether they use trans fats, DON’T EAT THERE. This might seem like a radical idea, but it’s already practiced by diabetics, people with food allergies, etc, without the need for govt intervention. Laziness is the health of the state, it would seem.

  40. Board member Lynne D. Richardson explains that “human life is much more important than shelf life.”

    Way to posit a false dichotomy, Lynne, but I guess “potentially increased health risk for certain individuals is much more important than shelf life.” isn’t as soundbite-y.

  41. human life is much more important than shelf life

    Without even looking I can tell that one of you damned humans said this.

  42. It’s people who seriously ask questions like this that cause us to be a fringe party. How this guy equates trans fucking fat with the right to free speech is absolutely beyond me.

    Actually Andy, it’s not beyond you. The answer is in your original comment:

    I suppose in principle the government is overstepping its boundaries here…”

    It’s the principle. There are, or should be, boundaries that the government shouldn’t cross. The thing about a principle is if you don’t defend it consistently it ceases to have any meaning.

  43. Foie Gras, Big Box Laws, Trans Fats. What kind of king-size doobies are the idiotic aldermen smoking these days???

    **sigh**

    I used to live in Chicago and had hoped to return there one day. Guess I’ll be driving straight on through downtown and heading right up to Evanston.

    Since they couldn’t ban Wal-Mart, they’ll just ban its inventory. What a bunch of maroons …

  44. “I’m going to laugh at you because you act like they’re trying to ban firearms or beer”

    andy, man, where i live i can buy neither firearms nor beer (cuz i’m under 21)! and i am pissed, because now the damn city council wants to ban my favorite pastime, namely consuming copious quantities of food products with shortening. so don’t be so naive to think this is one more protection for our own good, because there is always one more

  45. jgray,

    You can still eat shortening without trans fat- it tastes just as good and won’t send your cholesterol count through the roof nearly as quickly.

    BTW, are under-21s allowed to use capital letters in your state? 😉

  46. So Stephen, I guess in principle there should be NO health standards for NYC restaurants, and if they shit where they cook, I guess that’s for them to know, or should they have to disclose that on the menu? There is a general consensus now that trans fat increases risk of heart disease, and there’s been a decision that it’s a significant enough risk to regulate.

    In principle, if you ask people if the government should be able to tell you what you can eat, they’ll say no. But if you ask any person in New York if they’re upset by the ban on trans fats and they will tell you to step in shit and fuck yo mama. The fact is that there isn’t a demand for trans fats among consumers, there is only a demand for cheap food. If the practical effect of the ban is to noticably raise prices or make our food suck, then yes, here in New York there will be a black market trans fat fried chicken shack next to the filthy 5 for $1 dumpling stand with hot sauce dripping from the walls, and we’ll take pride in knowing where to get it. But yes, I will appreciate the fact that most restaurants will abide by the ban, and I’ll have one less thing to worry about spilling into the frying vat when I go get my KFC.

  47. the state actors quoted in the article, are just pig ignorant, because they say it won’t make any difference to people’s cooking. none of these people has made a pie crust or batch of biscuits lately, obviously. I can only hope that a trade in high-quality rendered leaf-lard (from around the internal organs of cow or pigs) will spring up, because new yorkers are going to be eating some nasty-ass pies otherwise. well, an all-butter crust can be very good, but it will be expensive, and lack the ethereal lightness which is the hallmark of an american pie crust. it will brown more easily, require the addtional step of ‘fraisage’ in mixing, be sturdier, and generally taste like a FRENCH pie crust. the shame. I can only conclude that these jokers hate american, mom, and apple pie.

  48. I’ll have one less thing to worry about spilling into the frying vat when I go get my KFC.

    Obviously your fat ass is the fault of corporations putting in transfats, and not feeding your face on KFC. Once this ban passes, you are going to be able to continue your fast-food loving, exercise hating lifestyle, and you will be as thin and fit as a fiddle.

  49. Geezus Herman Andy, they invite you to stick your foot in it and what do you do, you go and stick your foot in it. They already DID ban political speech 6 months before an election.

  50. How far will they have to go and what will they have to ban before you actually give a damn?

    What if they decided to ban a whole class of political speech for six months before an election?

    Oh, wait. They already did (well, for 90 days, anyway). And andy didn’t give a damn.

    Tell us, andy, is there anything the government could do that you would object to? If so, on what principled grounds?

    It’s people who seriously ask questions like this that cause us to be a fringe party. How this guy equates trans fucking fat with the right to free speech is absolutely beyond me.

    That’s because you apparently have no inkling whatsoever that government should be limited and the default position should be human freedom.

  51. Rex Rhino,

    Actually jackass, I stopped eating fast-food and fried chicken awhile back. Too much salt.

    Shitbag.

  52. Rex Rhino,

    Actually jackass, I stopped eating fast-food and fried chicken awhile back. Too much salt.

    Shitbag.

  53. Belle Waring,

    To be fair, the American pie crust will be saved. Crisco has replaced their partially hydrogenated shortening, which contained a high amount of trans fatty acids with a version that mixes fully hydrogenated oils with non-hydrogenated oils to achieve the same performance with little-to-no trans-fats. It’s a little more expensive, but I think this process will be the future of shortening.


  54. Why not require restaurants that use trans fats to admit it in a not out of the way location on the menu or some such.

    DaveT, that’s the kind of thing governments are doing now and increasingly. My nascent understanding of libertarianism is that it resists such a practice and trend, but then again I’m still trying to distinguish libertarianism from anarchism. Which has less fat?

    [… many if not most people start to care once they become informed.]

    Define ‘many’. I would argue this is not so. Obesity has grown (at an alarming rate if you accept the Health nannies at face value) in proportion to the amount we’re informed. There are informational labels, safety, health, ingredients, side effects etc., on almost every product I purchase. So why the so-called health crisis and increase of bans?

    Paul, I inferred “many” from the explosive growth of the health-food movement since the 1970s. I guess the answer to your question is that, like the larger ecological movement of which it a part, this movement’s attempts to correct pathological trends have been late and sporadic in relation to powerful and effective pre-existing bad habits, both individual and corporate. I wonder how to dis-incentivize marketers’ disingenuous co-opting of appearances, such as advertising negligibly reduced-sugar cereals as “healthier.” Close analyses of many food items labeled “healthy” disclose otherwise. Few consumers are sufficiently motivated or equipped to research such claims, and the gummint does not always act, even on a biochemical level, on their behalf, eg the organic labeling scandal in California.

    Which brings up another tangental issue: Why the increase of bans along with the increase of information? The suggestion might be that upon knowing whats in our products, we can’t abide by their sale or consumption. I think it’s more subtle, and more complex. I believe that the forced labeling is a prelude to an assertion of greater control.

    Distrust of corporations and their products have grown with the amount of disclosure. Why? Wouldn’t it be the opposite? One would think more openness would foster more trust. In my opinion, the reverse has occurred, and merely given health nannies ammunition to assert dominance over our every day choices.

    Those are my instincts too. I know something is happening, but I don’t know what it is –to coin a phrase. An original phrase at that, all mine, undiluted, made from scratch, from free-ranging associations. Anything you see resembling it is sheer dylantauntism.

    [How do learn from a reluctant vendor the downside of what s/he’s selling, and better yet, how without a gummint gun do I make it in the vendor’s conscious and immediate interest to volunteer that information?]

    Your statement assumes that the vendor is reluctant, rather than ignorant. … Who thinks of Crisco as hazardous?

    lunch, call me a conspiracy theorist, but I fail to understand why anyone, let alone a restauranter, needs to remain ignorant of what old ladies in tennis shoes have known about Crisco (may his tribe decrease) since the 1920s, and some since the 1840s. Finally, after decades of marginalization, these Cassandras are being heard out, but most often as voice-overs masking the agendas of their more organized opponents.

    It’s not about trans-fats, it’s about government power.

    Paul, that’s my concern too, and your-clear-and-present-danger index certainly draws a line in the sand this side of the welfare state. But, speaking about co-opting principles, the threat of terrorism has made it harder consensually to distinguish clear and present form obscure and remote, if somehow not yet in the arena of nutrition. So I’m trying to imagine feasible and superior non-governmental solutions to even cholera, to cut the Gordian knot.

    Why can’t they look at this (and the cigarette bans) from a simple free market point of view? If the demand for restaurants that don’t use trans fat was so high, we would have more of them. If you don’t want trans fat, ask if they use anything containing it, and if so, go somewhere else. Why take the ability to get some nice fatty food away from somebody who can do it in moderation because others do not like it?

    Tom, absolutely we (in the white hats) don’t want guns (= definition of gov’t) in our butter. What concerns me is the Passover fable of promoting the welfare of the son “too simple to ask the question.” Vendor and State are incompetent and/or altruism-deficient, and consumers have and should have other things to do than conduct search parties for toxins. If popularity alone justified a phenomenon, then statism is justified. People are subject to being duped. From the Marxists I borrow, hell, I steal, no — I restore! the notion of “false consciousness.”

    van, that may one day be our equivalent to Borat’s “Throw the Jew Down the Well.”

    They would have to lie or intentionally deceive you to commit fraud. Is the guy selling corn-on-the-cob on the street deceiving me because he hasn’t told me that he is using salted butter?

    highnumber, you’re right, thank you (what trans-fat makes this shoe-leather taste so fine, so fine?). But if what to the reasonable person something that appears to be butter is an undisclosed something else, isn’t that an attempt to deceive? There are people who falsely believe commercial ginger ale (still) contains ginger; that commercial, improperly-so-called “maple syrup” contains any maple syrup; that commercial brown sugar isn’t made from white sugar by adding 5% molasses, and never mind trying to find real molasses, etc., etc. I’m trying hard to cook up some public (consumers’) virtue from such private (vendors’) vices.

    crime, it is just because I hold the u-nanny states incompetent to supervise my health that I am searching for a way to prevent their moving in. In the extra-hobbesian social universe on which I am trying to base my considerations, it would seem natural to me that the burden of initiating disclosure should come from the party producing and distributing the commodity, for that is the side of the transaction with the least-mediated access to pertinent information. How to get vendors to promote the long-term interests of their customers is my quest.

    Can someone point me to a systematic (or not) account of the spectrum of libertarian-to-anarchist desiderata?

    Thanks again to my several Socra-teases.

  55. “Your statement assumes that the vendor is reluctant, rather than ignorant. … Who thinks of Crisco as hazardous?”

    lunch, call me a conspiracy theorist, but I fail to understand why anyone, let alone a restauranter, needs to remain ignorant of what old ladies in tennis shoes have known about Crisco (may his tribe decrease) since the 1920s, and some since the 1840s. Finally, after decades of marginalization, these Cassandras are being heard out, but most often as voice-overs masking the agendas of their more organized opponents.

    M is easier to say than conspiracy theorist, so I’ll just call you M. But that is some good conspiracy-spinnin’. Nicely dense, and vague and creepifying without making any falsifiable claims. Should last for ages!

  56. Edit: s/b “margarinalization” – less dense.

  57. “Tell us, andy, is there anything the government could do that you would object to? If so, on what principled grounds?

    …you apparently have no inkling whatsoever that government should be limited and the default position should be human freedom.”

    I shouldn’t respond to RC Dean’s bizarre comments, but I’m going to. Apparently because I’m not pulling my hair out over the banning of something that no sane person would put in their bodies if given the choice (assuming they knew about it), I am therefore a hardcore statist. Obviously the name Reason doesn’t apply to certain posters here.

    Disclaimer for all hardline libertoid ideologues on this site: Should the government be in the business of regulating ingredients of privately owned restaurants? Probably not. Is the net result of THIS PARTICULAR BAN going to be very beneficial from a utilitarian POV? Absolutely. No one is going to go broke from the ban, no one will die sooner or more painfully, and many people will live longer. Nor will there cease to be yummy food additives.

    You all can hold on blindly and self-righteously to your principles, refusing to take any situation by itself, and act as though this is as grievous an overstepping of the government’s boundaries as the Holocaust. You can point to shit like McCain-Feingold in a deluded manner all you want (even though the thread was never about political speech), but the rest of us in the real world will worry about more important things, not how tightly out tin-foil hats are fitted to our heads.

  58. lunch, herewith my (logically) falsifiable thesis, asking forgiveness if I have inadvertently misused technical terms:

    Absent government regulation, entrepreneurs competing on the open market in their own interest are financially rewarded for delivering clients/customers substandard wares until the poor quality is detected. Most consumers suffer the disadvantage of inadequate resources to detect such fraud in a timely fashion, and because of an informal system of cartels, have little or no feasible alternatives. Since state control of business is counterproductive, unprotected individual consumers are victimized.

    While voluntary associations composed of like-minded consumers, such as in food co-ops and community-supported-agriculture (CSA) collectives, provide alternative means of acquiring commodities, the vast majority of the population remains unaware of the hazards of conventional commodities. Because the social costs of forcing people to act wisely are prohibitive (is that a fancy way of saying immoral?), only a counter-cultural elite can partly escape suffering marketing strategies that serve the vendor at the expense of the consumer, and in time even the presentations of these elites are absorbed into the fraud-machines.

    The conspiracy (“breathing-together”) to which I alluded is not one of a discrete number of cognoscenti plotting to manipulate the broad masses, but rather of a pervasive stupor that presumes egotism as the irreducible motivator of economic activity, whether or not deemed to be self-correcting.

    Me, I’m wondering how to make the greengrocer as trustworthy as Mom, or put the other way, how to have him treat my (hypothetical) kids the way he would treat, and have me treat, his.

    Without invoking either Hobbes or Calvin.

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