Angry Toxicologist

And our divided country will produce the worst of both worlds.
The LA city council has passed a resolution that bans fast food restaurants in poor neighborhoods (via Slate – worth moseying over for). This is so paternalistic it’s disgusting. Do poor people make bad food choices? Yes. Should we thus deprive them of choosing all food we consider bad? Don’t make me answer that. If you want more health choices, put incentives in for a decent grocery to move in or a farmers market (although you are still left with the issue that healthy foods are more expensive). Beyond that, you can eat relatively healthy at many fast food places if you want to; but-news flash-people don’t.

The sense of paternalism seems to be growing in the country equal to the sense that the government is responsible for everything, both reinforcing each other. I was listening to a radio recently and heard some city government official railing against Verizon for not putting FIOS into the poor sections of town as fast as the richer sections. Umm, gee, ya think? One, they’re a business, they install where they can get money back on their investment. Two, super-high-speed internet is a main concern for the poor in the city? Now, I know that there is a digital divide and we need to make sure people have access but maybe we should get crime, housing and social services in order first before we start worrying about fiber optic internet access.

So where do we stand? We have torture, hugely increased executive power, weak consumer rights, diminishing civil rights in the areas of surveillance and detention along with policies that take away choice, forcing us to live “better”. Ah, the worst of conservative and liberal wing ideas. It’s heading down the road of a communist country except we don’t even have health care.

And don’t blame the government. We are the government. Beyond that, we are the people eating too much, buying houses we can’t afford, not saving, not exercising, running up credit cards and equity loans, wasting food and products. I’m all for the gov’t stepping in when the public isn’t able to either control a problem (factory pollution), when they can’t be expected to know enough (banning harmful pesticides), or to level the playing field (financial regs) but lately ours only seems to step into areas where we know what we should be doing and do the opposite. If the future of the country is looking to the government to compensate for our bad habits so we can escape the consequences, the future is bleak indeed.

Weekly Aural Pleasure
I’m actually going to the sea this weekend but this excellent Blood Red Shoes song has been in my head all week. No White Stripes comparisons, please.

Comments

  1. #1 dkw
    August 1, 2008

    Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought the Verizon issue concerning FIOS regarded the fact that the government gives certain anti-trust exemptions to the cable/internet giants.

    One of the stipulations in this deal is providing access to all areas at an approximately equal pace, regardless of economical situations. The installation rates are more geographical than profit oriented.

    If these deals weren’t made then Verizon could neglect whatever area they choose to and maximize profits, but wouldn’t last long due to anti-trust laws.

  2. #2 Earered
    August 1, 2008

    > maybe we should get crime, housing and social services in order first before we start worrying about fiber optic internet access.

    Better to do things in parallel, to use a bad analogy: water is a priority to live, yet you eat too.

  3. #3 Phil Boncer
    August 4, 2008

    Hear, hear, AT!! Thank you.

    The only long term way to solve problems is for people to grow up and handle their own problems. You can’t force people to eat well, exercise, take an interest in learning, or otherwise be virtuous. You can teach them to do so, if they are receptive to it, but force just results in circumvention.

    If we can’t (with all the money, rights violations, and violence we’ve thrown at it) force people to stop taking harmful drugs that obviously screw up your life, trying to force people to eat right is ridiculous.

    And treating people like children and protecting people from their own decisions just makes the problem worse and the likelihood smaller of people acting responsibly on their own.

    Agreed with AT that some things do need regulation, and his list is reasonable. But the basic everyday decisions of people about their own lives are (and should be) up to those people, even if they make choices you think are not good; they get to make those choices.

    PhilB

  4. #4 AngryToxicologist
    August 5, 2008

    dkw,
    I’m not sure about in all areas, but in the area in which I live, there are multiple companies from who to get cable/internet. As far as I know, it was Verizon who wanted the monopolies broken so they could move in on tradtional cable providers. I’d agree with you, however, that if it’s a anti-trust exemption it changes things.

    @ Earered. You’re right, it’s a bit of a false choice. Not completely, however. Gov’ts only have a limited amount of manpower, money, and frankly, attention from the top. What they spend time trying to fix takes away from money a people somewhere else.

    Thanks Phil. BTW-’his’? Do I write like a man? Since it’s anonymous you never know how you come across. I’ll leave you to decide if your intuition is correct.

  5. #5 Phil Boncer
    August 5, 2008

    AT: “Thanks Phil. BTW-’his’? Do I write like a man? Since it’s anonymous you never know how you come across. I’ll leave you to decide if your intuition is correct.”

    Sorry, I did not know you were a woman. Your writing does not seem to me to have any obvious gender, and it actually never occurred to me to think that it mattered what your gender is. Without information, I was using the more-or-less generic “his”.

    PhilB

  6. #6 HennepinCountyLawyer
    August 8, 2008

    If you have multiple broadband choices you live in an unusual area. Most places in the US have a choice between one cable company and one phone company–and a lot of places don’t even have that.

    The antiregulation folks claim that the duopoly is because of government intervention. I’m not convinced of that, given the practical difficulties of building out multiple networks over the last mile, but in any case that’s really irrelevant. Removing all regulation isn’t going to magically make competition appear.