Friday, October 1, 2010

Regulation and Prohibition Don't work

Regulation, prohibition, and the use of institutionalized violence as a means of enforcing morality, ethics, and social/political agendas simply does not work.  Ever.  I have written fairly extensively about this in the past, but that study that I mentioned in 2 of my recent posts - "75% of Americans will be FAT by 2020" - is a perfect example of government identifying the wrong problem. It has also been bouncing around under my hat since I first read it...

Our prisons and court systems are full and our law enforcement budgets are breaking our local and state budgets because government identified drug use/abuse as a threat to our society...  As it turns out, America's biggest problem (pun absolutely intended) turned out to be fries and burgers, cheese doodles and soda, candy and corn dogs... from the likes of McDonald's, Coca-Cola, Pizza Hut, Sarah Lee, Dole, Nestle, Tyson, YUM (KFC and Pizza Hut and others), et al...

The brutal reality is this: If a nation is its people and 75% of Americans are obese... what is so great about America?  (In America people are executed by the government for Marijuana - as it turns out,  bacon is a far greater threat to our society. Who'd a thunk it?) The answer: Our Corporations.  The U.S. Federal Government does not care or concern itself with its citizens in the slightest - they are there to be manipulated into voting blocks to keep up appearances by the 2H1P.  What the government does care about are the perfect enslavement mechanisms and tax collection points called CORPORATIONS.  It was the advent of the share holder corporation and the enactment of the 16th Amendment of the Constitution (income tax), Social Security, and Medicare that conspired to create the perfect storm to collapse our freedoms into indentured debtors, fill our prisons, expand our waist lines, and addict Americans to government services.

America was a nation of strapping farmers and merchants and wiry shop keepers and artisans... and we have been reduced to a nation of pot-bellied Wal-Mart greeters, fallen arched Home Depot clerks, and thunder-thighed McDonald's drive thru serfs... but they all have bachelor's degrees! So they got that (and student loans) going for them... with a tiny fraction of the population benefitting (stealing) from the only industry the U.S. really has left - the export of the American Dollar and American Sovereign Debt (financial services) to the rest of the world. How did this come about?  It came about as a result of the corporation and its unique ability to collect payroll and income taxes. (I swear I will get email or a commentary from some brain dead nit-wit that it all started with Ronald Reagan...)  Why is it so many believe that the last 50 years represented progress? Because we can watch reruns of "Giligan's Island" on a 10 foot flat screen? Or go deaf by I-Pod?  (Oh, I forgot... medical progress, right? Nothing comes without unintended consequences... what if these advances lead to overpopulation and an environmental catastrophe that dooms humanity? What if governments start to regulate reproduction and population? Wait a second... isn't a really, really big and powerful government already doing that?)

Most of us can feel this somewhere in the back of our throats... the way wild animals feel when a hurricane or earthquake is in the offing... all except the True Believers supporting the 2H1P.  (As my good friend and Rabbi put it so succinctly when he described people that claim they have "no regrets": "Schmuck! You mean you lived an entire life time and never learned anything?" You folks would love Rabbi Moe.  When I described myself as a "self-educated man" he sniffed at me and said: "As if there where any other kind"). The 2H1P folks never learn ANYTHING - because they know it all.

One of the benefits of living a long life, other than the obvious, is the perspective one gains on how much one does NOT know. But, from my experience living on a family homestead, I do I know this: the 39 MILLION Americans receiving food assistance AND the 20 MILLION+ collecting unemployment "benefits" would be far better off working as migrant farm workers.  They'd have a paycheck. They would be thinner. The exercise, sunshine, and vitamin D would improve their health and their love lives. They'd be less stressed and angry, especially if they were too tired after work to watch T.V. (speaking of which, I never, ever had a problem falling asleep while living on the farm... "Lunesta", valium, lorazapam. et al are not something in demand by homesteaders).

We have gone soft. Soft in our mid-sections and backsides, and soft in the head. The Left argues against "Belief" (and I am not even remotely religious), yet we have come to believe that something can be had for nothing; that hard work, modesty, and frugality are passe;  that T.V. is informative and educational, and that food, jobs, education... comes from Big Brother.

Today I saw a Bill Board asking "Who Is John Galt" on I-95.

Who, indeed?

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

>it turns out, bacon is a far greater threat to our society. Who'd a thunk it?

I'm gonna chime in again: Bacon is NOT the problem. The low fat low cholosterol crap is. Please (pretty please) read Gary Taubes' "Good Calories Bad Calories" to understand why.
For a condensed version of it, (dealing only with obesity -the book is MUCH more vast than that-) please see:
http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=7D64949399B50EBA

For a much more condensed version:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XR3FVvEJ-Nk

Even more condensed:
Low fat way of eating makes you fat and/or sick. Honestly.

Regards,
Paul

bureaucrat said...

A thorough rant covering everything having nothing to do with energy and not being correct in most areas. Nice job. :)

1) Regulation. The only people who have a problem with regulation and prohibition are the people who have to learn how the rules work in order to comply. Yes, I think it is time to throw in the towel on regulating booze/drugs/guns/cigarettes, only because there are just too many people who dont want to stop.

But for the rest, I like having my drinking water regulated. Same with home mortgages. And airplanes. And cars & trucks. And houses and roads and land usage. We know what happens when things aren't regulated. Capitalism takes over and corners are cut, and people get hurt.

2) The good old days weren't always good. Old, dead white men ruled towns and their families. If you were black, female, young, alternative, and not planning on entering the "family business," your life was crap. I'm glad the "good old days" are over.

3) There are a whole host of things that are better today than 100 years ago: better food (if you choose), better medicine, safety regulations, a safety net, fewer deaths in war, air conditioning, radio and TV.

I don't know who John Galt is, but 99% of people ain't gonna be thrilled with a world where "pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps" is your only option. We are better than that now.

Donal Lang said...

Good post Greg!

And the solution is.....? Or maybe the same solution as Rome when the barbarians (or in your case Mexicans)came knocking?

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Paul:

I was speaking metaphorically... please use "cheese doodles" instead of "bacon".

Bur: THe point is that a cost benefit analysis would likely show that all of those purported gains or improvements have been more than offset by obesity. I am old enough to remember when regular folks where still reasonable good looking and healthy (physically and mentally). I have been on the road for the past few days... not a lot of healthy and good looking about... no shortage of the morbidly obese.

bureaucrat said...

I agree that people as a whole are getting bigger these days. Though Carbon and I disagree on why. I think it is because the cheap food that some people can afford is the high-fructose corn syrup (sugar) and fatty foods (My choco-chip cookie is 500 calories for $1.15, and my salad with fewer calories is $5). Carbon says the reverse. :)

A bag of chips is a lot cheaper than a bag of apples.

Anonymous said...

I agree completely with you on the problem caused by the power of our corporate overlords.
That extends to the crap food industry. The whole corporate agri crap food sector is the source of most of those problems.
Break up the corporations by removing all the incentives that they have bought from the government to attain their size.
They are corporate socialists hanging on the government teat.
Make the directors personally responsible for the actions of the corporation.
The lack of personal responsibility among the population that you constantly lament starts with corporate personhood and limited corporate liability (responsibility).
I don't say make cigarettes illegal, but the corporate execs should not have been able to lie with impunity and hide behind limited liability laws.
That is a huge source of the lack of personal responsibility.
The big boyz do it, why shouldn't I?
Rational liberal

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Donal:

I have NO MACRO solutions. I don't believe there are any... No, I think that all solutions are up to us individually.

Anon:

I don't know WHAT to do about the phenomena created by corporations. I can see the problem clearly; the solution? Not so much.

Still, I think its time some intelligent folks put it up for discussion.

Anonymous said...

Bur,

12 oz. bag of potato chips $3.79. 10 lb. sack of potatoes $3.89. Do the math. Eat out or eat prepared foods and get fat. Cook it yourself, save big bucks and stay thin. It is just that easy.

Greg, et al.

I've been noodling the whole drug thing, and come to some conclusions. First, I hear all the time that you can't legislate morality. But, if the law is not a reflection of morality, the what could it possibly be?? Given this, what I believe is happening is that morality is changing faster than the law can keep up. As drug use becomes more accepted, the laws that prohibit it become obsolete. Things the were once believed to be necessary to prohibit in order to preserve social order are now commonplace. The last 50 years have seen enormous social upheaval, and law simply has not kept up.

Society has become much more self-indulgent, permissive and perceive themselves as entitled. Most of the resistance to older law had been in the direction of self-indulgent, permissive behavior that used to be thought dangerous to the existence to our society, and may actually be so. It is an interesting subject.

The economic future may well wring out a lot of the foolishness.

Regards,

Coal Guy

Anonymous said...

@Greg
I knew that ;)

The way I see it is we have obesity and malnutrition running rampant all over the world, sometimes in the same population. I’m sure one sees obese parents having stunted children even in the US (it is a visible problem in S.America, Central Asia and Middle East). My hunch is that these are two seemingly opposing facets of the same problem: We are in a huge overshoot and the two manifestations are in fact the consequences of not having enough “good” (highly usable) calories, but instead “bad” ones that either one cannot use and is forced to store, or one is not having enough to support a healthy organism.
The inescapable conclusion is we are in BIG overshoot and the “Keynesian Nutritionists” are just trying to hide this the same way the economists are. However, the fact remains that there’s not enough energy to feed everyone the good stuff, and we are forced to “make do” with the bad stuff and the health problems that arise.
It is ALL tied to energy and population numbers. Biologically, economically, politically, every way you look at it. We can only try and wake up our loved ones and the ones with true potential to these facts. We cannot save everyone at this point. Prohibition and regulation won’t work indeed. They never did.
Regards,
Paul

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to correct that we are not "forced" to "make do", but instead *encouraged* to make do with the bad stuff (courtesy of government intervention in nutrition).
If this had not happened, maybe we would have seen the energy limits earlier (while running out of eggs and bacon) rather than today (having a dysfunctional society that is starving at cellular level and shows it by ways of obesity or malnutrition).
I also want to add that the most valuable asset in the years to come will be as always: health.

Regards,
Paul

Greg T. Jeffers said...

I reject the idea of one-size-fits-all macro answers for most things, but especially why Americans are soooo overweight and how to fix the problem.

It should be obvious, given the 75% will be fat study, that 75% of people cannot even handle their OWN F*&(*!! problems.... and the answer is a macro answer thru a government agency or regulation??!!

No thanks.

Anonymous said...

Paul, first off not all obese people are malnourished or failing to receive the nutrients they need--they are taken in an abundance of calories, and usually lots of simple carbs.

You can be obese and be well nourished. This 'good' highly usable calories--what the hell are you talking about? Calories come from fats/proteins/carbs...and the one's the body can most readily break-down are carbs. But this also includes high nutrient carbs, not just garbage sugars/simple starches.

Malnourishment and Obesity should not be conflated, even with the utter crap diets some people have, most of the time they aren't very nutrient deprived. You can eat high protein diet and potentially be nutrient deprived also.

This clearly isn't the forum for more debates about some things that aren't debatable.

I do agree that low-fat has been a big scam, the led most people to eating a much worse diet. Hell, gummy bears are 'low fat' and we certainly need fats in our diet for certain hormones and neurotransmitters. The human body though is amazingly adaptable, it can get by for sometimes decades with nutrient deprived diets, since our brains are very good at making glutamates.

All the obese people I've every worked with or met, were most certainly obese because they ate too much high calorie foods, usually an abundance of both sugars and high fatty foods. I don't care what your metabolism is, if you eat 5k calories a day, and only burn 1.8k a day, you will get fatter--period.

The fact that our bodies remain geared toward survival, some of us more so than others to some degree--but even how often you eat can figure into your metabolism.

Again, i agree with you on some of what you propose, but conflating obsesity with malnourishment is false in the bulk of cases. You can eat plenty of healthy foods, then stuff your mouth with twinkies, chips, and pizza's and be well on your way to being obese and well-nourished.
-Meiyo

Dan said...

The law means force and the law is armorial. Before someone flies off the handle let me clarify that I mean amoral or without morals here, not immoral or contrary to morals. When discussing the law people always seem to forget that with the law we are always either preventing people from doing what they want to do or compelling them to do what they do not want to do; so the potential for abuse is extreme. Moreover since the law always against the will of the person to whom it is intended, cooperation will always be minimal at best. It never ceases how many unimaginative people treat it as the first and best option when it should be the last because it is the worst.

Dan said...

Meiyo,

If you do not eat the nutrients your body needs you will feel a longing to eat what you need regardless of how many calories you have consumed. If you doubt that count the calories you consume next week, then consume the same number of calories rice the week after. Heck, consume 50% more in calories from rice but only consume rice. You will crave the nutrients your body needs-regardless of calories consumed.

If you do not eat nutrient dense foods, you will consume calories in excess of what’s needed to get the nutrients you need. Think of a garden, if the plants don’t get the nutrents they need they will not thrive- your body works in a similar fashion.

Dextred1 said...

Greg,

Income tax was the start, but not the main problem. The real problem began during WW2 and the automatic deduction of payroll taxes. It hid the cost of government by letting you make "payments". People have a lot more interest where their money is going if they have to pay it in chucks of 10,000$.

The law by definition is a system set up to enforce moral standards.

a (1) : a binding custom or practice of a community : a rule of conduct or action prescribed or formally recognized as binding or enforced by a controlling authority (2) : the whole body of such customs, practices, or rules

I find no love for anarchy and evil needs to be punished. I don't know these nations with a weak law (moral/common) law which are successful. Law is the binding fundamental values of a nation and is an agreement of the people. I agree with coal guy that the law is just a reflection of the people. SO I surmise that if the law does not work the people have changed and I sincerly doubt for the better.

“it is curious- curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare”
Mark twain

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Dex:

I reject anarchy completely. That does not make ALL law GOOD law.

Anonymous said...

Dan,

Again this is not the case. It would be nice if the human body worked primarily on a nutrient basis--but that is minimal and not an immediate effect in the hunger response. Your stomach doesn't immediately do a analysis of nutrient content of the foods you eat, it takes hours as your intenstines attempt to pull nutrients from you food.

You CAN very easily be full on a diet that is low on nutrients. You can eat High Fat protein meals of Ribeye steaks and you will not feel very hungry any longer. Ghrelin is stimulated strongly by Dietary Fats, and this leads to a strong satiating effect.

Increased stress can also increase your hunger--even if you have all the food and nutrients you need. Many people who struggle with obesity eat for psychological reasons--not merely a poor diet/over-consumption of calories.

This is what I don't like about how people get stuck on cult of personalities like Atkins etc, that have some validity, but aren't the whole picture. Being Nutrient deprived is a small sliver of the 'hunger' issue, not the primary driver--again your body doesn't instantly "know" that the food you consume is low nutrient value.

You want to feel full quickly, eat high protein--high fat foods, that works much better than a high nutrient salad.

Read up on Ghrelin, Leptin, stress, and dietary fats instead of pushing this nutrient-hunger idea, sounds nice but the human body isn't driven by high value nutrients, its driven to gain energy Fats are great for that, and carbs are as well--and the human body can produce the majority of what it needs to function, albeit not well in the long run off of a minimally nutritious diet.

If someone is hungry too often, you can also try exercising the PFC and choosing not to eat, rather than believing Impulses--have to lead automatically to actions. If no food is available it becomes quite evident that one does not HAVE to eat, people go on hunger strikes etc. Even many of the higher functioning folks who suffer from Prader Willi syndrome eventually are able to learn to follow a diet plan--despite always feeling hungry--regardless of how nutrient dense their diet is. Radical Biological reductionism in this type of arena just removed personal responsibility and all the information we know about the human brain and the ability to have the neocortex inhibit the limbic system, and with training even effect the more reptilian brain functions.
-Meiyo

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Laws must be supportable by enforcement, and enforcement costs money as well as other costs. It then follows that a cost/benefit analysis would necessary - yet one is never done.

Dextred1 said...

I agree with you on two points. The law is expensive to enforce. There are too many laws. I was not saying that you were into anarchy, just responding in general Jeffers. I was more pointing out the payroll deduction thing.

Here are my general thoughts:

But most people in prison really need to be there. These are not pot heads. I will explain below.
There are approximately 14 million non- traffic arrests a yr if I remember right, we only process something like 3 million cases through the system. However 2.2 million are for serious crimes (homicide, rate, arson, aggravated assault, armed robbery, burglary, auto theft, and high larceny.
When the cases go to court 95% are plea bargained for 2 reasons. First that the system is set to move quickly through cases (I call it assembly line justice) and defense attorneys are encouraged to do this by certain rewards or sanctions (Maybe a lighter sentence if you accept plea or your case being called and delayed over and over and over) most lawyers give in to this type of harassment. The second is that most of the hard to prove cases don't make it to court. The prosecutors filter out cases that would go to trial. As the money dwindles that the courts use they will just be more selective of the cases they prosecute. Second is these people are guilty period that is why they plea so easy.

I have a couple solutions that I think will help. One is to make restitution much more involved in misdemeanors. Such as if you steal something under 700 dollars in your state, you might have to pay back 10 times that. This consequence is much more involved than sitting in jail for 10 days. For low level things like MIPS, Marijuana possession, make it a fine. Europe uses fines extensively in non-violent offenses. Rescind old and useless laws that don't promote the community's desire. Some now consider these drug laws. The way to really change the system is for everyone to go to trial (*get rid of plea bargain. They would have to throw out 80% of the cases do to time constraints. This would force the prosecutors to spend time on meaningful cases.