Trans-Fats or Torture?

fat kidsAlderman Edward M. Burke wants to ban trans-fats from all Chicago restaurants, having already succeeded in banning smoking indoors (though he would like to ban it in cars and at the beach, too) and foie gras.

“If it were just about adults, I would say, “O.K., we should butt out,'” Mr. Burke said in an interview. “But youngsters are assuming diets that are unhealthy.”

And if the City Council had agreed to simply steer clear of peoples’ bad habits, said Mr. Burke, an influential alderman who long pushed to ban smoking in indoor public spaces, Chicago might never have passed the smoking ban that went into effect this year (it gives taverns and restaurants with bars until 2008 to comply). “We may be the last civilized city in the world to ban it,” he said.

Ah yes, it’s for the children. Of course, that makes everything okay.

Also in the news, investigators have confirmed that Chicago cops tortured and abused suspects in custody, but they can’t be held criminally liable because the statute of limitations has run out.

Prosecutors Robert D. Boyle and Edward J. Egan said they found evidence that police abused at least half of the 148 suspects whose cases were reviewed. Nearly all of the suspects were black.

The suspects said that police beat them, played mock Russian roulette, administered electric shocks with a cattle prod-like device and a crank-operated “black box.”

I think we can salvage this lack of clear priorities. Maybe the officers that did the torturing can do some community service by visiting a certain busybody alderman and asking him to stop meddling in Chicagoans personal lives.

Nicely, of course, and without any beatings or electric shocks.

If you feel the need to ask Alderman Edward Burke to stay the hell out of Chicagoans personal affairs, his contact information is here

Nicholas Sarwark

Mr. Sarwark lives in Colorado and keeps poor people out of cages for a living. His views are his own, not his employer's, his wife's, or his dog's. They are also awesome and always right.

  1. I will never, ever take my children to a fast food restaraunt. I went all the time as a kid and loved it(I still go to “fast food” places from time to time myself), but frankly I know better now.

    But to hell with anyone who is going to tell me how or what I am allowed to feed my kids. Or tell me how or what I can serve in my restaraunt for that matter.

    On the other hand, I do feel sorry for kids like those in the picture who are going to have a lifetime of health problems because of their early dietary habits. But it ain’t my call. It’s the parents’. Hopefully the kid can make better informed decisions once it reaches adulthood, and as long as the parents provide enough nourishment that a kid can safely reach adulthood, it is none of the state’s damn business.

  2. If it gets that far.

    I don’t know absolutely about such things if it gets the point of the kid in the picture, with all due honesty. I *AM* certain that this way of going about it is just dead wrong. But what I am *not* certain of is whether there should be an equivalent to CPS that actually acts on real acts of harm/abuse.

    That is to say — at what point do we have to step in and say, “you are slowly poisoning someone to death, and it needs to stop!” Morbid obesity in a 4-year old most assuredly qualifies. That doesn’t mean you punish *EVERYBODY* — that’s insane.
    Once again; I just don’t have a good, workable answer. And no matter what, any answer anyone comes to will be flawed.

    My gut response is to treat permitting/causing morbid obesity is inexcusable harm to a child, much the same as routinely choking them with a belt strap as punishment. And nobody — I don’t care who you are — should be doing *THAT* to a child who can’t say ‘no.’
    Bah. No good answer.

  3. Live free or die!
    Live fat or diet!
    I’m very poor, but when I get to town, I can still get a burger for a buck. “Fat laws” will discriminate against the poor.

  4. I found a story on Reason concerning New York City’s effort to help diabetics and postulated that perhaps we’ll soon be fighting a “War on Fat” if we’re not careful. Honestly, how far off can we be from such an effort?

  5. Corn syrup is addictive.
    Corn is used by farmers because it makes cows and pigs get fat–really well. (Interferes with insulin levels.)
    The meat of corn-fed cattle has more “bad” fat.
    The meat of grassfed cattle has more “good” fat.
    But vegetarians are not immune.
    The government put a tariff on sugar.
    Everybody switched to cheaper corn syrup.
    People became addicted.
    They got fat like cows to slaughter.
    We pay major corn subsidies.
    The feds put corn at the bottom of the food pyramid.
    This may explain why we got fat before everybody else: other nations weren’t cooking with corn.
    Does anybody think agribusiness will let Congress drop their support of corn?
    Red Vines have no fat, but two ingredients: flour and corn syrup. Wheat is another grain not good for most people.
    Did I say corn is addictive? Try giving it up.

  6. I hate plain old corn. As for corn syrup… I drink water almost exclusively (after my Coca Cola addiction led to a dental check-up revealing over a dozen small cavities in strange places when I was in my teens). What else has corn in it? Corn tortilla’s and taco shells. Ok, I like soft taco’s better anyway. Cheeto’s Crunchy? I’d miss them a little bit, but I only eat them when I’m drinking beer anyway. I’m switching to amaretto on the rocks as of late. Disaronno, being a fine product from Italy probably doesn’t have corn syrup in it. Of course, I’m not fat.

  7. Look- You’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t. Take that kid in the picture, put him on a 2000 calorie diet, make him trot for a half an hour a day on a treadmill, and Family Services will take him from you because you’re “abusing” him!

    The Government shouldn’t care about the citizens’ health. The Government SHOULD care about his life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. If that happiness includes fatty foods, that’s the problem of the citizen, not the Government.

  8. I live in the Chicago suburbs and Ill say this much about Chicago politics: they are three fries short of a McDonalds Happy Meal, containing trans fat. OOOOOOH yeah Burke would love to hear THAT one.

    It sounds like the politicians have little or no faith in parents and legal guardians raising their kids. Parents and legal guardians should be the ones to teach and enforce good eating habits, and the concepts of exercise and an active lifestyle, to their kids. That includes where to go out to eat. Let the chefs and cooks make their food the way they want, and let people DECIDE if they want to eat that food. Minors who are at the age of understanding and adults should understand the consequences of their choices, and not the choices of politicians.

  9. IanC: I’m with you regarding parents who constantly feed their children fast food to the point where they become dangerously overweight, and increase the chance of developing heart disease, diabetes, etc. In extreme cases, maybe this is a situation where CPS needs to somehow intervene.

    Sandra: Good points. I live in Iowa, so I HAVE to support corn in all forms! I think our state receives the highest amount of farm subsidies in the nation. John McCain got heckled here back in a 2000 debate when he wouldn’t openly support ethanol gasoline. My back yard looks bigger this year, because the farmer with a field next to my yard is getting paid to NOT grow crops on portions of it!

    Back when I used to watch Bill Maher (that phase ended as he became more liberal each week), he often talked about “high fructose corn syrup” being really bad for the human body.

    DaveT: About four weeks ago, I stopped eating corn chips and drinking pop. I did have some “corn on the cob” yesterday, though.

  10. It is amazing to me just how many things have high fructose corn syrup. I have a friend whom is allergic to corn.

    Things you don’t think have it in them, do.

    Now, that all being said; I do not support the abolition of the ‘corn industry’ — I merely don’t think it should be going into human food products. Corn (or sugar cane, more honestly but probably harder to raise) would be a highly viable industrial fuel alternative — think ‘biodiesel’ and ethanol.

    Yes, right now, the energy output to input curve isn’t exactly great for either, but with more mass-production scales for each, combined with non-petroleum fertilization (I’ve seen interesting things done with charcoaled byproducts in lieu of mulching) … but perhaps that’s another story.

    I know that probably won’t go over well here, but I *do* personally believe it will help vastly to alleviate the ‘peak oil scenario.’

  11. Ian, you should support the abolition of the “corn industry”. It’s quite likely the largest government subsidised industry in the US. Subsidies are given all along the supply chain. From the farmer, the corn processors, the starch industries, the HFCS manufacturers and so on.
    Now we have the E85 crowd creating and getting yet another piece of the corn pone. Not only is corn artificially propped up it is stifling real innovation in energy independence. ADM will likely go from the worlds largest fat farmer to one of the worlds largest fuel producers due to so-called “alternative fuels”. And all the while they and the others will be sucking at the tax teat.

    As for the fat kids…that’s parental neglect and abuse on any level. It’s not McDonalds fault but it certainly is the fault of the parents and they should bear the costs of their negligence, not some burger joint.
    Clinton gets it!
    Been there

  12. MRJ; Ending the farming subsidies is something separate to me to the development of alt-fuel industry from already present infrastructure. I advocate the abolition of all subsidies alongside the abolition of price controls on food-goods. People in this nation need a wake-up call as to the actual costs of goods.

    But again; advocating the development of ethanol/bio-diesel infrastructure does not imply I advocate farming subsidies.

    Have fun. *s*

    And for the record; where you said ‘quite likely’, about the largest subsidized industry in the nation… well, the farming subsidies FAR outstrip the oil subsidies. The vast percentage of that actually merely goes to landowners in farming-zoned regions. Farming not necessary.

    That’s a different conversation, however.

  13. I hate corn.

    I also had to take that Mickie Dees fat kid graphic off my site last year because the entire world was eating up my bandwidth in order to download it.

    BTW, Paul, it’s hard to see in the small .jpg but that photo has been to Photoshop.

  14. Oddly enough, the foie gras legislation makes me want to try it…

    Do we really need the government to tell us fast food is unhealthy? Blame the parents, don’t ban it. Let the free market handle it.

  15. As someone who actually is a biochemist, I have to say that this makes more sense than the smoking ban scientifically. Life simply is not equipped to deal with trans fats; if you give bacteria trans fats to eat, they will die. There are some sorts of bacteria that can live in nuclear waste, but I know of none that can live on trans fats. Further, many of the health problems exploding in the US, such as diabetes and hyperobesity, are tightly linked to the USA having the largest trans-fat consumption worldwide. The evidence is far better for this than second hand smoke. The only reason the food corps like trans fats is that they preserve food. Thus, a better comparison than second hand smoking to make would be this; if food companies were putting a poisonous preservative into food, that was killing hundreds of thousands of people, would it be overstepping for the govm’t to step in at that point? Because, you see, that is -precisely- what is happening.

  16. Alderman Edmund Burke and the Chicago city council is not trying to “legislate … waistlines”.or end the “city’s long love affair with big, tasty, greasy food”.. The council is only trying to control the fast food giants who continue to use cheap, artery clogging, baby IQ reducing, gall stones causing transfat oils to enhance their bottom line. At the expense of people’s health.
    Kudos to the Chicago City Council.. They show us all why we elect our government. To lead. To pass laws. Laws for the common good.
    Non trans fat fried food has the same calories and the same greasy taste. Trans fat substitutes exist. McDonald’s switched over years ago in Europe. Wendy’s is doing the same.

    So Chicago enjoy the thousands of servings “of fried dough” “pirogies” the “150,000 plates of fried cheese” you ate at the Taste of Chcago this year. Your taste buds will never know the difference if Alderman Burke’s proposal passes.

    But your heart will.
    Your unborn child will.

  17. I am so psyched to start putting people in jail when their kids pass 25% body fat! This will be awesome. Those kids will be so much better off with the well-rounded, healthy diets provided by the state.

    And yes…let me tell you, every time my parents gave me ice cream it felt EXACTLY like a hot iron burn.