February 26, 2014

Did you know there's a "corporate consumption complex" conspiring to make us think we have a "right" to do dangerous things?

That's what Nicholas Freudenberg says in "Lethal But Legal: Corporations, Consumption, and Protecting Public Health," and Mark Bittman is writing about it in the NYT today:
It sounds creepy; it is creepy. But it’s also plain to see. Yes, it’s unlikely there’s a cabal that sits down and asks, “How can we kill more kids tomorrow?” But Freudenberg details how six industries — food and beverage, tobacco, alcohol, firearms, pharmaceutical and automotive — use pretty much the same playbook to defend the sales of health-threatening products....
There is no "playbook." It's just as if there were a playbook, because the 6 industries are all doing the same thing, which is simply the obvious thing: They don't put their promotional resources into reminding you how their products could cause harm. Except to the extent that they do. I've seen liquor ads that tell you not to drink too much, and liquor ads don't show people overindulging or even seeming tipsy. Ads for foods and drinks show slim models, which subliminally urges us to keep slim. Gun ads don't scare us with the not-unknown news that these things could kill you, but gun companies promote gun safety — maybe not the gun safety policy some NYT readers prefer (i.e., no guns) — but safety features on guns and safe gun use. Car companies build safety features into their products and call attention to them in their ads.

But I notice the care Bittman took in the phrase "to defend the sales of health-threatening products." The companies still want to sell their products, and if anyone threatens their sales, they go to an argument about the consumers' role in choosing which products to buy, and that argument takes the form of "rights" talk:

All of these industries work hard to defend our “right” — to smoke, feed our children junk, carry handguns and so on — as matters of choice, freedom and responsibility. Their unified line is that anything that restricts those “rights” is un-American.
And that is the way we talk in America. We think we have rights, and we get stirred up when anyone seems to mobilize to take them away. It's not surprising that successful marketers know what pitch works on us. There doesn't need to be a playbook, but if you want to imagine an American playbook, that playbook is about freedom from constraints; it's about  personal autonomy over the choices that affect our lives and, especially, our bodies.

And in fact, we do have rights! Some of our rights are constitutional rights, and these cannot easily be taken away by the actions of legislatures and executives. But even where we enjoy freedoms that are subject to loss by the actions of government, we have the right to do what we want until government displaces our personal autonomy, and we can defend these rights to make our own choices by opposing the government actions that intrude on them. The "corporate consumption complex" has an economic interest in stimulating our awareness that we can fight in the political arena to preserve these rights.

Bittman, referencing Freudenberg, portrays the nefarious corporations as reaching in beyond our conscious minds, by making products that we really like — that are "difficult to resist and sometimes addictive," products that "appeal to our brains’ instinctual and learned responses," and "to our 'unconscious "reptilian instincts."'" You see what that means? Bittman either doesn't see this or maybe he's has a playbook that's followed by some politico-journo-academic complex that defends its regulatory power by disparaging the human mind. Oh, you pitiful little beings, who accept the flattery of the corporations who tout your right to choose what you want to buy. You imagine that you are free and that you are thinking and preferring and selecting, but you are mere dupes of your lower brain to which the corporations maintain secret access. You think you like to drink a Coke, but that's a ridiculous illusion.

Bittman likes Freudenberg’s debunking of notions of "rights and choice," because he agrees that "we need... more than a few policies nudging people toward better health." As Freudenberg told Bittman: "What we need... is to return to the public sector the right to set health policy and to limit corporations’ freedom to profit at the expense of public health." Oh! Did you see that? Freudenberg said "right." He said "right" in the context of government, and he spoke of returning this "right" — a right to control people — to government. He's saying "right" where the legal term is actually "power." He wants government power at the expense of rights. And the fact that he speaks of the "return" of power to the government is either deceptive or unAmerican. We are free and have a right to do what we want until we give power to government. If the laws that restrict us are repealed, it makes sense to speak of returning rights to the people, but it's wrong and really offensive to characterize new restrictions in terms of returning a right to the government.

Freudenberg in his rights-reframing effort, speaks of the public's "right to be healthy" that supervenes the corporations' freedom to urge people to choose to buy products which they might then use in a way that would make them unhealthy. Individuals have an interest in health, but Freudenberg and Bittman don't trust them to make their own decisions, as we've seen. So the government must take over the responsibility and deprive them of the low-value freedom of following the signals emanating from the "reptilian" portion of their brain. Freedom is slavery, as Orwell wrote. For true freedom, you want government control.

I'm sure this notion of the right of the government to control people to serve our right to be healthy appeals to many readers of the New York Times and other fans of paternalism. But why does it appeal? I'd like to suggest that it appeals because it reaches in beyond their conscious mind and is difficult to resist and even addictive. It appeals to their brain's instinctual and learned responses, to their unconscious reptilian instinct.

Either our minds work well or they do not. We're each of us somewhere on a continuum that runs from reptilian to fully and consciously human. What would enhance our movement toward true human individuality? I hear the Bittman-Freudenberg contingent saying: nothing. Give up on those minds. Let's shift our concern to those bodies. Keep them healthy. No more dangers. No more suffering. We may not have much going on in our brains — but we've outsourced the important thought-work to the government — and the containers of those brains, our bodies, are functioning effectively and looking trim and fit.

81 comments:

American Liberal Elite said...

Bittman was so much better before he became a scold. I made his recipe for pernil on Monday - Wonderful!

Pookie Number 2 said...

I'm sure this notion of the right of the government to control people to serve our right to be healthy appeals to many readers of the New York Times and other fans of paternalism. But why does it appeal?

Important question, but a relatively easy answer. It's arrogance, assuming that whenever the masses disagree with the elite, it's because they're either stupid or evil.

I think that this drive is sincere (by which I mean that I don't think it reflects a conscious desire for power and all of its corruptive accoutrements), but it's still dangerous.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

The Puritans are now the Progressives. Always trying to control our minds and drive us from sin.

How did prohibition and the war on drugs work out?

Pogo is Dead said...

'Nicholas Freudenberg, PhD, MPH, is Distinguished Professor of Public Health at the City University of New York School of Public Health at Hunter College.'

One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool.
Orwell, 'Notes on Nationalism' (1945)

This is one of those views which are so absurd that only very learned men could possibly adopt them.
Bertrand Russell, 'My Philosophical Development' (1959)


virgil xenophon said...

Yes, types like these new Progressive "Puritans" will not hesitate to "march us to virtue at bayonet-point" if need be.

"The end result of 'progressive' politics is totalitarianism."

-------Eric Voegelin


Molly said...

What about the nefarious ski-resort industry that entices us into breaking our bones?

Henry said...

Mr. Bittman, I suggest this thesis:

Yet government, as it (mostly) legally can, designs products that are difficult to resist and sometimes addictive.

Go to town.

Tibore said...

C.S. Lewis

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would 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. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be "cured" against one's will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals."

The Drill SGT said...

It's all about elites knowing that they know better than the proles about what is good for the proles.

The elites hate AGW, so they talk about reducing carbon footprints. Think Bitman has stopped flying?

Let's ban, oh, maybe downhill skis, rock climbing gear, airplanes, parachutes, skate boards, step ladders, deli meat slicers and bicycles. Lots of people die from those things even when used as directed.

Molly said...

What about the nefarious ski-resort industry that entices us into breaking our bones?

The Drill SGT said...

Molly and I had the same idea, only I type slower

joethefatman said...

Simple condensation of his point: Freedom is slavery.


Pogo is Dead said...

Let me guess:

Mark Bittman and Nicholas Freudenberg are Obama voters.

Scratch a progressive, find a fascist.

Their motto:
WWWWD?
What would Woodrow Wilson Do?

Bob Ellison said...

Professor, your analysis is strong. The notion of "rights" of government is especially important. Lefties are unfamiliar with notions of God-given rights, tyranny of the majority, and government of, by, and for the people.

I think this kind of thinking is indeed addictive. It is also mob-thinking. Individuals talking about Arizona's SB 1062 bill are mostly falling in with the mobs around them.

Henry said...

It is wonderful how neatly Freudenberg's nefarious six match the extant totemic villains of the liberal mind.

It is quite easy, of course, to come up with six creepy industries that trade on the same tropes (freedom, choice, pleasure) without any overlap at all.

Molly already mentioned the nefarious ski-resort industry. Don't get me started about the subversive pitch of the cruise line.

Here's another example:

* The decadent heating oil industry -- private corporations willfully destroying the environment while wresting profits from people tempted away from their natural state of freezing.

Drago said...

"Freedom is slavery"

That is precisely the argument used by the soviets and their allies in the west to denigrate the west in general and the US in particular in the 70's and 80's.

Precisely.

Bob Ellison said...

Other examples: Obama thinks he has a right to do whatever he wants, because he's the President. Some policemen think they have a right to arrest or harass folks, because they're cops.

Hospital doctors, by the way, sometimes think they have a right to administer therapies that they deem necessary. Protesters think they have a right to disrupt other people's livelihoods.

Shouting Thomas said...

The troops for this campaign to fix people are your graduates, Althouse... that is, rent seeking lawyers. Class action lawsuits that enrich rent seeking lawyers is the engine behind this process you seem to decry.

But, you are the gatekeeper to employment as a rent seeking lawyer. You were motivated to become the gatekeeper in no small part because you wanted to use the weapons of a rent seeking lawyer to "improve" the status of women. You're doing the same thing in your efforts to "improve" gays.

Newspaper articles are an after thought.

Might I remind you that 30 states unanimously rejected gay marriage. Gay marriage was imposed on us by lawyers and courts. At the end of that process, you informed us that you had done it "for our own good."

You have an odd tendency to view yourself as outside the process that you criticize.

I don't see you so much as an opponent of the "rights" of government. Depends on whether the issue is one with which you sympathize.

Bob Ellison said...

The government has a right to create the New Soviet Man. A right and a duty!

I think children think this way. It's a natural state of affairs, living under the guidance and control of parents. Until they are taught the ways of freedom and choice, they cannot think otherwise. Once they're twenty years old or so, if they haven't learned about freedom and choice, they usually never turn back from leftism.

Bob Ellison said...

Whoops. New Soviet Man article on Wikipedia.

iowan2 said...

All most all of these conversations almost always circle back to Federalism.
socialism? Its fine for communities and states, not so much, the Nation.
Big Gulps? for all the squealing, the voters voted for those laws, and they get to vote to remove those laws.
Guns? Well thats why we have the constitution(which the voter can change also)Enumerated rights are their to protect the viability of the Nation, not the individual.Liquor? there are still dry counties in the US, thats what the people want. The Nation? Prohibition didnt work out so well. The people tried it and the people canned it.
Think about it. Return to the 9th and 10th amendments and let the voters govern themselves. Those disaffected that are in the minority at the polls can vote with their feet.

Just imagine what stripping all that power out of DC would accomplish!

oleh said...

Fitter, happier, more productive:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=xK0njkATf84&feature=kp

Henry said...

* The depraved predations of Sesame Street: creating a new generation of thoughtless couch potatoes via the fuzzy deception of puppets.

Shouting Thomas said...

What's the difference between your fixes, Althouse, and those the author of this article proposes?

In both cases, looks to me like changes "for our own good," forced on people against their will from above by the Mandarin class.

Of which you are a member.

Laslo Spatula said...

Freedom is generally paid for by blood. Some aren't even willing to put it on their credit cards.

SGT Ted said...

Elitism defined.

Nevermind that they utterly lack any competence to bring about what they claim.

We have a delusional, wanna-be Ruling Class of mis-educated do-gooders that seem to delight in destroying personal liberty and calling it "progress", when it is actually a regress to 19th century European aristocracy and rigid class systems.

Then again, the trope of "OTHER people are too stupid to make Good Choices" is the entire justification of the New Puritans we call "progressives" to enact controls on people "for their own good".

virgil xenophon said...

@The Drill Sgt/

Re: Banning of step-ladders. LOL, just bought a new one the other day; it had no less than seven (7) warning stickers of one kind or another to inclu the classic "do not stand on the top of ladder as it is dangerous."

Everyman a potential Homer Simpson, evidently...at least the lawyers seem to think so..

Abdul Abulbul Amir said...



Yes indeed. It is all quite tragic. But for those six awful industries the world would be risk free!

gerry said...

Althouse is on a screw-with-your-mind kick, eh? Yesterday, it was governments' pernicious Power Point plan presentations, and today it's a corporate consumption complex (I have to admit, I love that bit of gobbledegook).

So, some lefty needs to sell a book, and invents a cabal of crafty marketeers that project irresistible advertising force upon us, that compels us to live unwisely?

I can here the cackling around the cauldron even now.

SGT Ted said...

socialism? Its fine for communities and states

No, it's not. It doesn't get any less coercive or greedy for other peoples money at a lower level.

CA is a shining refutation of your assertion.

Paul said...

The left and their ever expanding Fascism.....

Lance said...

Freudenberg sounds familiar.

Hammond X Gritzkofe said...

Neglected to add
..entertainment industry (promotes prolonged sitting);
..swimming pool industry;
..

Shouting Thomas said...

Consumerism and sleep walking robots have been rallying cries of the left for as long as I can remember, and I'm an Old Dawg.

It's the classic Marxist "false consciousness" doctrine.

The funniest example of this I've seen lately...

An Utne Magazine with a huge headline screaming "Consumerism!" in the magazine rack at the checkout counter in one of Woodstock's incredibly over priced "organic" food markets.

RecChief said...

A liberal debunks "rights" in the pages of the NY Times? is this a surprise?

Apparently us rubes are susceptible to mind control. Good thing smart people like Bittman are immune to that

Roger Sweeny said...

"Either our minds work well or they do not."

Ann, you have missed the obvious. UNEDUCATED brains work poorly. But the more education you have, the better your brain works. The more you have a right to run your own life as you wish and, correspondingly, to tell other people how they should run their lives.

cubanbob said...

Bitmann apparently doesn't read the ads I his own paper.
He ought to set an example by shaming the business side of the NYT.

RecChief said...

And what is this "right to be healthy" that he is going on about?

virgil xenophon said...

@Pogo is Dead/

Just remember, Woodrow Wilson was a PhD--a Professor of Political Science, natch.

When the Professoriate finally totally takes over, fear not, for we will be in the very best of "educated" hands...what could possibly EVER go wrong?

Larry J said...

Hammond X Gritzkofe said...
Neglected to add
..entertainment industry (promotes prolonged sitting);
..swimming pool industry;


Don't forget motorcycles, private planes, speedboats, skateboards and anything else the self-annointed 'elite' doesn't like. Screw them

What about the government itself? How many people a year does it kill?

MadisonMan said...

I'm from the Government, and I'm here to help

Bryan C said...

"I think that this drive is sincere (by which I mean that I don't think it reflects a conscious desire for power and all of its corruptive accoutrements), but it's still dangerous."

The jarring thing about the most dangerous fanatics is how sincere they are.

Most aren't especially evil people. They're weak people who are too fragile to accept that their ideas have been evaluated and rejected, so they rationalize and cheat by attacking individual liberty. And that's evil.

Henry said...

* The insidious pervayors of inground swimming pools.

Peter said...

A corporation is a profit-maximizing entity. Period. If it can maximize profits by inducing people to make bad choices then it will.

And having done so, it will then declare that it just makes its money by creating what consumers want (ignoring that it worked mightily to create that want).

I don't know why anyone would be surprised by this. Corporations are neither evil nor good; they are amoral. Although created by people, in a sense they have a life of their own.

A successful society has multiple sources of power. Corporations are one, government is another, academia is another, and (until recently at least) churches are still another.

I would not care to live in a society in which corporations were the only voices in the public square.

Seeing Red said...

Progressives are the death cult. FORWARD!

Michael K said...

"The Puritans are now the Progressives. Always trying to control our minds and drive us from sin."

They were always the progressives. People who don't study history think Prohibition was a policy of the Republicans. Calvin Coolidge was attacked because he supported and was supported by, the beer industry.

Seeing Red said...

Prohibition men were off to war, wimmin caused mischief, then the amendment. Then the government deliberately poisoning you to make u stop drinking.

Unknown said...

Bloomberg: "Politico reported that lawyers are pitching the attorneys general in 16 states with the idea of a massive lawsuit modeled on the one that ultimately brought the tobacco industry to heel..."

Lawyers are pandering to fascist notions, and not for altruistic reasons. It's about life, liberty and the pursuit of other peoples' money. It wouldn't survive in the political arena (politicians would get voted out of office if they jacked up the price of food significantly in a direct way), so drag it into the court system where it becomes a game.

"The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."

-- Dick the Butcher

No lawyers, no traction.

Seeing Red said...

If only there were people willing to shadow them to "help" them in their daily lives.

EDH said...

Shouting Thomas sounds exactly like Freudenberg and Bittman, trying to hold Althouse commercially responsible, using even more tenuous causation, for "her product" -- all rent-seeking lawyers.

The troops for this campaign to fix people are your graduates, Althouse... that is, rent seeking lawyers. Class action lawsuits that enrich rent seeking lawyers is the engine behind this process you seem to decry.

But, you [Althouse] are the gatekeeper to employment as a rent seeking lawyer.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Note that Bittman already realizes that his ideas sound Stalinist, and he's cool with that:

"But that aside, why would you not want to talk about what’s the best thing for the future of the United States? I would argue that the answer is not what amounts to an anarchic market of a million individuals deciding what they want to plant and then having this dogma that the market will decide. Growing a lot of almonds and exporting them to China is not the end of the world, but I do think that when you look at the Midwest, where the vast majority of land is used to raise corn or soybeans used for feeding industrially raised animals or producing corn syrup for junk food, really is. It is something that is not going to change until we say that land is too valuable to us to be used that way. We need more diverse and regional agriculture. What harm would there be in making a plan?"

elkh1 said...

"not the gun safety policy some NYT readers prefer"

Some people are fighters, some are predators, some are whiners, some are victims.

NYT whines to let victims feel good about their perpetual victimhood.

Oso Negro said...

Bittman said "Yes, it’s unlikely there’s a cabal that sits down and asks, “How can we kill more kids tomorrow?”"

Socialist governments actually HAVE had such cabals. Which is why they are the greatest threat to their host populations.

Shouting Thomas said...

@EDH

Well, Althouse's primary product is rent seeking lawyers.

You've just performed the "point and stutter" maneuver without bothering to apply any substance.

Althouse is a Mandarin, with all the haughty affectations of a Mandarin, including the infatuation with homosexuality.

I can well understand why an audience of lawyers would object to seeing Althouse for what she really is... a sort of virginal priestess of the Mandarin class. Her residence in the ivory tower doesn't fool me.

As I said, Althouse isn't really opposed on principle to the Mandarin class ruling by edict from above. Depends on whether or not she approves of the issue at hand. The gay marriage thing was Exhibit A.

Pogo is Dead said...

The article was better in the original German.

Kapitulation macht frei!

Dr Weevil said...

Bittman worries about all the acres of the Midwest wasted on "corn or soybeans used for feeding industrially raised animals or producing corn syrup for junk food". Does he mention all the acres used for corn to make Ethanol to mix into gasoline and make our cars run worse? Other than the growers, their lobbyists, and the politicians they corrupt, I've never heard of anyone getting anything good out of that, or even anything bad but fun, like junk food.

Pogo is Dead said...

Fuck the lawyers.
First let's kill all the universities!

YoungHegelian said...

@elkh1,

NYT whines to let victims feel good about their perpetual victimhood.

No, it's actually much more evil than that:

NYT whines to let the ruling classes feel good about their perpetual "victimhood".

Seeing Red said...

We need more diverse & regional agriculture in the Midwest? Maybe the Midwest isn't a major lemon or orange producer for a reason?

It also sounds like he's very selfish. We grow for export, what does he want to do, keep all the good for ourselves?

Marshal said...

Bill, Republic of Texas said...
The Puritans are now the Progressives. Always trying to control our minds and drive us from sin.

How did prohibition and the war on drugs work out?


Back then they did not have the PR advantage that "since the government is paying they need to manage the costs".

So the government will never be able to completely control the risks. But it gives these insufferable busybodies the ability and motivation to hound us incessantly all while sucking on the public teat.

The issue isn't whether I eat what I want, it's whether I have to pay to listen to a pack of nattering fools while I'm eating.

n.n said...

NYT prefers when behaviors are dictated not by choice but by executive, legislative, or judicial decree. Curiously enough, that preference does not extend to abortion of wholly innocent human lives, redistributive change, and similar acts. In fact, they prefer the establishment of an authoritarian monopoly to carry out "good intentions".

Ah, the plight and hypocrisy of intelligent designers hoping to stay in power by reducing the problem set, then devaluing capital and labor of the people under their charge to assure a dependent and compliant population.

n.n said...

it’s unlikely there’s a cabal that sits down and asks, “How can we kill more kids tomorrow

Actually, there is. They are called Democrats with a minority supporting role by Republicans. They are the Planned Parenthood federation and its affiliates. They are the abortion clinics which terminate human lives by the millions through lethal injection and dismemberment. They are women, and men, who are burdened by their choices. They are pro-choice and comforted by expert rationalization. It is, in fact, quite a large cabal that sits down and votes to kill the youngest and most vulnerable human lives; today, tomorrow, and until their sacrificial rites are curbed by a civilized society.

cubanbob said...

"But that aside, why would you not want to talk about what’s the best thing for the future of the United States? I would argue that the answer is not what amounts to an anarchic market of a million individuals deciding what they want to plant and then having this dogma that the market will decide. Growing a lot of almonds and exporting them to China is not the end of the world, but I do think that when you look at the Midwest, where the vast majority of land is used to raise corn or soybeans used for feeding industrially raised animals or producing corn syrup for junk food, really is. It is something that is not going to change until we say that land is too valuable to us to be used that way. We need more diverse and regional agriculture. What harm would there be in making a plan?""

Imagine how much more carbon could be sequestered if trees weren't cut down for newsprint? Left wing rags ought to stop publishing on paper for the good of the planet.

harrogate said...

"I would not care to live in a society in which corporations were the only voices in the public square."

Heh.

EMD said...

We need more diverse and regional agriculture.

???? I can buy everything I need from local sources, outside of coconuts, pineapples and citrus fruits.

EMD said...

"I would not care to live in a society in which corporations were the only voices in the public square."

Heh.


As if.

Jim said...

"Cigarettes are bad for you and hence illegal."

Rusty said...

What?
Like regulating Alcohol,tobacco, firearms and explosives wasn't enough?

Blob said...

I'd like to see Bittman apply the same logic to voting. People might vote in ways that I think are detrimental! They might be swayed by marketing that appeals to biases and instincts! Why not just return these rights to the aristocrats? It's for the public good!

Blob said...

I'd like to see Bittman apply the same logic to voting. People might vote in ways that I think are detrimental! They might be swayed by marketing that appeals to biases and instincts! Why not just return these rights to the aristocrats? It's for the public good!

setnaffa said...

Why are there so many [expletive deleted] folks willing to force others to give up their rights?

And why did so many of them vote for Democrats?

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Ann essentially nailed it: It's absurd to ascribe "rights" to government. Citizens have rights; even non-citizens have rights. Governments have powers, and it really does behoove us to distinguish the two.

The annoying thing about Mark Bittman is that his NYT column is unbelievably irritating, but his cookbooks are superb. His braised Brussels sprouts are on the menu chez Thomson this evening.

I haven't had a recipe from How To Cook Everything fail me yet. And yet it's physically impossible that he's cooked all his variations personally. Is there a Bittman equivalent of "America's Test Kitchen," or what?

JustOneMinute said...

There is a certain "Waddya mean "we", paleface?" attitude to Bittman's piece. For example, his lead:

"In the last few years, it’s become increasingly clear that food companies engineer hyperprocessed foods in ways precisely geared to most appeal to our tastes."

But he knows that he is among the Few, the proud that can resist these appeals, so the column is directed to the Great Unwashed who can't figure out how to live their lives without his guidance backed not merely by a NY Times column but by the power of the state.

A bit later:

"The problems are clear, but grouping these industries gives us a better way to look at the struggle of consumers, of ordinary people, to regain the upper hand."

Ordinary people. I.e., unenlightened and, so far at least, easily manipiulated and uneducable people.

Fortunately, Bittman is here to help. With the government.

JustOneMinute said...

There is a certain "Waddya mean "we", paleface?" attitude to Bittman's piece. For example, his lead:

"In the last few years, it’s become increasingly clear that food companies engineer hyperprocessed foods in ways precisely geared to most appeal to our tastes."

But he knows that he is among the Few, the proud that can resist these appeals, so the column is directed to the Great Unwashed who can't figure out how to live their lives without his guidance backed not merely by a NY Times column but by the power of the state.

A bit later:

"The problems are clear, but grouping these industries gives us a better way to look at the struggle of consumers, of ordinary people, to regain the upper hand."

Ordinary people. I.e., unenlightened and, so far at least, easily manipiulated and uneducable people.

Fortunately, Bittman is here to help. With the government.

Archie said...

This whole thing is much too long to read. Therefore I must resort to my default comment, "Eat shit you Communist pervert". Thank you for your kind attention.

chuck said...

"Are you now, or have you ever been, a subscriber to the New York Times."

After reading the comments on that piece, I feel the urge to buy a bigger gun. Thats a lot of scary, scary people with the urge to run peoples lives.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

The last time, or maybe two or three or four or half a dozen times back, that Mark Bittman said something silly, James Taranto at the WSJ called him out on it. I emailed him and protested that How To Cook Everything is an extraordinarily useful book.

He promptly ordered himself a copy. And wrote me back a few days later that it did look very good, but not as up-to-date as he hoped. There was, for example, no entry in the index for sous-vide.

He was not joking; that's how he mostly cooks. Meat, anyway. Megan McArdle, IIRC, is another fan of the technique.

Some Schmuck said...

They see themselves as benevolent farmers and the rest of us as livestock.

The good farmer makes sure his cattle do not eat too much or too little, have access to water and are generally well taken care of.

The problem, as they see it, is that a great number of people do not see themselves as livestock and keep wandering off the farm.

Orwell had them pegged 50 years ago.

stlcdr said...

An excellent riposte.

andthenblammo! said...

Mark Bittman's Wiki biography has him as licensed private pilot. Private pilot! Doesn't he know how much higher the fatality rate is in private aviation opposed to commercial airlines???? Does he take his family for these death flights??? Talk about an industry devoted to killing people! And all screened by some illusion of the glamor of flight!

Repent, Mark Bittman! Line up for TSA screening and get groped with the rest of us!

I'm sure this argument will convince him. It's for the children!

Sigivald said...

But Freudenberg details how six industries — food and beverage, tobacco, alcohol, firearms, pharmaceutical and automotive — use pretty much the same playbook to defend the sales of health-threatening products

Why, cars could hurt someone!

Ban them! And pillory their makers for defending them! Ignore how insanely popular and useful they are!

God-damn control-freaks - and I don't mean the "industries" involved.

Indeed, all of those are at some level (least so pharma) about things that let you have fun or be more free and independent.

No wonder "Public Health" Professors are against all three of them.

He should just get a job pushing pseudoscience at CSPI and get it over with.