public policy

Fix Congress first

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Here's the problem: As I'm sitting here at my "coffice," about to tap out this post, and I hear a guy at the bar, vapidly chatting with the coffee stirrer to his left: "Yeah, I try not to turn on the news too much." No context, of course, but his solution is just not to listen. It's the "solution" for tens of millions of Americans.

But it's not a solution, because it doesn't solve.

Wash. Monthly ag story illustrates the corruption of our politics

In Washington Monthly, reporter Lina Khan lays bare the scandalous treatment of the nation's farmers at the hands of Big Ag. The story shows that we've been here before, with a handful of meat companies controlling their suppliers' markets, which gives hope that we can escape this stranglehold again, as we did in the '20a.

How governments are trying to fight obesity

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I subscribe to the news service operated by the International Association for the Study of Obesity, and I think you should, too. But the purpose of this post is not to pimp but to promote a couple of related stories on this week's report.

The first is by that highlights what four states are doing to address obesity among their residents. The four include Colorado (the least obese state) and Mississippi (the most); a prevailing strategy is to target youngsters.

Big Food's big lie: Rely on personal responsibility

Last time I wrote, I decried the stain of Big Food’s insistence that “personal responsibility” should be the only standard of conduct, when it works its ass off to ensure it won’t be held responsible for its actions. It’s scum-suckingly low.

But here’s another part of its duplicity:





It is the only logical conclusion.

More on Mayor Bloomberg's action

Here's the thing about Bloomberg's idea to ban sales of large sodas: He's actually acting!

Yes, the ban has holes in it, such as not covering every conceivable high-sugar beverage. And no, if it works to perfection, it will barely dent the obesity problem in only one part of the world. But any sort of success would endorse trying the same or similar measures elsewhere.

Bloomberg sees the same problem we all do, and he's *doing* something, which already has moved more focus to the problem, and to solutions.

A slender silver lining

As you know, I talk about obesity and I talk about food addiction, always trying to make clear that the two aren’t analogous.

You can be obese without being a food addict, and you can be a food addict without being obese. It’s true that there is significant overlap between the populations, and it’s also true that engaging in behavior that leads to obesity can also lead to food addiction, especially if one has the genetic predisposition.

To solve the problem, we have to know it

A two-page brief from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is an excellent resource for learning about how to keep the costs of obesity under control.

Not only does it have some of the key numbers (i.e., $147 billion a year in "extra" healthcare costs arise because of obesity), but it argues for a few policy changes that could begin to cut into the bulge.

Tax would help, but could it ever pass?

I’m reminded of the “lock box,” which was a largely unsuccessful political gambit promoted by Al Gore during his 2000 presidential run as a way to make Social Security tax increases more palatable. The idea was that we would ensure that taxes collected for this purpose would not be redirected, making it just one more tax increase.


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