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actus

"The parody film makes the important point that this of course isn't how manufacturers intend for their product to be used."

It would be nice if McDonalds told us how they intend their product to be used. Once a week? everyday? etc...

Mark S.

I have an answer to your question. McDonald's intends their product to be used as food no matter if its used once a week or everyday.

Hope that clarifies things.

Evan Williams

"It would be nice if McDonalds told us how they intend their product to be used. Once a week? everyday? etc..."

Depends on how much you exercise, how much you weigh, how big your frame is, what your metabolic rate is, how much muscle mass you have, what the rest of your diet consists of, whether you have any specific acute illnesses, etc.

In other words, there is no magic bullet answer to that question that could be universally applied to everyone.

Regardless, since when is it the manufacturer's responsibility to craft your diet for you? By your logic, Actus, when you buy a stalk of celery in the store, the celery manufacturer would be required to note on each stalk exactly how much we should eat. Now do you see the absurdity in requiring restaurants to craft your diet for you? Read the fucking nutritional info, and figure it out for yourself. You ARE a mature adult, right? You CAN count calories, no? If not, they sell calculators in many stores. And most calculators even come with DIRECTIONS on how to use their product, just in case you're too lazy/stupid to figure THAT out for yourself too.

Mark S.

Wow, Evan, your post started off level headed but ended in a thrown gauntlet. Did your other personality take over half-way through? Still, you make a good point.

Evan Williams

Mark S. -

Just goes to show---you never know when I might flip out and rock your face! Seriously, though, the first part of it is my nutritional-bodybuilder side. I've had to go through alot of reading and experimentation to figure out my diet(s); I don't understand why people think that restaurants should do it for them (laziness, perhaps?). The second part was my rather more aggressive, boot-camp mentality. Between this crap and the smoking bans, I'm getting rather sick and tired of people eschewing responsibility for their own health. I take full responsibility for what I put into my body, and I have no sympathy for people who voluntarily walk into smoky bars and then complain about the smoke, or people who eat McDonalds, then complain that it's not healthy.

Mario

Take this into consideration; The society pays tax money to pay hopital bills for people that aquire health problems from eating bad. Also, young individuals have no way to know what is healthy and what is unhealthy food. So should nutrition and health information be the sole responsibility of individuals? Shouldn't the junk food chains, with all their propaganda like commercials take responsibility?

Rann

No. It is not their responsibility to force people not to be fucktards. If it was others' responsibility to force people not to be morons, I'd be standing behind you, Mario, while you were on the computer, and punching you in the back of the head whenever you typed crap like that, until you learned better or died.

Graham Couzens

Way back when I was a kid (I'm 26)- when I was probably 3 years old I was able to figure out what food was healthy and what "junk food" was and even that not everything fits neatly into either category.

DS

So Mario, would not a better solution be that the gov't take away babies of stupid people, and give them to smart people, so socity at large would not have to absorb the heath care costs of people who eat too much fast food? I mean, let's nip this thing in the bud. Let's stop being pansies and trying to fix the symptoms when we can just go right to the root cause of the problems.

DS

So Mario, would not a better solution be that the gov't take away babies of stupid people, and give them to smart people, so socity at large would not have to absorb the heath care costs of people who eat too much fast food? I mean, let's nip this thing in the bud. Let's stop being pansies and trying to fix the symptoms when we can just go right to the root cause of the problems.

DS

Sorry, browser hung up... pressed button twice... now adding 3rd post in a row to apologize for 2 posts in a row...

jeff

This is what happens when health care is considered a "right". Why should society pay taxes to support someone else's bad health? When will the entitlement craze end? If society wants to make private contributions to set up hospitals and organizations to inform and help people to live healthy, great! That's charity! The government, however, can only entitle people to services that they take for granted and which cater to the lowest common denominator. Talk about a "recipe" for failure. Apparently, our public education system is a perfect example of this failure (" young individuals have no way to know what is healthy and what is unhealthy food").

Evan Williams

{quote}The society pays tax money to pay hopital bills for people that aquire health problems from eating bad.{/quote}

A great argument against socialized healthcare---not against individual responsibility. By your logic, since the gubmint pays for medicare/caid, the gubmint should regulate everything and anything that could effect your health. Mandatory gym visits. No drinking. No smoking. Gov't-mandated diet. Right? Is that what you want?

{quote}Also, young individuals have no way to know what is healthy and what is unhealthy food.{/quote}

I think that "what about the children!?" is the new version of Godwin's Law. How can children not know what is healthy/unhealthy? The gov't sure spends alot of money trying to educate them on it. And if they're too young to be able to read the nutritional facts, then they shouldn't be choosing their own food to begin with. What about the freakin' parents? Again, by your logic, every manufacturer & business in the world has a responsibility to educate "the children" in liu of the parents doing so. Absurd.

Mark S.

Mario,

I concede that a child may not fully comprehend the health consequences of eating poorly. However, will a child make dietary decisions on their own enough to really impact their long-term health? Parents/guardians make these decisions for children -- whether their own or for the kids under their supervision -- and such is the norm. It is ultimately up to parents/guardians to instruct children about healthy eating. Certainly some parents will fall short of our collective expectations in which case I hope the child learns from their grandparents, neighbors, or school teachers.

Do I really need to have it spelled out for me that I shouldn't eat a Big Mac at all let alone once a day, everyday? If I can read the dietary information on the package of ground beef, jar of thousand island dressing, and processed cheddar cheese I bought at the grocery store, do I have a reasonable expectation that the burger assembled at McDonald's using the same ingredients is actually better for me than the one I can make at home? Do you think the burger I make at home will be larger, smaller, or the same size as the Big Mac? Probably bigger. Even though I do not have McDonald's suggested servings, I intuitively know that even one burger is probably not the healthiest decision to make and yet I may choose to eat it anyway because the convenience has a value, the cost has a value, and the taste has a value -- all of which I may not want or be able to duplicate at home.

What troubles me most about your post, Mario, is the underlying logic of it -- since tax dollars pay for medical care shouldn't we use government authority as a preemptive medical treatment, of a sort, to prevent illnesses and disabilities caused by unhealthy eating habits? The problem here, is the lack of a classic economic model -- incentives. By using government authority to force restaurants to disclose how often their food should be eaten, does that really give the consuming public an incentive to eat better? Clearly not. All you have done is given them a guideline and increased the price of all restaurant goods thereby failing to create a price incentive in the goods themselves and failing to create an incentive of cost-benefit (i.e. If I don't eat this Big Mac Combo for $4 then I'll get a $10 price reduction on my health costs for the year.)

Yet before we even discuss how to use government power in this way we have to get over the large hurdle of whether it is appropriate to use government authority (the threat of fines or imprisonment for non-compliance) on group A to incentivise group B into a particular behavior pattern. And, more generally, is it appropriate to use government authority to influence public behavior at all? Of course this use of government authority started long ago but tradition is never the best arbiter of right or wrong.

But in the end, arguing that such government regulation is an abuse of power will fall on deaf ears -- one need only look at the Libertarian party's success in elections to see the truth in that statement. Therefore the best argument against your idea, Mario, is that it simply will not produce the desired result. You are ultimately concerned with the actual choices people make, not with the choices available to them. So, if you are willing to exercise government power to encourage certain behavior (misguided though I think you are) then it makes far more sense to apply it to group B directly instead of using it on group A to incentivise group B.

This could be a great topic for an economics paper. Hmmm....

rob

I'll dissect this one:

>This is what happens when health care is considered a "right". Why should society pay
>taxes to support someone else's bad health?

I suspect your tone would change when you or someone you love comes down with something. Perhaps something we've all been happily gorging on - thinking it was perfectly healthy - will turn out to have been dangerous? Who's responsible?

We can take it a step further. Why should my tax dollars go to pay for health care for someone with a genetic deficiency? Shouldn't that person have been aborted to save us all the trouble?

Of course the central idea behind your point denies the existence of society and the importance of mutual responsibility. Sick people are bad for the economy, and for public health. It is in the interest of those who can afford it to keep those who can't healthy. Note that in the US, where citizens have to pay for health care, medical expenses are responsible fo 50% of personal bankruptcies. In Canada? 0%. Care to guess who pays for bankruptcies, ultimately?

>Apparently, our public education system is a perfect example of this failure
>(" young individuals have no way to know what is healthy and what is unhealthy food").

I don't know about you, but my parents taught me how to eat healthily. It's interesting that in one breath you bemoan the government's role as protector, and in the next complain about its inability to take responsibility for bad parenting.

The question is, of course, whose responsibility is it, if my parents do a bad job? Will you take it upon yourself to teach children about nutrition? Should they take responsibility for themselves? I suspect you'd be relieved to know that the school system was trying to do it, so that you might keep your hands clean.

Jeff

rob, you misunderstood me and took my quote out of context. I believe both in personal and societal responsibility. How much do think private citizens would have donated to various organizations if President Bush stated the government would not be sending any money for Tsunami relief, but it is expected that each citizen would do what they can to help? Do you think private organizations & individuals would not step up to the plate if the government removed itself entirely from healthcare and public education?
Secondly, I don't believe the state should be educating our children. It is the parents responsibility. I was stepping into Mario's worldview to show its absurdity. The government is not good at public education and he gave "proof" of that.
Canada goes bankrupt all the time. It's called inflation and tax increases. When governments run out of money, they cry for more taxes. When they can't tax more, they print more money and dilute the value of the currency.

Mark S.

Rob,

Just because a decision may have personal reprecussions doesn't mean my position is flawed. In fact, some would call it principled.

Your example of us all gorging on something that turns out to be harmful is so vague that I'm not sure how to craft a response. Do you mean the item is actually toxic? Do you mean we eat so much of it that it causes harm? Both scenarios present different responses that easily dismiss your concern.

I do not deny the existence of society or mutual responsibility but I do not recognize government involvement as the clear answer. I do not agree that society is synonomous with government.

actus

"In any case, marketing and advertising are more about influencing brand loyalty than about influencing behavior. Few people decide to start drinking because of a beer commercial."

How do we know this?

Andrea Harris

You're right, actus. I was totally not into drinking beer until I saw that commercial with that dog who drinks Heineken. Or whatever it was -- all I know is, the next thing I'm at Walmart buying a twelve-pack of Budweiser, and then I went to McDonalds and had a quarter-pounder with cheese.

Damn you, television! Damn you to hell!

Evan Williams

Actus:

How do we really "know" why people do anything?

Common sense, perhaps?

Take a look at it: drinking beer, like many other things, is a cultural phenomenon. There are several factors that play into the prominence of this phenomenon. First is the act of drinking as a social behavior. This has little to do with advertising; for the most part, the advertising plays off of those behaviors, not vice versa. Second is the chemical effects---well known, to be sure, and needs no advertisement (when's the last time you saw a Budweiser commercial wherein they explain that the beer gives you a buzz?) Third, which is less prominent, is the actual culinary/sensual enjoyment of the product. I'm a bit of a beer geek, so I drink it for all three reasons---whereas most Americans probably eschew the third, since most mainstream beer has no taste to begin with.

So, now that we have laid out those three contributing factors, where does advertising fit into that picture? Do we need to advertise the fact that drinking beer is a widespread social activity? Do we need to advertise the fact that beer has a chemical-neurological effect? No! If there were no beer commercials, would people still drink beer? Of course! Next, look at the last time advertising was stopped---prohibition. Hell, not only was advertising stopped, but alcohol was outlawed altogether. What happened? Without all those beer ads, did people stop drinking alcohol? Of course not. One could argue that alcohol consumption actually increased.

So, in the absence of objective sociological studies, we have to rely on these sorts of common-sense analyses of history and culture. One needn't think too hard to see that alcohol consumption in general is not a result of advertising. It is an established cultural phenomenon---how do we know this? Just open your eyes!

Mark S.

I have to backup Actus on this one because I thought the same thing.

I think we can all agree that rhetorical evidence doesn't carry the same weight as empirical data. Common assumptions do not make for good arguing points.

Jeff

Hmmm...makes you wonder if there were no regulations against home distilling nor voluntary bans against hard liquor commercials, would vodka be the number one alcoholic drink in America like it is in Russia (instead of beer)? Television and government are a part of our society and culture. Commercials are a part of our culture. That still doesn't absolve anyone of personal responsibility.

actus

"How do we really "know" why people do anything? "

I would think the marketing industry knows sometihng

It really stretches the imagination to say that commercials that show people having a good time consuming a particular brand of product only increases the attractiveness of the brand, and not the appeal of the generic product class. As if competition only occured intra-product, as opposed to inter-products

The claim is akin to saying that if there were less (or no) alcohol advertising spending on alcohol would not decrease. I think its rather silly claim, and so does -- I suspect -- the alcohol industry.

"Take a look at it: drinking beer, like many other things, is a cultural phenomenon."

Exactly. And advertising is part of our culture. Too big, according to some.

John

I know what you mean, actus. After all, following the ban of advertising for smoking on television and radio and film, everyone stopped smoking! Right? That's how it happened? Yes?

actus

"After all, following the ban of advertising for smoking on television and radio and film, everyone stopped smoking! Right? That's how it happened? Yes?"

Its my understanding that smoking has decreased. But that's a difficult one, because you also have to factor in anti smoking ads. Also, there's still lots of advertising and marketing for smoking. And lastly, it is an addictive product. At least, I think a greater proportion of consumeption is due to addiction when we talk about smoking than alcohol.

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