Sunday, June 12, 2005

And, um, who exactly ARE the food police?

I'll admit it--I had to stop reading today's NY Times, because the cognitive dissonance in so many articles damn near made my head explode. Josh Marshall links to a gadflyer analysis of the flagship disgrace, an article speculating on the impact that increasing longevity may have on Social Security's solvency, an article that fails to mention even once that this is not a recent observation and Social Security has already (and always has) factored in increased longevity in its solvency projections.

But the article that made me throw down my Times in disgust was Melanie Warner's love letter to lobbyist Rick Berman. Entitled "Striking Back at the Food Police," the article details the struggle of Berman, a lone David struggling against the mighty Goliath of the Organized and Impressively Funded food nazi bridages.

Here are some interesting things I learned from this article. If one negotiated on behalf of Bethlehem Steel and campaigned against a minimum wage increase, one can be described as having "buil[t] a career working on labor issues." If a company markets unhealthy food the same way that Phillip Morris marketed tobacco, lying to the consumer about its health effects and attempting to create confusion about the evidence, the real bad guys are: "trial lawyers [who] are circling and are starting to turn food into the new tobacco." If one says something on a scientific issue that is either factually inaccurate or tangential and blatantly tendentious, one's argument will be met with the gentle retort that "these are useful points" and "many scientists question whether [this particular point] really matters," and the debate will be framed thusly: "Amid the claims and counterclaims, Mr. Berman and his opponents duke it out, taking sides on major questions about obesity..."

The gentleness of her response to Berman is striking in light of the fact that some people in the scientific community are arguing that obesity will lead to a decrease in life expectancy in the coming years.

This is like reading articles on climate change, in which the arguments of Exxon-Mobil's lobbyist are credulously parroted and the scientific community is all still up in the air about whether humans are having an impact on the climate.

Seriously, I am thinking of starting up a Flat Earth lobbying shop/think tank, becuase I think the coverage would be hilarious: "theorajones points out that Magellan's circumnavigation means little, as much of 17th century science has been discredited. 'My opponents want to go back to the era of wooden ships and candles, but we believe in progress.' Many scientists agree that the 17th Century had wooden ships and candles..."

What was the point of this article? And could someone please tell me who the hell these food police are? All I see is an industry hack and a bunch of non-profit do-gooders, scientists, and impartial government employees. You'd think a reporter would ask "hey, those food police you keep railing against, they with the 25th or what?"

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone's beaten you to the whole flat earth thing. http://www.alaska.net/~clund/e_djublonskopf/Flatearthsociety.htm

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