Government: For When You Can’t Do It Yourself

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My wife and I went to McDonald’s last night because we’re young and our hearts can still take that kind of abuse. I walked up to the counter, looked at the menu to see which number I wanted to order, and then literally jerked. There was something new on the menu: calorie content. Everything on the menu suddenly told you how many calories were in every meal. For me, a 10-Piece Chicken McNugget meal was anywhere from 550-1,000 calories depending on what size you got.

Thank God we were sharing!

It was a little off-putting, honestly, but I’m a heavy advocate for openness and accountability, so I let it go. Still, I marveled at how these fast food giants were bowing to the whims of the health nuts. This isn’t an isolated incident; all food chains are trying to be healthier to give themselves a good image. It’s a new world, where people are obsessed with counting calories, carbs, and sugars.

My wife and I pondered what a different world it was since we were kids. Fast food restaurants aren’t able to just sell fattening foods anymore; they have to justify themselves. Food producers are being scolded for being too fattening or sugary. Schools are being berated for giving kids high-fat or high-sugar options. Basically, anybody who makes any kind of profit on anything fried or sugary is getting in lots of trouble.

As I thought about this, I looked at my wife and asked, “Why is nobody blaming the consumer?”

Let me guess. Ben and Jerry MADE you do it.

Do you know why McDonald’s drink sizes have gotten bigger as the years have gone on? People drank them. Do you know why King Size candy bars are still around? People eat them. Do you know why Coca-Cola has gone so many years without going under? Demand.

It’s not rocket science: it’s basic marketing. If nobody buys it, you can’t sell it. If you can’t sell it, you have to stop making it. 

I’m all for making America healthier, but we’re going at it the wrong way. Yes, the big fat-sellers are offering a product they know is bad for us to make a buck. But how are they making that buck? Consumers give it to them! Yet nobody blames the consumers. Nobody says, “Stop feeding obesity.” Instead, we call for laws and regulations that make bad foods harder to obtain.

Whatever happened to advocating self control?

It’s an age of indulgence. Whatever feels good, do it. We no longer celebrate restraint. Self-control is no longer something people are proud of.

And here’s one that REALLY irks me: the child obesity epidemic everyone is raving about. Why are we blaming the fast food chains for happy meals and appealing to kids? Tell me, are they handing them out for free? NO! They must be purchased, and who purchases these things? That’s right. Parents. What’s the matter? Can’t tell your kid “no”?

Yeah, hold your breath, see how that works out for you.

This goes back to one of my life mottos: don’t try to fix the problem, try to fix the people. Laws and bans don’t work. The Super-Size drink may be gone, but refills are still free. Kids are given less options at lunch, but it doesn’t make them like sweets any less. Tobacco companies can’t advertise like they used to, yet cigarettes are selling as much as they ever have. Why? The law changed, but the people didn’t.

And I know, I sound like an idealist. How can you possibly change every person in the world? And it’s true, I can’t. But on the other hand, how can you possibly legally account for every trick and loophole humankind can think of? You can’t. But when you try, you just create more and more litigation that wastes time and money and doesn’t work. When I try to change people’s hearts, I show I care about them and make a lasting impact.

It’s the difference between “I can’t,” and “I don’t want to.” Which do you think is more powerful?

8 thoughts on “Government: For When You Can’t Do It Yourself

  1. Our human nature often responds to being told we can’t do something by wanting to prove we can, whether we cared about doing it before or not. I like your “fix the people” life motto!


  2. You summed it up nicely.

    I’d like to add that compounding the problem there are school officials who ban children from riding their bikes to school or running at recess because it isn’t “safe.” Lenore over at documents such cases of blatant stupidity/over parenting/paranoia.


    1. Yeah, not to mention trying to ban recess altogether because kids need more time to improve test scores. Not only is that bad for their health, stripping away their run-around time, but how is that gonna help them concentrate?


  3. Awesome!!!! This is what I tell the kids I work with. I’m not going to force you to do what’s right, no one is, but if you choose to do what’s wrong there are consequences and you have to be willing to suffer them. Is it worth it?
    I do like the calorie count thing though. It shows people the consequences of their choice so they can make an informed decision.


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