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(Vanity) Confessions of a Crunchy Conservative III, or, Why Don't I Mind *Your* Own Business?
grey_whiskers ^ | 10-07-2006 | grey_whiskers

Posted on 10/08/2006 8:20:47 AM PDT by grey_whiskers

In my previous vanities Part I I described my progression into the Condition of Crunchy Conservative.. In Part II, I laid out some musings on “where I think we’re going, and how we got into this handbasket.” In this piece, I elaborate a bit more on the themes of the second piece, and offer some suggestions for how to recover from the predicament.

To recap, I pointed out that the state of health of the “average” US citizen is nowhere near as good as it used to be. A number of factors are involved, including aging; relative lack of exercise; changes in diet; and the exploitation of “medical research” by industrial interests in the food processing industry, and subsequently by the pharmaceutical industry. In order to understand the solution, we must first correctly diagnose the problem. This will involve a bit of a change of subject, so bear with me!

Why are there large industries anyway? To understand that, you have to understand what any company is there for in the first place. The answer is simple: “To make money.” Well, there are lots of ways to make money, some more efficient than others. The most efficient way is to walk up to someone and demand their money. But the government has declared that to be theft. Besides, government thinks that just taking money from people is their job anyway, through the IRS. So businesses have to find other ways to get money.

A better way to get money, and one that usually keeps the government off of your back, is to offer to sell somebody something. This can take two forms: swindling, in which you offer someone the Brooklyn Bridge in exchange for their money, or selling someone something else. Swindling is out, because, once again, that’s the government’s job, in the form of State Lotteries. So if you want to make money, you have to sell something real.

But there are two forms of selling people something. First, you can sell them something that they really need, and can’t make for themselves. This type of sale guarantees you a market. This is pretty much the position that the agribusinesses found themselves in. It is true, that to some extent, you can grow a lot of your own food. Lots of people have a garden. But for most people, doing more than corn, tomatoes, maybe potatoes, is just too much trouble. So a lot of people want someone else to raise pigs, cattle, milk cows for them, as well as fruits and vegetables. And at this point, economies of scale kick in. Isn’t it easier to have a mega-farm, and adopt an “assembly line” approach to raising food, than to have “pig-killin’ time” and invite the neighbors?

Now, there are two drawbacks to this mass production approach. We have already seen the advantages. But one problem is, since you are guaranteed some buyers, you are bound to have a lot of competition—a lot of other people have figured out that you can make money selling this thing. So they will try and undercut you on price, or they will try to explain why their widget is better than yours. This led directly to the invention of marketing. (More on this in a bit.) Another problem is, if you are going to do things on the basis of economy of scale, than in order for things to work for you at all, you have to do them on a large scale.

So, what does all this have to do with health and food? Well, let’s return to markting. We have seen that you can make money selling something people need. But there is a second way to make money by selling to people. That way is to sell them something they *want*. The way to get rich doing this is to inflame their wants, so you can yank their chain. That way you get to charge a lot more for the exact same thing. A good example here is fashion. A Coach handbag may retail for $300, and to some women it is a sign to other women of “having arrived.” But in terms of function, in an engineering sense, it does no more than a $15.00 handbag from Target. An even more extreme example is automobiles. “Lexus—the relentless pursuit of perfection.” So you shell out upwards of $30,000 for what is for all practical purposes a Toyota Camry with slightly different sheet metal and trim. Sociologists used to call this “conspicuous consumption.” Today the MBA’s rule the roost and call it “smart business.” (See for example this link; or google the term “mass luxury.”)

Now here’s the way it all ties together. Successful businesses grow by supplying something people need. If they are good at it, they grow. Really successfully businesses can grow *huge*. But once a business reaches a certain size, they discover one of two things. Either they say, “Everyone else is competing with us, we need to compete on price—and we need to make it up on volume” or they say “Why are we wasting money on low volume, we need to move upscale so we can charge more.” Either way, the focus moves away from just “meeting people’s needs” and towards “making more and more money.” Adam Smith’s hidden hand of the market has led to “Hidden Valley Ranch”. (Check out their website. They started small, but they are now a household name.) If the process of moving upscale goes on long enough, then the customer’s actual needs and wants do more than just get left behind—they become an actual hindrance. Why take the time to understand the customer when it’s easier and more profitable to just railroad them?

And so it has happened with the food industry. The focus was originally on getting people more food, healthier food, a greater variety, than they could provide for themselves. After the essentials were taken care of, the question was how to reduce unit cost of production. Once that was done, the issue became “how do we drive sales, in order to create a mass market, so that we can SELL the large quantities of food we can now produce?” And for all the rest—hydrogenated oils, margarines, potato chips—they are not sold because they are a need, as the original mega-farm products were. They were created because they had properties the mass marketers wanted: cheap to produce, long shelf life, they encourage repeat business (“bet you can’t eat just one”): and because they generate a large profit. This is the entrepreneurial genius of America, run amok. It is not a victim of its own success—-but its customers are, as the state of America's waistlines can attest.

But paradoxically, the “hidden hand of the market” is at work in another way.

As the major conglomerates moved away from providing healthy food in favor of prefabricated junk, this lack created a *new* market. One for healthy, unprocessed, flavorful food. The kind liberals (and crunchy cons) like. And guess what is happening? The entrepreneurial genius of America, which has led to the problem, is now contributing to a solution. Allow the Free Market to work (not free trade, by the way, which is a misnomer)—and the hidden hand will supply a solution!


TOPICS: Agriculture; Business/Economy; Chit/Chat; Conspiracy; Food; Gardening; Health/Medicine; History; Hobbies; Miscellaneous; Science; Society
KEYWORDS: agribusiness; crunchycon; economics; food; greywhiskers; health; political; society; vanity; whiskersvanity
What is one to do then, about all the people who have gotten grossly overweight, or developed health problems, *linked* to unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyles? Do I advocate a nanny state, or outlawing of junk food, or forced exercise? Absolutely not. If people are free to be ninnies, then ninnies some will be. What is the solution? Well, we should recognize that the free market goes towards what people like, not always what is good for them. “I want” tends to speak more loudly than “I ought”, especially when it is backed up by advertising. If the government wants to encourage healthier food, (since it is in society’s best interest for people to live long *healthy* lives, and not to need a lot of expensive health care), then they should establish incentives for healthier habits. And this is what joins the “crunchy” with the “con”: crunchy says that one should remain a good steward of one’s body, and look towards larger societal goals. Conservative says one does not do it with government coercion. “But,” you may object, “people should be responsible for their own lives.” That’s true. But since they so often *don’t*, then the government uses that as an excuse to come in with “safety nets” such as Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, Prescription Benefit Programs, which in effect tax the productive, and those who are responsible for themselves, in order to protect the irresponsible from the consequences of their own actions. The ultimate cure for this would be a change in human nature, so that people *did* the right thing in the first place. Short of that, since the government seems to stick its nose under the tent anyway, I’d rather we get the government in the habit of rewarding good instead of becoming an “enabler” of the bad.
1 posted on 10/08/2006 8:20:51 AM PDT by grey_whiskers
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To: SunkenCiv; Tax-chick; SuziQ; alwaysconservative
Courtesy PING!
2 posted on 10/08/2006 8:23:06 AM PDT by grey_whiskers
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To: grey_whiskers; 2ndClassCitizen; balls; Born Conservative; cva66snipe; dawn53; Deut28; Draco; ...
And for all the rest—hydrogenated oils, margarines, potato chips—they are not sold because they are a need, as the original mega-farm products were. They were created because they had properties the mass marketers wanted: cheap to produce, long shelf life, they encourage repeat business (“bet you can’t eat just one”): and because they generate a large profit. This is the entrepreneurial genius of America, run amok. It is not a victim of its own success—-but its customers are, as the state of America's waistlines can attest.

I've read a few studies as well, detailing the costs to our health that hydrogenated and partially-hydrogenated oils can have, and that these additives have a direct link to the increase in Multiple Sclerosis patients in "modern" countries where foods containing them are mass-produced.

Pinging to the Multiple Sclerosis and Health lists for discussion, if anyone has heard similar.

3 posted on 10/08/2006 8:53:51 AM PDT by cgk (I don't see myself as a conservative. I see myself as a religious, right-wing, wacko extremist.)
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To: cgk

This subject obviously released your inner totalitarian. I disagree with your initial premis and all following and suggest that most of what you hear on these subjects comes from lobbyists.


4 posted on 10/08/2006 9:14:27 AM PDT by ClaireSolt (Have you have gotten mixed up in a mish-masher?)
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To: ClaireSolt
LOL, no not exactly. My 80 year old grandmother is no lobbyist, and her personal MS doctor for most of her life, Dr. Roy Swank has done nearly all of the research on this that I am familiar with. When I was diagnosed with the same, my grandmother gave all the background to me to read, and I found similar conclusions in other studies - mostly from Canada.
5 posted on 10/08/2006 9:25:51 AM PDT by cgk (I don't see myself as a conservative. I see myself as a religious, right-wing, wacko extremist.)
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To: ClaireSolt
This subject obviously released your inner totalitarian. I disagree with your initial premis and all following and suggest that most of what you hear on these subjects comes from lobbyists.

Were you talking to cgk or to me?

Cheers!

6 posted on 10/08/2006 9:28:36 AM PDT by grey_whiskers
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To: grey_whiskers; ClaireSolt
Were you talking to cgk or to me?

Wouldn't that just be the kicker - that she wasn't even talking to me... sorry, maybe? :)

7 posted on 10/08/2006 9:30:06 AM PDT by cgk (I don't see myself as a conservative. I see myself as a religious, right-wing, wacko extremist.)
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To: cgk; grey_whiskers; balls; Born Conservative; cva66snipe; dawn53; Deut28; Draco

Almost all foods are labelled as to content. So... if people are buying them, they must like the taste. As time goes on we find out the effects of what we do.
The Romans had lead problems, their water pipes used lead and their cups had lead in them.

The pharmaceutical industry does not have a lock on us or anyone else. There is no hidden agenda, the reason that pharmaceutical companies get profit is because they are the best game in town.
If there was a better treatment or cure for MS, we would hear about it. The medical research industry is extremely diverse. It is made up of
1. Independent researchers who get research money from charitable foundations, like the Cancer Society and MS fundraisers and cancer Fundraisers, ever hear of Jerry's kids?;
2. Researchers who get funding from colleges;
3. Researchers who get money from the Government;
4. Various socialist countries around the world in a dozen different governments perform limited research;
5. There are also researchers who get money from pharmaceutical companies.

The Phds who perform all this medical research are on the whole an independent fortune and fame seeking group. They are looking for a breakthrough and if they suspect they have a breakthrough everyone hears all about it.

There are a dozen or more things in the pipeline for potential improvements in the treatment of MS. There are a dozen or so research groups looking into myelin regeneration.

I want the continued medical progress. These new drugs are imperfect, but they are the best we can do at this time.


8 posted on 10/08/2006 9:39:19 AM PDT by 2ndClassCitizen
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To: 2ndClassCitizen
Almost all foods are labelled as to content. So... if people are buying them, they must like the taste. As time goes on we find out the effects of what we do.

Yes, that's what I said.

The problem is not that our society is governed by pursuit of profit, but by pursuit of profit unbridled by conscience. Notice I said conscience, not government.

The pharmaceutical industry does not have a lock on us or anyone else. There is no hidden agenda, the reason that pharmaceutical companies get profit is because they are the best game in town.

Often true, not always true. Once they have to please shareholders, and compete with marketers for other companies, other things besides efficacy (such as ROGI hurdle) come into effect. Read this as: if the government makes you jump through *too many* human clinical trials to prevent another thalidomide, you pretty much have to either
a) go for blockbuster drugs to recoup your costs
b) go for "off-label" uses of the drugs
c) scavenge from other drugs coming off of patent
d) move clinical studies etc. to the third world to shave costs
e) cheat

In the meantime, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" : and there isn't anything *THAT* lucrative about actually going ahead and eating the way your grandmother nagged you to; and it isn't sexy enough to fund a lot of new research either.

Cheers!

9 posted on 10/08/2006 9:48:24 AM PDT by grey_whiskers
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To: grey_whiskers

There are what have been called "safety net" programs, but they have become behemoths of waste, and society as a whole would be better off without nanny government.

Now is a good time to remember the wise words of Ronald Reagan: "If you want to discourage something, tax it. If you want to encourage something, subsidize it." And another along the lines of: "If it moves, tax it. If it doesn't move, subsidize it. If it moves fast, regulate it."

You have to realize that, well-meaning as you may be, your "incentives" are merely subsidies for your own personal prejudices based on your personal experience. While I happen to agree with your findings, that doesn't warrant the government subsidizing our theories, and that is why you will catch flack for this part of your musings. Only liberals believe government should underwrite their idea of do-goodism.

Until people start (gasp!) taking responsibility for themselves and their families (as long as they believe "it takes a village"), government should not be in the do-good business. Every incremental loss of personal freedom is a surrender to the socialist nanny state.


10 posted on 10/08/2006 10:21:34 AM PDT by alwaysconservative (A cheerful heart is good medicine.)
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To: cgk
I was commenting on the post which I regard as false from the beginning. The idea that people who lived about 35 years for eons were somehow healthier than people who have 80 year old grannies is just silly. I know, for a fact, that most of the propaganda that comes out of the government, including the food pyramid, is influenced by lobbies from different ag states. Eat lots of grains and benefit the corn belt.

The thinking in this post is so full of generalizations and oversimplifications that it borders on conspiracy theorizing. It just happens to fall into a convenient prejudice of the left that corporations are somehow bad. Do some reearch and discover what a small part the evil big multinational corps actually play in our economy. Then relax and plant a garden or join a health club, if you want. but please stop generalizing about everyone in America and pretending to tend to our health.

11 posted on 10/08/2006 11:06:23 AM PDT by ClaireSolt (Have you have gotten mixed up in a mish-masher?)
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To: alwaysconservative
You have to realize that, well-meaning as you may be, your "incentives" are merely subsidies for your own personal prejudices based on your personal experience. While I happen to agree with your findings, that doesn't warrant the government subsidizing our theories, and that is why you will catch flack for this part of your musings. Only liberals believe government should underwrite their idea of do-goodism.

Don't know how to answer tactfully, as I think you are misunderstanding me. I agree with you about the fears of the nanny state: which is explicitly why I introduced it in terms of *economic* incentives, in order to bring market principles behind it. In Phoenix, many surrounding communities subsidize carpools or alternative transportation to work, to improve congestion and air quality. I was picking up $2.00 / day by bicylcing to work 12 miles each way at one point. Many other folks carpooled or rode motorcycles. This was not government coercion, but placing an explicit economic price on a desired activity.

As far as "personal prejudices" that is simply untrue. My wife works in the "back end" of the health care industry, as do I: we both get to see the *monetary* costs of illlnesses which are the results of lifestyle choices (smoking, sedentary lifestyle, too many snack foods). It is an objective physical fact that these elements within a lifestyle end up making people very sick over time. And sick people require large expenditures on their health.

As for me, I consider taking care of my health *mandatory*. Similar to charitable giving, I'm going to do it whether the government encourages it or not. But not everybody feels that way -- "it's too inconvenient" -- and this proposal is aimed at reaching them.

What I *am* concerned about is any number of people I see on the street who believe that having *chocolate* milk with their supersize fries and Big Mac constitutes "healthy eating." Yes, for them, it might be a step in the right direction -- (one small step for me, but everyone else thought it was an earthquake) -- but not enough. And after 20 or 30 years of that lifestyle, when they develop chronic diseases, *they* won't be troubled to pay for it, because, "why, it's an infringement on their freedom." Never mind that it is an infringement on MY freedom to tax me to shield them from the consequences of their actions.

And the "hearts and minds" approach the government uses--some poorly produced, miserably acted commercial "Now parents, it's ok to tell your kids not to smoke..." doesn't work. As humor columnist Dave Barry said, it's enough to make you want to rush out and inhale an entire carton of unfiltered Camels just for spite. So if public health is a compelling government goal, we need to find another way to do it.

NOW: A liberal (Hildebeast; Chicago and foie gras; New York and Trans-Fats) would remedy this in a way that LIMITS personal choice, and INCREASES government power, by MANDATING certain behaviours. I am *utterly* opposed to that. If the government has a compelling interest in people's health, it can do so (at the margin, and without curtailing FREEDOM !) by *paying for it*. In that way, people who otherwise would not be doing some healthy things might start doing it for the money; and some of them may find "hey, I like it" and keep the healthy habits. By analogy to letting people invest their own social security money, every penny saved now reaps compound interest by reducing the number of folks who will need massive government intervention later--intervention which the statists will be only too happy to provide.

It is also the best inoculation against Hillarycare that I can think of. If people are healthy, they won't *need* as many doctors, and the health industry won't be such a tempting target for the bureaucrats to continue muscling into.

Cheers!

12 posted on 10/08/2006 11:09:43 AM PDT by grey_whiskers
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To: grey_whiskers

I think she's talking to you 'generalizing about everyone in America')... AND me ('80year old grannie'). ?


13 posted on 10/08/2006 11:10:10 AM PDT by cgk (I don't see myself as a conservative. I see myself as a religious, right-wing, wacko extremist.)
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To: ClaireSolt
The thinking in this post is so full of generalizations and oversimplifications that it borders on conspiracy theorizing. It just happens to fall into a convenient prejudice of the left that corporations are somehow bad.

I am speechless. I went out of my way to say that corporations are NOT bad; and that the solution to these problems was by the hidden hand of the market. Please, re-read the last paragraph, again.

The problem is that when corporations get beyond a certain size, their own existence and profit margins take precedence over their customers.

When that happens, smaller, more nimble companies step in to meed the needs which are going unmet.

How does that = "corporations are bad"??

I know, for a fact, that most of the propaganda that comes out of the government, including the food pyramid, is influenced by lobbies from different ag states. Eat lots of grains and benefit the corn belt.

This vanity was Part III. If you read Part II, you'll see that I was saying essentially the same thing. A lot of the corporations were taking advantage of government prounouncements (ill-founded ones, too) in order to push sales of foods which could be produced cheaply and had a long shelf life. I even compared it to the "military-industrial complex."

My proposal was to re-look at which foods and which supplements really are good for you, instead of just buying into whatever government pronouncement was playing on Dr. Phil that day.

Cheers!

14 posted on 10/08/2006 11:20:08 AM PDT by grey_whiskers
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To: grey_whiskers

Just promise me you won't wear black socks with your Birkenstocks.


15 posted on 10/08/2006 11:55:50 AM PDT by lesser_satan (EKTHELTHIOR!!!)
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To: grey_whiskers
Well, I too have been thinking. Your post reminds me of a MLM sales pitch. It follows their pattern to a T. There are unrecognized forces at work in the modern world. You need something only found in an exotic place. Pay us $100/mo for the secret to eternal youth. Ask yourself this. Why doesn't this important breakthrough winning the Noble prize instead of just seeting up a Canadian website?

One example should refute your idea that big corporations are not sensitive to customers: New Coke, remember that one? You have never run a small company if you think they are not sensitive to profit margins. Whereas large corps have cash reserves, small companies can easily be undone by small changes and a few unprofitable weeks.

16 posted on 10/08/2006 12:25:02 PM PDT by ClaireSolt (Have you have gotten mixed up in a mish-masher?)
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To: ClaireSolt
Well, I too have been thinking. Your post reminds me of a MLM sales pitch.

LOL! You owe me a new keyboard!

...that's pretty rare when Photoshop isn't involved, too.

There are unrecognized forces at work in the modern world. You need something only found in an exotic place. Pay us $100/mo for the secret to eternal youth.

...oh, that's what you meant about MLM. Well, then, make up your mind. First you complain about lobbyists pressing us to eat 10 servings of grain a day to enrich the corn belt, then you attack me for being anti-capitalist for suggesting alternatives?

As I pointed out in the vanity, if you don't grow it yourself, you have to buy it from *somebody*. And most likely it will be either a big company *or* a small company.

The most exotic thing I recommended is fish oil supplements, which you can even pick up at Costco nowadays. As for the rest, what is so "exotic" about loading up on leafy green vegetables (now that the spinach scare is over, that is) and drinking water instead of soft drinks full of high fructose corn syrup?

I'm not trying for eternal youth, I just would rather approach old age looking more fit than the Michelin Man. :-)

One example should refute your idea that big corporations are not sensitive to customers: New Coke, remember that one?

If they'd done any decent market research, they wouldn't have *launched* New Coke. :-)

I didn't mean to imply ignoring customers was universal, even among big companies. But small companies (as you so rightly point out) pretty much *need* each and every customer.

Cheers!

17 posted on 10/08/2006 12:48:27 PM PDT by grey_whiskers
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To: lesser_satan
Just promise me you won't wear black socks with your Birkenstocks.

Too late! (Hey, my Nerd Score is 94, what do you expect?)

(see my Freeper home page near the bottom...)

Cheers!

18 posted on 10/08/2006 12:49:50 PM PDT by grey_whiskers
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To: grey_whiskers
If you want to improve your piece, you should remove all extraneous material. I said I disagreed with your initial premise, and since you have not defended it, it must not really have been your premise, at all. Maybe, it was the first thing you thought of.

Try building your argument based on what you really know and believe in. In reality, corporate profits have nothing to do with the benefits of fish oil and leafy vegs. Use fact and logic instead of fear of bogeymen.

19 posted on 10/08/2006 2:27:51 PM PDT by ClaireSolt (Have you have gotten mixed up in a mish-masher?)
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To: ClaireSolt
If you want to improve your piece, you should remove all extraneous material. I said I disagreed with your initial premise, and since you have not defended it, it must not really have been your premise, at all. Maybe, it was the first thing you thought of.

OK, here's my premise, and the article, boiled down.

Please note that I intended this to be "light reading" with a bit of thought provoking, or spurring people to thoughts, thrown in: and to let other crunchy cons know that they weren't the only ones out there on Free Republic. I wasn't trying to emulate Dr. Barry Sears, as it would drive away my intended audience--those who are not already "gung ho" over all this nutrition / fitness stuff...

I think my premise is that I am a crunchy conservative, meaning, I am interested in keeping my health and promoting that of others, in a way that preserves freedom without relying on coercive powers of government. 1. I think that many people eat diets rich in junk food, or failing that, do not bother to find out the science behind improved human diets beyond what the government food pyramid is, and what is presented in commercials (fatty foods are advertised as "sugar-free" while sugary foods are "fat free').

2. While the amount and variety of food prevents starvation and makes it easy to prevent malnutrition, much of the diet that is presented, and the foods which are most often advertised, are those which make agribusiness and certain distributors rich, NOT those which will primarily make people healthy.

3. I am concerned with my own health. But since my improved concentration on my own habits has done so much for me, I really don't want other people to miss out: even if it means considering foodstuffs or sources, or exercises which have typically been the domain of liberals. (That's the "crunchy" part.)

4. But I don't want the nanny state TELLING people what to do or forcing them to do it. Instead, I would prefer a solution which involves people's free choice, and the market. As far as the supply of food, that is happening due to smaller companies seeing the market segment which has for so long been neglected. As far as some nutritional supplements and / or exercise, the government could get involved by *paying for* or *offering tax cuts* to encourage that behaviour. (The free market and tax cuts stuff is the conservative part.)

5. If people do this, it will lower tax rates and the need for government intervention later on, as people in general will be much healthier, much longer. Ergo, we cut the knees out from under Hillarycare.

Cheers!

20 posted on 10/08/2006 2:45:32 PM PDT by grey_whiskers
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To: ClaireSolt
In reality, corporate profits have nothing to do with the benefits of fish oil and leafy vegs. Use fact and logic instead of fear of bogeymen.

*Snerk*.

I once worked a gig for an agribusiness with tens of BILLIONS a year in annual revenue.

They were all agog over "ROGI hurdle" meaning the MBA cost of money and operations--so anything which improved shelf life of food, anything which lowered production or shipping costs, anything which increased market share...

So they were interested in everything from using advanced algorithms for shipping, to GMO for greater yields and pesticide resistance, to transport and storage characteristics of their foodstuffs.

And partial hydrogenation of oils greatly improves their shelf life (slows down the oxidation rate as there are not as many double bonds for the oxygen to attack); but at the side effect of trans-fats which aren't good for the person eating them.

To give the company credit, they were pursuing neutraceuticals in a number of joint ventures, years ago: but only because they saw a *large* profit potential. Just as with pharmaceuticals, it's hard to get behemoth companies interested in an niche market.

And to my mind, many of the organic foods and supplements are just now making it into the mainstream.

Cheers!

21 posted on 10/08/2006 2:55:57 PM PDT by grey_whiskers
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To: grey_whiskers

Thanks for the ping.


22 posted on 10/09/2006 6:31:44 AM PDT by Vor Lady
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To: grey_whiskers
If the government wants to encourage healthier food, (since it is in society’s best interest for people to live long *healthy* lives, and not to need a lot of expensive health care), then they should establish incentives for healthier habits.

There's where you lost me, as I imagined you would from your first thread. The answer to counterproductive subsidies is not to establish dueling subsidies. The answer to counterproductive incentives is to eliminate them.

In my opinion, there is no other conservative position on this issue. The government should have no interest in my health.

One might respond, "Yes, but the government is involved." Well, get them uninvolved. More government is always bad.

23 posted on 10/09/2006 7:28:14 AM PDT by Tax-chick (If you believe you can forgive, you're right. If you believe you can't forgive, you're right.)
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To: Tax-chick
There's where you lost me, as I imagined you would from your first thread. The answer to counterproductive subsidies is not to establish dueling subsidies. The answer to counterproductive incentives is to eliminate them.

I hear and respect your position--but I believe that the above sentence is a slight misunderstanding.

I do not look on Medicaid, Medicare, etc. as a "subsidy" as such. I understand your point, you want the government to be completely "laissez-faire" with regard to personal issues.

The first step in that direction (in a practical sense) is to replace coercive, or destructive, involvement with less intrusive involvement.

I didn't *necessarily* mean it as subsidizing good behaviour would be an ideal position, or even the final state of things.

You'll notice I recommended a) letting market forces work on supply; and b) the government offering a bounty, which introduces a free-market incentive, with "opt in" by the public, rather than forcing anyone to do things.

In my opinion, there is no other conservative position on this issue. The government should have no interest in my health.

I disagree, for rather complex reasons. I think there is a compelling government interest in *public* health; that is why there are laws on treatment of sewage, laws on cleanliness in restaurants, etc. Might I suggest that another question is how *intrusive* the government's interest in health should be.

One might respond, "Yes, but the government is involved." Well, get them uninvolved. More government is always bad.

More government always poses the *risk* of going bad.

I don't think the country would be better with an infrastructure comprised mainly of privately held toll roads, for example.

I agree that we definitely want less government, and that the government shouldn't be a haven for "do-gooder" "busybodies"--that leads to too much interference in people's lives. But I'm not quite sure where the line between libertarian and conservative is; and my own views have changed over time. I'm not claiming to have all the answers; just that I've stumbled over some of the right questions. At least I hope so.

Thanks for replying, I'd love to hear more from you: and I'm glad that you are raising your tax-chikadees to be self-reliant ! :-)

Cheers!

24 posted on 10/09/2006 8:18:38 PM PDT by grey_whiskers
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To: grey_whiskers
Indeed, I was generalizing in some of my statements; I tend to broad-brush because I'm always in a hurry to find out what sort of disaster has occured while I didn't have my 2-year-old in sight :-).

I do not look on Medicaid, Medicare, etc. as a "subsidy" as such.

Okay, I'll drop the word rather than argue over it. However, Medicare and Medicaid are systems under which taxpayers are forced to pay for (overwhelmingly) non-taxpayers' medical care, regardless of whether the non-taxpayers live responsibly or idiotically. This leads both to economically irresponsible use of medical care by the recipients, and to hostility on the part of taxpayers.

These systems, along with others that provide money and free services to those who make counterproductive choices in life, are a huge part of our economy. Eliminating them, making people financially responsible for their decisions, would have an enormous positive effect.

I hope to continue this discussion later, if other duties permit. It is an interesting subject, and you are a very reasonable person with whom to exchange conflicting positions :-).

25 posted on 10/10/2006 4:29:39 AM PDT by Tax-chick (If you believe you can forgive, you're right. If you believe you can't forgive, you're right.)
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To: Tax-chick
Gotta get ready for work; and boy scouts is tonight.

Just a "mea culpa" -- you're right, Medicaid and Medicare *are* a subsidy in the sense you meant: I thought you meant like paying people *not* to grow crops.

Cheers!

26 posted on 10/10/2006 6:17:52 AM PDT by grey_whiskers
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To: Tax-chick
I'm always in a hurry to find out what sort of disaster has occured while I didn't have my 2-year-old in sight :-).

Yes, the stage when they become "self-propelled" is always fun: and then they learn the word "NO!"

Prayers up for ya, thanks for the sense of humor and proportion. :-)

Cheers!

27 posted on 10/10/2006 6:31:11 AM PDT by grey_whiskers
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To: grey_whiskers

My oldest daughter has convinced the 2-year-old that insects are crunchy!


28 posted on 10/10/2006 9:19:03 AM PDT by Tax-chick (If you believe you can forgive, you're right. If you believe you can't forgive, you're right.)
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To: grey_whiskers
I thought you meant like paying people *not* to grow crops.

The farm program has some interesting parallels with what you're proposing for the health situation. In the farm program, first the government artificially drives up the price of food, through payments to farmers, import restrictions, direct purchases of commodities, and so on. Then, the government thinks food is too expensive, so it gives some of the people vouchers to pay for their food, and gives free food to others.

Another similar situation is the child-care industry. (This is particularly interesting from a health standpoint, because day-care centers and preschools are the #1 top infectious disease growth point in the country. If there were no daycare centers, there would probably be no significant infectious disease outbreaks.)

In this industry, the government directly pays some of the operating costs of some centers; it provides some customers with the funds to pay for day care; and it offers other users a tax credit for their costs. And then, having observed that families are struggling with high taxes, the government gives credits for children, whether they attend day care or not.

We have to remember that in all these situations, as in the health situation you're arguing, the money that's being distributed by the government is confiscated from the taxpayers under threat of armed force, based on criteria that have nothing to do with the issue at hand. "Would you kill your mother to pave I-95?" as P.J. O'Rourke famously asked. Or "Would you kill your mother so your brother could have free vitamins?"

My opinion on all this is that it would be better to remove the government's distortions from the market for all these various goods and services, and allow the citizens to make their own, uncoerced choices; pay for their choices themselves; and accept the good or bad consequences of their decisions.

29 posted on 10/10/2006 9:29:52 AM PDT by Tax-chick (If you believe you can forgive, you're right. If you believe you can't forgive, you're right.)
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To: grey_whiskers

GW,

I didn't know you were in the Phoenix area. Another crunchy 'zonie. Too bad you don't live in the East Valley I belong to a great produce co-op.


30 posted on 10/10/2006 9:38:42 AM PDT by HungarianGypsy
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To: Tax-chick
How dare you quote P.J. O'Rourke? He's one of my favorite authors! :-)

Your point of view is the strict constructionist take on the constitution. I can't find the article, but Rush Limbaugh had a piece on it some time back, about (IIRC) an argument in Congress in (say) the early 1800's about whether to give a pension to a widow of some decorated veteran. He richly deserved it; she needed the money; etc. etc. -- but the right to fund such things was NOT constitutional.

I am a strict constructionist, and I would approve (and I long for) the days when the three branches of the US government return to a constructionist posture...as someone's tag line says, "The Constitution may not be much, but it beats what we have now."

BUT--given how much we have slid from Constitutional principles--excuse me.

Did I say "slid"??

It's a lie. We were pushed and cajoled by leftists, socialist, Marxists, moles, trolls, and others, for the express purpose of destroying the Constitution. That effort has taken decades if not longer.

So--given how much we have forsaken Constitutional principles--I think our society would get the civics equivalent of "the bends" suffered by deep-sea divers, if we attempted to go cold-turkey on the corruption.

I think that it would take (say) 10-30 years at minimum (if we advanced change at a breakneck pace) to get back to something like obeying the Constitution.

That is why I proposed gradual measures. And if you will note in my earlier piece, I said that I hoped a good number of people, once started on a healthy lifestyle, would embrace it to the point that they'd keep going, even if the subsidy was removed.

Think "triage" in a medical sense. I'm aiming at the people in the middle, and trying to ratchet down government interference (insofar as it is there) to less intrusive, more market-friendly measures...

I wish the goverment weren't already involved. But given that it is, I want its interference at a minimum, and its tentacles less toxic.

Cheers! Full Disclosure: Yes, I see what you mean about the farm program and day care. The modus operandi of government is :

1) Create--by policy of propaganda--some problem.

2) Appoint a commision dominated by those cherry picked to deliver the "solution" you want.

3) Announce the commision's "findings" which almost always call for more regulations or bureaucracy.

4) Implement the regulations and bureaucracy to *maximize* the law of 'unintended' consequences.

5) Use the unintended consequences to prove that your bureacuracy is underfunded.

6) Apply, later, rinse, repeat.

As (I think) Jefferson said, it is the natural tendency of government to gain ground, and for individual liberty to yield.

31 posted on 10/10/2006 9:47:19 PM PDT by grey_whiskers
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To: grey_whiskers

Maggie Gallagher seems to agree with you!

http://www.townhall.com/columnists/MaggieGallagher/2006/10/11/trans_fatty_nation

Frankly, I've about reached the point where, if our government says "trans-fats" are bad for me, I'll run out and buy a hundred-gross (or whatever their unit of measure is) just on g.p. :-).


32 posted on 10/11/2006 5:49:33 AM PDT by Tax-chick (If you believe you can forgive, you're right. If you believe you can't forgive, you're right.)
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To: Tax-chick
T-C:Indeed, I was generalizing in some of my statements; I tend to broad-brush because I'm always in a hurry to find out what sort of disaster has occured while I didn't have my 2-year-old in sight :-). G_W: I do not look on Medicaid, Medicare, etc. as a "subsidy" as such. T-C:Okay, I'll drop the word rather than argue over it. Don't do that. Yours is a perfectly acceptable alternative usage. And, come to think of it, you are right!

T-C:However, Medicare and Medicaid are systems under which taxpayers are forced to pay for (overwhelmingly) non-taxpayers' medical care, regardless of whether the non-taxpayers live responsibly or idiotically. This leads both to economically irresponsible use of medical care by the recipients, and to hostility on the part of taxpayers. G_W: Agree wholeheartedly. Someday if you have the chance to read it (between all the chickadees and Freeping, it might be a while?), try a copy of The Servile State by Hilaire Belloc. It was written in 1913 and predicted the modern welfare state (as you describe above) as the inevitable consequence of the collision of captialism and communism...

T-C: These systems, along with others that provide money and free services to those who make counterproductive choices in life, are a huge part of our economy. Eliminating them, making people financially responsible for their decisions, would have an enormous positive effect. G_W: As the mathematicians say, "If and only if" people also change their behaviour at the same time. Between the power-grubbing "bread and circuses" politicians, and those on the dole, and the bureaucrats and companies who *administer* the programs, there are many vested interests who would love to see the present system continue...or even expand.

But yes, you Absolutely have the right goal in mind!

T-C:I hope to continue this discussion later, if other duties permit. It is an interesting subject, and you are a very reasonable person with whom to exchange conflicting positions :-).

Thank you! We aim to please :-)

Cheers!

33 posted on 10/11/2006 6:31:22 PM PDT by grey_whiskers
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To: grey_whiskers
T-C: These systems, along with others that provide money and free services to those who make counterproductive choices in life, are a huge part of our economy. Eliminating them, making people financially responsible for their decisions, would have an enormous positive effect.

G_W: As the mathematicians say, "If and only if" people also change their behaviour at the same time.

I have to disagree with that. Whether the people changed their behavior or not, their choices would be their own financial responsibility, not the taxpayers'.

One obvious means to accomplish this would be to genuinely privatize health insurance. Give the tax deduction to the taxpayer, not the employer, and make the insured, not the employer, the contracting party. I predict that this change would quickly produce a variety of "insurance" options (most "health insurance plans" are prepayment plans already, anyway). For those with healthy habits, there would be affinity groups such as the Christian cost-sharing plans already in existence.

(On a side note, as a former life-and-health actuarial employee, I'd question whether riding a bicycle to work would lead to mortality/morbidity savings. Yes, the exercise is good, but the exposure to weather, accident, and auto pollution might cancel out any cost savings, in the context of an insurance group. At least I'd want to run the numbers, before giving a discount :-)

In general, I agree with your points. It's always easier to add on something to the mountain of already-existing government programs than it is to eliminate what is not working. Your suggestion of a new government subsidy for certain products and activities would certainly benefit the immediate recipients of the subsidy, but would there be any benefit beyond that, to the taxpayer? I doubt it. We have to remember that the main beneficiaries of any government program are the bureaucrats who run it, and the "providers" (manufacturers, etc.) who pay the politicians and bureaucrats to keep the money flowing their way. There's a very interesting discussion about the money behind the "Morning After Pill" in this week's "Human Events."

34 posted on 10/12/2006 4:38:47 AM PDT by Tax-chick (If you believe you can forgive, you're right. If you believe you can't forgive, you're right.)
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To: cgk
I've read a few studies as well, detailing the costs to our health that hydrogenated and partially-hydrogenated oils can have, and that these additives have a direct link to the increase in Multiple Sclerosis patients in "modern" countries where foods containing them are mass-produced.

If that is the case (and I'm not discounting it), then there must be something else that goes "wrong" along the way to allow MS to set in. Maybe it's a faulty gene? e.g. a person with this faulty gene consumes trans-fats, which eventually brings on MS? The problem is that there are just SO many variables, that oftentimes, it's difficult to sort it all out.

Just look at the research into coffee consumption. One study finds that it's harmful, the other helpful. We are constantly barraged with all of these "studies", yet it's hard to assimilate all of them to try to do the right thing. Don't get me wrong: we NEED research, but it gets to the point where you just say to yourself "I give up, I'm just going to do things in moderation, and hope for the best". My 2 pennies....

35 posted on 10/12/2006 5:29:59 PM PDT by Born Conservative (Chronic Positivity - http://jsher.livejournal.com/)
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To: Tax-chick
We have to remember that the main beneficiaries of any government program are the bureaucrats who run it, and the "providers" (manufacturers, etc.) who pay the politicians and bureaucrats to keep the money flowing their way. There's a very interesting discussion about the money behind the "Morning After Pill" in this week's "Human Events."

Came across this while researching for another thread.

Can you say "Sandra Fluke" ??

Cheers!

36 posted on 12/15/2012 8:51:37 AM PST by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
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To: grey_whiskers

Gosh, I was really smart back in 2006!


37 posted on 12/15/2012 9:36:36 AM PST by Tax-chick (I'm a nightmare, not a dream.)
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