“One of the methods used by statists to destroy capitalism consists in establishing controls that tie a given industry hand and foot, making it unable to solve its problems, then declaring that freedom has failed and stronger controls are necessary.”
Ayn Rand, 1975
At the time the above words were spoken, a sinister revolution was taking place in Western eating habits, though it is unlikely many people will have been aware of it at the time. Scientifically unsound ideas into the harmful effects of saturated fats on the human body were gaining traction and, two years later, the US Government threw its hideous strength behind the campaign. Not for the first time in the 20th century, the rest of West followed.
There can be few more powerful arguments against big government than what happened next. As this graph demonstrates with stunning accuracy, the number of obese adults in the United States skyrocketed, beginning a spiralling health crisis which continues to worsen with each passing year and is paralleled in only mildly less severe forms across the developed world.
The US Government’s official vilification of saturated fats, combined with the enormously expanded subsidies to corn farmers begun by Richard Nixon, meant savoury food processors began replacing fat – which any liberty-loving carnivore will tell you is the source of most flavour in cooking – with one of the most poisonous substances a human can imbibe: high fructose corn syrup.
Fructose is incredibly detrimental to health. Your body quite simply has no idea what to do with it – being utterly devoid of nutrients – and, unlike glucose (which is essentially the body’s fuel), it is instead processed by the liver and pancreas into fat rather than being used as energy. It is basically the perfect recipe for obesity and diabetes. Thus, in exactly the same way the protectionist corn and spirit laws of the 18th century created a “Mothers’ Ruin” gin epidemic, so US subsidisation of corn is literally killing and disabling its population.
Why is this important? Because, as if to prove Ayn Rand’s maxim, governments across the developed world are now rounding on the manufacturers of sweets and sugary drinks in a desperate attempt to solve a problem they themselves created. Worse still, they are using the rhetoric of the campaign against smoking as their primary weapon against this scapegoat in an attempt to tax sugary treats and ruin their packaging with ugly health warnings.
Spearheading this idiotic lack of soundness, as ever, is the State of California. Not only has the City of Berkeley successfully imposed a tax on sugary drinks but legislators in the State Senate itself are now eagerly attempting to become the first legislature to slap tobacco-style health warnings on cans of Coca-Cola and the like in an effort to wean the Californian population off these sugary liquid treats.
But, once again, the socialist killjoys are way off-target and are happily making people’s lives, and pleasures, more expensive rather than tackling the root of the problem where obesity and diabetes are concerned.
Because, apart from the fact sugar intake from sweet drinks had fallen by 37 per cent in the last ten years, it is far easier to control your intake of sugary drinks and sweets – and that of your children – than it is to avoid the immense amounts of sugar in processed savoury foods. The negative health effects of one is mind-numbingly obvious, the other, not so much.
If US legislators really wanted to tackle their obesity and diabetes crises, they could start by ending the market-distorting agricultural subsidies which already consign much of the third world to grinding poverty and rescinding their immensely harmful guidelines and regulations on fats and salt in processed food, allowing the market to naturally correct itself by using ingredients which are not only better for you but taste immeasurably better.
As ever, to quote Ronald Reagan, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”