Friday, 22 April 2011

Good Friday and chocolate

There is a column in today's Mercurio which brilliantly ties in some Good Friday themes and the current debate on the so-called Ley del Super 8, aimed at limiting how much access children have to junk food while at school.

The column makes a good point about different kinds of food prohibitions in history -- from why Jews do not eat bacon to why supermarkets in the West do not sell filet of Snoopy.

But Gallagher is wrong on the Super 8 Law. For him, as with most economists in Chile, it's all about freedom to choose (for junk food, if not for abortions or day after pills). He talks about being in favor of consumers having access to all the information necessary in order to make an informed decision. This is the old perfect market sham. Not only does it not exist, it makes no sense when it comes to children. Just as parents have the right to decide what to feed their children, society should have the right to decide collectively what to feed its children.

I understand (judging from glimpses of late night cable that make me fall asleep) that Jaime Oliver is going through similar battles in the US, where school boards, committed to keeping costs down, are fighting his attempts to introduce healthier foods in school cafeterias. At the same time, critics on the right are lambasting Michelle Obama for suggesting that Americans -- subject to the biggest obesity epidemic in history -- try to cut down on the Whoppers.

For those Republicans, as for Gallagher, it seems to be another small step towards Communism. They should see it as a giant leap towards the gym.

1 comment:

Davis Jones said...

I agree Robert. Children, even if given "all the information," will select the rubbish to put in their stomachs. The advertising, packaging and taste of the junk food is too much for an undeveloped mind to refuse. I'm an economist, and I think that this issue is more about the long-term health of the citizen body, which will have positive externalities, than it is about the right for Coca Cola and other companies in the food sector to market and sell to youngsters.