Join 3,440 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)

Tags:

Economic policy in a squeeze bottle
March 16, 2009 6:03 AM   Subscribe

"Libertarians Are Dumb, or Why We Eat Heinz Ketchup"
posted by expriest (180 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite

 
I like ketchup, and I especially like non-moldy ketchup, so I approve of this post.
posted by jquinby at 6:08 AM on March 16, 2009


Matt’s discussion of this conceit focuses on the credit rating industry, but the libertarian premise was debunked over a hundred years ago in a much simpler market: food.

Yeah, I've never understood how someone can look at history (recent or otherwise) and say that people desiring X means that X will be made available to them. Other examples include clean drinking water, education for women, police protection, a hassle-free highway system, steam powered robot cotton picking devices, etc.

“consumers want to buy safe goods. This means that producers want to be able to credibly signal the safety of their goods. That means that there ought to be, in a [regulation] free world, a market opportunity for [] firms that rate the safety of consumer products.”

Libertarians are making the same fallacy that economists do, which is that the consumer has perfect information (not to mention infinite free time). If the ketchup company lies to me for a profit, why couldn't the credit agency do the same?

The government, not being profit oriented, won't do that. OTOH, if they get in bed with the corps they may do so (cf: now). And this, btw, is one reason why we don't want to "run the government like a business". Then we'd have a business running our government and the dystopia that implies.
posted by DU at 6:14 AM on March 16, 2009 [35 favorites]


Pretty weak for a FPP.
posted by timsteil at 6:14 AM on March 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Interesting that Heinz ketchup bottles are now red plastic instead of clear... or is that just the restaurant ones?
posted by odinsdream at 6:20 AM on March 16, 2009


I've never seen a non-clear Heinz-branded bottle. Even restaurants have glass. Interesting that most squeezable mustard is non-clear, though.
posted by DU at 6:21 AM on March 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Restaurant ones, or at least not all Heinz bottles.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:22 AM on March 16, 2009


This thread will be closed after 57 comments.
posted by jonmc at 6:23 AM on March 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


You know, even if the tomatoes are fresh, it's still a sugary, salty red slurry of crap.
posted by David Fleming at 6:25 AM on March 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I've never understood how someone can look at history (recent or otherwise) and say that people desiring X means that X will be made available to them.

And where are the air-cars we have all wanted for lo, these many years? I do not want a new air-superiority fighter, but that's what they keep making me buy. Then they won't let me fly it.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:25 AM on March 16, 2009 [14 favorites]


An alternate read of the Heinz article suggests that a major producer was able to lobby the government to regulate the industry beyond what consumers wanted, closing out all of the low-cost providers, and granting them a monopoly that persists to this day.
posted by jenkinsEar at 6:28 AM on March 16, 2009 [24 favorites]


beyond what consumers wanted

So what consumers wanted was moldy ketchup dyed, hidden and spiced to look and taste similar to the real thing?
posted by DU at 6:31 AM on March 16, 2009 [14 favorites]


Ketchup! It's got what ketchup eaters crave!
posted by cotterpin at 6:33 AM on March 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Go Steelers!
posted by Pollomacho at 6:39 AM on March 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


An alternate read of the Heinz article suggests that a major producer was able to lobby the government to regulate the industry beyond what consumers wanted, closing out all of the low-cost providers, and granting them a monopoly that persists to this day.

60% isn't a monopoly and a trip to the supermarket will quickly tell you that the low cost providers are still in business
posted by pyramid termite at 6:40 AM on March 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


What about Velveeta?
posted by Burhanistan at 6:40 AM on March 16, 2009


Translation for this FPP - All extremists should be shot.
posted by caddis at 6:45 AM on March 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Given the history of coloring rotten ketchup, it's amusing to remember the colored ketchup, which eventually included green, purple, pink, orange, teal, and blue variants. They stopped coloring ketchup in 2006.

Consumer advocacy today often pushing for more government oversight or government-enforced labeling. The fact we now have a plethora of information provided on food packages allows consumers to make informed decisions we weren't able to previously. The "alternate read" of the Heinz ketchup story is that people didn't know what they were getting, and assumed the best only to get the worst. We have government regulations, and we still get rotten peanut butter sold to mass markets. This is not a reason to do away with the FDA, but make sure it doesn't work like a business, as DU said.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:46 AM on March 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


It starts with ketchup. But it ends with the War on Drugs.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:50 AM on March 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yes, this is weak, as an article and FPP. I read this "the Nineteenth Century saw the rise of processed food" and wondered what "processed food" could possibly mean. If you think about it, bread is quite a few steps from grain...
posted by MarshallPoe at 6:52 AM on March 16, 2009


Imagine that there are two kinds of packaged food: cheap stuff that's got who-knows-what in it, and more expensive stuff that contains pure, wholesome ingredients.

Which set do you think would be used to calculate food costs for "middle class" or "the poverty level"? Which do you think would influence how we set the minimum wage, or food stamp allocations?

And who, among those who grow up eating this less-good food, will have the energy and wherewithal to figure out a system where everybody gets the more wholesome food?
posted by amtho at 6:54 AM on March 16, 2009 [16 favorites]


I'm with Tim Steil, interesting history, but awful logic; market forces if anything were the force behind the federal government's food regulation.

You think that Heinz CEO went to Teddy and promised nothing in return for putting all of his competitor's out of business?
posted by stratastar at 6:57 AM on March 16, 2009


I like how Libertarians in this county have their meetings in the public library. Meanwhile, the next county over doesn't have a library system because its citizens voted for smaller government...
posted by Foosnark at 6:59 AM on March 16, 2009 [48 favorites]


We have government regulations, and we still get rotten peanut butter sold to mass markets.

There have been a lot of news stories about Bush appointing industry lobbyists to management positions at the FDA and cutting funding, so that could have something to do with the peanut butter.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:03 AM on March 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


It starts with ketchup. But it ends with the War on Drugs.

False dichotomy, but even so I'd gladly give up marijuana (which I don't actually use anyway) if it means I can eat non-rotten food.
posted by DU at 7:05 AM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


An alternate read of the Heinz article suggests that a major producer was able to lobby the government to regulate the industry beyond what consumers wanted, closing out all of the low-cost providers, and granting them a monopoly that persists to this day.

While I wouldn't go so far as to say that regulation granted Heinz a monopoly, you touch on an interesting aspect of the story, that public demand for pure food was insufficient to create the political will for change and that it took a large firm to make it happen. Mancur Olson's book, The Logic of Collective Action, is a great read on the subject. In very mathematical/economic terms, Olson lays out exactly why it is that consumers (and indeed any latent, unorganized group) are unable to effectively lobby for their interests. Put simply, consumers are unable to organize to lobby for pure foods because the benefit of food regulation is nonselective, which is to say that I'll benefit from the FDA even if I didn't help to lobby for its creation. This is the problem of free-ridership.

Producers, on the other hand, frequently organize for benefits ancillary to lobbying (think The Grange) that are selective only to dues-paying members (professional training, parties, &c). Lobbying under this model occurs naturally as a by-product. A good example of this is sugar in the US. Consumers pay about three times the true value of sugar because the few stateside sugar producers managed to lobby effectively for price controls. A simplistic libertarian theory would suggest that the consumers, being the larger group, could demand lower prices and act democratically to effect change. The problems of free ridership prevent this scenario and the tyranny of the minority continues.
posted by The White Hat at 7:08 AM on March 16, 2009 [29 favorites]


Yes, this is weak, as an article and FPP. I read this "the Nineteenth Century saw the rise of processed food" and wondered what "processed food" could possibly mean.

Umm, "canning" became popular, for one thing.

If you think about it, bread is quite a few steps from grain...

...wha?!
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:09 AM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I read the post as "Librarians" are dumb - this makes more sense.
posted by synthetik at 7:12 AM on March 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


DU: "I'd gladly give up marijuana (which I don't actually use anyway) if it means I can eat non-rotten food."

This reminds me of the joke where a customer protests at being told bagels cost a quarter - "But the guy across the street sells bagels for only a dime!" On being asked why he doesn't buy his bagel there, he says "He's out of bagels right now." The storekeeper replies, "Well, when I'm out of bagels, they're only a nickel."
posted by Joe Beese at 7:15 AM on March 16, 2009 [17 favorites]


Come on, isn't this the final word on why we eat Heinz?
posted by sappidus at 7:17 AM on March 16, 2009 [14 favorites]


Kinda off-topic, but does ketchup need to be refrigerated after opening, or doesn't it?

Someone needs to provide me with a definitive answer here.
posted by jeremy b at 7:19 AM on March 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


I used to tell my kids that catsup LOOKED a lot like ketchup, but had a different name because it was a kind of soup made out of cats. I do not totally disbelieve this.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:23 AM on March 16, 2009 [11 favorites]


Yes, keep the pot in the fridge.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:23 AM on March 16, 2009


Yes, this is weak, as an article and FPP. I read this "the Nineteenth Century saw the rise of processed food" and wondered what "processed food" could possibly mean. If you think about it, bread is quite a few steps from grain...

enriched flour has an interesting history: the industrial production of 'white' flour strips out much of the vitamins from the original grain: even with more bread being produced the nutritional outcome was worse. the enriching of bread didn't happen until the 1940's due to the activism of the us army.
posted by geos at 7:25 AM on March 16, 2009


This nation went all to hell when:
1. younger generation began to put catsup on hotdogs
2. the Rat Pack died out
3. Disco music was ignored.

bring back patent medicine and screw the big pharms! Remember Hadacall? cured everything, they claimed. Turned out it was mostly alchohol. The name: owner said We had to call it something.
posted by Postroad at 7:27 AM on March 16, 2009


single link FPPs should at least have been run through a spellchecker, no? unless we are meant to distinguish between Heinz and its low-cost competitor Heniz??

and ^^yes, ketchup needs to be refrigerated after opening. you know it's gone off when little bubbles start to rise through it (even though it still tastes fine, obviously).
posted by molecicco at 7:28 AM on March 16, 2009


An alternate read of the Heinz article suggests that a major producer was able to lobby the government to regulate the industry beyond what consumers wanted, closing out all of the low-cost providers, and granting them a monopoly that persists to this day.

While that is indeed notable and worthy of examination, if you focus on that, you'll miss a few other important items:
1) "Market forces left thousands of Americans sick from tomato mold." There was a measurable benefit from the regulation, not merely a change in market control.
2) "Heinz joined the chorus of scientists, consumer advocates and government officials who were clamouring for federal oversight." In other words, they joined a bandwagon, and provided clout to an already existing desire in the public sphere.
3) "[Heinz] quickly capitalized on the vacuum that formed as the rancid ketchup industry collapsed." The fact that they gained the advantage was dependent on factors beyond the regulation: they moved quickly, and their competitors were dependent on a supply of a particular product (moldy tomatoes) that disappeared.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 7:31 AM on March 16, 2009 [12 favorites]


i prefer Fancy Ketchup.
posted by fuzzypantalones at 7:37 AM on March 16, 2009


A counter example would be Underwriters Laboratories, I trust their certification a lot more than the government's. Unfortunately the closest they get to food is drinking water. The USDA actually inspects a tiny fraction of our food, I'd pay a little extra to make sure that there's no melamine in my kids food.
posted by 445supermag at 7:45 AM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


but even so I'd gladly give up marijuana (which I don't actually use anyway)

Quite a sacrifice!
posted by delmoi at 7:49 AM on March 16, 2009 [10 favorites]


A counter example would be Underwriters Laboratories, I trust their certification a lot more than the government's.

UL is in turn regulated by the government.

The problem with USDA's minimal testing isn't laziness. It's lack of manpower to police the enormity of the food supply. If you are will to "pay a little extra" then write your congressperson that you want the marginal tax rate on the top 10% of the wealthy raised to ensure food safety.
posted by DU at 7:52 AM on March 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


The Free Market notion of consumer demand creating corporate response is a fairy tale. It rests on a lie, i.e., that the corporations see consumers as a sort of advisory board or democratic system on which they happily rely for direction.

They do not. Corporations see consumers as a mass of ignorant cattle with whom they are at war. They resent having to even provide products, & would much prefer to be paid for simply existing.

It didn't start with the Bush years, but an important portion of them was dedicated to this goal, using tax breaks, regulatory chicanery, & corporate bailouts as tools to achieve it.
posted by Forrest Greene at 7:54 AM on March 16, 2009 [30 favorites]


My father told me that growing up in Pittsburgh, he and his friends would go to the train yards of the Heinz plant, and pee in the pickle vats.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:03 AM on March 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


An alternate read of the Heinz article suggests that a major producer was able to lobby the government to regulate the industry beyond what consumers wanted

Yes, consumers wanted ketchup made from rotten tomatoes that they didn't know was made from rotten tomatoes.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:14 AM on March 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


synthetik - I also read it that way, and wondered if this would be a story about how cutting librarians in schools leads to worse test scores (or in less PC terms: dumber kids).
posted by filthy light thief at 8:15 AM on March 16, 2009



...interesting history, but awful logic; market forces if anything were the force behind the federal government's food regulation.


This criticism misses the entire point of (a) the libertarian claim and (b) the historical counterexample.

The libertarian claim is that, regardless of the market forces at work, the government should never be called in to regulate. The argument goes that since buyers have the power to buy other brands if one is dangerously unhealthy, there is no need for government oversight -- companies will want to make safe food because it's good for business. Hence government oversight is unnecessary and wasteful.

A historical counterexample to this argument is the case of Heinz ketchup: even though Heinz was offering a safe product when the rest of the industry was offering rotten tomatoes, Heinz wasn't able to compete successfully.

Now, you say that this counterexample doesn't go through because "market forces if anything were the force behind the federal government's food regulation." How does that affect the argument in any way? If Heinz hadn't successfully lobbied the government to interfere, these other ketchup brands wouldn't have been put out of business. That is what you need to dispute if you want to say the logic is bad. But I think it's a pretty solid claim...these companies didn't just spring up overnight, they'd been selling bad products for a while!
posted by voltairemodern at 8:26 AM on March 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


FWIW...I used to work in a tavern/restauramt when I was a teen, and every table had a Heinz bottle. We filled them up out of a big jug of generic stuff in back.
posted by timsteil at 8:27 AM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


The road of skulls will be privately funded!
posted by Artw at 8:38 AM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Aren't we being too hasty in chastising mold? Give me a good Sliton sauce over tomato ketchup any day.

Some people prefer their cheese with a tangy blue streak of bacteria running through, perhaps there are analogous preferences within the ketchup market.

So a libertarian response to this article might be: "If the majority want their ketchup sanitized, fine, but that doesn't legitimate state interference into the minorities' freedom to choose their preferred condiment."

This holds while we're talking about matters of taste. A ketchup that makes everyone ill is not a viable product, I would have thought.
posted by verisimilitude at 8:39 AM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


In China, perhaps.
posted by Artw at 8:41 AM on March 16, 2009


The libertarian claim is that, regardless of the market forces at work, the government should never be called in to regulate.

It's nice to always paint a group by its extreme viewpoint.
You know liberals in this country just want to turn us into a communist state.
posted by caddis at 8:45 AM on March 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


I gave up ketchup as a child, when I realized that I could, instead, wait patiently for my food to cool before eating it.
posted by box at 8:46 AM on March 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


This thread will be closed after 57 comments.

Well, it'll be more like 6 thousand, but it'll still claim 57.
posted by opsin at 8:49 AM on March 16, 2009


Large amounts of ketchup still traumatize me.

Thanks Mr. Regan for declaring it a fruit! I could have gone without the daily dose of ketchup on my lunch tray and being forced to eat any excess before being excused to recess.
posted by rand at 8:49 AM on March 16, 2009


People actually eat ketchup?! What on earth for? Fries require mayonnaise, hamburgers take tomatoes, and hotdogs are either smothered in chilli and onions, or inedible. WTF?
posted by Goofyy at 8:52 AM on March 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


If Libertarians had even the most rudimentary background in the history of their own country, they'd be familiar with the Gilded age and all the various late-19th-century outrages that necessitated the Progressive Era and New Deal.

So it's not terribly coincidental that nearly every Libertarian I've ever known came from some sort of technical or engineering background, and were unburdened by any sort of historical education. Also, to a one, they've all been white and upper-middle class, yet were happier than a pig in shit to expound the virtues of "pulling oneself up by their own bootstraps."

In short, fuck Libertarianism.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:54 AM on March 16, 2009 [25 favorites]


It's nice to always paint a group by its extreme viewpoint.

If you read my comment that way, you made it more yours than it was mine. And you're welcome to that reading, just, you know, keep it away from me.
posted by voltairemodern at 8:54 AM on March 16, 2009


57th comment
posted by mistersquid at 8:54 AM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Interesting that Heinz ketchup bottles are now red plastic instead of clear... or is that just the restaurant ones?

I have heard that the ring of paper at the top hides the ketchup surface, to which visible insect parts can float and collect in new bottles.
posted by jfrancis at 8:56 AM on March 16, 2009


Translation for this FPP - All extremists should be shot.

If you go that route be sure to get ALL of them. From ALL political parties.
posted by a3matrix at 8:56 AM on March 16, 2009


Mustard is better.
posted by jonmc at 8:58 AM on March 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


They do not. Corporations see consumers as a mass of ignorant cattle with whom they are at war. They resent having to even provide products, & would much prefer to be paid for simply existing.

This statement is completely reasonable and 100% accurate.
posted by bytewrite at 8:59 AM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Libertarians are fucking dumb, so I approve of this post. I hate reading Reddit and sites like that, because as Afroblanco points out, they are littered with Ron Paul loving nerds who have no idea how society actually functions. "Yes I went to public school, and didn't die of polio, and drive to the grocery store on real ass roads, and don't worry about eating parasites and crazy chemicals in my foods, and live in a house that didn't cave in on me because the government won't let any idiot build a house, but...." I have yet to meet a Libertarian I didn't want to punch in the nuts.
posted by chunking express at 9:01 AM on March 16, 2009 [25 favorites]


445supermag: A counter example would be Underwriters Laboratories, I trust their certification a lot more than the government's.
I worked on a (non-food) project that involved UL certification. It's sort of a long story; let's just say I was underwhelmed. Of course, I can't say how closely my experience tracks with the general practice at UL, but I know that in some cases, the certification process is just paperwork, just a formality.

UL may be non-profit, but the certification process isn't free, and UL doesn't have a monopoly in the field, either. So there is some financial incentive to certify, rather than to reject.
posted by Western Infidels at 9:08 AM on March 16, 2009


I have yet to meet a Libertarian I didn't want to punch in the nuts.

There's a lot of that type of sentiment in this thread and yet there's no business fulfilling the need. Free market fails again.
posted by DU at 9:08 AM on March 16, 2009 [41 favorites]


All anyone who wants to see how the food industry works under "free market" guidelines need to do is to read The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair. The recently re-published unredacted version will turn your stomach even more than the one that changed the meatpacking industry at the turn of the century.

I'm not a socialist, but I have seen what happens when regulation gets lax, or is circumvented. There is a place for this -- "We the People" have a responsibility under the constitution to make sure we're not poisoned by corporations.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:09 AM on March 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


"Henry Heinz recognized before most of his peers that pure food is not only good for you, but is also good business.”

You know what else is good business Mr. Heinz? Using high-fructose corn syrup in your product because it's cheaper, not because it tastes better. Which contributes to a public health nightmare of obesity that far exceeds some mold in your food.

How about instead of mandatory regulations about food content, we instead have enhanced mandatory regulations about labeling? Seems like it would solve the same problem.
posted by formless at 9:09 AM on March 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is a feature not a bug. The market determines who lives and dies, as well as which products sell or don't sell.

If people choose to save money by buying rancid ketchup and dying, then that's just the invisible hand of the market removing the stupid from the market place. In the long term, we'd all be better off.

In fact, ideally, the more lethal the rancid product, the better, because it would more quickly correct the marketplace.
posted by empath at 9:13 AM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is there really a lot of Libertarian pushback on this specific issue? Even the most zealous (non-strawman) libertarian will tell you that selling non-ketchup in a bottle marked "Ketchup" should be criminal fraud, and I can't imagine it being *too* hard to convince them that moldy tomatoes shouldn't count as "ketchup".
posted by roystgnr at 9:16 AM on March 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


and this is the best mustard.

(seriously, ketchup is pedestrian. the only thing it's really good for is egg sandwiches. Mustard's better on fries, as is ranch dressing)
posted by jonmc at 9:17 AM on March 16, 2009


Using high-fructose corn syrup in your product because it's cheaper, not because it tastes better. Which contributes to a public health nightmare of obesity that far exceeds some mold in your food.

I'm not going to argue that high-fructose corn syrup is not contributing to the problem of obesity of America, but can we please stop using it as the scapegoat for our consumption addiction? It's not the corn syrup, it's that we eat so damn much of it!
posted by Pollomacho at 9:17 AM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


How about instead of mandatory regulations about food content, we instead have enhanced mandatory regulations about labeling?

i'm not getting this - it lists "high fructose corn syrup" on the label - what else does a person need?
posted by pyramid termite at 9:21 AM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I worked a summer at the Tri-Valley tomato processing plant in Modesto CA. The first day on the job I was given enormous rubber boots a yellow slicker and matching hat and gloves and sent to the Tomato Receiving Station. There trucks loaded with tomatoes from the surrounding area were unloaded onto vibrating roller beds that were showered with hot water both mechanically from above and from 4 men with hoses. Imagine working inside a car wash in 110 degree plus weather. My job was to pluck out non-tomato objects: sticks, bugs, leaves, paper you name it as quickly as possible before the tomatoes fell into a grinder for the first phase of processing.

My fellow workers were a contingent of Hmong women none over 5 feet tall, who stood waist high to the work area. I am 6'8" and the experience was like working at a pre-schooler's table.

My point,there are many non-tomato objects in ketchup and all other processed tomato products.
posted by pianomover at 9:23 AM on March 16, 2009 [9 favorites]


It's not the corn syrup, it's that we eat so damn much of it!

While it's true that we can reduce or eliminate our intake of HFCS (I've been off the stuff for a decade), the fact is that food producers tend to load that stuff into virtually all of their products. There are agribusiness subsidies to grow superfluous amounts of corn, and it really is a rather lazy way to sweeten or thicken a product. It's not a "scapegoat", but it is one of the prime indicators of how much our mass food production has gone off the rails.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:23 AM on March 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's not the corn syrup, it's that we eat so damn much of it!

We eat so damn much of it because it's in almost every food we can by.
posted by kafziel at 9:23 AM on March 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


er, buy.
posted by kafziel at 9:23 AM on March 16, 2009


How about instead of mandatory regulations about food content, we instead have enhanced mandatory regulations about labeling?

Why? Is there someone out there that wants mold in their ketchup? And if there is some gourmet version that has this, like the blue cheese example, why not nuance up the regulations to allow for it? Basically, the "mandatory labeling" would be "call this stuff 'blue ketchup' instead of 'ketchup'". Forcing a company to NOT put ingredient X IN a bottle is, in principle, exactly the same as forcing a company to put "ingredient X" ON the bottle.

Not that I dislike food labeling. I think it's great to know what's in there. But I also don't want to force the consumer to know and understand the intricacies of food production in order to reject things no sane person actually wants. Why push all that work out to the last mile when it can be prevented from even existing in the first place?
posted by DU at 9:29 AM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


"You know what else is good business Mr. Heinz? Using high-fructose corn syrup in your product because it's cheaper, not because it tastes better. Which contributes to a public health nightmare of obesity that far exceeds some mold in your food."

Well, if I had to pick, I'd say food poisoning is more of a public health concern than overused sweetener. I eat very little ketchup, but the little I do eat is not made from rancid tomatoes, at least, and the small amount of HFCS is not a big deal, but I don't eat a lot of HFCS anymore either.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:31 AM on March 16, 2009


Why ketchup is the perfect condiment.
posted by empath at 9:32 AM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


food producers tend to load that stuff into virtually all of their products

it's in almost every food we can buy


True, very true, but all I'm saying is you don't blame Jack Daniels for putting all that damn alcohol in their whiskey when you run your car into a tree.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:34 AM on March 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


i'm not getting this - it lists "high fructose corn syrup" on the label - what else does a person need?

Maybe something like this?
posted by 0xFCAF at 9:35 AM on March 16, 2009


Why? Is there someone out there that wants mold in their ketchup?

No, but there are consumers out there who want cheaper ketchup. And they might be willing to pay a little less even if it means that there a few (or many) moldy tomatoes in the ketchup.

Sometimes I buy overly ripe avocados or bananas at the supermarket, because they're much cheaper than buying fresh ones. Also, consider freegans, who have no problem with recently expired food. It's easy to imagine a market where recently expired food could be sold for cheaper, if there weren't regulatory prohibitions in place.

Just to be clear, I'm not a Ron Paul libertarian. We need public schools and libraries and social services. But I also think that consumers should have the right to choose unhealthy/possibly dangerous food if they want. The problem with articles like this is that they lump all libertarians together, when there are different classes of libertarians.
posted by formless at 9:43 AM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


The FFP seems to imply that we no longer eat crap because of the Pure Food and Drugs Act, which is not not not true. Sadly, people think this and believe that everything they buy from the grocery store is O.K. If you look at the state of food production in the U.S., especially meat, I would argue that it's still a little too close to the Jungle. I don't think this means all government is unsuccessful though. In Sweden, where I am now, they don't pump animals full of crap and salmonella is unheard of.

But on the small scale, I think free markets work better, which is why I'm against the regulation of local farmers. The farmer's market/local ag economy allows consumers to visit the place where their food comes from and the scale of farm's where you get your food from if you eat local is so small that it's much easier to figure out where food poisoning comes from...if it happens at all.
posted by melissam at 9:50 AM on March 16, 2009


I also think that consumers should have the right to choose unhealthy/possibly dangerous food if they want.

I absolutely know where you are coming from. The problem is with the "if they want". When you allow the existence of a not-that-bad-for-you-if-you-don't-eat-much-of-it lower priced alternative for the occasional purchase, what you actually get is massive medical problems among the poor.

In other words, you have to be careful to distinguish between a product that out there to serve a genuine, if niche, need vs one that is out there to sweep up the demographic dregs with those who have nowhere else to go.

It's like the situation with mandatory breaks/overtime and other workplace regulations. Should people be allowed to skip a break if they want? Sure, but only if that's what they genuinely want. The problem is if you make it optional, then workers will be pressured and gamed into "wanting" to skip breaks.
posted by DU at 9:51 AM on March 16, 2009 [12 favorites]


i'm not getting this - it lists "high fructose corn syrup" on the label - what else does a person need?

Really, it's not like they put lark's vomit in there.
posted by caddis at 9:55 AM on March 16, 2009


Unregulated products would work well if consumers had equal control of the value of currency without regulation. I'll buy your product if I can write you this check, take the stuff home and later determine if I want to fully fund, partially fund or not at all fund the payment on the check. Or take my money back if I wanted. Companies wouldn't go for that? Huh, wonder why.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:09 AM on March 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


When you allow the existence of a not-that-bad-for-you-if-you-don't-eat-much-of-it lower priced alternative for the occasional purchase, what you actually get is massive medical problems among the poor.

Good point.

Better welfare and food stamp programs could probably solve some of this problem, including programs that include incentives for buying healthy food. But maybe that wouldn't be enough, or for whatever reason is a more difficult to sell to the public. It might be cheaper to just have food regulations in place.
posted by formless at 10:12 AM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I also think that consumers should have the right to choose unhealthy/possibly dangerous food if they want.

I don't agree with that but I'll play devil's advocate and give you a better example than ones you mentioned: raw milk.

There are consumers out there that prefer the flavor of raw milk even though there's some risk, but large commercial milk producers are afraid any outbreak of illness caused by raw milk would hurt sales of pasteurized milk by association. I can see some parallels to the Heinz situation where it's a large company pushing the government regulation, not public demand.
posted by bobo123 at 10:25 AM on March 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


You know what else is good business Mr. Heinz? Using high-fructose corn syrup in your product because it's cheaper, not because it tastes better. Which contributes to a public health nightmare of obesity that far exceeds some mold in your food.

Heinz also sells "organic" ketchup w/o HFCS.
posted by gyc at 10:29 AM on March 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


The problem is if you make it optional, then workers will be pressured and gamed into "wanting" to skip breaks.

exactly - people adapt to "how things work" pretty well, and if a little diarrhea is just a part of life, or popping Tums is to be expected, or if the taste of food is not enjoyable but just a side effect of quieting the pain of hunger, people will get used to that. A lot of people have gotten used to things like that through the market as it currently stands. We can alter the norms of our society through the standards we set as a group, and we can do that reflectively, by voting on / consciously choosing standards (i.e., via democracy / regulation), or we can do it impulsively, by letting what we buy when we don't have time to find something else, or feel crappy & just don't care, or are scared of being broke, represent our future (i.e., via the market)...
posted by mdn at 10:30 AM on March 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Heinz also sells "organic" ketchup w/o HFCS.

At roughly four times the price of Whole Foods brand organic ketchup, which is just as good and also does not contain HFCS.
posted by Caviar at 10:54 AM on March 16, 2009


The regular Scandinavian market Heinz ketchup has no HFCS, BTW. It's sweetened with regular sugar, according to the bottle I just pulled out of the fridge.
posted by Harald74 at 11:17 AM on March 16, 2009


Remoulade Sauce is pretty good, too.
posted by jonmc at 11:22 AM on March 16, 2009


The article reads a bit too much like an advertisement for Heinz Ketchup. Thank you Heinz, for standing up to all those evil rancid ketchup makers and creating an FDA!
posted by graventy at 11:23 AM on March 16, 2009


The article reads a bit too much like an advertisement for Heinz Ketchup.

Which would be weird since I can't remember the last time I saw a non-Heinz ketchup.
posted by jonmc at 11:26 AM on March 16, 2009


The article reads a bit too much like an advertisement for Heinz Heniz Ketchup. Thank you Heinz Heniz, for standing up to all those evil rancid ketchup makers and creating an FDA!

FTFY
posted by Big_B at 11:39 AM on March 16, 2009


Is there really a lot of Libertarian pushback on this specific issue? Even the most zealous (non-strawman) libertarian will tell you that selling non-ketchup in a bottle marked "Ketchup" should be criminal fraud, and I can't imagine it being *too* hard to convince them that moldy tomatoes shouldn't count as "ketchup".

Who would mandate or enforce such labeling requirements in a libertarian system?
posted by odinsdream at 11:43 AM on March 16, 2009


Sometimes I buy overly ripe avocados or bananas at the supermarket, because they're much cheaper than buying fresh ones.

I find this interesting. I don't eat many avocados, so I'm not sure about the market for them. But I eat lots of bananas, and they are almost free. They are often one of the cheapest items in the grocery, and arguably THE cheapest if you consider weight. I regularly see them at $0.33 per pound or sometimes $0.25 per pound on sale.

I'm curious as to how much money you could possibly be saving buying old bananas?

I also think that consumers should have the right to choose unhealthy/possibly dangerous food if they want.

I disagree strongly with this statement. I think the only possible outcome of a system like this is exploitation of the poor.

Food, by what I consider its very definition, has to be non-poisonous. Otherwise, it is not "food" at all, but something else. Like poison.

(And I'm not talking trans-fat poison, I'm talking "eat some and never wake up" kind of poison).
posted by Ynoxas at 11:48 AM on March 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


Who would mandate or enforce such labeling requirements in a libertarian system?

GOOGLE RON PAUL WANTS TO ELIMINATE THE FDA
posted by DU at 11:55 AM on March 16, 2009


At roughly four times the price of Whole Foods brand organic ketchup, which is just as good and also does not contain HFCS.

I'm kind of shocked that a name brand anything is more expensive than the Whole Foods brand.
posted by shmegegge at 11:57 AM on March 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


ynoxas: I think the only possible outcome of a system like this is exploitation of the poor.

Exactly. Thank you.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:58 AM on March 16, 2009


PEOPLE SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO BE TRICKED INTO BUYING ROTTEN BUTTER IF THEY SO CHOOSE
posted by Damn That Television at 12:00 PM on March 16, 2009 [61 favorites]


At roughly four times the price of Whole Foods brand organic ketchup, which is just as good and also does not contain HFCS.


Hold on while I get in my car and drive at least two hours to a Whole Foods! I am glad that there is a store brand in a store known for reasonably high prices that only exists in larger urban areas that can supplant the advantage of a mass-market brand making a foray into a different, possibly healthier, market.

I haven't bought any catsup/ketchup for some time, having usually inherited a bottle or two after group grilling excursions, but convincing the #1 marketer of the product to embrace a more preferable variety seems like a reasonable course of action.
posted by mikeh at 12:03 PM on March 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Fries require mayonnaise

Jesus.
posted by maxwelton at 12:04 PM on March 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


Better welfare and food stamp programs could probably solve some of this problem, including programs that include incentives for buying healthy food.

Why should taxpayers pick up the tab for the consequences of corporations selling poison as food when we can just stop them from selling poison to begin with?
posted by bradbane at 12:04 PM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


PEOPLE SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO BE TRICKED INTO BUYING ROTTEN BUTTER IF THEY SO CHOOSE

1) I'm in tears.
2) You forgot Polandtax cuts.
posted by DU at 12:07 PM on March 16, 2009


I'm curious as to how much money you could possibly be saving buying old bananas?

Not much, you're right. They're about $0.79/lb here in Michigan, and $0.39/lb for a ripe bag. But avocados are another matter. They're usually around $2.50 each, but only around $1.00 each for over-ripe ones.

Another argument for decreased regulation on food comes from people like Joel Salatin. Food safety regulations almost always favor large industrial food companies, and can actually contribute to worse public health by making it difficult for sustainable organic farms to survive.

I'm not saying we shouldn't have some regulations on food. But I'm just naturally suspicious anytime I hear cries about public safety.
posted by formless at 12:20 PM on March 16, 2009


The libertarian claim is that, regardless of the market forces at work, the government should never be called in to regulate.

You mean the "radical" libertarian claim. Most libertarians I know just want LESS government involvement. Not straight up "anarchy".

I mean, its like saying that conservative capitalists want to do away with public schools, the police force and fire departments, because they are inherently socialist institutions. Or its like saying liberals want to eliminate the free market entirely and turn into a communist state. Only the most extreme cases.

I want the author of this column to look at this chart. Are most self identified libertarians pinned in the corner? Whats that make the author? A hard core Totalitarian? I mean, that's just as fair.
posted by 5imian at 12:21 PM on March 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Most libertarians I know just want LESS government involvement. Not straight up "anarchy".

Would most libertarians you know have voted for Ron "Kill the FDA" Paul?

You can argue that "true libertarians" want to keep the awesome stuff but lose the non-awesome stuff, but pretty much any political party will tell you that. You have to examine what they actually do. And the "less government" types always start by jettisoning regulation of vital infrastructure. QED.
posted by DU at 12:28 PM on March 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


That Horsey Sauce they have at Arby's? Not a bad go-to condiment either.
posted by jonmc at 12:36 PM on March 16, 2009


Would most libertarians you know have voted for Ron "Kill the FDA" Paul?

Some. Not most.


You see? Just like any far reaching opinion, there's a lot of flavors of libertarian out there. Not all agree on everything.
posted by 5imian at 12:42 PM on March 16, 2009


If one of those flavors is Penn Jillette, I am not going to taste any of the others.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:12 PM on March 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


5imian, not to sound snarky, but you don't have any statistics attached to your "some, not most" assertion.

Also, I don't get your apparent assertion that Dennis Kucinich is libertarian. It's not the first time that I've run into this assertion, but I just don't get it. If you mean that Dennis Kucinich is libertarian because he envisions a transformed society that largely adjusts and polices itself, achieving equality and ecological functioning without the need of government regulation, I kinda understand. But, look at his policy for facilitating the transition between our current society and the new one. As far as I can tell, he would heavily rely on government programs and intervention to achieve societal and technological progress. So, do we need to make a distinction between functional and ideological libertarianism? If we make this distinction, I think people from across the political spectrum would fall into ideological libertarianism; on the whole, people prefer a healthy, self-regulating society to one that corrects bad design with top-down regulation. However, very few would scan as functional libertarians.

Also, I love that this thread is a dual channel discussion of condiments and political ideologies. Don't cross the streams!!!
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 1:13 PM on March 16, 2009


Just like any far reaching opinion, there's a lot of flavors of libertarian out there. Not all agree on everything.

And only some have fantastic porn star moustaches.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:15 PM on March 16, 2009


You are wasting your breath fingers simian. The anit-libertarians here see "libertarians" only in caricature. Next thing they are going to start spouting nonsense about the Libertarian party as if that has anything to do with how most people who have libertarian views would identify themselves. Also, they think the only brand of libertarian is a conservative one.
posted by caddis at 1:25 PM on March 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


How many flavors of libertarian? 57?
posted by betweenthebars at 1:25 PM on March 16, 2009


The anit-libertarians here see "libertarians" only in caricature.

A caricature that has been created and expertly maintained by an ongoing collection of libertarians who have spent a decade grooming that caricature in online forums. I'm sorry, you guys are not a despised minority, but, instead, your own worst enemy.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:30 PM on March 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


nor is libertarian thought even a minority on MeFi (too bad normy's nice graph is gone though)
posted by caddis at 1:33 PM on March 16, 2009


5imian, not to sound snarky, but you don't have any statistics attached to your "some, not most" assertion.

I said most libertarians I KNOW. Do you need a pie chart? Really. And yes you sound ultra-snarky.

I don't get your apparent assertion that Dennis Kucinich is libertarian


Well Ron Paul is "technically" a Republican, and Mike gravel is (or was?) "technically" a Democrat. Dennis Kucinich considered to be a Democratic candidate with comparatively libertarian views. Even Ron Paul supporters often agree with this.

Perhaps a good place to look is this page, that uses the so called "nolan chart" to provide some idea of how one might index current members of Congress (based on their voting patterns).. he most prominent face of political libertarianism this year has been that of Representative Ron Paul, ranking at the "most" libertarian. Kucinich is 9th from the top. (preceded by Lee, Barbara, Owens, Major R., Conyers, John, Jr., Frank, Barney, McKinney, Cynthia A., Waters, Maxine and Baldwin, Tammy.) Looks like this was in 2006.

However, if if you don't "buy this" (and that's fine) My point that the author of this column basically substituted an exaggerated and somewhat misrepresented version of the "average" Libertarian viewpoint in order to more easily defeat it argumentatively. Many Libertarians disagree entirely with Ron Paul, basically and as for "obliterating the FDA" - i would consider that a more or less "radical" viewpoint.
posted by 5imian at 1:47 PM on March 16, 2009


If one of those flavors is Penn Jillette, I am not going to taste any of the others.

That's how i feel about Rush Limbaugh and Karl Marx.
posted by 5imian at 1:50 PM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


5imian:

The problem is, the dozens of libertarian I know from back in the Midwest are all the extremist Ron Paul variety, and often seem to be fairly hypocritical. Working for the aerospace defense industry while frothing at the mouth about big government seems... wrong. So, given that our personal experiences tell us such different things, it would be nice to have some more objective assessment to figure out what's really going on. So, yes, I was honestly hoping for a chart with a good, non-biased sample behind it or something.

Given that this is one of those threads that has evolved *way* beyond the original posting, I was also hoping to have a discussion about the definition of libertarianism with somehow who was espousing an interesting definition that I don't quite get. The idea being that I put my understanding out there, and you responded with yours and your critique of mine, etc...
But, I guess I was really off-putting or something.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 2:00 PM on March 16, 2009


A caricature that has been created and expertly maintained by an ongoing collection of libertarians who have spent a decade grooming that caricature in online forums. I'm sorry, you guys are not a despised minority, but, instead, your own worst enemy.

That's absurd... I am not denying that conservative Libertarians exist but....just get out there and read. I am nto a libertarian myself, actually. I would probably describe myself as liberal, but seriously... Hearing people in my own party argue against something they are ignorant of is about like this

"I'd never be a christian, because the idea of worshiping bananas appals me"

I mean there's plenty of reasons NOT to be Libertarian (or christian) but Dude. Get it right!
posted by 5imian at 2:01 PM on March 16, 2009


Over-ripe bananas are actually more desirable than regular bananas for some applications, such as bread and pancakes. I'm not aware of similar applications for over-ripe avocados.

As for Scandinavian Heinz having regular sugar instead of HFCS, that's likely because your version is not produced in the United States, where HFCS is by bar the cheapest sweetener. Coke does the same when they produce internationally.
posted by cseibert at 2:06 PM on March 16, 2009


Let's hear about all the good ideas Libertarians support!
posted by Artw at 2:09 PM on March 16, 2009


Look, I don't really care how many Libertarians can dance on the head of a pin. I do care that mainstream conservative leaders have been saying for the last thirty years that, "government is the problem" and "bureaucrats are standing in the way of innovation" and "we need to cut red tape in Washington". This article just points out what kind of damage can be caused when you don't have bureaucrats keeping track of what businesses are doing.
posted by octothorpe at 2:17 PM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not that I dislike food labeling. I think it's great to know what's in there. But I also don't want to force the consumer to know and understand the intricacies of food production in order to reject things no sane person actually wants. Why push all that work out to the last mile when it can be prevented from even existing in the first place?
posted by Meatbomb at 2:23 PM on March 16, 2009


You are wasting your breath fingers simian. The anit-libertarians here see "libertarians" only in caricature. Next thing they are going to start spouting nonsense about the Libertarian party as if that has anything to do with how most people who have libertarian views would identify themselves. Also, they think the only brand of libertarian is a conservative one.

You nailed it.

TotalitarianFilter.
posted by 5imian at 2:25 PM on March 16, 2009


You're so oppressed!
posted by Artw at 2:54 PM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


So if the Libertarian Party doesn't represent libertarians, the vocal online "bootstraps-I-gots-mine" libertarians aren't libertarians, Ron Paul and his supporters aren't libertarians, and apparently people who hold libertarian views like abolishing government interference and regulation aren't either, then who the fuck is? Because you just no-true-Scotsman'ed out every single person I have ever known who described themselves as a libertarian.
posted by bradbane at 2:56 PM on March 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


look, I would point out that many Libertarians would actually agree with this article because

"Libertarianism is a political philosophy advocating the right of individuals to be free to do whatever they wish with their persons or property as long as they allow others the same liberty, by not initiating physical force, the threat of it, or fraud against others. "

In other words selling rotten stuff with food coloring might be is a form of deception/ fraud.

Fraud being "a deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual."

So I actually do agree with the article. I really only disagree with the title.
Many, many Libertarians support things like a police force (to prevent violence) as well as institutions to debunk fraud. Aside from some fringe cases, i really think saying OMG!! "LieRtArianz Are so Craaazy! cause they Wan to Sell RottuN foodz in a FrEe Markut!!! Hyuk hyuk!"

Its silly. There's plenty of people with Libertarian views (though maybe not everyone in the 'Libertarian Party' per se) that want enough oversight to prevent consumer fraud! Its one of their core beliefs! No violence, no fraud, lots of personal liberty.Though there is plenty of inter-Libertarian disagreement on where to draw these lines... Its just like any other belief system in that respect.
posted by 5imian at 3:00 PM on March 16, 2009


So if the Libertarian Party doesn't represent libertarians

Does the Socialist Party claim Obama? No. Does Obama have some inherently Socialist ideas? Yes. Its like that.
posted by 5imian at 3:01 PM on March 16, 2009


You're so oppressed!

yeah, I even said that.
posted by 5imian at 3:11 PM on March 16, 2009


So are Libertarians for or against kittens?
posted by Artw at 3:13 PM on March 16, 2009


Libertarianism is a political philosophy for people who claim not to believe in 'isms'. Meaning they are as crazy as the far left and the far right only they don't think they are.
posted by Rashomon at 3:31 PM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


We wouldn't need regulation to keep rancid tomatoes out of our ketchup if we were still on the gold standard.

GOOGLE "RON PAUL" +RELOVELUTION + BLIMP -"RACIST NEWSLETTER" -"GAY SODOMY"
posted by Flunkie at 3:34 PM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Market decides...

...THAT YOU ALL MUST DIE!
posted by Artw at 3:41 PM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Fuck ketchup.

Barbecue sauce!

[/Dennis Hopper]
posted by vibrotronica at 4:01 PM on March 16, 2009


Salad Cream, anyone?
posted by Artw at 4:02 PM on March 16, 2009


...then who the fuck is?

Well, according to the list 5imian posted (sorry, but the "is this page" link won't work), Barney Frank was a Libertarian in 2006. Wasn't that about the time he was "holding a gun to the heads of the banks to force them to make bad loans"?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:49 PM on March 16, 2009


This holds while we're talking about matters of taste. A ketchup that makes everyone ill is not a viable product, I would have thought.

Ah, but when a product only occasionally sickens and kills, it is impossible for an individual to figure that out. It takes studies of many people consuming the product, like departments of health do when a cluster of potentially food-borne illnesses occur. Like in the peanut salmonella thingy. Yes, it takes highly trained government epidemiologists to figure things like this out. The libertarian utopian ideal that consumers can figure out stuff like this on their own or will band together to create private departments of health with trained epidemiologists is nutbag fantasy.

The regular Scandinavian market Heinz ketchup has no HFCS, BTW. It's sweetened with regular sugar, according to the bottle I just pulled out of the fridge.

I think there is a misconception about HFCS. It's just sugar...very cheap sugar. It gets put into a lot of things these days because it is cheaper than the artificially price-supported type of sugars. Just because you pay more for the sugar molecules doesn't make them less unhealthy. The trick is to eat less, not to pay more.

In other words selling rotten stuff with food coloring might be is a form of deception/ fraud.

Yes, I guess we need a government agency to regulate that fraud.

All snarking aside, I think that non-libertarians and libertarians alike are confused. The former wonder, well, if libertarians aren't against government regulation of business, what's all the fuss about? Aren't you just liberals, then? And libertarians seem to think that there are segments of society that want to see government regulation just for its own sake.

My first rush of warmth for the libertarian viewpoint came, from all places, National Review, where some libertarian conservative was arguing that the government's sanctions against recreational drug sales and use were unwise because they reduced personal freedom. I agree with this viewpoint and don't find it inconsistent with my ideas about regulating healthcare and food. The government has spent billions trying to make recreational drugs seem more dangerous than they are in order to justify their illegality. Most of the dangers, of course, come from their illegality. So making them legal and regulating them remove the putative reasons for making them illegal. With food and healthcare, regulation supplants the need for each individual to get a medical and scientific doctorate and to keep up with evolving research on highly complicated topics. Legal, but regulated, works for all spheres. If I understand correctly what some of the libertarians on this discussion are saying, this is a moderate libertarian position.
posted by Mental Wimp at 5:18 PM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think there is a misconception about HFCS. It's just sugar...very cheap sugar. It gets put into a lot of things these days because it is cheaper than the artificially price-supported type of sugars. Just because you pay more for the sugar molecules doesn't make them less unhealthy.
There's no such thing as "just sugar". High Fructose Corn Syrup is chemically different than, for example, table sugar.

I have little to no opinion on whether one is unhealthier than the other, but claims to that effect cannot be validly dismissed simply by saying that they're both sugar.
posted by Flunkie at 5:24 PM on March 16, 2009


I have little to no opinion on whether one is unhealthier than the other, but claims to that effect cannot be validly dismissed simply by saying that they're both sugar.

Yes, there are different sugars, but they all act pretty much the same way. Noise notwithstanding, the serious nutrition literature has pretty much come down on this side of the issue. Noted nutritional epidemiologist Walt Willett summarized:
Dr. Willett says that he is not defending high-fructose corn syrup as a healthy ingredient, but that he simply thinks that the product is no worse than the refined white sugar it replaces, since both offer easily consumed calories with no nutrients in them.High fructose corn syrup's possible link to obesity is the only specific health problem that the ingredient's critics have cited to date — and experts say they believe that this link is tenuous, at best.
Furthermore, the article goes on:
Even the two scientists who first propagated the idea of a unique link between high-fructose corn syrup and America's soaring obesity rates have gently backed off from their initial theories. Barry M. Popkin, a nutrition professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says that a widely read paper on the subject that he wrote in 2004 with George A. Bray, a professor of medicine at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La., was just meant to be a "suggestion" that would inspire further study.
posted by Mental Wimp at 5:50 PM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Even the most zealous (non-strawman) libertarian will tell you that selling non-ketchup in a bottle marked "Ketchup" should be criminal fraud

That's right. Libertarians think it is important for the gov't to protect people, including protecting them from fraud. That's one of the things separating libertarians from anarchists.
posted by Monochrome at 5:58 PM on March 16, 2009


Even the most zealous (non-strawman) libertarian will tell you that selling non-ketchup in a bottle marked "Ketchup" should be criminal fraud
That's right. Libertarians think it is important for the gov't to protect people, including protecting them from fraud.
Right, and because protecting people from rancid tomato-based ketchup by allowing the destitute people who purchase it to hire a lawyer and bring a lawsuit against a multimillion dollar corporation (assuming that they figure out it was the ketchup that gave them the dysentary in the first place) is obviously so much more effective than protecting people against rancid tomato-based ketchup by disallowing corporations from selling rancid tomato-based ketchup, that's how we should do it.

RON PAUL / GOLD STANDARD '12
posted by Flunkie at 6:07 PM on March 16, 2009


So if the Libertarian Party doesn't represent libertarians,


There are so many people ignorant about the subject here it makes one's head spin, although mostly we are arguing semantics. Yes, there are people who use the term to describe their radical political philosophy. There is also the general school of thought as described by simian. Ignorant people who don't like one or the other want to conflate them so as to discredit the one with the extremism of the other. Mefi does the same with its rampant lol Christians nonsense (really Jerry Falwell never represented most Christians, just the noisy ones). Of course after fomenting this intolerance they will turn to some other thread and then bemoan the unfair treatment of liberals by Faux News, etc. when they have just done pretty much the same thing themselves against a different group. LOL indeed.
posted by caddis at 6:09 PM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


protecting people from rancid tomato-based ketchup by allowing the destitute people who purchase it to hire a lawyer and bring a lawsuit against a multimillion dollar corporation

If you start from the premise that the legal system should be so expensive and complicated that money can buy victory regardless of merit, is there any political philosophy that can't be expected to fail horribly?

On the other hand, if you think that premise is avoidable, then isn't "anyone who sees false advertising can sue" an improvement over "a few unelected bureaucrats can sue"?

Oh, wait, did I come here for an argument? This is abuse!

LAUGHING ABOUT CREDIT BUBBLES WHILE A POPPING ONE RUINS PEOPLES LIVES '09!
posted by roystgnr at 6:49 PM on March 16, 2009


Right, because (A) disallowing corporations from selling rancid tomato-based ketchup necessarily implies that the legal system must be expensive and complicated, and (B) the guy who got dystentary from eating rancid tomato-based ketchup is going to figure out that the ketchup gave it to him.
posted by Flunkie at 6:52 PM on March 16, 2009


Who should I trust, the friendly businessman or the friendly politician?

Um.........

I make my own ketchup.
posted by bricoleur at 6:55 PM on March 16, 2009


My personal dislike of a variety of implications of libertarian thought has been really eye-opening for me. I've learned that conservatism and liberalism can be reconciled pretty well starting from the center moving out. My party doesn't exist quite yet, though, and it'd be bad for my sake if it did, because it'd kill the awesome consensus that reading libertarian literature makes me cherish every day.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 6:56 PM on March 16, 2009


With food and healthcare, regulation supplants the need for each individual to get a medical and scientific doctorate and to keep up with evolving research on highly complicated topics. Legal, but regulated, works for all spheres. If I understand correctly what some of the libertarians on this discussion are saying, this is a moderate libertarian position.

Exactly! Now you see why the author of the article is not representing the more common "moderate" Libertarian stance. Legal but regulated. Yes. Exactly. The result is overall there is less government/ government spending (less money spent on the war on drugs for instance) , but still oversight to prevent consumer fraud, while also increasing personal consumer and producer freedom. This is a textbook 'moderate' to 'liberal' Libertarian stance. A stance very inconsistent with the viewpoint portrayed in the article.

@Kirth

that strange the link doesn't work- it works for me : here is a list of the first fifteen

if you notice in the top fifteen so-called "libertarian" voters 14/15 are democrats.
posted by 5imian at 7:08 PM on March 16, 2009


if you notice in the top fifteen so-called "libertarian" voters 14/15 are democrats.

How many of the self-describe as Libertarian?
posted by dirigibleman at 7:38 PM on March 16, 2009


It's worth noting that Kraft (IIRC) had hired a private inspector to certify that their peanut sources were up-to-standard.

You know, that free market thing, because the government does an inadequate job. Good on Kraft for caring about its bottom line enough to try to avoid poisoning its customers!

Unfortunately, the Peanut Corp. of America (of the big salmonella scare) was also paying this private inspector.

And Kraft allocated a single day to inspect the plant, when it would require a week to do the job properly.

Yes, one can certainly see how free-enterprise food safety can work. "Poorly."

(Which is not to say that inadequate government inspection is any better. These things need to be properly funded and properly regulated for the benefit of the public interest. But because politicians think cutting taxes will get them re-elected...)
posted by five fresh fish at 7:39 PM on March 16, 2009


This nation went all to hell when:
1. younger generation began to put catsup on hotdogs


2. When people started spelling ketchup as "catsup". I mean, do you actually say "cat-sup"?
posted by zardoz at 7:42 PM on March 16, 2009


Oh, and regarding ketchup:

Heinz Organic is really quite good. Leagues better than the ordinary Heinz.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:42 PM on March 16, 2009


You know, the problems described in this thread wouldn't exist if we'd get rid of the food regulations…
posted by five fresh fish at 8:00 PM on March 16, 2009


Given the circumstances. This mess is as good as it gets. Ebb and flow.
posted by therubettes at 8:24 PM on March 16, 2009


I read the post as "Librarians" are dumb - this makes more sense.

Yeah, who eats French fries at the library anyway? I made the same error and was so confused.
posted by zinfandel at 8:26 PM on March 16, 2009


How many of the self-describe as Libertarian?

that's the thing - it doesn't really matter. whats more important, record or public face?

I say how you act is more important.
posted by 5imian at 8:32 PM on March 16, 2009


When I was an impressionable youth, someone told me a horror story about ketchup manufacturing, from experience (supposedly) working at a ketchup bottling plant. This was pre-internet and I didn't have a way to debunk it, so I avoided ketchup for about 5 years.

Warning: (appetite) spoiler ahead

*************
Apparently, this man's job was in quality control, and his particular duty was to take samples of the ketchup, and use a microscope to count the number of rat hairs per mL. There was apparently a published "threshold" for this, which was greater than 0/mL.

His story was that entire truckloads of tomatoes were dumped at a time, rat passengers and all, into the grinders.
*************

Again, no way to confirm or deny this, but it was said in a very nonchalant style, by someone who seemed to be passing it along as a mildly interesting anecdote, not an indictment of an industry.

He said he didn't eat it, but just because of the smell.
posted by Ynoxas at 9:08 PM on March 16, 2009


Ketchup! It's got what ketchup catsup eaters crave!

Fixed!
posted by paddysat at 9:22 PM on March 16, 2009


Mr. Burns in the ketchup aisle.
posted by not that girl at 10:07 PM on March 16, 2009


I eat ketchup for its natural mellowing agents.
posted by spock at 10:24 PM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ah, but when a product only occasionally sickens and kills, it is impossible for an individual to figure that out.

Even when it almost always sickens and kills, if it doesn't do so immediately, it is impossible for individuals to assign the cause. Also, even when the cause is identified, if someone's making money from it, there will be disputation of the causation. The duration of the dispute is proportional to the amount of money being made. See: asbestos, tobacco, DDT, etc.

There is no practical substitute for government regulation, if public health is one of the goals. The corporacrats' efforts to dismantle the government's regulatory powers are an assault on our well-being, and should be resisted as though they were launched by a foreign power.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:38 AM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


that's the thing - it doesn't really matter. whats more important, record or public face?

I say how you act is more important.


OK. So your definition of Libertarian has so far excluded almost every promenant self-professed Libertarian and is now collecting people who really aren't considered Libertarians either by themselves or most major bodies of Libertarians.

Why don't you just start using the word Ni! (or Jabberwock) instead of Libertarian? At least that way you wouldn't have to start by completely redefining the term away from the majority those who use it to describe themselves (both now and historically) and in line with those who don't.
posted by Francis at 6:59 AM on March 17, 2009


Yeah, who eats French fries at the library anyway?

You obviously haven't been in the modern library lately. So many libraries have build a food court and turned it into a profit center. Less books, more videos and video games, more food etc.
posted by caddis at 7:04 AM on March 17, 2009


I also generally assume libertarian = RonPaulian, since those are the loudest and most strongly self-identifying libertarians. But as others have noted, most political stripes have some level of interest in personal liberty; the issue is just how we deal with the actions which will have negative consequences for others. No man is an island and all that - we obviously don't allow people to be free to murder or steal from each other, and it turns out there are more subtle ways we can cause harm to one another through our behaviors.

Social safeguards have to be put in place to make sure that people don't get hurt by other people's freedom. We've determined that you shouldn't profit by violence or lying, but we've allowed people to profit by spreading rumors and making non-factual claims like "coke is better than pepsi" - and that isn't spreading opinion, since it's done just by spending money. We collectively decide what is acceptable and what isn't, and future generations may look back on some of the things we allow as quite ridiculous...

Libertarians think it is important for the gov't to protect people, including protecting them from fraud. That's one of the things separating libertarians from anarchists.

well, some libertarians consider themselves "anarcho-capitalists", that basically, the market can sort everything out - eg, pirates were an organized society because they had economic goals. Which seems like a perfectly good example and I feel like I'm in pretty much agreement with libertarians if they want to say our society would be like a world of pirates if we let the market sort everything out, which is to say, it's fun in fantasy, like ninjas and spies, but, you know, in reality it's a bit rough. Maybe a bit like:

"Hereby it is manifest that during the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war; and such a war as is of every man against every man. For war consisteth not in battle only, or the act of fighting, but in a tract of time, wherein the will to contend by battle is sufficiently known... men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them withal. In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."
posted by mdn at 8:26 AM on March 17, 2009


OK. So your definition of Libertarian has so far excluded almost every promenant self-professed Libertarian and is now collecting people who really aren't considered Libertarians either by themselves or most major bodies of Libertarians.

I am sick of this ignorant stance. Really its totally ignorant. Really read my posts. I am not saying people in the Libertarian party are NOT libertarians any more than I am saying that people in the Socialist party aren't socialists.

WHAT I AM SAYING is that often times an opponent of say "socialized health care" will go the THE MOST EXTREME POSSIBLE VIEWPOINT of socialism to try to debunk any and all socialism entirely. Libertarianism is not something you are or aren't... its something you are more of or less of. The "opposite" of Libertarianism is populism/ totalitarinism. Does that mean if you aren't RonPaul, you're HITLER? NO! of course not!

It is possible to have capitalist views without being ayn rand. Its doesn't mean AYN RAND ISN'T CAPATILST. It just means that if I am talking about capatalism and somone points out problems with the most extreme views on capitalism, they haven't' necessarily described all 'capatalists' nor made any progress in describing MOST CAPATALISTS.


Seriously. LOOK AT THIS. Most everyone is really a cocktail of liberal, conservative, authoritarian and libertarian views. You are basically vilifying a useful word, a useful description to describe a GENERAL way of looking at how government interacts with its people.

How did you feel about everyone who completely dismissed universal health care "OH THATS SOCALISM AND SOCIALSM IS BAD". It shut down ANY discourse about the topic. Thinking and acting like that is useless. Then when the actual SOCIALIST PARTY came out and said "obama isnt the same thing we are"., did that mean that Obama didn't still have inherently socialist views?!?!? It just meant that he wasn't a radical socialist.

Even so-called capitalists usually want schools, police, fire departments, and god forbid a standing military. Guess what? That's not HARDCORE capatilism. Those are socialist institutions. Those would all be privatized under a STRICTLY capitalist system.

Don't you get it? Saying "Libertarians are dumb", is just as pardon me, FUCKING RETARDED, as saying "Capatilist are dumb" Because they want to do away with public schools. HELLO? You mean RADICAL Capitalists.

You know what started this all? All i said was the author of this article should have said "radical" libertarian, rather than libertarian. It was after some ignoramus posted this:

The libertarian claim is that, regardless of the market forces at work, the government should never be called in to regulate.

Dude. Not all libertarians think that. Tattoo it on your head. Really.
posted by 5imian at 9:33 AM on March 17, 2009


WHAT I AM SAYING is that often times an opponent of say "socialized health care" will go the THE MOST EXTREME POSSIBLE VIEWPOINT of socialism to try to debunk any and all socialism entirely.

No, seriously, Dude, that's mislabeling. That's like calling Alan Greenspan's libertarian policies anarchy. They aren't any more than universal health care is socialism.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:14 AM on March 17, 2009


Seriously. LOOK AT THIS. Most everyone is really a cocktail of liberal, conservative, authoritarian and libertarian views. You are basically vilifying a useful word, a useful description to describe a GENERAL way of looking at how government interacts with its people.

No. You are changing definitions on me and then expecting me not to spot it. Libertarians are people who put libertarian beliefs above all others. I might agree with Ann Coulter once in a blue moon (even a stopped clock is right twice a day - although it would cause me to check my assumptions if I ever agreed with her), but that certainly does not make me a Conservative. Likewise Obama has some socialist impulses but certainly isn't a Socialist (if anything I'd have said he was a conservative - with so-called American Conservatives being Reactionaries).

By attempting to redefine anyone who has any libertarian leanings as Libertarian, you are attempting to strip the word Libertarian of its meaning because by your own admission you have defined everyone as a Liberal Conservative Authoritarian Libertarian.
posted by Francis at 10:20 AM on March 17, 2009


No. You all have too narrow a view of the definition.
Universial health care, is by its very nature a more socialist than capatalist institution. I am not switching definitions on you. I am being very consistent.

I am saying there is a gradient. On one end of the spectrum is totalitarinism, the other is anarchical libertarianism. Every policyand belief can be described in "amount" of populism vs. libertarianism.

Did you look at the little chart?
posted by 5imian at 10:24 AM on March 17, 2009


I think the problem is not my so-called labeling but your Pavlovian response that

SOCIALISM BAD and LIBERTARIANISM BAD

even if they are useful definitions to understanding something.
posted by 5imian at 10:26 AM on March 17, 2009


By attempting to redefine anyone who has any libertarian leanings as Libertarian, you are attempting to strip the word Libertarian of its meaning because by your own admission you have defined everyone as a Liberal Conservative Authoritarian Libertarian.

No, i just don't see the world in black and white. The truth is most ideas can be describe din how MUCH they are Liberal or Conservative, or Libertarian or Authoritative.

To pigeon hole people with differing beliefs into extreme corners of these descriptions you distort their opinions and you result in a straw man.

Gay rights? Thats a libertarian viewpoint. Right to owns guns? Also libertarian. These are beliefs that focus on personal rights. Having a police force or standing army? thats authoritiative. That's setting up an institution that has more power than the individual, in order to maintain social order.

Theres no "changing of definition" here. I am saying that if you want NO police force you are a RADICAL Libertarian, rather than a MODERATE. Is a radical libertarian still libertarian? yes. But a moderate isnt a radical.

i mean this is simple shit, kids.
posted by 5imian at 10:32 AM on March 17, 2009


Libertarians are people who put libertarian beliefs above all others.

RADICAL libertarians.

RADICAL

Sound it out.

RAAAADDDIIIICCCAAALLLLLLL
posted by 5imian at 10:34 AM on March 17, 2009


Libertarians are people who put libertarian beliefs above all others.

I will expound on this.

Radical X are people who put X beliefs above all others.

Radical Muslims are people who put Muslim beliefs above all others.
Radical Christians are people who put christian beliefs above all others.
Radical Liberals are people who put liberal beliefs above all others.


If you say the phrase "put x belief above all others". I don't care what it is... its not a moderate.
posted by 5imian at 10:44 AM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Libertarians are people who put libertarian beliefs above all others.

Ergo, liberals are people who put liberal beliefs above all others and therefore all liberals are socialists. Oh, I like this game. We are all extremists now.
posted by caddis at 10:49 AM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Likewise Obama has some socialist impulses but certainly isn't a Socialist



He isn't in the Socialist Party, or a self-described Socialist, but to describe his actions as "socialist" isn't a cuss word. Or at least it shouldn't be. that's kind of my point. You basically just said it. A lot of leaders act libertarian but arent in the "Libertarian Party" with a capital "L", and even WITHIN the party some are more libertarian than others.

However, "libertarian" and "socialists" are used as cusswords by opponents of the radical specimens of those schools of thought. The author of this article, is no exception. He described a very extreme case of libertarianism and then claimed "libertarianis are dumb". Its just not that simple! I just plain don't know any Libertarians that would say that selling rancid food isn't fraud, and shouldn't be stopped... ANd i even mean Libertarians with a "capital L". Most of the Libertarian people i know supported Kucinich, and think that Ron Paul's extremism is impractical. Not all... most. Of people in my personal experience.

They still call themselves Libertarian. I would say they "lean libertarian" often enough that thats not a terrible word to use.

That meaning... there are self described Libertarians that this article doesn't describe. So its a little irritating to them whenthey encounter people who make fun of the cartoon version of their beliefs and basically decide not to take them seriously even before they open their mouths.

Are all liberals Peta-supporting tree-hugging pot-smoking reel-big-fish-listening vegan socialists? This article.. its like saying they are.
posted by 5imian at 11:11 AM on March 17, 2009


Reel Big Fish?
posted by box at 12:21 PM on March 17, 2009


We need more of those people that argue that conservatives arent really conservative. Those guys are always fun.
posted by Artw at 12:26 PM on March 17, 2009


"I make my own ketchup."

Me too; though I'm considering adding red colouring next year. The greenish red colour it naturally is looks hideous under CFL lights.
posted by Mitheral at 4:31 PM on March 18, 2009


Seriously. LOOK AT THIS. Most everyone is really a cocktail of liberal, conservative, authoritarian and libertarian views. You are basically vilifying a useful word, a useful description to describe a GENERAL way of looking at how government interacts with its people.

That "little chart" was put together by a libertarian site and though it is one way to look at things, does not exhaust the possible spectrums. Some people think certain issues belong under "authoritarian" while others consider them central to "rights", for instance - Ron Paul himself is anti-choice because he thinks fetuses should have rights, even though from a pro-choice position, that is an authoritarian stance. Most so-called "authoritarian" positions would not be called authoritarian by the ones who hold the position: they believe it to be protective or fundamental in some way. FDA regulations would presumably be authoritarian, by this chart.
posted by mdn at 6:45 AM on March 19, 2009


MeFi's own Charles Stross now up for a Libertarian SF Award.

Also a suprise Libertarian: Avowed socialist Iain M. Banks.
posted by Artw at 5:16 PM on March 25, 2009


« Older When Wrekin Construction went into administration ...  |  James Madison is more responsi... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments