Thursday, March 1, 2007

Ban McDonald's

Prince Charles recently remarked that the key to people eating healthily was to ban McDonald's. Now, it is quite possible that this was some sort of joke - it could have been hyperbole, for instance (after all, I can see myself saying in jest that the best way to protect National Parks is to forbid people to use them; of course, I wouldn't really mean it because, while it may actually solve some of the problem, it would contradict my other principles of, for example, that part of the purpose of National Parks is to be enjoyed by the public). On the other hand, if he actually meant it, it betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of reality: people aren't unhealthy because McDonald's made them so - it's because they chose to eat food that they knew was unhealthy. There weren't any McDonald's employees on the sidewalks with guns forcing people into the store to eat their trans-fats - people walked in willingly.

This (the whole fast food chains made me fat things) is perhaps the most egregious example of people blaming others (usually those evils American corporations) for things that are patently their own fault, as if they are three years olds with no free will who were forced to engage in whatever action they now consider harmful.

To wax philosophical for a moment, it's as if people recognize the fact that they have appetites, but fail to recognize that the responsibility for controlling those appetites is their own - not the government's, not the corporations', not anyone else's. Thus, when they feel that some thing that they did or consumed as a result of those appetites (or just plain bad judgment) has harmed them in some way, they sue because obviously it wasn't their fault that they did that - it was the person who made it possible. I acknowledge the fact that the person who made it possible may have some responsibility if, for example, they misrepresented their product, their product is harmful even when consumed in moderation, etc. I really don't think that many fast food chains fall into this category, though - fast food isn't any more unhealthy than a great number of meals people prepare in their own homes every day especially when consumed in moderation. In addition, I don't ever hear about anyone suing because it turned out that McDonald's was claiming their Big Mac only contained 15 calories.

OK. I think I'm done ranting again.


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