April 8, 2002
We need food, and we need it faster. And god forbid we should have to move our bodies to get it. Walking up to a fast-food window is not fast enough for our instant-gratification needs: We have someplace to be, and need sustenance to get there. Drive-thru fast-food "restaurants" are the new wave of the future, so says our cultural barometer USA Today (April 3, 2002). McDonald's, Starbucks, Arby's, and the King of Speed, Wendy's, who will get your food to you in the lowest average of 2 minutes 14.7 seconds, are in a great race to feed your soul the fastest.
Just to illustrate how nasty the competition is, The New York Times reported on April 6 that McDonald's CEO Jack Greenberg received the same bonus as last year, $1,200,000, and his salary was $1,400,000, up "slightly" from the $1,300,000 he got in 2000. I'll take that slight increase without complaint... "McDonald's said executive bonuses for 2001 were 'substantially' below target because the company failed to achieve financial objectives." When nirvana is reached and Greenberg gets a real raise and a real bonus we'll be stopping-and-going down highways lined with conveyer belts offering Big Macs and Fries for the grab, conveniently charged to the smart-pass sticker on the windshield. And soon thereafter, we'll have conveyor-belt walkways lining America to transport our immobile bodies from restaurant to mall and back again.
But not to worry about all the calories and fat and sodium in that nicely named 'convenience' food. Eat, Eat. The IRS has declared obesity a disease and ruled that obese Americans can now deduct out-of-pocket expenses for weight loss programs! (Assuming, of course, that the costs are for your health, and not just your vanity.) It's now up to the IRS to get into the health care business since the government health care agencies have to focus on fighting terrorism. And in its usual fashion, rather than going after the root of a problem, the government will find a way to put some band-aids on it and make some money at the same time. Keep on eating, and get a tax break. McDonald's makes more money, Weight Watchers makes more money, taxpayers are happy so the government's happy, and everyone's a winner as the money is passed from hand to hand and the term "fat cat" takes on a whole new meaning.
So exhilarating, it makes you hungry!
And what about the future of our youth? Current estimates are that 20% of American children are obese. Don't count on the 26% of their obese and 61% of their overweight parents to do anything about it, either. And besides, what can they do? They've no time to cook and the kids don't like the fruit and veggies anyway.
Enter California Senator Deborah Oritz, who recently proposed the innovative California Soda Tax Act, which would add a 2-cent tax to soft drinks sold at schools so that kids would be discouraged from making the sugary choice. The money would fund a childhood obesity prevention program, and help boost the flailing California school budget, all at the same time! (What happened to all of those lotto-dollars promised to save education?!?) But if the aim is truly to get some of the sugar out of kids' diet, here's an option to reduce soft drink consumption among children without the circuitous and frivolous use of a sin tax: Stop selling them in schools. Revolutionary, I know, but that's my 2-cents' worth. It seems that the Senate needs a good market research firm to tell them that kids who spend $80 on jeans and $120 on sneakers aren't going to be discouraged by a 2-cent increase in their favorite soft drink.
Perhaps instead a gasoline sin tax on the time spent idling idly at drive-thru restaurants? Never happen. Oil consumption is good -- it's all pie-in-the-sky, this conservation stuff. We need to create free markets that allow us to export junk food, soda and big cars, democracy and obesity, and soon we'll have at our fingertips with the help of our best and brightest military a world-wide market for hamburgers and diet pet food and then we'll all live in one big fat global harmony. The American Dream, realized.
The world is your oyster. Would you like fries with it?
The California Soda Tax Act
88 nations are low income, food-deficit -- therefore unable to grow or buy enough for inhabitants One-third of all children are undernourished. One billion suffer from malnutrition. 14 million children children under 5 die each year as a result. Population Zappers
Compared to a minimum required daily caloric intake of 1800 calories, the per capita intake in developing countries is 2628; in developed countries, 3377. USAID
The per capita daily caloric intake in the US is expected to reach 3607 in 2002. Pacific Economic Cooperation Council
Americans spend $30 to 50 billion dollars per year on weight loss measures. (Foreyt J, Goodrick K: The ultimate triumph of obesity. Lancet 1995;346:134-135. Kassirer JP, Angell M: Losing Weight - An Ill-Fated New Year's Resolution. New England Journal of Medicine 1998;338:52-54.)
Current estimates of the cost of obesity approach $100 billion per year. (Wolf AM, Colditz GA. Current estimates of the economic cost of obesity in the United States. Obesity Research 1998; 6: 97-106.)
Jan Baughman is a scientist in the Biotech Industry. When Jan does not travel around the world on behalf of the company where she manages a clinical research department, she spends most of her time devouring books like candies and relaxing over the preparation of the finest recipes in Northern California. She started writing at a very young age when she found this mode of expression easier than having to answer the perpetually boring and conservative chit-chat around her. Jan's sense of observation is directly related to her sense of humor. She is a founding member and co-editor of Swans, and brings to the site wit and a lightness of being.
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This Week's Internal Links
Shepherding Us Into History's Charnel House - by Stephen Gowans
The Time The Great Ogre Hacked And Spit - by Milo Clark
Peekaboo - by Michael Stowell
America Through The Looking Glass - by David McGowan
A Verbal Analogy - Mind : Body :: Illusion : Reality - by Philip Greenspan
The Untouchable Israelis - by Deck Deckert
An Open Letter To Jewish Americans - by Assaf Oron
What Price Middle East Peace? - by Dr. Alfred M. Lilienthal
The Immigrant Nation (Part I): Mother Of Exiles - by Alma Hromic
Orenda - Poem by Sandy Lulay
You're Dead Mister. Dead. - by Dalton Trumbo (Book Excerpt)
Jan Baughman on Swans
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