Monday, February 06, 2012

Sugar is the new salt...

Apparently the new bugaboo that needs to be limited is sugar. Because we're not smart enough to limit our intakes ourselves. Or sugar is addictive. Or whatever.

(I find it ironic that there is someone running for president who apparently favors legalization of all drugs - even meth - and yet, there are others who would make sugar a controlled substance).

I guess what the would-be regulators want to regulate is processed food that's high in sugar - sodas, candy bars and the like. (I say "guess" because the article is behind a paywall: a link to it is in this Forbes article). But if they really wanted to regulate "all" sugar - wtf? Does that mean fruit becomes contraband? And what about using sugar as a preservative - for many years, jams and jellies were one way of keeping nature's bounty edible by using enough sugar to prevent microbial spoilage of the fruit. (Yes, we have freezers now. But they're bad for the environment: all that refrigerant, all that electricity). And sugar used to be a part of curing meat (it still is, as far as I know). And glucose - hell, glucose is what cells RUN on. Yes, they can make that from non-sugar things, but still. Do they still allow Type I diabetics to carry glucose tablets? I can see regulations on sugar "for our own good" carrying all kinds of unintended consequences.

I don't know. This kind of thing makes me tired, but I suppose if we wind up with some kind of federally-subsidized healthcare for all (and I think that's coming, no matter how hard people are still fighting it), we will be told it's our patriotic duty to submit to these regulations (and others) because we're not smart enough or strong enough to limit sugar intake on our own. That anyone who develops Type II Diabetes (never mind that it's a disease with a strong genetic component) didn't do all they could to keep from costing the government - and by extension, the taxpayers - a lot of money. Public shaming! You get the red D to wear on your chest!

I limit my sugar intake. I don't AVOID sugar, I don't tie myself in knots over "Oh cripes, I WANT this tangerine. But it has sugar in it, and that's bad, and besides, I already had an apple earlier today, I'm probably better off just sucking on this broccoli stem instead." But I don't go crazy with the amount of sugar because, well, it's better for my health to have balance in my diet. (For example: I don't care for soda, so not drinking soda is a convenient way for me to avoid large amounts of sugar. But if you like soda and want to drink it, peace be with you.) I try to take responsibility for my own diet and I am insulted that there are people who are telling me I'm ADDICTED to sugar and need to be made to go cold turkey.

I like chocolate - so I eat a little chocolate every few days. And dammit, I don't want to have to go to Walgreen's someday and ask the pharmacist, and sign a register, like you do for psuedoephedrine.

Here's the thing: a bureaucracy's goal is to perpetuate itself. When we've managed to, I don't know, people starving in the streets (though the ads tell us childhood hunger is still a big problem), bureaucracies have to find something else to do. And since we're (still) a prosperous nation where most of the problems have been solved, bureaucracies manage by demonizing and regulating other stuff. First it was trans fats. Then it was salt (at least in NYC). Now it looks like sugar's next. And then there are those articles out there about how sitting is really, really bad for you - maybe we could lower unemployment by having the government hire people on the dole to hang out in office buildings and scream at workers every 10 minutes or so to get up and walk around.

If we were in the middle of a famine (and God forbid that ever happens), I don't expect we'd see the stories about how "food x is really bad for you" or "food y will give you this disease."

Once again, I think of good old C.S. Lewis: "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their consciences."

No comments: