Megan McArdle has been on a rather legendary tear of stupidity as of late, but in typical McArdle fashion, she's wrong in ways that require a 10:1 energy-to-stupid ratio to correct. She's said incredibly stupid things about healthcare, national health insurance and now about obesity. If I was powered by cold fusion I wouldn't have the energy to correct everything wrong in the last post, but I want to highlight two small things:
We can eliminate agricultural subsidies. Great: high fructose corn syrup won't be so cheap! But total corn subsidies in the US are about $10 billion, or about $33 per American. Even poor households spend many multiples of that per capita for food. You're talking about a difference of less than a dollar a week per person in the food budget.
Anyone remember the great Notorious B.I.G. hit, "Corn Money"? Or the last time your fuckup cousin tried to sell you the $33 of creamed corn he bought with his government check? Of course not, because what fucking sense would it make to think that the subsidization of farmers goes directly to consumers? Who in God's name would even think this was an intelligible thing to write? This is the sort of deep thought injected into a conversation where someone hasn't kept up but tries to get ahead of the curve by interjecting the thing they said when they got drunk last night.
We could ban television advertising, a favorite of many public health types, and Marc. But there's something interesting about that. When I wrote this article, seven years ago (yikes!), everyone was very much up in arms about the problem of food advertising on television, particularly to children. So I went looking for all the studies showing that advertising made people eat more junk food. I couldn't find any. Suspecting my google-fu was terrible, I enlisted the support of others.
The actual unemployment rate in this country may be nearing twenty percent. People are losing health insurance every day. College students are getting ready to enter a workforce with more debt than any generation that's ever walked the face of the planet. And yet Megan McArdle is somehow employed to write the analytic equivalent of "Why don't avocados grow from seeds?"