Reflections on Fried Chicken

Michael Bloomberg - Cartoon

Michael Bloomberg – Cartoon (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

As fellow blogger Pied Type noted this morning, NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg has done a significant thing by banning sugary drink sizes larger than 16 ounces. Pied Type doesn’t like this interference in private affairs at all.  I for one sympathize with Bloomberg on this one but at the same time I have to note that he is a better patriot than a politician.  There is no political upside to what he has done. But as Dr. Nancy Sniderman on ABC News said last night, nobody’s rights are being infringed here. People can still buy all they want, just in less than gigantic sizes, and she says it’s true that people often end up being satisfied with smaller servings. My parents would often tell me the old adage, “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach.”

Bloomberg is concerned because obesity and its almost inevitable consequence, diabetes, is a massive national health problem that threatens to swamp our already way too expensive healthcare system. I really don’t think most people understand the seriousness of it because it is so gradual. If you have a heart attack they can often operate and fix it but when you develop diabetes it’s damn hard to reverse it. You start with meds, end up in an electric cart and face an early but lengthy death while being a burden to both society and family. I would be a lot less concerned about other people in this regard if everybody were responsible for her own healthcare costs, but that’s not the system we have. We have the EMTALA law, a law that says we all pay with our taxes when the individual can’t, and that’s why your health is Bloomberg’s (and government’s) business.

Frankly, I think a better way to do it is to raise taxes on unhealthy things, i.e., use sin taxes.  Pied Type doesn’t like those either and addresses them in a 2010 post, linked on her recent post. Taxes of any kind are resented by most people, and especially conservatives. But I must point out that they’ve been fairly effective with tobacco and I think they could be with food. My wife has noted that fresh, healthy foods are more expensive than unhealthy foods. It appears to be a trend that is irreversible – when faced with a choice of buying fresh, chopping, mixing, cooking, or, just popping a prepared high-calorie TV meal in the microwave, easy is going to win with most people. Especially when those prepared foods contain lots of salt and delicious fat.

There’s a grocery store in our town that happens to have an outstanding Deli in it and one of the things we’ve been getting once a week is two fried chicken legs, one for her and one for me. Dang, those are good, and the skin is the best part, nice and fatty, not to mention crunchy.  Aroma, taste, tactile chewiness all in one package. We buy them, usually on a Thursday and then just warm them in the microwave that evening, adding various fresh salad items to round out the meal. When we’re finished with the chicken there’s nothing left but bare bone with gnaw marks on it. We’ve trained ourselves to be satisfied with the one piece, but I must say it’s a good thing the rest of the chicken isn’t there in front of us on chicken-leg night. I actually find myself looking forward to Thursdays. Visceral appetite will beat intellect every time.  Sorry, Michael Bloomberg.  You mean well, but you’re doomed to disappointment on this one.

About Jim Wheeler

U. S. Naval Academy, BS, Engineering, 1959; Naval line officer and submariner, 1959 -1981, Commander, USN; The George Washington U., MSA, Management Eng.; Aerospace Engineer, 1981-1999; Resident Gadfly, 1999 - present. Political affiliation: Democratic.
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10 Responses to Reflections on Fried Chicken

  1. PiedType says:

    As you’ve noted, I resent the government trying to control or dictate what I choose to eat; it’s my decision, not theirs. But beyond that, this particular law makes no sense. People can still buy all the sugary drinks they want. If Bloomberg is genuinely concerned about sugary drinks causing obesity, why doesn’t he just ban them altogether?


    • Jim Wheeler says:

      Why not ban sugary drinks altogether? Do I detect a note of cynicism? What about government making us wear seat belts? Motorcycle helmets? Buy liability insurance on our cars? Make commercial airplanes maintain such large spacing in the air? Is there no end to this nanny state stuff?

      Gee, PT, how long has that libertarian inside you been trying to get out? 😀


      • PiedType says:

        No cynicism. I just meant if he truly thinks sugary drinks are harmful, it makes no sense to ban only certain sizes. Either ban them all, or don’t bother. It’s like saying seat belts are required, but only in American-made cars. I suppose there is a bit of a libertarian in me, but I tend to think of more as just being logical.

        BTW, you made that fried chicken sound SO good! I admire the willpower that enables you to walk out of that place with only one drumstick each. I’d have to go in just once every two months and buy a whole chicken.


        • Jim Wheeler says:

          But it does make sense to ban unreasonably large sizes, if you believe in behavior modification. B. F. Skinner would approve, Ayn Rand would not. Two trips to the concession counter are one too many. Bell rings, dog salivates. NYC Mayor strikes blow for the benefit of Humanity but is defeated by 1/7 of the Deadly Sins in the end(s). Finis.


    • Jim Wheeler says:

      Why not ban sugary drinks altogether? Do I detect a note of cynicism? What about government making us wear seat belts? Motorcycle helmets? Buy liability insurance on our cars? Make commercial airplanes maintain such large spacing in the air? Is there no end to this nanny state stuff?

      Gee, PT, how long has that libertarian inside you been trying to get out? 😀


  2. Archon's Den says:

    Once the kids were grown and we could afford to do a little travelling, I remember the culture shock I, as a Canadian, had with American soft drink sizes. In Canada, small, medium and large were 8 oz, 12 oz. and 16 oz. For the same prices, in the States, they were 16, 24 and 32 oz. I think the large economy size had a diving board and an on-duty life-guard.


  3. ansonburlingame says:

    To both,

    The link between unhealthy choices in lifestyle and the cost of HC is pertinent in my view.

    You can buy booze in 1/2 gallon containers. Why not limit such sales to one ounce bottles? Why sell cigarettes by the carton instead of one smoke at a time? I of course could go on. The point being of course that people that choose to use unhealthy “stuff” will use unhealthy “stuff” and then demand HC when they get sick, HC at other peoples expense.

    Just consider. IF government did not pay for HC in various forms in any way, would government then feel compelled to control the intake of unhealthy “stuff”? Too some degree the answer is of course “yes” such as drinking and driving as a matter of public safety. But drinking a gallon of Coca Cola would pose no immediate threat to safety and thus……

    My libertarian side comes down on freedom of choice, good or bad choices to the maximum extent possible so I agree with Pied in this case.

    Back to HC in such terms. People get sick and demand government (in some cases) to pay for the treatment regardless of WHY they became sick. Government has yet to find a way to discrimminate the amount and form of treatment to render based on the cause of the illness. Instead the public purse is opened wide for the child suffering from second hand smoke OR the parent suffering from smoking instead.

    I have used this example before but consider it still pertinent. I alone pay for life insurance and because I smoke my premium is almost double the amount paid if I was a non-smoker. My choice. Why is the same not applied to habits for “normal” HC insurance? But Obamacare took it even farther. If I am a 300 lb diabetic, drink a fifth a day, smoke two packs a day, etc. I now MUST be covered by a HC insurance company. No wonder HC insurance costs are going through the roof.

    And the mayor of NYC is trying to control “sugary drinks”???

    There should be individual consequences for “bad” personal choices’ Yet we still strive for universal HC as just an example regardless of such personal choices. If people really had to pay for their bad personal choices, well that is regulation by individuals, not a “nanny State”.

    That, as far as I understand it, is a very libertarian view, not a conservative view.



  4. It is a slippery slope! Next thing they’ll be telling us which side
    of the road to drive on! Or telling us we can’t buy beer on Sunday!
    Seriously, though, I do think a tax on the worst of the junk foods would be better.
    And where I live, we really too have to stock up on Saturday — even the grocery
    stores can’t sell beer and wine until after 1 pm on Sundays. A slight nuisance I
    guess for people who like to stop for groceries on the way home from church.


    • Jim Wheeler says:

      Thanks for reminding us of Blue Laws, Helen! That comparison completely slipped by me in this post, but it is very appropriate. As with the massive failure of the prohibition experiment, (sin) taxation in the end proved a much better solution than the imposition of “morality” by government fiat. Interesting too that pockets of such prohibition remain, there in NC for instance, over in Kansas, and south of us. I believe much of Arkansas is “dry”, which of course amounts to a mockery of the intent. Tourists simply “join” a “private club” for a small fee to get a glass of wine with dinner.

      What a nutty species we are! Society plays games all the time with the concept of individual freedom and responsibility. We know that a significant percentage of the population drives drunk and we know for the most part where they go to get drunk before driving away, but do we have the cops stake out the doors of those places to count their drinks or look for anyone unsteady on their feet as they leave? Not for the most part. Society’s line is a fuzzy one, always in dynamic tension.


  5. Archon's Den says:

    As a teenager, I was surprised to find the next town over was *Dry*, and would stay dry, as long as voters could stagger to the booth.


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