Capitalism Can't Win

It is often said that capitalism won over socialism in the late 20th century, with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the rise of powerful Asia market economies.  Be that as it may, this statement certainly does not apply to American university campuses.  In the ivory tower, capitalism is still the number one whipping boy. 

An interesting illustration of this is Jacob Sullum's review of a pair of books that attempt to debunk the myth that being mildly overweight is deadly.  This is a rich topic, given some of the really bad science that has gone into trying to make being overweight the next smoking, and the review is worth a read.  However, this part caught my eye:

Both he and Campos blame the unjustified obsession with weight and the
cruel vilification of fat people on capitalism, which, they say, prizes
self-discipline and stigmatizes those seen as lacking it. To be fair,
Campos more specifically blames a pro-capitalist Protestant asceticism
that encourages the pursuit of wealth but frowns on those who enjoy it
too much. There's an element of truth to this analysis; a similar
ambivalence regarding pleasure helps explain American attitudes toward
sex, drugs, and gambling.

But wait!  Aren't most of the folks like the food nazis who are launching government obesity campaigns leftists?  They are, and Sullum makes this point:

But it does give you pause when you consider that the obesity
obsessives also blame capitalism, for precipitating the current crisis
by making food plentiful, inexpensive, appealing, and convenient. New
York University nutritionist Marion Nestle, for example, blames
America's adiposity on "an overly abundant food supply," "low food
prices," "a highly competitive market," and "abundant food choices,"
while Kelly Brownell claims restaurants exploit consumers when they
give them more for less, since "people have biological vulnerabilities
that promote overeating when large portions are available, a strong
desire for value, and the capacity to be persuaded by advertising."

Great.  So capitalism causes obesity as well as anti-obesity.  You can't win.


  1. BobH:

    Similar to the way lenders are evil because they won't lend to poor people, except when they're evil because they do lend to poor people (payday loans, sub-prime mortgages).

  2. CRC:

    And hair loss...and impotence...and bad breath...and acne...and bad eye sight...and foot odor...

    When are you finally going to get it?!?!


  3. somebody:

    Capitalism means responsibility for yourself and accountability for your actions. That means people are bound to make stupid choices. Therefore, anti-capitalists love blaming capitalism (instead of individuals) for society's ills.

  4. la petite chou chou:

    ...we all know that no ONE in America is responsible for his own choices. Sheesh, no, those choices were made FOR him by all the imposing forces of advertising and marketing. Nobody can resist those things!

    Also, to the point about the lenders, it's the same as when "they" demand cheaper beef and milk while at the same time demanding that all cattle be set free. Evil for charging too much for beef or milk, evil for corralling cattle. Can't win.

  5. Scott:

    "Capitalism causes obesity and anti-obesity."

    Sounds just like these claims:

    "Global warming causes the oceans to become saltier and also less salty."

    "Global warming causes more and less rainfall."

    "Global warming causes floods and droughts."

    Clearly, the jihadi against global warming is actually the old socialist/anarchist/environmentalist jihad against capitalism in its newest guise.

    (I say jihad because apparently, it IS the latest holy war cause! 7th pic from top)

  6. Bill:

    Did I read that right? Food is cheap and abundant and that is a problem? Do these folks have no sense of history whatsoever?

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