August 15, 2006
Social Engineers Fret About Affordable Food
Posted by Dave Blount at August 15, 2006 11:01 AM
Worldwide, hunger is not the problem it once was. But that's certainly no reason for do-gooders to stop fretting. We have a new problem now: obesity.
As University of North Carolina professor Barry Poplin told the annual conference of the International Association of Agricultural Economists yesterday:
The reality is that globally far more obesity than undernutrition exists.
The problem is only getting worse as hunger declines. One culprit is affordable food, a symptom of the scourge known as globalization. Poplin offers the inevitable solutions — taxes and bureaucratic meddling:
[I]f we charge money for every calorie of soft drink and fruit drink that was consumed, people would consume less of it. If we subsidize fruit and vegetable production, people would consume more of it and we would have a healthier diet.
University of Minnesota prof Benjamin Senauer approvingly notes that the skinny Japanese spend almost 25% of their income on food, whereas porky Americans spend only 14%. Taxes and regulations could fix that too.
But the government has more work to do than simply driving up the cost of food. It also needs to reform our lifestyles. Probably clutching at his hair, Senauer dramatically intones:
Obesity and overweight bring with them significant risks of chronic disease and premature death and adjusting domestic policy to encourage a less sedentary lifestyle is literally a matter of life and death.
Maybe some of the money raised by taxing incorrect foods could be used to buy 1984-style telescreens, so that bureaucrats could ensure that we all do calisthenics every morning.
On a tip from Bill V.