Thursday, May 28, 2015

I Aimed For The Public's Heart, And. . .hit It In The Stomach

This one’s hard, not because I don’t have a lot to say but because I am interested in bringing some new perspectives and it has pretty much all been said.  HoCoRising, specifically did an epic job of putting my thoughts to words here and here.  I suppose I sit with two remaining thoughts that have been covered to some degree but are worth reiterating.

The first revolves around the use of science in policy making.  I think mostly because of the (policy) debates around anthropomorphic climate change and evolution it feels like it is the political right that looks skeptically at science when it doesn’t fit their existing value narrative.  We all do it though.  Politically, on the left, the obvious example is genetically modified organisms (GMOs).  The science, thus far, says that they are not currently dangerous and in fact has shown many ecological and nutritional benefits. 

This very much doesn’t fit my own personal narrative which is to say, it’s a pretty bad idea to mess around with nature that way and with big corporate money interests pushing the “progress” (not to mention buying of the scientists) we probably have no real understanding of the true damage yet to be revealed.  As it stands, however, the science is compelling and scientists mostly agree that there is no evidence of ecological damage or human health risks.  The science isn’t as compelling or the consensus as strong as anthropomorphic climate change but nevertheless if I ignore it, I am ignoring sound peer reviewed science so as to fit my worldview. 

Back to nutrition standards, I am frustrated with the science here because it makes for, at best, mediocre politics.  However, this proposal is good policy rooted in strong science.[2]  This brings me to my other point, which has been made ad infinitum but certainly is worth a quick repeat.  With this proposal, if you want to have yourself a sugar-sweetened beverage on County property, go for it.  FREEDOM.  ‘MURICA.  All that.  Nothing stands in your way.   It seems to me though that this initiative is saying that the Government should not profit or supply things that make its citizens unhealthy.  I eat/drink and do plenty of unhealthy things and would be outraged if any government tried to prohibit me from doing them.  However,  I also don’t dare presume the same government should make any of those unhealthy choices readily available.   

One final word, this idea that the nutritional standards bill is part of a big political strategy to make Executive Kittleman look like he says no to everything or some other subversive purpose seems so completely strange to me.  I mean first of all politics is politics and as political “schemes” go, introducing policy initiatives to put another politician on the line to make decisions seems so painfully softball that it’s hard to even articulate here.  More importantly though, if Councilman Ball is in fact doing this for purely political reasons and not because he believes it’s good policy[3] then he’s doing it wrong.  Why would he possibly introduce these things and force the Executive to vote a certain way 3 years (give or take) before anyone is actually paying attention? 

[1] Title is Upton Sinclair quote, where he talks about The Jungle and how he was trying to wake Americans up about the working conditions and instead they passed food safety laws.

[2] One of the few highlights of watching the hearing on the nutritional standards bill from the comfort of my home was Dr. Appel confirming Councilman Fox’s assertion that yes in fact University of Miami is a large institution.  Of course by that point I was pretty thirsty for a highlight.
[3] To be perfectly clear, I have not talked to him in either my real or assumed identity.

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