When I was a junior in high school, I was 5’9” and weighed around 155 pounds.  That would put my BMI at 22.9, which is near the center of the “normal” range.  Man, I must’ve been in some kind of good shape, right?

Wrong.  I weighed 155 pounds because I had a 35-inch chest, skinny arms, and skinny legs.  I also had a belly, love handles, and boy boobs.  I was a skinny-fat guy.

I occasionally played pick-up basketball (not especially well, mind you) with a classmate named John, who was on the football team.  John had six-pack abs, and the veins popped on his muscular arms and legs.  He was about 5’8” and weighed around 180 pounds.  That would put his BMI at 27.4, which would classify him as overweight.

If anyone had seen us side-by-side with our shirts off and was told John was overweight but I wasn’t, I’m pretty sure the reaction would’ve been a big chuckle.  BMI is laughable as a measurement of who’s fat and who isn’t.  Unfortunately, busybodies in government still take it seriously, including Michelle Obama:

In an exclusive post published on Shine today, First Lady Michelle Obama offers some advice, drawn from her own experience, about the Affordable Care Act and how parents can get the most out of visits to the pediatrician. One of her suggestions: Learn about your child’s BMI.

The First Lady was surprised to learn that her daughters’ BMI numbers were “creeping upwards.” “I didn’t really know what BMI was,” she writes. “And I certainly didn’t know that even a small increase in BMI can have serious consequences for a child’s health.

Yes, I remember how unhealthy my classmate John was, thanks to his high BMI … although now that I think about it, his height-to-weight ratio did cause some serious damage.  In a playoff game, a punt-returner from the opposing team neglected to call for a fair catch as John was bearing down on him.  A few seconds later, one of our players had recovered the fumble for a touchdown, and the punt-returner was flat on his back, unconscious.

A small increase in BMI does not produce serious consequences for a child’s health.  Getting fatter thanks to a lousy diet can certainly have serious health consequences.  Consuming a lousy diet without getting fatter can, too — just ask any of the thousands of skinny type 2 diabetics in the world.  When I was a senior in high school, I joined a Nautilus club and ended up putting on 10 pounds of muscle over the next several months.  My arms finally had a bit of shape to them, and my chest filled out.  My BMI went up, but I was healthier.

But as Dr. Susan J. Woolford explains, despite the medical jargon, BMI (Body Mass Index) is actually a very easy way to answer a very difficult question: Is my child overweight?

No, BMI is a very easy way to answer this difficult question:  What is the mathematical result of multiplying my child’s weight in pounds by 703, and then dividing that number by my child’s height in inches squared?  That’s all BMI will tell you.  The easy way to determine if your child is overweight is to look at him when he’s not wearing a shirt.  Is his belly protruding?  Is he developing love handles?  If so, he’s probably on his way to being fat.  If he’s got a flat belly with some definition around the abs, he isn’t.

If Mrs. Obama is going to start obsessing with her kids’ BMI scores, I feel sorry for them, but that’s her business.  Unfortunately, Mrs. Obama is now in charge of the latest federal effort to combat childhood obesity, which means she’s also making it her business to hand out advice to the rest of us.  Watch this interview with the chairwoman of Mrs. Obama’s taskforce:

So the taskforce is recommending the same old “eat less, move more, fill your plate with fruits and vegetables” blah-blah-blah nonsense.  It hasn’t worked for the past 30 years, but apparently it will work now.  Why? Because (as the First Lady explained) for the first time, they’re setting really clear goals and benchmarks!

Well, that ought to do it, then.  If the federal government says we’re going to reduce childhood obesity to 5%, then by gosh, it’ll happen.  I set a really clear goal of earning $500,000 this year.  I’m not actually doing anything to achieve that goal, but I’m pretty sure setting clear goals and benchmarks is all it takes.

Well, that’s not entirely fair; the task force is doing something:  they’re spending $400 million to bring fruits and vegetables to neighborhoods where people have already demonstrated they’re not particularly interested in buying and fruits and vegetables:

The Healthy Food Financing Initiative will promote a range of interventions that expand access to nutritious foods, including developing and equipping grocery stores and other small businesses and retailers selling healthy food in communities that currently lack these options. Residents of these communities, which are sometimes called “food deserts” and are often found in economically distressed areas, are typically served by fast food restaurants and convenience stores that offer little or no fresh produce.

Here’s a simple economics lesson:  businesses don’t determine what consumers will buy.  Consumer behavior determines what businesses will produce and sell.  If fast food restaurants thrive in poor neighborhoods while stores that sell fresh fruit and vegetables don’t, there’s a good reason for it.  Using tax dollars to bring more fruits and vegetables to areas where people don’t buy fruits and vegetables isn’t going to reduce childhood obesity.  It’s just going to lead to a lot of rotten fruits and vegetables.

Part of the federal taskforce’s plan for “empowering” parents to make better decisions for their kids is to require schools to record and report BMI scores for schoolkids.  Fabulous.

“Hello, this is the nurse from Lakewood Elementary calling to let you know we’ll be measuring your child’s Body Mass Index tomorrow.”

“I don’t want you measuring my kid’s BMI.  It’s none of your business.”

“But I’m afraid it’s required by law.”

“Oh.  Boy, I feel really empowered as a parent now.  Thanks for the call.”

Once schools start identifying kids with a high BMI, what exactly are they going to do about it?

“Johnny, your BMI score tells me you’re overweight.”

“Gee, Nurse Finkelstein, what should I do?”

“Well, uh … get some exercise and then go eat your USDA-approved lunch.  I believe today’s menu features chicken nuggets, mashed potatoes, rolls, chocolate milk and some peaches in a sugary syrup.”

If Mrs. Obama is 1) convinced that BMI is a useful measurement, and 2) believes her task force knows enough about the biological mechanisms of weight gain and weight loss to justify making dietary recommendations and spending hundreds of millions of tax dollars to implement them, then here’s what I want her to do:

I don’t know Mrs. Obama’s BMI, but based on pictures of her, I’d be surprised if it’s 25 or below.

Don’t get me wrong … I think she has an attractive figure.  But she’s on the thicker, more muscular side of the curve, especially in the hips and legs, so it’s highly likely her BMI puts her in the overweight category.  I’d prefer she look at herself in the mirror, compare what her eyes are telling her with her BMI score, and then declare BMI a useless measurement.  But since she’s now extolling the virtues of BMI scores and supporting requiring schools to gather them, I want her to declare hers publicly.  Then I want her to follow the USDA dietary guidelines and show us how those guidelines helped her achieve a BMI of 24.  Prove the advice she’s handing out actually works.

If she does that, then she can worry about my kids’ BMI scores.

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92 Responses to “More BMI Bologna”
  1. Peggy Cihocki says:

    I used to make my own mayonnaise, too, but found I didn’t use it fast enough and always threw some out. And it was a pain to make it every time I wanted some tuna or egg salad. Then I found WN.
    Thanks for sending the video to Michelle Obama and thanks, Be, for ordering it. I only hope she takes the time to look at it. How much should we bet she doesn’t? Please keep us posted on her reaction, if any. If none, I will order one sent to her, too. Maybe if enough of us bombard the White House with copies, she will have to at least check it out!
    I ordered a “Fat Head” shirt and can’t wait to wear it. Bet it starts some good conversations. I still have so many friends who are touting the old government line. But at least my husband is (finally!) cutting his carbs–by half, anyway. It’s a start. He watched “Fat Head” and the “Big Fat Fiasco” talk with me–at least enough to express admiration for your way with words and pictures and to be convinced that what I have been telling him for years is right.

    It sure helps when spouses are on the same page as far as diet.

    I have the same problem with I make my own mayo. I don’t use much, so I end up tossing half of what I’ve made. I ordered from Wilderness. I hope it keeps in the fridge.

  2. Be says:

    I’m pretty sure the SS is already watching both of us. I can only hope that it really gets to Michelle (or at least her kids) and she takes the time to watch it. Unfortunately my $15 (and you movie) will probably be blown up in an Anthrax Box! But…just…maybe… EVERYONE – write your first lady and ask her to give whirled peas a chance!

  3. Peggy Cihocki says:

    No worries. WN mayo keeps for a long time in the fridge without losing taste or going bad. I don’t use that much at a time. but have not had to throw a bottle out before it’s time. I’ve been using it for a couple of years now. (Not the same bottle!)

  4. First ladies always search for relevance. I just wish she’d latched onto something that she was qualified to talk about, and exemplified herself. Oh, well…

  5. Susan says:

    Hey Tom,

    Finally watched Fat Head on Hulu the other day. Amazing! I’ve lived basically low carb since I first read Taube’s article, “What if it’s All Been a Big Fat Lie.” I’ve fallen off the wagon a few times over the years, but I keep coming back. I just feel so much better when I eat right.

    I fear Michelle’s BMI campaign is only the start of the madness. They always claim they are doing it “for the children.” But it seems like I heard a while back that the electronic records that all healthcare providers are being forced to implement will include mandatory BMI calculations for all patients. From there, it’s just a quick hop to mandatory treatment guidelines, all “for our own good.” Or at least what the gubmint decides is good for us. Spare me, please.

    I love the idea of giving a different height each time I visit the doctor’s office. I’m going to have to start trying that. Of course, I may not need to. At my visit a couple of weeks ago, the assistant weighed me, ushered me into the exam, and asked me how tall I was. When I told her 5’11”, she looked a little confused and started to leave the room to consult a chart to figure out what 5’11” translated to in inches. I gave her a hard time about it. But if the staff is that ill-educated, who knows what kind of information they will be submitting. Unfortunately, my online health record at my insurance company’s website (don’t get me started on how much I love that…) already reflects the latest readings.

    It’s really too bad that those in charge ignore all the scientific evidence that contradicts their pet BMI theories. I was re-reading some of Sandy Szwarc’s posts over at Junkfood Science.com (http://www.junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/ ) the other day. I love her series on the Obesity Paradox. Along the same lines, there is a long series of articles on obesity at Spiked Online ( http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/issues/C34/ ). Great reading, totally in line with your post, but frustrating too. The powers that be are so convinced they are right – about obesity, cholesterol, sodium intake, etc. – that they just ignore any evidence that doesn’t fit their preconceptions. Lord help us!

    Thank you for the links.

  6. Quinlan says:

    BMI actually makes sense when it is applied as was always intended, a measure of body mass in populations, the fact that there was a dramatic rise in our (the west’s) BMIs during the 80s and 90s is useful information and is often quoted in the lowcarb community, however as you point out what any one individual’s bmi was or wasn’t during that time was is much less useful information.

    Most of the distribution in BMI has been shown to be genetic anyway, if pretty much everyone is eating healthy (low or lower carb) then where your BMI happens to fall is genetic, if everyone is eating unhealthy then where your BMI happens to fall is also genetic.

  7. Brendan says:

    I just read this article on the Sun (UK) :
    http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/3092178/Dagenham-girl-branded-fat-by-the-National-Health-Service-wont-eat.html

    I think implementing BMI “scores” in schools is a very bad idea. Authorities should keep their hands off these kids for the sake of their mental health

    That’s exactly what I’m afraid will happen.

  8. Arielle says:

    I would throw a fit if this happened to my children in my country. You know when I learned what BMI meant? When I started developing an eating disorder. What followed was 4 lovely years of bulimia.

    This is why this not only upsets me, it also frightens me. These children have to deal with enough bullying in school; why on earth add an obsession with weight to that? It is the parents’ responsibility to properly nourish their children. At most, the government can educate them, or provide material for self-education. But to single children out in schools, away from their parents, away from SENSE, and all based on this ludicrous notion that a mathematical equation defines one’s stat of health – unbelievable. Just… unbelievable.

    My sentiments exactly. Schools shouldn’t be burdened with yet another task that has nothing to do with education, and kids shouldn’t be singled out by such a ham-handed measurement.

  9. Tracee says:

    We have a tiny convenience store in one of thise deserts she is talking about. It’s not that we want to sell ciagaretts and sodas, but we would not be able to stay in business if we did not. We do carry flax seed, etc, for a handful of customers, but most are not interested. There is a great quote that goes something like “it is just as hard to give freedom to those who do not want it as it is to take it away from those who do’ Guess what, if you take out the word “freedom” and replace it with “health” or “fruits and vegetables”, or even “truth” or “faith” for that matter, you get the same result.

    Exactly. More on that in tonight’s post.

  10. Holly J. says:

    Moms tend to brag about our children being in the 90th percentile for height and weight when they’re born. That’s really just BMI.

    I’ve noticed that my kid weighs about 10 lbs more than the rest of his friends. He’s not fat at all. Your “shirt test” proves that he’s just solid. Skinny jeans look like normal jeans on this kid. He is also taller than everyone in his class. But even with his older friends who are the same height, he’s heavier. (He’s very proud of this btw. Must be a boy thing.) Anytime he starts to look like he’s getting “chunky” he grows about 2 – 3 inches. He also eats like he’s a teenager and he’s only 8.

    I believe it’s partially because he has really strong bones. It’s really hard to get enough vitamin D the way those kids eat and all the manditory sunscreen they slather on. Plus people don’t know about traditional supplements (cod liver oil?). We don’t eat the same, supplement the same, and we spend a lot of time in the sun without sunscreen. Now after looking at his BMI he’s in the 75 – 85% for height and weight. Too bad we don’t brag about having healthy, solid kids like that anymore.

    If he’s heavier than his friends without being fatter, he has reason to be proud. When I was a skinny kid, I wanted to weigh more. I should’ve been more specific: I wanted more muscle. Instead, my bad diet just gave me more body fat.

  11. GrapeNut says:

    Agree on BMI being useless, mostly because muscle weighs more than fat.
    I am about 5’6″, and when I was really into free-weights about 10 years ago, weighed as much as 150. But I was fairly ripped and possessed a V-Shaped torso with a 30″ waist. I was only 30, and did eat whatever I wanted. I burned so many calories in the gym, I was just breaking even and had to eat more than usual to feed the muscle mass.

    However, I am blessed with a high metabolism. Now at 40, I’m about 12 lbs off my peak, and really can’t do the gym like I used to. But I still have the 30″ waist, I’m just not as toned or big. The truth is, for some of us, it doesn’t really matter what we eat. My blood work is pretty good, according to the doctors, but they always say my Cholesterol is too high. I do like eggs.

    Still disagree with bashing whole wheat and brown rice. Tell us how you feel about beans. They are loaded with protein and complex carbs. Also disagree strongly with your attack on Michelle Obama’s fruit/vegetable distribution plan to needy neighborhoods. Your position suggests leaving people’s dietary decisions to the free market. “People don’t want fruits and vegetables, they only want to buy big Macs.” People also want to buy cigarettes and alcohol, which wreaks havoc on the health care system.

    You’re suggesting that we should just ‘set the table’ metaphorically speaking to make it easy for consumers to cave in and satisfy their immediate gratification.

    For beans, it depends. If they’re soaked or fermented to neutralize the lectins, I believe most people can handle them. Some can’t. I don’t get along with beans very well.

    I support leaving people’s dietary decisions to the people consuming the diets. What exactly is your position? If you’re against making it easy for consumers to “cave in and satisfy their immediate gratification,” please explain how you plan to determine what consumers should be buying, what qualifies you to make those decisions for them, and how you would enforce your decisions, since you don’t believe the consumers are capable of deciding for themselves.

    Michelle Obama isn’t distributing fruits and vegetables to needy people who are clamoring for fruits and vegetables but can’t get them because evil free-marketers refuse to sell them. She’s planning to use tax dollars to bring more fruits and vegetables to neighborhoods where people have already demonstrated no interest in buying them. If they were interested in buying fruits and vegetables, evil free-marketers would happily sell them. Ms. Obama doesn’t grasp the basic economic principle that you can’t sell what people don’t want to buy. Did you read the post about the store owner who let a do-gooder group talk him into buying $500 worth of 15-cent bags of apple slices? He ended up with spoiled apple slices.

  12. GrapeNut says:

    This blog isn’t setup properly so I can reply to you, and I’m just assuming that you are Tom Naughton. You should be able to tweak the wordpress template so that it shows the author of the reply.

    Anyway-
    You have an obvious agenda, basically the same one I’ve heard on right wing talk radio for years now. Bash everything the government does. Especially if there’s a Democrat at the helm.

    [Yes, I have an obvious agenda. I want the government to get the hell out people's faces and observe the limits placed on it by the Constitution. I want the government to live within its means. I want the government to protect individual liberty as intended by the Founders, not take it away for supposed group benefits.]

    You strike the same tone as Glen Beck, (and Rush, and Hannity, and Coulter and the rest of the noisy a-holes) with their stupid, dangerous and loud opinions.
    http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/2010/09/15/beck-obesity/

    [I strike the same tone as Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Paine and a lot of other noisy a-holes who expressed their stupid, dangerous, and loud opinions about personal liberty and limited government in a document called "The Constitution." You should read it sometime.]

    You sarcastically use the phrase “evil free-marketers”, as though that was what I was implying, and I wasn’t. I actually believe that most privately held companies have contributed positively to the world’s productivity and success. However, I do not feel that way about the fast food industry.

    My position is that it’s quite obvious that the fast food industry isn’t stupid- they know exactly how to make food that is extremely unhealthy, cheap, yet powerfully appealing. They spend billions on marketing, and it is astoundingly successful. You think that the ‘Flax, Canola, Vegetable and Whole Grain’ lobby has some sort of evil agenda, and that they pose a threat to healthy eating with falsified data? Poor, defenseless McDonalds need you to defend them?

    [No, I don't think McDonald's needs me to defend them. But equating them with the canola and grain lobbies is ludicrous. Find me the ads claiming that Big Macs and sodas are good for you. Find me the McDonald's-funded studies saying McNuggets are health food. Show me the federal subsidies paid to McDonald's.]

    The fast food industry spends over $1.6 Billion on marketing every year. Mrs. Obama’s “Let’s Move” program will cost $400 million. And I’m sure the Tea Party and assorted extreme right wing pundits will be damn sure it gets shot down.

    [Still can't spot the difference, can you? The fast food industry spends its own money on marketing. It only makes that money by offering products to people that they like. If you don't like what McDonald's sells, they can't make you pay for it, no matter how many advertising dollars they spend.

    Mrs. Obama's "Let's Move" campaign is spending my money. I think it's totally worthless and in fact will be counter-productive, since it's pushing the same old low-fat nonsense that got us in trouble in the first place. And yet I don't get to just tell Mrs. Obama no thanks, I'm not buying your program. I have to pay for it whether I like it or not.]

    So they can sigh with relief, ease their fat asses into that molded plastic McDonalds chair and exercise their constitutional right to consume highly processed all-beef patties, fries, and a giant vat of flavored HFSC without any ‘government intervention’.

    [Once again, if you think government intervention in people's dietary choices is a good idea, tell me specifically who will decide what's good for us, how they'll know what's good for us, what kind of intervention they should be allowed to make, what the punishment will be for those who refuse the intervention, and how the success of that invention will be measured. And if government nutrition experts determine that grains cause diabetes, arthritis, Parkinson's, schizophrenia, and other auto-immune diseases because of the glutens and lectins, are you okay with the government intervening and taking your whole grains away? (For your own good, of course.)]

    I guess you are like all the other Right Wing pundits: You find it easier and more entertaining to beat down a well-meaning program.

    [I don't give a damn how well-intentioned federal programs are. I care that federal programs are 1) within the federal government's defined powers, and 2) effective. Mrs. Obama's program is neither.]

    It’s not about the damn money, we’ve already spent $600,000,000 bombing Libya in the last 2 weeks.

    [Well, one unconstitutional and wasteful program certainly justifies another!]

    It’s about the fatuous argument that ‘people always have a choice’ and ‘if they wanted fresh produce, they’d just buy it’ and even ‘this is unconstitutional’.

    [Yes, you economic illiterate, if people wanted fresh produce, they'd buy it. That's why when economic illiterates talk a store owner into stocking apple slices in a neighborhood where people haven't shown any interest in apples, the store owner ends up throwing them away.]

    The reality is every time I go to a fast food establishment (I’ll go in to use the restroom, not to eat) or even a chain restaurant like TGIFridays, Chlis, Applebees etc (it’s all the same Sysco synthesized slop) I would estimate that at least 60% of the patrons are a good 50 lbs overweight.

    [Take away the fast-food establishments and chain restaurants, and those fat people will still be just as fat. They'll just get their sugar fix at home. The research is clear on that. You are mistaking cause and effect. They're not fat because they go to McDonald's. They go to McDonald's for the same reason they're fat: they like sugary and starchy foods. It's what they eat at home, and it's what they eat when they go out for a meal.]

    When I go to a restaurant that specializes in fresh, locally grown, organic fare and yes I do eat plenty of meat, most of the patrons are fit.

    [Same as above, but in reverse. Health-conscious people eat that way at home, and do the same when they go out. Take away those restaurants that specialize in fresh, locally grown, organic fare, and do you think they'd all go to McDonald's and start eating sugar and other junk and become fat? No? You mean they'd just continue eating according to their values and preferences? Then why do you think it's any different if you take away fast food?]

    It is a lifestyle, but let’s not pretend that disadvantaged people have the same choices the rest of us do in the real world. Many Poor people are caught in a vicious cycle of limited nutrition choices, poor decision making, and a literal addition to fast food.

    [Well, it's so nice of you to step in with your superior knowledge and willpower and help them out. I'm sure they really appreciate your insistence that they should substitute your values and preferences for theirs. By the way, I'm going to have insist you stop eating grains now. I'm only doing for it your own good. I don't want you to end up with arthritis or some other auto-immune disease someday.]

    Anything we can do to break that cycle and present some new ideas about eating and exercise. You chose the wrong side of the argument here, perhaps this is all an elaborate troll.

    [Man, if only I could think of a way to present some new ideas about eating and exercise ... I can sort of imagine making a documentary or perhaps starting a blog ... but no, that'll never work. You can't get people to change through information and persuasion. The only way to bring about real change (and hope!) is to use the power of the federal government to ram the same old low-fat nonsense down people's throats -- starting with the schools, of course. And if that doesn't work, we'll go after private businesses.]

  13. Your Older Brother says:

    Ah, well. What the good Lord gives with one hand, he takes with another. Blessed with a high metabolism, but it was set too high and burnt up the poor lad’s brain. Pity.

    Cheers!

    LOL.

  14. Your Older Brother says:

    BTW, how’d you get to be a troll on your own web site?

    I’m still trying to figure it out.

  15. GrapeNut says:

    [Yes, I have an obvious agenda. I want the government to get the hell out people's faces and observe the limits placed on it by the Constitution. I want the government to live within its means. I want the government to protect individual liberty as intended by the Founders, not take it away for supposed group benefits.]

    Yes, I know, you love the Constitution… as long as it protects private industry by allowing it to operate in a completely unregulated manner no matter what the consequences to society WHICH WE ALL GET TO PAY FOR. The truth is, you do not give damn or understand the Constitution’s original intent, you only want to twist it to support your pet industry, in this case fast food companies, so they can continue socializing the Costs, of obesity, while privatizing the profits. Maybe you own a lot of McDonalds stock, maybe they fund you directly, maybe you’re just another deluded flag waving Limbaugh lover.

    [I strike the same tone as Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Paine and a lot of other noisy a-holes who expressed their stupid, dangerous, and loud opinions about personal liberty and limited government in a document called "The Constitution." You should read it sometime.]

    No, you don’t. I’ve noticed the same level of delusion with government bashers like you. You all think you’re Thomas F’n Jefferson. You’re not. You are some guy with a blog and movie full of bad information that will appeal to people who like being told it’s healthy to eat bacon, burgers and butter, and that whole wheat is bad for you. This is insanely stupid advice. The founding fathers did not have the benefit of science, accurate data analysis, or modern medicine. This is a document written over 230 years ago, and I’m sick and tired of guys like you with some ultra libertarian or radically pro-business agenda using it as an excuse to let the super-powerful do whatever the want without restraint or a system of checks and balances.

    [No, I don't think McDonald's needs me to defend them. But equating them with the canola and grain lobbies is ludicrous. Find me the ads claiming that Big Macs and sodas are good for you. Find me the McDonald's-funded studies saying McNuggets are health food. Show me the federal subsidies paid to McDonald's.]

    I am specifically NOT equating the canola and whole grain lobbies with McDonalds. In Fat Head, YOU imply that the producers of these products twisted government arms to get the US Dept of Agriculture to change the food pyramid in their favor.

    You want some links to McDonalds advertising tactics?
    McDonalds exposed for false advertising
    http://www.health-informant.com/article642.html

    And this is a fun one: They picked up the $1600 it cost to print report cards, and slapped a Happy Meal ad on the thing. If I were a parent, I’d be pissed. How about this Constitutional argument: “I don’t want my impressionable 5th grade child forcibly exposed to advertisements for McDonalds Crappy Meals. These ads have NO Business on a public school report card. McDonalds is NOT part of a balanced diet, and when a public institution like my child’s school appears to be promoting this unhealthy alternative it interferes with my efforts to be a responsible parent. You guys love to preach ‘personal responsibility’, right?
    http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune.com/features_julieshealthclub/2007/12/mcdonalds-ads-h.html

    Here’s an ad promoting McDonalds “Southern Style Chicken Biscuit” sandwich… featuring Olympic Athletes saying they ‘eat it for breakfast’. Like most good advertising the health benefits are subliminally implied, with extremely fit people holding their chicken sandwich in an adoring manner.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fb4whVJa86A&feature=related

    If you want to bash the government, how about doing a documentary on food subsidies. We make corn artificially cheap by subsidizing it with Federal Tax Dollars. All Fast Food industries benefit massively from this foolish program:
    http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2010/05/18/federal-subsidies-vs-nutritional-recommendations/

    And this link will probably warm your heart, although it infuriates me:
    Voter Intimidation At McDonald’s: Employees Told That, Unless Republicans Win, They Won’t Get Raises Or Benefits
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/29/voter-intimidation-mcdonalds-republican_n_776187.html

    Please see my post titled “Arguing With Idiots.” If you’re going to blame free markets for decisions made by government (accepting McDonald’s ads on school property, subsidizing corn), you’re even goofier than I thought.

  16. GrapeNut says:

    [Still can't spot the difference, can you? The fast food industry spends its own money on marketing. It only makes that money by offering products to people that they like. If you don't like what McDonald's sells, they can't make you pay for it, no matter how many advertising dollars they spend.

    Mrs. Obama's "Let's Move" campaign is spending my money. I think it's totally worthless and in fact will be counter-productive, since it's pushing the same old low-fat nonsense that got us in trouble in the first place. And yet I don't get to just tell Mrs. Obama no thanks, I'm not buying your program. I have to pay for it whether I like it or not.]

    What you don’t want to hear is that McDonalds is massively subsidized by the government. Those are MY tax dollars being poured all over the top soil of the midwest so we can grow genetically modified artificially cheap corn that supports nearly everything McDonalds makes. I don’t recall being asked if I wanted to pay for it. I don’t eat at McDonalds, why should my tax dollars support your subsidized 3 McMeals per day?

    And you whine about Obama’s program, that hasn’t even taken effect yet. Massive, wasteful agriculture subsidies have been going on for years, the end result is food that is ‘cheap’ at the drive-thru but is actually costing us a lot of tax dollars. If you want to eliminate Obama’s program you have to get rid of the corn and grain subsidies too. You’re a free-market capitalist, let McDonalds survive with their own business acumen, not lobbying for corporate welfare every year. Let’s see how many Big Macs they sell when the true cost is passed on to the consumer who wants them.

    [Please see my post titled "Arguing With Idiots." You can also go back and find several posts where I express my disgust for all subsidies -- which, by the way are subsidizing your Grape Nuts.]

  17. GrapeNut says:

    [Once again, if you think government intervention in people's dietary choices is a good idea, tell me specifically who will decide what's good for us, how they'll know what's good for us, what kind of intervention they should be allowed to make, what the punishment will be for those who refuse the intervention, and how the success of that invention will be measured. And if government nutrition experts determine that grains cause diabetes, arthritis, Parkinson's, schizophrenia, and other auto-immune diseases because of the glutens and lectins, are you okay with the government intervening and taking your whole grains away? (For your own good, of course.)]

    Specifically I want independent, informed scientists and nutritionists not affiliated or funded by either political party to present me with the best information they have based on actual data and common sense. I will then make my informed decision as to what I put in my mouth.

    I’ve been eating whole grains for most of my 40 years, I get maybe one head cold per year, I’ve been hospitalized 2 times my entire life. I almost Never get sick. I do eat a lot of chicken, I might eat red meat 2x per month, I eat plenty of eggs and cheese. I don’t eat a lot of sugar or other simple carbs. Lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and lots of Flax, Whole grains, and of course Grape Nuts. by the way, my parents are almost 70, have an even healthier diet, loaded with whole grains, eat far fewer eggs/meat and more fish, and I bet they could out hike you. They have very little joint pain for their age, and rarely get sick. You have absolutely no proof that grains cause diabetes, arthritis, Parkinson’s, schizophrenia, and other auto-immune diseases because of the glutens and lectins.

    As for those who choose to continue to eat junk, here’s the ‘punishment’. If they want to buy that crap and consume it then they need to be in a high-risk health insurance pool. I’m sick and tired of paying for their poor choices. It is a lifestyle and willpower change, I do think they are addicted to carbs, hell to food in general. By the way, put the smokers and alcohol abusers in there with them. You want an economically rational free-market solution, there you have it. Let the fast food industry subsidize the high-risk pool out of their own profits. They are creating the the product that is creating the problem, I want an end to their welfare state.

    Please see my post titled “Arguing With Idiots.”

  18. GrapeNut says:

    I don’t give a damn how well-intentioned federal programs are. I care that federal programs are 1) within the federal government’s defined powers, and 2) effective. Mrs. Obama’s program is neither.]

    See, your own hatred of government is blinding you to the good that it can do. It’s that childish, right wing / tea party attitude that makes you want to stomp your feet like a petulant baby and start crying that it violates the constitutions. You don’t know her program is ineffective, I think it’s an excellent start and I’d like to give it a try.

    [Well, there's your answer: you go ahead and give that "excellent start" a try. Let Michelle Obama start the "Wisdom of GrapeNut Fresh Produce Subsidy and Education Program" and invite you and all the other economic illiterates in the country to send in your voluntary contributions. I promise not to stop you. That's the difference: I'm not demanding you or anyone else do anything or pay for anything. If you want to reach into my pocket to pay for your unproven theories about what will lead to better diets among people who have no interest in adopting a better diet, you're damned right I'll stomp my feet -- preferably with you under them.]

    It’s not perfect, but we’ve got to do something. The country really is fat, your little stunt at the beginning of the movie was hardly good research. You go “I had to stand around nearly all day just to get this much footage of fat people”.

    Stop. We ALL know that more Americans are dangerously overweight. You can see it on planes, in restaurants, at the mall, nearly everywhere. I agree that the BMI is useless, I just use my own eyes. We’ve let the food industry, fast and otherwise, perform an unfettered cultural experiment by cranking out more processed convenience foods bereft of nutritional value and loaded with chemicals, bad fats, HFSC, genetically modified corn.. basically everything bad. But it’s profitable, (at least with massive subsidies) so you deem it good.

    [The unfettered cultural experiment was the USDA telling us we should base our diets on carbohydrates while simultaneously using subsidies to make those carbohydrates dirt cheap. Now, after creating the rising tide of obesity and diabetes, the same government wants to create expensive programs to tell people how to lose weight -- by offering more of the advice that has already failed miserably.]

  19. GrapeNut says:

    [Yes, you economic illiterate, if people wanted fresh produce, they'd buy it. That's why when economic illiterates talk a store owner into stocking apple slices in a neighborhood where people haven't shown any interest in apples, the store owner ends up throwing them away.]

    I’ve proven that the economic illiterate here is the one not adding up the true, hidden costs associated with fast food. Oh, uh, and it’s not me.

    As for the apple slices-
    A) That’s a cultural issue. When you load up an area with fast food establishments, and people grow up eating nothing but prepared connivence foods, they may be resistant to fresh fruit. I’d also be curious to know how many fresh salads the local McDonalds sold. People are very conditioned to respond to marketing. If McD’s put a little more of the $1.6 billion towards pushing fruit rather than fries, I bet more people would eat the salads. But, the profit margin just isn’t there. So salad remains an empty gesture, and clowns like you shrug and go “Guess people want Big Macs, not Big Apples!”

    B) It’s anecdotal. One person posting a comment on your blog does not make a market study.

    Yes, the awesome power of marketing explains why New Coke and the McLean were such great successes.

    Oh, I see … people didn’t buy cheap produce when it was available because of “cultural issues.” But when Michelle Obama uses our tax dollars to bring produce to those same neighborhoods, the cultural issues will disappear and her program will be a smashing success.

    You’re now officially a waste of time. Please see my post titled “Arguing with Idiots.”

  20. GrapeNut says:

    [Take away the fast-food establishments and chain restaurants, and those fat people will still be just as fat. They'll just get their sugar fix at home. The research is clear on that. You are mistaking cause and effect. They're not fat because they go to McDonald's. They go to McDonald's for the same reason they're fat: they like sugary and starchy foods. It's what they eat at home, and it's what they eat when they go out for a meal.]

    No, the research shows that many people are very susceptible to slick, multi million dollar ad campaigns. The more the junk food companies spend, the fatter people get. Period. It is a direct cause/relationship. Their food is designed to make you want more soon after you’ve eaten, and so processed that it’s barely recognizable as whole food by the time it hits the plate. I’m talking about giving people who are addicted to the fatty, sugary starch a fighting chance. Have you ever watched an episode of Heavy?

    [Please cite the research showing that those people would consume less sugar, white flour, and other junk if the fast-food restaurants didn't advertise and would therefore weigh less. Your opinion isn't research.]

    And show me where I said we should eliminate the fast food restaurants. I’m simply suggesting that we help tip the scale a little bit in the consumer’s favor. The industry has such a massive amount of power, money, influence and momentum versus say the National Sustainable (and I’ll bet you loathe that word) Agriculture Coalition that it’s laughable to say we need to help people eat more meat, lard and cheese and less whole wheat cereal.

    [Again, do some research instead of just expressing your opinions. During the time we saw a rise in obesity and diabetes, we dropped our consumption of saturated fat while increasing our consumption of vegetable oils and grains. That was the whole purpose of instituting grain subsidies. And by gosh, it worked.

    And what exactly does "tip the scale" mean? I've asked you to spell out your plan, but you haven't.]

  21. GrapeNut says:

    [Well, it's so nice of you to step in with your superior knowledge and willpower and help them out. I'm sure they really appreciate your insistence that they should substitute your values and preferences for theirs. By the way, I'm going to have insist you stop eating grains now. I'm only doing for it your own good. I don't want you to end up with arthritis or some other auto-immune disease someday.]

    Yeah, it is nice of me. Thanks for mentioning it. Sorry, but my values and preferences equate to a healthier lifestyle. Just like you don’t want to start paying for Michelle Obama’s program, I don’t want to continue paying for an obese America. I don’t want to keep subsidizing the junk food companies, and I don’t want the misinformation spread in your video to pass without getting a stern review. You appear to like Junk Science with your Junk Food.

    Good, I don’t want you to subsidize junk food or other people’s medical problems either. Like I said, I want the government to leave us alone. That means don’t take our money to subsidize corn and make HFCS dirt cheap, and don’t take our money to buy other people’s health care for them. See? Go with a wild and crazy notion like freedom, and suddenly other people’s lifestyles can be none of your business without costing you a dime.

    (If course, if you’re not in the top 10% income bracket, it’s extremely unlikely you’re subsidizing anyone in the first place.)

  22. GrapeNut says:

    I get it. When I post up links that explicitly prove my point, your default reaction is to send me to the “Idiots” post. I disagree with you, therefore I am ignorant and arrogant. As for ‘doing research, and not just posting my opinions’ I will say that I did at least as much research for a few lousy blog posts as you did for your entire movie. Why should I bother? When I do post a link that backs up my argument, you just tell me to go to your ‘Idiots’ post.

    [No, you're an idiot because you have no consistent beliefs and pop off based on your emotional reactions. Perfect example: according to you, people didn't buy the apple slices because of "cultural issues." But by gosh, when Michelle Obama uses tax dollars to bring those apples to the same neighborhoods, that'll probably work and we should be willing to give it a try.

    Another example: You expressed your opinion that I'm against Mrs. Obama's program because I hate government and don't consider her good intentions. Then you rail on about grain subsidies. Here, let me put on your Official Idiot Hat and respond to your anti-subsidy statements using your own (ahem) logic:

    GrapeNut, you right-wing a-hole! You're letting your hatred of government blind you to the good government can do! Those grain subsidies were intended to make wholesome grain foods more affordable to poor people who were undernourished and had limited choices. I think grain subsidies are excellent start, and I for one am willing to give them a try -- especially if I can use your money to do so. If the good people in government believe we need those grain subsidies, then obviously they have good reasons, in spite of your loud, arrogant, dangerous anti-government opinions!

    (Hey, thinking like an idiot is actually kind of fun!)]

    I took Econ 1, 2, and 3 in college. I didn’t read 20 books on the subject like you claim to have done, but I have a solid business degree and I get the basics of supply/demand. You probably think I took “Moobat Macrame 101″ and “Wymyns studies” because Rush bleats about crap like that everyday. Not true. Hard nosed, practical business courses, and that’s how I make my living today.

    [Fascinating ... someone who took hard-nosed, practical business courses but doesn't grasp the concept that businesses can't sell what people don't want to buy.]

    You are the worst kind of “Libertarian”, a lazy one, who comes to table with a 100% ‘laissez-faire’ attitude that believes private corporations are always right, the government is always wrong and the markets will sort everything out.

    [No, I believe in the right of adults to engage in voluntary exchanges. You believe in curbing the rights of adults to engage in voluntary exchanges -- for their own good, of course. That makes you the worst kind of elitist.]

    You know who else held that belief? Alan Greenspan. He is (or was) a devotee of Ayn Rand (you know who she is), and applied her principles when he was Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Let Wall Street do whatever it wants, keep the Government out of way, and let the markets punish those who break the law. The result is the mortgage meltdown this country will be untangling for years. Go find the Frontline episodes titled “Inside the Meltdown” “Breaking the Bank” and “The Warning”. If you’re an economics expert, you should have already watched them many times over.

    [HA! If we ever needed proof that you're both an idiot and an economic illiterate, there it is. Alan Greenspan certainly espoused Ayn Rand's beliefs at one time. Then as chairman of the Federal Reserve, he promptly ignored those beliefs. Ayn Rand would never, ever support having the Federal Reserve monkey with interest rates to try to spur the housing market. (Ayn Rand would never, ever support having a central bank determine national economic policies at all, period.) Ayn Rand (or any libertarian economist) would never, ever support having the Federal Reserve create trillions of dollars out of thin air to "keep the economy moving." Ayn Rand (or any libertarian economist) would never, ever support having the government order banks to lower their lending standards to provide more "affordable housing," and then buy up the resulting risky mortgages through Fannie and Freddie so the banks could write even more risky mortgages. Until the government got involved in the housing market, banks were very cautious in their mortgage lending practices. My best friend -- an attorney with a good income -- was turned down for a mortgage 25 years ago because he ONLY had a 10% down payment. Then the government stepped in to make sure any moron who could sign his name would get a mortgage.

    Since you took economics classes in school and are so well-versed in hard-nosed business decisions and all, which of these scenarios would you say is more likely to lead to a bad mortgage being written by a bank:

    1. Bank makes a loan, bank eats the write-off if the loan goes bad.
    2. Bank makes a loan, Fannie or Freddie immediately buys the loan under instructions from HUD, Fannie or Freddie eats the write-off (then passes it on to taxpayers) if the loan goes bad.

    Hmmm ... scenario #1 is free-market. Scenario #2 is do-gooders in government getting involved.

    That's why we had a housing bubble and crash, you idiot.]

    As for spelling out my plan, I can’t effectively do that in a 500×135 px WordPress entry field. I’ll just add, I think we should tax more products that are having a deleterious effect on society, like we do with Alcohol and Tobacco. I KNOW you’ll hate that, because for some unfathomable reason, guys like you think corporate welfare is good.

    [I'm sorry ... I seem to have forgotten in which of my posts I expressed my support for corporate welfare. Could you please find those for me? Are you actually proposing that NOT making consumers pay taxes on products you don't approve of is a form of welfare?]

    You rail all day long about the first lady bringing a few tomatoes and carrots to Harlem, and encouraging exercise while you make a movie about how eating at McDonalds 3x per day can help you lose 20 lbs. My biggest problem with your premise is that virtually NO one at McDonalds drinks water with their meal and they eat the fries and the bun.

    Whatever. We both consider each other idiots. You are the more dangerous one, because you appear to have found an audience of people who love to hear that saturated fats are good for you and whole grains are bad.

    [Yes, encouraging people to return to the diet that kept humans lean and healthy for thousands of centuries is dangerous indeed. Thank goodness the government stepped in back in the 1970s and began telling people to cut back on fats and base their diets on grains and other carbohydrates. The vast improvement in rates of obesity and diabetes since then is all the proof we need of how effective government intervention in dietary choices can be.]

    I’m done with you too.

    [Thank goodness. By the way, I alerted the Department of Homeland Security about your lack of support for the Libyan military action. They'll be stopping by soon to take you to a re-education camp. Please don't waste your breath citing your right to free expression as guaranteed by the Constitution. I am sick and tired of loud, arrogant, dangerous a-holes citing the Constitution whenever they don't like what the government is doing. The Constitution was written 230 years ago by a bunch of anti-government radicals who couldn't have anticipated world-wide terrorism and the world-wide reach of the internet, and therefore couldn't have grasped how Americans expressing their opinions could undermine national security and provide aid and comfort to our enemies halfway around the globe. If only the Founders had been really smart, they would've included some method for updating the Constitution as times and technology changed ... maybe called those updates "amendments" or something like that ... but since they didn't, those of us who know what's best for others really have no choice except to ignore the Constitution whenever it gets in the way of our plans.

    (Wow, thinking like an idiot really is fun!)]

  23. Your Older Brother says:

    Wheeeeeeee! This is like watching someone else poke a snake with a stick. All the entertainment with none of the risk.

    I know I’ve questioned your ability to actually stop arguing with idiots before, but on behalf of all of your long-time readers I’d like to formally request that you ignore your own advice in this case. Perfessor GrapeNut here is just too much fun.

    (I wonder what he does with the other hour in his day — sleep or anger management therapy?)

    Cheers!

    Well, he keeps showing up for more, so I may have to break my rule.

  24. GrapeNut says:

    One last thing- regarding your nasty comment regarding my income bracket, I’m right in the middle of the 28% bracket. I paid over $20K taxes in 2010, and that was after maxing out my 401K. I’m subsidizing plenty of things that I have no control over.

    Then you should vote for the candidates who vow to stop spending all your money for you.

  25. GrapeNut says:

    Tom, your behavior is really unprofessional. I’m just anonymous poster on your blog. You are the owner of the blog, a minor public figure and are purportedly trying to make a name and a living for yourself as a voice of reason in the nutritional wilderness with usual ill-informed “it’s constitutional” nonsense thrown in. It’s dissapointing that you don’t hold yourself to a higher standard.

    You really bit the hook hard every time I baited it, and allowed yourself to be pulled down into an unproductive cesspool of name-calling and blaming. I suppose it will serve you well if you choose to become the next conservative/ pseudo-libertarian shock jock. You use all their tactics, and repeat all the predictable talking points.

    I’m not a pseudo-libertarian, you idiot. I’m a libertarian. I don’t listen to shock jocks and I don’t repeat “talking points.” I believe the Constitution means what it says and shouldn’t be violated by do-gooders who simply don’t like it when that pesky ol’ document gets in their way. In other words, I have principles. That’s why you don’t see me (as opposed to certain idiots) railing about one class of government food subsidies, while supporting another class of government food subsidies because I’m just so gosh-darned impressed by the good intentions behind them.

    I also hold myself to a standard for dealing with commenters: Polite debaters will be engaged in polite debate. Those who stoop to tossing around adjectives like “right wing” (proving they don’t understand what “libertarian” means) or “loud, arrogant and dangerous a-holes” have asked for a fight, and I will happily oblige by punching them in the nose — verbally, of course.

    Yeah, you really caught me on that sneaky hook of yours. You expressed idiotic and inconsistent beliefs, and I jumped right on the hook and pointed them out for what they are. I feel soooo duped.

  26. FormerSugarAddict says:

    Love the comment about watching someone poke a snake with a stick… Class

    I think that GrapeNut is lacking in the firsthand evidence required to understand WHY this high protein/fat low-carb diet really works. Your film helped to explain the science behind why carbs and sugars are so bad for us, but I’m not sure if I could/would have bought the theory if I hadn’t seen firsthand experience with it.

    My father has had type 2 diabetes for almost 25 years. He has had numerous stints and a quadruple bypass. After his bypass he expected to feel better, but he continued to have problems regulating his blood sugar. He would break out in sweats overnight, go into near-comas during the day, and just feel BAD. About 6 months ago he started eating virtually no carbs per day. His diabetes has never been better. If that’s not proof, I don’t know what is.

    Lucky for GrapeNuts, he hasn’t had to see his parents wavering at death’s door for years, constantly fearing that every late night phone call is going to be bad news. As for myself and my 4 year old, we are cutting back on carbs and sugar. And yes, the food pyramid is a crock of shit (or maybe Grapenuts).

    The comment about poking a snake with a stick came from my older brother. Partly an inside joke: we’ve both had … uh … moments of primal fear involving snakes. The difference is that his snake was real and mine was imaginary.

  27. FormerSugarAddict says:

    *classic

  28. Cindy Drake says:

    That was so much fun! I’m supposed to be doing homework for my college class, but I couldn’t tear myself away from your exchange with GrapeNut. So much more interesting than my college text!

    Well, he was kind of amusing. When he blamed Greenspan’s massive government interference in the economy on Greenspan’s previous admiration of one of the most anti-government thinkers of modern times, I had to finish laughing before I could reply.

  29. Birth Cert Detector says:

    Go get ‘em Tom! Mrs. O’s Fruit n’ Veggie plan is nuts! And while your at it, see if you can find Obama’s birth certificate. The constitution has been trampled upon, Don’t Tread On Me.

  30. GrapeNut says:

    [Well, he was kind of amusing. When he blamed Greenspan’s massive government interference in the economy on Greenspan’s previous admiration of one of the most anti-government thinkers of modern times, I had to finish laughing before I could reply.]

    Tom, you are so ill-informed about Greenspan’s tenure as Fed chairman, that it is laughable. You have to be running a reverse troll on me, no one could be this stupid for real. Keep on digging your hole as you sneer at my interpretation.

    1) You need to watch the Frontline documentaries that I listed earlier, especially “The Warning”. I know you’ll dismiss anything Frontline says as ‘biased journalism’. Never mind that it directly quotes Greenspan regretting his deregulatory approach.

    2)Here are the cliff notes, regarding the OTC Derivatives Market (which as a libertarian, you probably think was a good idea. They deliberately kept the Government ‘out of their business’ and ended up wrecking the economy.)
    ***********
    Brooksley Born was appointed to the CFTC on April 15, 1994 by President Bill Clinton. Due to litigation against Bankers Trust Company by Procter and Gamble and other corporate clients, Born and her team at the CFTC sought comments on the regulation of derivatives,[3] a first step in the process of writing comprehensive regulations. Born was particularly concerned about swaps, financial instruments that are traded over the counter between banks, insurance companies or other funds or companies, and thus have no transparency except to the two counterparties and the counterparties’ regulators, if any. [b]CFTC regulation was strenuously opposed by Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan,[/b] and by Treasury Secretaries Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers.[4] On May 7, 1998, former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt joined Rubin and Greenspan in objecting to the issuance of the CFTC’s concept release. Their response dismissed Born’s analysis and focused on the hypothetical possibility that CFTC regulation of swaps and other OTC derivative instruments could create a “legal uncertainty” regarding such financial instruments, hypothetically reducing the value of the instruments. They iterated the traditional capitalist-class argument that the imposition of regulatory costs would “stifle financial innovation” and encourage financial capital to transfer its transactions offshore.[8] The disagreement between Born and the Executive Office’s top economic policy advisors has been described not only as a classic Washington turf war,[6] but also a war of ideologies,[9] insofar as it is possible to argue that Born’s actions were consistent with Keynesian and neoclassical economics while Greenspan, Rubin, Levitt, and Summers consistently espoused Austrian, neoliberal, and neoconservative laissez faire policies.
    ********
    But I’m the economic idiot.

    [Yes, you're an economic illiterate. Greenspan created the WORST possible combination: Do-gooders in government, along with Fannie and Freddie, set up a situation which encouraged (and often ordered) banks to lend money to any idiot who could sign his name. Then Fannie and Freddie (created by government) bought up the loans, freeing the banks from the risks. Then Greenspan had the Fed keep printing money so the banks would have more and more money to lend out and keep the housing bubble inflating. Then Fannie and Freddie (created by government) bundled the "toxic" mortgages that only existed because of Fannie and Freddie into mortgage derivatives that were bound to tank someday because they were based on mortgages written to unqualified buyers.

    And then -- as Frontline pointed out -- Greenspan (along with liberal economists Rubin and Summers) opposed regulating the sale of those derivatives, which did indeed tank. Thus, Greenspan and his co-conspirators created the worst possible situation: profits go the investors, but taxpayers are on the hook for losses.

    Idiot's conclusion: the whole financial mess was created by failure to regulate derivatives. Riiiiight. That's the whole problem right there. If only those derivatives had been regulated, everything would've been fine.

    No, wait ... let's apply some actual logic. We'll go to a fantasy land where Greenspan supported regulating derivatives. Thanks to all that wise regulation, Fannie and Freddie (created by government) don't create derivatives and instead hang onto the billion and billions in mortgages they demanded the banks write and then promptly purchased -- mortgages that were doomed to fail. So the huge financial failure occurs within Fannie and Freddie (created by government) instead of on Wall Street. The foreclosures still occur, and the government still has to pony up billions and billions to bail out Fannie and Freddie (created by government).

    Once the billions and billions in bad mortgages were written, the financial meltdown was going to happen. It was only a question of where the initial explosion would occur. Those mortgages were written because geniuses in government insisted they should be written and cajoled, bribed and sometimes ordered banks to write them, while Greenspan -- ignoring his earlier love of Ayn Rand -- created trillions of dollars out of thin air to keep the mortgage money flowing.

    So yes, if you blame the financial meltdown on free markets instead of government distortion of the housing market, if you consider a mortgage industry dictated by Fannie and Freddie and HUD as "laissez faire" economics, and especially if you blame it all on Greenspan being a fan of Ayn Rand at an earlier point in his life -- then I'm laughing at your idiocy.]

  31. Dana says:

    I have to say, Rush Limbaugh trying to call Mrs. Obama fat was pretty much the highlight of my month. And that’s not the first time I’ve seen a fat guy criticize a woman’s figure. If that’s not an argument for male privilege, I don’t know what is.

    (Yeah yeah, fat guys are made fun of too. But only a certain kind of fat guy, and oftentimes the fat-bashing isn’t even really about their weight. If Limbaugh weren’t fat, liberals would find some other reason to make fun of him, because he’s a jerk. I’m sure the same applies to Michael Moore, from the conservative point of view.)

    But thank you for at least pointing out that she’s muscular. At this point in my life I’d LOVE to have her figure, even if I think she’s being silly about the fruit and veg thing.

    I’m a bit beyond annoyed at the whole Let Them Eat Plants thing addressed at the poor. Fruit and veggies have few to no *calories.* You can’t live on nothing but leaves and fruits, you’d starve. The poor are no different. Even fat people get hungry. Their calorie-dense options are starches and fats. Animal fats are expensive. A *good* food-aid program would aim to get more of those animal fats into the hands of the poor rather than hand-wringing over whether a poor person can afford fifty cents to buy a tomato. Are they serious? Fruits and veg are cheap no matter who you are. Affordability is not the problem there. It *is* a problem with foods of caloric density. But starches are cheaper than animal fats. So starches are what poor people eat.

    Especially when new low-carbers donate all their rice and pasta to food pantries…

    Even if fruits and veg were a magic anti-obesity, pro-health pill or something, have these rich politicians ever lived in poverty housing? I did. Four years. It wasn’t even section 8 housing, it was just owned by “real estate investors” who wanted to fund their little missionary trips to India to edjumacate them poor ignorant idol-worshippers to follow the one right and only true Jesus. Their idea of landlording was to leave us to our own devices as long as we didn’t kill one another. I gave up on them ever fixing the leak under my sink the first year I was there. I’m sure they wondered why there was water damage, and of course I never saw my deposit back. The last year I was there a drug dealer moved in downstairs and the roach population exploded. I would not have *dared* keep fresh plant foods around sitting out on the counter. And eventually the little bastidges get into the fridge, too.

    Cooking fresh foods requires knowledge of cooking techniques. Home ec was a joke when I took it in the late 80s and I can’t imagine it’s much better now. If your parents are working three jobs to keep you fed and housed, they’re not going to be around to teach you how to cook, either.

    It’s cheaper to eat whole foods, including meat, when you’ve got a chest freezer so you can buy in bulk. I was lucky and found one out by the dumpster one day (different apartment, much better neighborhood or I would never have touched it) that actually worked. They run around $200 new. That’s not in the average poor person’s budget. Sure wasn’t in mine. I’m guessing this one was thrown out by a graduated college student about to move back home. That happens a LOT here. (Usually with sofas and tables, not with freezers, more’s the pity.)

    Of course, buying in bulk really isn’t in the budget of broke people, either.

    I really don’t think people are that ignorant to not want to buy healthy food–healthy by your standards and mine, maybe not by Mrs. Obama’s. The logistics just aren’t there. And they’re not likely to ever *be* there until the problems are properly identified and dealt with. I suppose that’s too much to ask from people who’ve never lived the reality, though.

  32. GrapeNut says:

    That’s right, it was ALL Fannie and Freddy. No hedge funds or other private equity firms had anything to do with OTC derivatives. They never made a penny doing these highly fraudulent, unregulated ‘black box’ transactions. In your eyes, it’s ok as long as a privately held entity is raping the system, because that’s just unfettered free enterprise.

    Oh, you did know that the Federal Reserve is legally defined as a private financial institution, right? Oops, that would make it a lot closer to your precious private industry that can do no wrong-
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8518

    Below are excerpts from a court case proving the Federal Reserve system’s status. As you will see, the court ruled that the Federal Reserve Banks are “independent, privately owned and locally controlled corporations”, and there is not sufficient “federal government control over ‘detailed physical performance’ and ‘day to day operation’” of the Federal Reserve Bank for it to be considered a federal agency:

    Yes, you idiot, of course I know the Fed is technically a private operation. It was, however, created by government specifically so government could mess with the money supply and incur debt at will. When the Fed steps in and provides a trillion-dollar bailout, do you ever ask yourself where the trillion dollars comes from? Are they keeping it in a vault? No, of course not. They create it out of thin air, which they are empowered to do by your government. So no, it’s nothing like my version of private industry. In my version of private industry, corporations don’t have a government-sanctioned monopoly on a product (money, in this case) and can’t create funds out of thin air and then have the government stick the taxpayers with the bill. In case you haven’t noticed (which you surely haven’t, since you’re an economic illiterate) it’s the libertarians who want the Fed audited and (ideally) abolished. Ron Paul wrote a book called “End the Fed.”

    Since you are an economic illiterate but can’t accept that you’re an economic idiot, I’ll lead with my chin and ask you a very simple question: let’s go back to the days when banks wrote mortgages and were responsible for the mortgages that tanked, instead of having their risks bought up by Fannie and Freddie (created by government). Explain to me how and why they would’ve written millions of bad mortgages. Then explain how, without the Fed (created by government) printing trillions of dollars (only because they’re empowered to do so by government), they would’ve had the funds to keep writing mortgages long after the pool of qualified buyers had already been exhausted. Then explain how, without Fannie and Freddie and the Fed, there would’ve been any toxic mortgage derivatives for the unscrupulous traders to sell.

    Blaming free markets because some Wall Street traders made a killing selling a toxic product created by government in the first place is, yes, really and truly, idiotic. If the government poisoned a river and then some fishermen sold fish tainted by the water, you’d no doubt blame any deaths that occurred on the failure of government to regulate fish sales.

  33. GrapeNut says:

    Here’s the part where Greenspan admits while testifying before Congress that he was ‘flawed’ in his unbridled execution of Ayn Rand’s principles.

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/greenspan-and-ayn-rand-disciple-or-traitor-2010-06-19

    *******************
    NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — In one of the most dramatic moments in the global financial crisis, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan testified before Congress in October 2008, just weeks after the collapse of Lehman Brothers spread fear and panic around the world.
    Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) bluntly asked him, “Were you wrong?”

    “Partially,” replied the humbled Greenspan, who once sat at the commanding heights of the world’s economy.

    “Yes, I found a flaw…, [a] flaw in the model that I perceived is the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works, so to speak.”

    “That’s precisely the reason I was shocked,” he continued, “because I had been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well.”
    ***********

    I WAS SHOCKED I TELL YA, SHOCKED. I TOLD BROOKSLEY BORN SPECIFICALLY THAT I DID NOT BELIEVE IN REGULATION, THAT THE MARKETS WOULD TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES.

    He said that a few years before the whole thing melted down and the taxpayer was left holding the bag. “Do-Gooders” another code word I hear from the right wing all the time. You may well be so pathetic and confused that you don’t even understand that your just repeating the ‘talking points of the day’ spoon fed each morning from the likes of Karl Rove and Grover Norquist.

    I think your brain function is impaired from lack of fiber. If you can’t properly poop, it all gets backed up and starts coming out of your mouth.

    Well, if Greenspan thought failing to regulate a toxic, unnaturally-distorted market that only existed because of government in the first place proves that “free markets” don’t work, I guess that settles it. Like I said before, Greenspan and the do-gooders promoting “affordable” housing created the WORST possible situation: they created a huge market that only existed because of government — therefore nothing like a natural market — and then failed to regulate it.

    Now, once again: explain to me how and why, without Fannie and Freddie and the Fed, those millions of bad mortgages would’ve been created in the first place.

  34. GrapeNut says:

    You do understand that Fannie Mae has been a publicly traded company since 1968:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fannie_Mae
    *********
    The Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA) (OTCBB: FNMA), commonly known as Fannie Mae, was founded in 1938 during the Great Depression as part of the New Deal. It was set up as a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE), but it converted into a publicly traded company in 1968.

    In 1999, Fannie Mae came under pressure from the Clinton administration to expand mortgage loans to low and moderate income borrowers by increasing the ratios of their loan portfolios in distressed inner city areas designated in the CRA of 1977.[17] Because of the increased ratio requirements, institutions in the primary mortgage market pressed Fannie Mae to ease credit requirements on the mortgages it was willing to purchase, enabling them to make loans to subprime borrowers at interest rates higher than conventional loans. Shareholders also pressured Fannie Mae to maintain its record profits.[17]
    **********
    It wasn’t ONLY the government pressuring them to make sub-prime loans, the shareholders were involved as well. You consistently cherry pick which side of the story you want to tell. You’re either misinformed (and I read a several comments on Netflix from real nutritionists who were alarmed at the misinformation contained in Fat Head) or you just want to distort the fact to prove your point.

    The federal takeover of both institutions (re-takeover I suppose) happened on September 6 2008, necessitated by the financial collapse.

    You can’t just keep blaming every damn thing that goes wrong on government regulation and institutions. I know it’s easy and gives you instant gratification but it’s like the HFCS of rationalizations. A quick hit sugar high followed by a sagging collapse when someone like me who actually researched the issue shows up and proves you wrong.

    Banks begged Fannie and Freddie to buy up more of the risky loans forced on them by the government, shareholders in a government-created entity clamored for more profits and the government-created entity obliged by buying even more risky loans … and this proves that free markets (which would preclude governments ordering banks to make risky loans, and also preclude government-created entities from engaging in the mortgage business) don’t work. Well, that is certainly a convincing argument. Congratulations on your stunning research capabilities.

    This began as a post about Michelle Obama’s plan to waste taxpayer dollars bringing fruits to areas where people don’t buy fruit, but has since devolved into your relentless quest to explain how the implosion of government-mandated mortgages proves that people who share Ayn Rand’s anti-government philosophy caused the whole thing. If you’d like to continue embarrassing yourself by putting your economic illiteracy on public display, do so in the comments section of this post on my other blog, which is dedicated to politics and economics — you’ve polluted the comments section on this post enough already.

    http://www.tomnaughton.com/?p=324

  35. GrapeNut says:

    I’ll skip most of your other insane babble and cut to your “version of private industry rant”.
    [So no, it’s nothing like my version of private industry. In my version of private industry, corporations don’t have a government-sanctioned monopoly on a product (money, in this case) and can’t create funds out of thin air and then have the government stick the taxpayers with the bill. In case you haven’t noticed (which you surely haven’t, since you’re an economic illiterate) it’s the libertarians who want the Fed audited and (ideally) abolished. Ron Paul wrote a book called “End the Fed.”]
    Corporations like GM and Chrysler who built giant SUVs that everyone wanted until suddenly no one did yet were too poorly managed to adapt to market changes, went begging to Congress and ended up getting bailed out on the taxpayers dime. Chrysler is still making useless crap for the most part, a solid 10 years in arrears of modern automotive technology. Again, you are incorrect in saying companies “can’t create funds out of thin air and then have the government stick the taxpayers with the bill.” That is exactly what happened in the case of GM and Chrysler. Too big to fail, they socialize the costs, privatize the profits.

    That’s the actual reality of your so-called private corporations.

    Hmmm, let me see if I can follow the (ahem) logic: badly managed corporations that should’ve been allowed fail instead go begging for a federal bailout, the government then provides the bailout by empowering the Fed to create money out of thin air and stick the taxpayers with the bill, and this proves that private corporations — which had to go beg the government for the money — can create their own money out of thin air and stick taxpayers with the bill.

    Yes, Grapes, your sense of logic is impeccable. GM can’t take a dime from me unless the government forces me to fork it over — which they did.

  36. Brendan says:

    Wow, your exchanges with GrapeNUT are very very amusing and fun. In fact, I learn more about the US economy in the exchanges than what I get from the news.

    If I am an economic illiterate, I would not blatantly display my ignorance and my illiteracy on public display. Same thing, if I am a nutritional illiterate. GrapeNUT is certainly giving an impression he or she is both.

    Something for GrapeNut to ponder on the wrong advice from the beloved and well intentioned government regarding our intake of saturated fat and meat:

    “Furthermore, particularly given the differential effects of dietary saturated fats and carbohydrates on concentrations of larger and smaller LDL particles, respectively, dietary efforts to improve the increasing burden of CVD risk associated with atherogenic dyslipidemia should primarily emphasize the limitation of refined carbohydrate intakes and a reduction in excess adiposity.”
    http://www.ajcn.org/content/early/2010/01/20/ajcn.2008.26285.abstract

    Regarding the economic issues, I think you have done a good job trying to get through her or his thick head. But like arguing with a vegan evangelist defending the wonders of a meatless diet, it’s a futile effort.

    Oh, I knew there was no way to convince someone having the government-good/business-bad mindset that the economic meltdown was sparked by government do-gooders. But just in case someone who didn’t have an opinion either way was following, I decided to respond to his nonsense.

  37. Your Older Brother says:

    Greenspan sold out and did a complete 180 on his Randian/libertarian roots and become a big government cheerleader long before becoming the Fed chief.

    The outstanding book “Financial Reckoning Day” by William Bonner and Addison Wiggins, has a whole chapter on him — “The Fabulous Destiny of Alan Greenspan”:
    ===============
    “Ayn Rand died of lung cancer in 1982, on Alan Greenspan’s birthday. (At least the gods have a sense of irony!) By then, Greenspan had already moved far beyond her. She despised central planning, but her disciple was on his toward becoming the most successful central planner in history… By then, the former gold bug had become a managed currency bug. He was getting along magnificently.”

    “In his book, [Bob] Woodward observes the scene like a ground squirrel watching a bank robbery. He notices every movement, but seems to have no idea what was going on. Greenspan, however, knew exactly what he was doing: A true Randian, Greenspan never put the interests of others ahead of his own. He was just going along.”
    ==================

    Great book, by the way. The first edition came out in 2003, and they were thoroughly laughed at for predicting that the stock and real estate markets were heading for a huge bubble and collapse, to be followed by the Mother of All Bubbles — the U.S. dollar. Coming soon to a country near you.

    They released an updated edition in 2009 and I highly recommend it for anyone. Well, maybe except for Perfessor Grapenut. He already knows everything. (Remember how Mr. Chin used to tell us “you can’t put anything in a full glass!”)

    In the excellent book “Meltdown,” Thomas Woods also ripped Greenspan a new one for abandoning his (supposed) libertarian/Austrian economic principles and deciding to play Central Planner — the results being exactly what Hayek’s explanation of the boom/bust cycle would have predicted.

  38. GrapeNut says:

    I see you have the birther crowd here now. Nice work.

    Yes, moron, you can see what a big crowd of them I have here (one, maybe?), and of course you can explain how my work created that crowd.

    Every time you open your mouth (in a manner of speaking), you look more foolish. I was tempted to let you keep embarrassing yourself, but now that you’ve stooped to finding reviews in cyberspace written by fellow morons who can’t distinguish between “libertarian” and “right wing” and attempting to post them here, you are officially both an insufferable jackass and a total waste of time. Goodbye.

  39. Mike says:

    BMI, or Barely Meaningful Information [as I like to think of it] is absolutely useless. I am 6’2″, about 215, with a 46 chest and 34 waist. My BMI, however, is 27.6. I’m obviously overweight and need to drop 20 lbs to get to a BMI of 25 so that I am suddenly ‘healthy’.

    Here is a sad experience I had [so did my father in law] regarding my size [my father-in-law has the exact same build as me]. When I was looking at tuxes for my wedding, my soon-to-be wife gave the store we were at her father’s measurements [he had his measurements taken at his local tailor]. The store we were at looked at the measurements and said that someone with those numbers didn’t exist! He is the same size as me, although they had not measured me at this point yet. So my wife, being an irish/italian spitfire, went off on the guy about how they shouldn’t penalize healthy people. So I step up to get measured. Jacket is a 46, as I expected. The default pants that come with a 46 jacket are a 42! The guy hands me the pants and tells me they are 42′s and to try them on… to which I start laughing thinking he is just messing with me. He was being serious. I explain to him that I wear a 34…maybe a 36 depending on the brand. He doesn’t believe me and proceeds to measure me. In the end, they had to completely overhaul the pants to make them work. I never thought being healthy would create clothing issues for me.

    That’s funny. I guess we can understand if they don’t see many people wearing a size 46 jacket who ask for size 34 pants.

    My wedding-tux experience was slightly different: when I picked it up a few hours before the wedding, the cumberbund was missing. By the time I realized that, the local store was closed. I had to call another store in another city, and a manager there generously agreed to drive the missing cumberbund to the house. I barely made it to the church on time. (Isn’t there a song about that?)

  40. Issy says:

    Actually, I have a figure very similar to Michelle Obama and my BMI is 20.4%. I know it doesn’t really mean anything but I’m just saying, she’s probably not classified as “overweight”.

    I don’t think she’s fat, you understand. She isn’t. But depending on whose figures you read online, she weighs somewhere in the neighborhood of 180 pounds, which would classify her as overweight, according to the stupid BMI score.

  41. Becky says:

    Can the government please find a bigger waste of time and money? Seriously, what are they effing doing? Aren’t most governmental agencies in billions of dollar’s worth of deficits right now? Is this really the focus? Cheaper fruits & vegetables? Newsflash: a pound of carrots usually goes for about $.50 and a pound of apples is usually around $1.50. Granted, there is washing, peeling (the carrots, not the apples), cutting and storing involved but for the love of Mike it’s seriously not that difficult. So let’s look at a Snicker’s bar. It’s approximately 2 Oz (according to their website, I don’t have one in front of me thank God). So if you’re at a convenience store and you pick up a pound of Snickers bars, you need to buy 8. And I can tell you from experience that at a convenience store, they are at least $1.00 each. By my estimates, Snickers are about $8.00/lb. A lot more than carrots, apples, cheese and lunch meat. Even steak at $8.00 is a little pricey (we’re not talking filet minon here but one can usually find a decent top sir loin, KC Strip or t-bone for around $6.00/ lb, and that’s when they’re not on sale). So please tell me why the argument is always always always that it’s so much less expensive to eat junk food than it is to eat healthy? It’s a feeble excuse that people cling to because they don’t want to admit they make bad choices. Know what’s expensive? Soda, chocolate, chips, and cookies, “fruit” snacks, juice boxes and cereal. All of the crap that people claim is “cheap”. I personally have a grocery budget of $25.00 per week and I eat just fine. I skip the candy aisle (most of the time) and head to frozen vegetables, eggs, cheese, steak and fruit. And I didn’t even need Michelle Obama to help me figure it out.

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