Friday, August 26, 2005

Social Engineers are BAD

A story popped up on about Fast Food locations and schools.

CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- The big Burger King sign across the street from a high school campus advertises this temptation: "2 Whoppers for $3."

The scene is repeated throughout Chicago, where fast-food restaurants are clustered within easy walking distance of elementary and high schools, according to a study by Harvard's School of Public Health. The researchers say the pattern probably exists in urban areas nationwide and is likely contributing to the nation's obesity epidemic.

"It can be very hard for children and teens to eat in healthy ways when they're inundated with this," said lead author Bryn Austin, a researcher at Harvard and Children's Hospital Boston.

Nearly 80 percent of Chicago schools studied had at least one fast-food restaurant within a half mile. Statistical mapping techniques showed there were at least three times more fast-food restaurants located less than a mile from schools than would be expected if the restaurants had been more randomly distributed, the researchers said.

Ok, a few points here. First off, everything can be hard. The fact that things are hard creates know, like self-control. Just because you're tempted to do something, doesn't mean you have to do it. This is a simple concept that children should be aware of...though, I've noticed a fair number of "adults" still don't understand this.

Second, fast-food restaurants are businesses with markets. They are not randomly distributed...that's a recipe for disaster of any business. You don't put restaurants where there's no people. Now schools generally become population centers...heavily trafficked ones at that. It makes sense that, in general, there will be fast-food restaurants where there is heavy traffic. I'm sure if the study included other businesses, there'd be a grociery store, a supply store, maybe even a dry cleaner.

Now, the comment that got my blood pressure up:

One solution is to "change demand" and make healthy food choices more accessible, Longjohn said.

Chicago's public schools are among districts that have eliminated junk-food and soft drinks from campus vending machines in an effort to tackle the problem, but the researchers said the clustering of fast-food restaurants near schools may be undermining those efforts.

This demonstrates bad, liberal thought. The "lets legislate the destruction of out economy" argument does not make me happy, as it demonstrates social engineering. You don't "change demand." Demand is a function of needs/wants of people. If I want a fat saturated calorie bomb, then (if I can afford it) why should anyone stop me from getting it (with fries). I am an adult...I can make decisions. I can also make decisions for my children and instruct them on what is and is not a healthy eating habit.

I was saved from my head exploding by a sudden voice of reason:

"We can't really tell our students not to go to fast-food restaurants; all we can do is to educate them about what healthy food choices are," said Mike Vaughn, a spokesman for Chicago's public schools.

And there was much rejoicing and my blood pressure went back down. This is a wise man. This is what a school is, not social engineering.


Anonymous dc cooker said...

Aaron, you must understand that the more comment about these issues, the less and less chance you are going to have making it as a politician. A politician must worry about the feels of those poor individuals that are sadduce by the whopper or the sweat necture of the cola. Remember liberals care about you, and all stupid conservatives can do is ... when be right.

26 August, 2005 15:11  
Blogger FlaK said...

Hmmmm...I don't think I'd ever get too far as a politician. My "feeling" is that most liberals care about legislating prosparity (which doesn't happen - as Ayn Rand showed 50 years ago). The conservative side isn't perfect...but I "feel" a lot more at home there.

27 August, 2005 21:12  

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