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Silly burgers

Another day, another public enemy.

The campaign to add so-called ‘junk food’ to the tobacco-alcohol ‘axis of evil’ has been fulminating for quite a while. There is nothing on the Statute books yet but I think we all know that it is only a matter of time.

In the not-too-distant future, the Samizdata will be reporting the police raids on clandestine onion-ring factories and publishing underground recipes for ‘academic and research purposes only’. By that time, I sincerely hope that there will be a wider understading of the social-working class mentality that has led to that woeful state of affairs. Nothing could illustrate that mentality more starkly than this article from the UK Times:

People are incapable of saying no to junk food and other health risks, and it is the duty of the State to influence them, according to a senior public health official.

In defence of the “nanny state”, Professor Dr John Ashton, regional director of public health in the North West, said yesterday that government intervention was needed to protect those incapable of protecting themselves. “Individuals cannot protect themselves from bioterrorism, epidemics of Sars, the concerted efforts of the junk food industry, drug dealers and promoters of tobacco and alcohol,” he said.

Thus lumping together consumer choice, forces of nature and murderous aggression into one misleading and grossly stupid soundbite.

He said that it was the job of the State, not of the individual alone, to resist health problems brought about by drink, food or drugs. The State had a duty to protect and influence young people, many of whom were building up problems by adopting sedentary lifestyles and eating junk food.

“It is in no one’s interest to have an obese generation, riddled with diabetes and degenerative heart disease and a burden on the taxpayer,” he said. “The Government has a duty to take action about it.

It is in no-one’s interest to have a power-obsessed generation, riddled with this kind of contemptuous paternalism.

The State is the guardian of the weak and underprivileged. It should intervene to encourage people to eat healthily and take exercise.

“Furthermore, it has a duty to ensure that those less well-off in society have safe, warm, low-cost housing, convenient transport links to shops and amenities, and the protection of police on the streets. The State is our protector and we must defend its right to fulfil that function.”

There are no citizens, only ‘clients’.

He has three grown-up sons, but recently became a father again with his partner Maggi Morris, 47, a director of public health in Preston. Their baby has been named Fabian Che Jed, after the Fabian Society, Che Guevara and the Old Testament prophet Jedediah.

And doesn’t that say it all.

There are lots of dark forces at play here but the oft-overlooked one is the element of kulturkampf. What these people mean by ‘junk food’ is hamburgers, hot-dogs and milk-shakes. For people like Dr.Ashton the hamburger has become a symbol of what they consider to be American cultural imperialism and that is the real basis of their animus.

Quite aside from the fact that the fashionable demonisation of ‘fatty food’ is ill-founded (which it is), an Indian or Chinese meal contains more fat and calories than McDonalds could ever dish up. As does the homegrown popular delicacy of ‘Fish and Chips’ (all deep fried). Nonetheless when these people speak it is ‘burgers’ that they invariably identify as the alleged enemies of public health.

The ‘War against Junk Food’ has been carefully crafted to fulfil both the practical and ideological needs of the social-working class. Not only will its successful prosecution provide them with more wealth and status but it also opens another front in the cultural and political war against America.

[My thanks to Nigel Meek who posted this article to the Libertarian Alliance Forum]

38 comments to Silly burgers

  • Alfred E. Neuman

    He said that it was the job of the State, not of the individual alone, to resist health problems brought about by drink, food or drugs. The State had a duty to protect and influence young people…

    I swear, people like this are “little Stalins”. Give them a chance and the purges would come. You are nothing to them but a meatbag that produces money. Your wishes are irrelevant.

    I think we need a new Star Trek series (because Enterprise blows bigtime) that has the British government as the Borg. Maybe some demonic Dr. Who/Star Trek crossover.

  • Susan

    Hamburgers and hotdogs are simply slight variations on German friskadellas and sausages. How dare they attack the traditional foodstuffs of the Germanic people? Are they racist against Germans?

    Surely there’s a “hate speech” law somewhere that can apply to this hideous vocalization of cultural imperialism?

  • Matt W.

    Nah, the Borg are a whole lot more kind-hearted than nanny-state public workers. The Borg only stipulate that resistance is futile, however the socialist nannies want you to admit the futility of resisting their dictats all while thanking them for doing it to you.

  • Russ Goble

    Has any of these anti-junk food folks and health food Nazis had any opinions on the growth in low-carb dieting (an entirely consumer driven health issue). The studies are starting to show there’s something to these diets and that the high-carb oriented food pyramid may not be all it’s cracked up to be. Or that saturated fats aren’t near as bad as people thought and that trans fatty acids (which were a synthetic response to saturated fats) may actually be worse? I don’t want to get on a debate about low-carb diets but it is important to note that with a few medical professionals willing to buck the system and consumers free to make individual and informed choices, that there are many often contradictory ways of losing weight and being healthy. If this guy had his way, Dr. Atkins would have probably been lynched in public.

    It’s simply frightening that that individual is paid with your tax dollars. I knew communism wasn’t truly dead and that Orwell & Ayn Rand had some pretty prescient viewpoints, but this is just plain scary that this man thinks this way AND has the power to do something about it.

  • Mark Holland

    Topical, I’m presently reading The Tyranny of Health which documents the recent “public health” phenomenon. The customer reviews on the amazon page sum up the book miles better than I can, suffice to say if you fancy a light read about how UK government has been pushing a lifestyle agenda this is your book.

  • Nancy Beckmann

    Didn’t Mao’s government have the Chinese in the cities turn out for morning calisthenics? Do they still do that?

  • R. C. Dean

    What is particularly telling is that this authoritarian has absolutely no compunctions about airing his fantasies in public. Would that we lived in a society where anyone nattering on as Dr. Ashton does would be shunned by decent people.

  • Gerald Hartup

    I’m old enough to remember when fish and chips really was junk food in Britain. The chips! Were they boiled in engine oil? And still I loved to eat them, not knowing any better. However, thanks to the takeover by Cypriots [in the sixties] in particular the national dish became a pleasure to eat. There are many fish and chip shops in London at least where the quality is absolutely excellent.
    As a regular consumer of McDonalds I could never say that of their hamburgers or chips both of which I can make better, much better, at home. However, a Big Mac often hits the spot , especially with a large ice cold Coke and what exellent toilets they have. Did McDonalds invent the concept of the clean toilet in Britain?

  • “”Individuals cannot protect themselves from bioterrorism, epidemics of Sars, the concerted efforts of the junk food industry, drug dealers and promoters of tobacco and alcohol,” he said.”

    Bullshit. Complete and utter bullshit.

    I do not drink alcohol, by personal choice, although, what with the health benefits of a daily glass of red wine, I’m likely to give that a go. I don’t smoke, because it stinks to high heaven and is damned unhealthy. I do use recreational drugs, because it’s stupid to do something that makes you more stupid.

    And finally, I rarely patronize the local fast food places locally. If I venture into McDonalds, it more likely I’ll buy one of their salads than a Big Mac. If I go into the Burger Kings, odds are I’ll get the chicken Whopper than the standard beef version.

    As for SARS and bioterrorism, I keep my immunue system as robust as I can. So far, it seems to be working for me.

    I’ve made my choices and I’m quite happy with them. Now, if/when the Tobacco/Booze/Fried Beef death ninjas try to break down my door to force me to use their products, then, maybe this Stalinist yahoo might have a point.

    Until then, however…

  • What is this “preview button” you speak of?

    That should be, “I don’t use recreational drugs…”

  • Gerald Hartup writes:

    Did McDonalds invent the concept of the clean toilet in Britain?

    Maybe, but not in the branch opposite Kings Cross station.

  • G Cooper

    David Carr is right that this wave has been gathering momentum for a while now – and it looks due to crash onto our shores in the very near future. We are, I suspect, going to have our work cut out to resist its influence.

    Food has been an obsession with the British chattering classes since the baleful influence of Elizabeth David gave the darlings something other than Harold Pinter or CND to witter about in the 1960s. It was only a matter of time before the bien pensant brigade managed to link it to their love affair with socialism (think ‘New’ Labour and the River Cafe, or the hateful Food Programme on BBC Radio 4).

    But Fabian Che Jed? It sounds like a joke thought-up by someone who enjoys the works of the sublime Peter Simple. Isn’t the heir to Marxmount known as young Bert Che Mao, or somesuch?

    Ah yes – no sense of humour. That’s another of their qualifications.

  • I am finding it difficult to believe that this was actually printed- so much so that I went to the Times website to find the article myself. Unfortunately, I didn’t know that the Times makes you pay for its content, and doesn’t give away freebies.

    There is so much wrong with the kind of attitude that believes “people are incapable of saying no” to things that just might not be good for them, indeed the kind of attitude that not only defends the concept of a “nanny state” but considers it to be preferable to anything that might entail a modicum of individual freedom and responsibility, that I am pretty much speechless.

  • toolkien

    Scary plain and simple. But the logic falls apart immediately when one examines the statement “It is in no one’s interest to have an obese generation, riddled with diabetes and degenerative heart disease and a burden on the taxpayer…”

    If the State were not in the business of providing and paying for this ‘burden’ but leave it instead to the individual, then the State’s interest in the matter would disappear, and they would occupy the disinterested role they should be playing in the first place. It requires an active role from the get go. It is precisely the logic that finally did in the tobacco companies in the US, who had defended themselves from suit after suit, but it wasn’t until a united front of states’ Attorneys General waded in, emboldened by the logic that there was money spent on socialized care to reclaim that the tobacco companies knuckled under and settled. There are also movements afoot by bureaucrats in the executive and legislative branches of various states to levy special taxes on soda-pop to fight child obesity etc. etc. I can’t put into words the darkness I see on the horizon. There are too many people too infused with such nonsense, from State dominated education etc., on both sides of the aisle, to change what is inevitably going to come. I just hope I am nearly used up and on my way out before it is completely unbearable.

  • S. Weasel

    Oh, yeah, there’s no doubt this one’s got some artificial momentum on it. Similar article on the BBC News site today. The link from the top page was preposterously entitled “Human evolution can’t cope with calorie-laden fast food”.

    The article referred to “fast food” throughout as if this were some strange artificial substance bearing no relationship to ordinary food. It also used the peculiar terminology “energy density” to describe the caloric value of meals. Fast food is very energy dense, you see, so our bodies are fooled into eating too much of it quite by accident. (Watch ’em when they start screwing with language).

    As if there were no rich, fatty, stodgy, heavy, fast cheap and plentiful meals before Colonel Sanders.

  • “Please, Nanny, tell me what food to eat so I don’t get fat..”

    The hell with shunning people like this, we need to hang them from lamp posts so that children can beat their corpses with broomsticks.

    Hey, at least the kids would be getting some exercise out of it — which is of greater public benefit than having statist farts like Ashton in the polity.

  • fnyser

    it [is] the job of the State, not of the individual alone, to resist health problems brought about by gay sex. The State had a duty to protect and influence young people, many of whom were building up problems by adopting gay lifestyles and having gay sex.

    “It is in no one’s interest to have an AIDS generation, riddled with cancer, infection, and lesions, and a burden on the taxpayer,” he said. “The Government has a duty to take action about it.

    The State is the guardian of the weak and underprivileged. It should intervene to encourage people to stop being gay and stop having sex.

    would that fly?

  • Oh and as for this: “Their baby has been named Fabian Che Jed, after the Fabian Society, Che Guevara and the Old Testament prophet Jedediah.”

    The Mrs. pointed out that this is the very definition of the term “Lefty Moonbat”.

  • Tony H

    Can one buy good burgers in the US? I never thought to try one there, but I have a distant memory of a really good American burger in Singapore, around about 1958 – but I was rather young… I visited a Macdonalds once, about 11 years ago. It did not impress me. I last ate a commercial burger maybe 13 years ago, somewhere on the M6 – it was revolting. Make your own…
    As for the Lefty Moonbat (right on, Kim) he should be pelted with stale soyaburgers.
    From personal experience I know that this kind of health fascism is promoted in a great many schools and FE colleges.

  • Rob read

    Good Burgers IMHO can be found at Ed’s Diner on the Kings road (London Village).

    Also The M&S Angus Beef Burgers are really nice too.

  • David Gillies

    Fabian Ché Jed? Oh my God. And yet if I were to kick his door down and shoot him in the face with a shotgun, I’d be the one to get in trouble. Weird.

  • “People are incapable of saying no to junk food and other health risks, and it is the duty of the State to influence them, according to a senior public health official.”

    I would reword this slightly, like so:

    “Senior public officials are incapable of saying no to patronising, authoritarian and statist propaganda, and appear to have no free will of their own. It is the duty of every free citizen to humanely round them up, put them on a leaky boat and pack them off to an island somewhere where they can play at communism-lite to their heart’s content.”

    Will this do?

  • Richard Garner

    Its scary: in the old days when we libertarians used to say that all drugs should be legal, people would say “but they are bad for you.” We would respond, “yeah, but so are hamburgers, but you wouldn’t want to force everybody to eat nothing but natural yoghurt and nutrient pills, would you?” Perfect reduction ad absurdam, or so we thought. And yet, here we are now and people are saying, “well, yeah, you’re right, lets ban burgers too!” Sod’s law!

  • Jon Davison

    Can one find good burgers in the US?

    Can one find sand in the desert?


    There are innumerable eateries in the US where one can find a good burger, but usually not in a big franchise outfit like McD’s. One of my favorites is a small chain located only in Southern California and Nevada called “In -N- Out Burger”. They’ve been making their burgers the same way for 50 some odd years and in my opinion are one of the best. If you’re ever in the area, they are a must have. You’ll know you’re near one when you see a drive up line extending into the street and halfway down the block.

  • RyMaN600

    I can’t believe that article is even real. Is it real? Are you guys pulling my leg? It reads like a parody.


    In -N- Out Burger is legendary. There is a litany of code words for ordering specialized burgers and meal combos.

    Here’s what a “20×20” looks like. It can single-handedly cause your aorta to explode upon digestion.

    Not to mention Dr John Ashton’s head!


    copy and paste the link.

  • cj

    Apologies — it’s late, and I didn’t read all the previous comments, so I may be duplicating….

    What the “fast food industry” most assuredly understood was the CONVENIENCE factor. Pure and simple. The fact that they offer fat-ridden, animal-based, carbo-laden fare is secondary to the fact that WHAT THEY OFFER is convenience (don’t have to make it myself, don’t have to enter a store, can usually write a check if I don’t have cash) and TIME (except for peak times, the drive-thru IS pretty speedy).

    Would I like it if they offered healthier fare? Yes. Are the McSalads a mix of BITTER greens (yes, in my experience). Would I buy a container of applesauce/mixed fruit for my kid instead of french fries, if offered — yes (but it’s not, and I have to ask why, since it must be low-overhead inventory-wise, since they don’t require refrigeration).

    To wit, as soon as some enterprising person launches a FAST FOOD *relatively healthly* option, they are going to clean up the market.

    Might just do that myself (with the added note that you can buy a beer at the McDonald’s drive-thru in Europe, although the fact that they haven’t yet MASTERED modern refrigeration somewhat negates that point.) But that’s just dear to my heart.

  • Guy Herbert

    Jed after Jedediah? Not Jed after Josiah (“Jed”) Bartlett?

  • Verity

    Kim du Toit – Yaaayyy! Hanging from lamp posts. A typically robust response from Texas. I love it. On the other hand, David Gillies’ notion of kicking down his door and shooting him in the face has an easy charm, too.

    I think we have an assignment for the job export liaison officer here. Then Professor Dr John Ashton, regional director of public health in the North West can “sign on” and stay home explaining to little Fabian Ché Jed why they didn’t include Fidel in his name, and his job can be done by an intelligent Indian in faraway India.

  • Dave O'Neill

    Can one buy good burgers in the US?

    First thing I do when I get off the plane on a business trip is go and find a bar and have a burger. They are invariably excellent, reminding you just how vile they are in the UK.

    The best I have ever had is in The Dutch Goose in Palo Alto. No chips, they only serve crisps.

    Now all the US needs to do is expand the numbers of local and micro-breweries (which is happening) and civilisation can finally be said to have arrived there 😉

  • Fabian Che Jed!!! this is just too funny. Dr. Ashton seems to be a man beyond parody in every way. It is good to learn from David that Indian food is extremely calorific and high in fat, since I have never seen a fat Indian, either here or in India, it must be good for you.

    For those of you who like burgers though the best place to have them is ‘The Gourmet Burger Kitchen’ on Putney Bridge Road in London. The burgers there are absolutely delicious, the best I’ve ever tasted.

  • Dave O'Neill

    I have never seen a fat Indian, either here or in India, it must be good for you


    Believe me you haven’t been looking hard enough. There are plenty.

  • Dave F

    I find it difficult to believe Dr John Spart, sorry, Ashton, is not a creature dreamed up by Private Eye. The fact is that in the guise of caring and sharing and all-around niceness, he is a very sinister chap.

    On the other hand, how long before they start employing bouncers at the Golden Arches?

    “I’m sorry, sir, you can’t come in here. The bodyscanner has determined your height-to-weight ration is four points above the safety limit … In short, mate, you’re too fat to eat a Big Mac.”

    “No more McMuffins and coffee for you squire. You’ve had more than your fill. Would you like a social worker to come and counsel you on your feelings of rejection?”

  • veryretired

    The human species has been evolving for a few million years. For most of that time, until the 20th Century, really, the vast majority lived a life that was, as Hobbes noted, “nasty, brutish, and short”.

    Now, as we enter the 21st Century, one of the primary health concerns of “public health” people is that we have too much to eat, too little physical labor to do, there are too many of us living too long, and that obesity is a major epidemic.

    Stop and think about that for a moment.

    Not famine, not starvation, not black plague, not smallpox, not typhoid, not pneumonia (which was the leading cause of death for millenia), not any of the four horsemen, not any of the myriad terrors that haunted our ancestors from the moment they were born to the moment they died.

    Our problem is too much food and not enough exertion.

    The next time one of the doomsayers starts whining at the party, or the classroom, or the pub, about the awful, evil nature of modern society, and the poisonous, insidious victory of technology, and starts lamenting the Litany of all that is wrong—there is a response that is irrefutable. Dr. Whosits and his crew have given it to you.

    We live in the land “flowing with milk and honey”. We live in a place and time which have fulfilled the dreams of the ages. Nothing like this has ever been the case for hundreds of thousands of years that humans have struggled to live on this earth.

    Laugh right in their face and go find someone else to talk to. Why waste time with a fool?

  • David Mercer

    veryretird has just mentioned one of my favorite conversation stoppers!

    The lefty collectivist comeback seems to be that we haven’t extended these benefits to all of mankind, so we must be failing.

    At that point I usually come back with something about their glass being half empty, and then rail against the inefficiency of The State to redistribute our bounty.

    After a nice go-round about corrput dictators and NGO overhead sucking up most of any aid in the first place, I can then sneak up and get them to argue for capitalism, without them realizing it until it’s too late.

    Nearly caused a stroke in my lefty professor neighbor with that one, by the looks of it. Nicely backed him into unwittingly arguing for a capitalist revolution in the 3rd world! (the ole ‘problem with capitalism is bad capitalists, the problem with socialism is socialism’ line worked wonders).

  • Guy Herbert

    I know in a spirit of sarcasm, very retired, but:

    “Our problem is too much food and not enough exertion.”

    Well it isn’t. “Our” is our problem here, as ever. Though definitely a better problem to have than overwork and starvation, too much food and not enough exertion is a problem for those who eat too much and don’t exercise. It’s not a problem for the rest of us.

    My problem is mainly people worried about
    a third party’s problems and insisting they are my responsibility.

  • So the government finally does something for the sake of the public’s health, and you badger them? Diabetes and heart disease are the biggest money makers for the pharmecutical industrial complex, and they encourage people to takes steps to AVOID this problem and you find this wrong? Type 2 diabetes (the more common of the two) is not naturally occuring. It was discovered by fur farmers in the early 1900’s. They poision used by these farmers to kill foxes and other fur bearing animals was deadly to humans if taken in even small amounts. The only known antidote would keep the poision from killing you, but give you type 2 diabetes. This was a giant cash-cow that landed in the lap of the pharmecuetical industrial complex. I see no fault in the government taking an active effort in trying to control people from ingesting foods that are very harmful to the publics health. It’s the same as the gov’t giving advisories when drinking water is contaminated, or when there is a risk of catcing ailments such as hepatitus, etc. This website just seems to feed off and news it can bitch about.

    And I also don’t understand this websites deep rooted hatred of Che Guevara. In general, this site comes off as very anti-left-wing, and that seems to be the only motive for this constant badgering of Che. This site seems to promote change from over-bearing, oppressive governments, yet you still give one of the worlds most powerful fighters of oppression such a bad image, through essays and banners with completely unjustified slogans and pictures on them. It’s disgusting the a picture of a deceased Che was used to make a slanderous political statement.

  • hi,
    does junk food make us stupid? i dont necessarily agree with Jonathan Morris although if we eat to much junk, it can damage our bodies but i cant make us stupis as such.
    email bk plzplz

  • matt simon

    This is outrageous. Everyone knows the root word of schildburger is burger. Jon is the rightful owner. Nothing will be settled until everyone recognizes Jon as the true creator. He is by far the silliest burger I’ve ever met, and his burger tendencies make me crave silly burgers. But there is only one catch…..silly burgers cannot have cheese on them because the schildburg hates cheese on his silly burgers.