We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day – do as your betters tell you, pleb

Our own opinion is that this is just another version of the desire for sumptuary laws, as with the hopes for bans on fast fashion. If even the poor can have a change of clothes, interesting food, then what’s the point of being privileged? Therefore those things that enable the poor to be as their betters must be banned.

It’s a very common and very unattractive part of human nature.

The other way to look at this is as a proof of Hayek’s contention in The Road to Serfdom. If government becomes the provider of health care – the NHS – then the population will be managed at the pleasure of the health care system.

Tim Worstall

16 comments to Samizdata quote of the day – do as your betters tell you, pleb

  • Fraser Orr

    I’m not sure they are so much sumptuary laws and I didn’t notice any mention of dress. They are just part of the general busibodiness of government. I find it funny that they are concerned that only people from the food industry served on the advisory panel. What are we to expect? Civil engineers? Journalists? Or perhaps dockworkers?

    What they don’t say is that their focus on micronutrients and additives misses the fact that these self same bodies made major dietary recommendations, such as substituting carbohydrates for fats which actually ARE the cause of the obesity and health epidemic that we are seeing now. No doubt the overconsumption of calories is a large part of it, but that over consumption is very directly related to their own food recommendations. Eat a lot of carbs and you get hungry much more quickly.

    The idea that saccharine or some emulsifier is even a blip on the radar of harmfulness compared to that is insanity. And FWIW, Saccharine is one of the most studied food additives in history and there really is no evidence at all that it is harmful, unless you are an unfortunate Rhesus monkey force fed a pound of it a day.

    I also find the arrogance associated with the shocked statement that “they haven’t banned anything for ten years” so very typical of government. It never crosses their mind that maybe nothing needed to be banned. God forbid that; somebody might question the importance of these tyrannical little Napoleons.

  • bobby b

    Take my freedoms – my speech, my associations, my property – and I’ll probably grumble and snipe.

    Take my chocolate and . . . well, I have guns.

  • Ferox

    bobby b – That’s why the guns go first.

  • Steven R

    I think it’s interesting that we forget part of the push for things like government run healthcare and food production and the like was so many people trying to enlist in WW1 and WW2 were simply unable to because of a lack of healthcare and proper nutrition as children. I’m not saying I’m for government programs, but if you need young men for an army and the ones you’re trying to put in uniform can’t be used because as children they didn’t get to see doctors and dentists and their food wasn’t fortified with vitamins so they grew into young adults with things like rickets or poor dental health, it is of some interest to the state that there be a mechanism to ensure the next generation of children do get the medical and nutritional foundation they need.

  • DiscoveredJoys

    …and if the ordinary people (the Rude Mechanicals) end up only eating ‘wholesome’ foods you can bet a small fortune that behind closed dining room doors the elite will still be eating pâté de foie gras, double chocolate chip muffins, bleached white flour bread (none of that wholemeal stuff), barbecued meats, tiramisu, waffles and pancakes (with syrup), washed down with high priced alcohol.

  • Deep Lurker

    I notice that the list of highly processed “bad” foods did not include fake plant-based “meat” – which is perhaps the most ultra-processed food-like substance of them all.

  • Paul Marks.

    It should be pointed out that the half government half “private”, read corporate, health care system in the United States behaved in a similar way to the NHS during Covid.

    There was the same smearing of Early Treatment (the Early Treatment that could have saved most of the people who died), the same treatment mistakes in hospitals (“vent-vent-vent”), the same attacks on dissenting doctors and nurses, and the same pushing of toxic injections.

    In both systems the ancient, and once sacred, relationship between an individual healer and their patient has been replaced with the Collectivist “Public Health” concept.

    Is the government bureaucracy worse than the corporate bureaucracy, or is the corporate bureaucracy worse than the government bureaucracy, or are they much the same.

  • Paul Marks.

    Deep Lurker – good point.

  • Stonyground

    Why is the benchmark for how nutritious your food is how processed it is? Would we all be more healthy if we just ate our meat and vegetables raw?

    Teeth are an interesting subject. Both my parents had all their teeth pulled and dentures fitted when they were in their thirties. Quite a few of my contemporaries, I’m 64, have mentioned that their parents had false choppers and it seems that just a generation ago dentures were almost universal. The subject comes up as I’m currently in the process of having a dental implant fitted.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Have to agree with Fraser, and disagree with Tim Worstall (and DiscoveredJoys):
    This is nothing like sumptuary laws (as i understand the term).

    Just take a hard look at the list of foods in the Worstall article: how many are consumed by “the rich”? Pretty few, it seems to me. Most of them seem pretty vulgar.

    Take also a look at DiscoveredJoys’ list (7:57 pm). How many are included in the Worstall list? Just the muffins, tiramisu, waffles and pancakes, it seems to me — but “the rich” are going to buy them from the baker, or restaurateur, and therefore they do not really count as “ultra-processed”.

  • Fraser Orr

    Why is the benchmark for how nutritious your food is how processed it is? Would we all be more healthy if we just ate our meat and vegetables raw?

    This is exactly right. The whole “I want my food the way God made it” seems to fail to recognize that almost every thing you put in your mouth has been HEAVILY manipulated by human agriculture, from the chickens that bear hardly any resemblance to the original jungle fowl from south east Asia, to the broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts and, god help us, kale, that are all manipulated forms of one original plant. FFS look at the ultimate heath food — bananas. The strain that we all eat, the cavendish, is so heavily manipulated that one disease will wipe out all the world’s bananas, and so “the way God made it” that it can’t even propagate itself, it actually needs humans to grow a new banana plant.

    Food is “processed” not out of some Frankenstein desire to create poison, but to make food better in one way or another directly benefiting consumers. Sometimes mistakes have been made (and one has to worry about horrible ideas like patents on seeds), but that saccharine replaces massive amounts of sugar — and sugar really is damaging to your body in excess. Those emulsifiers and preservatives give food longer shelf lives so that people don’t starve to death (you know, like they used to back in the “back to the land” days that the eco warriors seem to long for.)

    The real problem with food health in the west is the terrible ideas of the food pyramid that has wrecked the bodies of westerners, driven us to obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease. It is a miracle of modern agriculture that the biggest problem for the poor in the west is no longer starvation but obesity. And that is mostly caused by the demonization of fat, and the intense push to have “low fat” foods, which is just another way of saying “high carb foods”.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Incidentally, i wonder how Samizdatistas and commenters can be so concerned with the correct meaning of ‘processed’ and ‘ultra-processed’, to the point of missing the elephant in the room: most of the ‘ultra-processed’ foods in the Worstall list are rich in the dark triad (or: unholy trinity) of seed oils, refined sugars, and wheat flour.

    But nutritionists cannot admit that that might be the problem, perhaps not even to themselves: admitting it would mean that the advice that they have given us, of replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats (which in practice means seed oils) and with carbs other than refined sugars (which in practice means, mostly, wheat flour), was disastrous. So they talk about (ultra)-processed food instead.

  • Paul Marks.

    Dietary advice can achieve good results.

    For example, President William Howard Taft is remembered for being very fat – which he was (although the “he got stuck in the bath tub” story is a myth), but it is less remembered that he went and got medical advice and followed it.

    By a change in his diet and by exercise, recommended by the doctor Mr Taft consulted, he was able to greatly reduce his weight and greatly improve his health – allowing him to be a effective Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (his dream job – at college he had dreamed of being Chief Justice of the Supreme Court NOT President of the United States) for some years.

    But the key thing to remember is that this was an individual healer – paid by Mr Taft personally, their relationship was the traditional (sacred) one between the individual healer and their individual patient. The Collectivist “Public Health” concept destroys all this – it is about a bureaucracy giving orders to the general population, and those orders and “nudges” are often wrong, wildly wrong.

    But they are not just wrong in practical terms – they are wrong in moral principle.

    As Prime Minister Gladstone said – of one thing I am certain, the morality of the people will not be improved by the state. On the contrary, the morality of the people is undermined by such interventionism.

    As Tacitus put it – the more laws (in the sense of regulations) there are, the more corrupt the state is.

    By the way….

    The breach between William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt was NOT over “Anti Trust” – indeed the Taft Administration launched more Anti Trust cases than the Roosevelt Administration had done. It was over whether or not government intervention should be on clear legal principles so that people engaged business could know in-advance whether what they were doing was legal or not (the Taft position), or whether government intervention should be essentially arbitrary – judged on what the government thought was for the “public good” without people engaged in business having any way of knowing whether what they were doing was legal or not (the position of Theodore Roosevelt).

    It is shocking that absence of legal principles, “administrative discretion”, is now the standard American position – with the authorities able to prosecute some people but not prosecute other people, who have done the same thing, on the basis of whether the authorities think that the people have acted for the “general welfare” (American term) or “the public interest” (British term) – it was this that Taft opposed, and rightly so.

    People must know in advance whether what they are doing is legal or not – it must NOT be left vague so the authorities can decide afterwards on the basis of whether they like you or not.

    Theodore Roosevelt even extended this to lynching – to killing people without trial. For example, expressing satisfaction that various people accused of being members of the Italian Mafia had been lynched by mobs.

    Woodrow Wilson, although not so blunt in his language, really held the same position – that one judges actions by their supposed consequences – was the action for “the good of the people” (see the book “Philp Dru: Administrator” – by Woodrow Wilson’s close associate Colonel House).

    It was this, this lawless denial of Due Process, that William Howard Taft opposed.

    One should not order people about, or have them killed, on some vague “it is for the good of the people” basis.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Just had 2 home-made hamburgers with some excellent home-made mayonnaise.

    This is not processed food, as far as i am concerned, because it does not include flour or seed oils (in the burgers), nor seed oils or sugar (in the mayo). Also, i ate them without buns.
    (Also without veggies: veggies are good, but i make it a principle to eat them separately from animal products.)

    — Incidentally, the fact that Britain is the European leader in consumption of “ultra-processed” food is of some comfort to me, because it relieves the cognitive dissonance induced by observing British politics.

  • Rich Rostrom

    Elephant in the room: Jenkins (the chap fisked by Tim W) says “…[ultra-processed] food constitutes 57% of Britons’ energy intake.. comparing with 14% in France and 13% in Italy.”

    This seems astonishing. If true, how is it so? Because that is an enormous difference. I suspect that these numbers are achieved by torturing definitions.

    It’s not as though Italians don’t eat sausage, for instance.