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Damn You, Sam I Am: Our bellies, our choice

By Daniel Clark
web posted February 4, 2008

Green eggs and hamIn the Dr. Seuss story Green Eggs and Ham, a nosy little runt named Sam I Am stalks a man who's done him no harm, and, for reasons never explained, incessantly demands that he eat green eggs and ham. In the end, the man gives in, and finds that he loves the discolored vittles – or at least pretends to, in hopes of being left alone. A happier ending would have been for that other man, being so much bigger than Sam I Am, to just turn around and beat the phlegm out of him.

Unfortunately, he doesn't do that; but then, neither do we. The Sam I Ams of the world demand control of our eating habits, and we don't even take out a restraining order, let alone actually fight back. A relatively small group of emaciated curd-eaters has got the robust, carnivorous American majority bullied, to the point that we'll eat their green goo, in hopes that they'll be satisfied and leave us in peace. Well, they won't.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has decided that her congressional colleagues aren't eating right, so she's forced the House cafeteria to expunge from its menu those foods for which there's a strong consumer demand. In particular, red meat has been all but eradicated, and replaced with such items as mahi-mahi, couscous, and probably Boutros Boutros before much longer. A lot of the other representatives and their staffers are unhappy with the changes, but who cares what they think? They're just the consumers.

If there's a cafeteria where you work, you're probably going through a similar experience, or else you soon will be. In the name of "wellness," employers are phasing out all menu items that are recognizably edible. That's because few people will resign themselves to eating bear barf on balsa wood, when cheeseburgers and fries are just as readily available.

When you resist these efforts, you can count on the Sons of Sam I Am to start nagging, "Have you ever triiiiiiiied bear barf?" If you accept this "don't knock it 'til you've tried it" argument, you will have fallen right into their trap, because you'll have accepted the premise that you do not have the right to unilaterally determine the contents of your own stomach. Instead, you'll have established yourself as the weaker of two parties in a negotiation.

So, what's the big deal, you may wonder. If people don't want to eat petting zoo food, let them go somewhere else for lunch. The free market will solve the problem as usual, right?

As long as we truly have a free market, the answer is yes. The problem is that the Sons of Sam I Am know this, and they have powerful weapons with which to combat these market forces. In New York, for example, they've passed a ban on trans fats in that city's restaurants, which must be in compliance by July 2008 or begin paying substantial fines. Several states have considered levying punitive taxes on foods they consider to be unhealthful. Elsewhere, the Sons of Sam I Am are filing nuisance lawsuits against fast-food restaurants, holding them responsible for their plaintiffs' obesity.

Partly due to the implicit threat of judicial and legislative force, they have managed to mau-mau Burger King into adding a veggie burger to its menu. (Speaking of which, isn't mau-mau one of the entrees at the House cafeteria?) There isn't much demand for the meatless patty, but just wait until federal, state and local burger taxes have been enacted. Once you've had to finance a Whopper on an installment plan, an inexpensive oat puck will start to look pretty good by comparison.

What makes it all the more galling is that most of the Sons of Sam I Am are of the same political persuasion as those who employ the slogan "our bodies, our choice" when they want to do things to bodies that aren't really theirs. Conversely, they disdain the concepts of privacy and individual choice when it comes to one's own digestive tract. Moreover, the older, hippier types among them (see: Hillary) fail to grasp the irony of imposing their new conformity, by which individuals must bend to the demands of "the health care system."

Come to think of it, Sam I Am lacks a sense of irony himself. These days, if he went around foisting fatty pork products and cholesterol-laden eggs on people, he would get his pants sued off. If he ever wore any, that is. ESR

Daniel Clark is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.

 

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