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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Fast Food and Neoliberalism: Response to a Call to Get out of McDonalds' Way

"The problem with both of these views is that the political discourse of our nation has shifted so far toward a fatalistic acceptance of the status quo - the increasing wealth gap between rich and poor, the seemingly interminable march of privatization and the unassailable logic that the market will solve every problem ("if you'd just make better choices, you could overcome any structural impediment!") we don't even consider any major policy interventions to be a valid part of the discussion. We also don't even consider how the labor practices of fast food companies, where there were massive protests for much of the past spring against poverty-level wages and where fast food workers even in the nation's Smithsonian museums recently have protested their poor wages, lead to the very living standards that make it difficult for working people to buy and prepare healthy foods.

It is a depressing day, however, when the best we can come up with as a solution to the crippling obesity epidemic in the US is to hand over the car keys to McDonald's and hope that their interests in short-term profits will happen to coincide with healthier food choices. As a historian, I'm not in the habit of engaging in counterfactuals, but if we had taken this tack with the tobacco companies, my guess is that we'd all still be inhaling second-hand smoke at every bar, restaurant and airplane in the country while hearing how much safer "light" cigarettes are."

Read the discussion at