Sure, it's paternalistic, but is it wrong? (Fast food bans in low-income areas)

When I first read this article in, I had a “what the hell?” moment. But the more I thought about it, the more I wondered if maybe we haven’t come to a point where banning fast food restaurants from poor neighborhoods is the kind of thing we need to reverse the unbroken cycle of poverty.

I seem to remember an article from years ago – I think it was particularly about gangs and their hold on life in certain neighborhoods – in which it was suggested that after several generations of chronic joblessness, miserable living conditions and little or no educational opportunity, inner city young people have become almost permanently socially retarded. In other words, they’re bright, quick-witted people with no ability to make rational decisions other than those basic to survival. Their value systems have degreaded to a tribal level; this seemed to have nothing to do with race and everything to do with a complete lack of any future. There was also the idea that in poor neighborhoods, the life cycle has speeded up to people are reproducing younger and dying younger, but at the same time the family connections necessary for social maturity are being lost.

So, while on the one hand my sense of independence and my belief that people should be able to make their own choices is offset by the (possibly wrong) idea that people deprived of choices long enough need to be offered artificial choices in order to stimulate their ability to make reasonable choices. Is the L.A. city council so ahead of its time that it appears Draconian, even Victorian? Or is it just messing around where it has no real business? Do the fast food chains have any responsibility in this?

I’m not fighting mere ignorance here, but rather wholesale confusion. Gosh, why is it so hard to be a liberal!?

Seems like a silly idea to me. Poor people have bad eating habits because crappy food tends to be inexpensive, not because they have no idea what’s good for them. If you were poor, you’d be feeding your family from the dollar menu at McDonald’s instead of Whole Foods too.
I’d also think that the last thing that the poor area of the city needs is to discourage new businesses from setting up shop there. In a neighborhood with few other job opportunities, having a place like McDonald’s nearby may be their best chance for a legitimate job.

I think this will have more success in Great Debates, since there are (at least arguably) some issues of rights in play here.

How is preventing people from buying cheap food going to break the “cycle of poverty?” Incentives for grocery stores sounds like a good idea - and obviously selling cheap fast food to people without the time or money to buy things that might be more expensive is not a recipe for good health. But fast food popular for a reason, part of which is the price.

This is incredibly paternalistic. I know you’re not going for a racial parallel but it’s right there in terms of the way minorities are viewed.

“They can’t take care of themselves, so we’ll do it” isn’t ahead of its time. What sense does it make to ban cheap food from poor neighborhoods while allowing it in other areas? If the food is so bad, it shouldn’t be allowed anywhere, so this seems to be a judgment on the people who were eating it.

I’m finding it easier and easier not to be one because of ideas like this.

Moved the thread and edited the title for clarity.

Aparently some cities would like to copy what that city council is doing…we can’t forget that the city councilors all were voted in. This sums the article up nicely.:

I agree. Telling someone they can’t have something is a lot different than snatching it out of their hands…and this is an example of snatching it out of their hands…There is not too much science behind driving through Watts and noticing there are more liquor stores and convenience stores than anything else. This has been going on for years I’d wager.

I’m pretty outraged by the actions of L.A. City Council. It seems absolutely anathema to the American capitalistic system. Fast food is what makes L.A. food interesting. Plus, who is to say that fast food can’t be healthy. What’s wrong with opening a fast food falafel stand? It’s an exercise in futility and sure as shit ain’t going to magically make people eat healthier.

I dunno. It’s really no different than other planning and zoning regulations that cities have in place, is it? In this case they’re hoping to attract more grocery stores and actual sit-down restaurants in order to provide better options and choices for the neighbourhoods in question. How is that different that regulating the number of liquor stores, strip joints, or tattoo parlours?

Would a ban only on cheap strip joints make sense?

I’m failing to see how an ordinance against Big Mac’s will even remotely help any of this.

It’s junk like this that makes me embarassed to be a liberal.

I would ask the council members - Is there any published evidence that this move will produce the desired results? No?

Really, I say let’s have more fast food restaurants! Result - more commerce, more jobs, a more vibrant economy attracts more business, etc. etc. etc.

This ban is just sto-oo-oo-oo-pid.

Point taken.

I don’t agree with the idea of taking away the fast food places, but I think insinuating they have a choice between the dollar menu and McDonald’s and Whole Foods isn’t really right.

It isn’t just a matter of cheaper, it’s convenience that a lot of people go for. You don’t need to buy organic at Whole Foods to have a healthy diet.

I never understand things like this.

Ban fast food in poor areas but line up 10 fast foods at an interstate rest stop. Or 20 along the main street of any suburb in the country.

When people who are not poor hear about banning trans fat, or fattening foods at upscale restaurants, they cry “it’s becoming a nanny state.”

But for “their own good” we’ll tell poor people what to eat.

These hypocrites should @#$% themselves.

It’s a dumb plan with dumber intent. If they’d work as hard at incentivizing grocery stores to come to the area as they did at keeping the fast food people out, they’d have something. All this does is keep people from having ANYthing to choose from. Morons.

Yes, it’s wrong.

While we’re at it, let’s treat the poor like children in other ways - let’s ban liquor stores from poor neighborhoods, demand that stores in poor neighborhoods not sell any junk food, and prevent cable companies from providing service in poor neighborhoods to they all stop watching so damned much TV and learn to improve their skills.

Of course, I’m being facetious. In fact, it’s none of your damned business what poor people choose to eat or how they choose to spend their time, and the thought of ‘managing’ the population like this disgusts me. Bloody control freaks.

I remember when the pro-smoker factions started to argue that there would come a point where the state began to crack down on fatty foods. It doesn’t look like they were being so hyperbolic in retrospect.

I am interested in how L.A. defines a fast food restaurant.


What he/she said. Besides, there are better ways to encourage low-income families to save money on good food-try opening an Aldi’s, for example. I even like some of THEIR brands better than the name brand stuff.

Here in Australia, there are communities where alcohol is banned, and where normal petrol is not sold. Which is worse, to treat them like untrustworthy children, or to let them act like it?

A local well-to-do suburb (last I heard) put a cap on the number of banks and real estate offices that could be in their town, IIRC due to loss of sales tax revenue for the town. Is that different? Both claim it’s for the good of the community.

The Chicago Tribune had articles (which I can’t seem to pull up now" on the “food desert” or “nutritional desert” that many lower-income Chicago neighborhoods have become - large supermarkets go under, leaving a gap in the mini-mall-plus-anchor-store there. Many of these had anti-competition covenants where a new supermarket couldn’t move in, so not only is business at the mini-mall hurt, but so are the residents who now have to take a bus to get to a supermarket (or two buses with a transfer, or worse), or eat the cheap-and-fattening fast food from restaurants or the junk sold at convenience stores. There was even a map showing how far many neighborhoods were from even a small grocery, and many people just don’t have that as an option unless they’re willing to spend a couple hours or so on the bus, maybe even one way.

Here’s one cite on the phenomenon, with an article on it mentioned in the text.

Obviously this shows there’s more to the problem than the mere existence of fast food restaurants, but I can understand the frustration.

How about just minding your own business? What do you care if the poor want to do things you wouldn’t do?

I don’t want government to be my mommy, thank you.