Well-intentioned ideas that won't work in real life: green grocer liberalism

If I could pick a summary line for why I am a conservative, it’s this: liberals mean well, and want to make things better, but their ideas are too often more idealistic than practical.

Take obesity. It happens more often in poor neighborhoods. Cheap food, with over representation of starches, is to blame! If only poorer people had access to fresh fruits and vegetables at local corner stores, they would buy them. It’s society to blame for not providing such access!

And so, liberals to the rescue. At a cost of some $900,000, Philadelpha inner city corner stores are being incentivized to carry fresh fruits and vegetables. As the Washington Post explains:

That is a lot of money.

And it’s based on an idea that isn’t solid.

In New York, Bloomberg wants to take the same basic concept to the next level.

He knows merely offering a healthy drink next to unhealthy drink isn’t enough. So his solution is to ban the unhealthy one.

I can’t accuse him of unrealistic idealism, anyway.

His ideas about personal freedom could use some work.

But in both the Obama administration’s green grocer plan and Bloomberg’s no big soda plan, I see the same impulse: we know what’s best, so do it.

I don’t want my government to have that attitude.

I prefer the conseratives approach: we know what’s best, let’s do the opposite. :rolleyes:

But seriously, Bloomberg’s plan is stupid. Having more food choices in inner cities on the other hand is a good thing, but I’m not sure it will succeed.

Yeah, I’d rather be aligned with good ideas like the war in Iraq.


I always figured people would take anti-tobacco strategies and apply them to food one day.

You know, there is a big difference between “make heaqlthy choices available to people qho might not otherwise have access to them” and “require people to do the healthy thing by banning the unhealthy one.”

But of course giving people free choices based on good scence and common sense has been very low on conservative agendas lately, by and large.

I’m a pragmatic person, so idealism generally gets a sigh out of me. But I think idealistically-derived policy is sometimes not a bad idea if it results in optimization of outcome.

Take the green grocer goal. It is overly ambitious to think that you can turn street-corner Mom and Pop stores into miniature Trader Joe’s, with all stakeholders being equally happy. But is it better to maintain the status quo? Surely there has got to be a middle ground that achieves both commercial freedom and promotion of general welfare. But how do you get to the middle ground? Doing anything is going to be a hardship for someone; any new idea can be portrayed as being too radical and ambitious. So why not push big at the beginning? Chances are it’s not going to 100% successful, but if the idea is good enough, both sides will reap enough benefits that neither will want to scale things all the way back.

I don’t think you can say that encouraging something derives from the same impulse (do it) as banning something.

And surely you know that Conservatives are just as enamored by the power to ban things they don’t like: Pornography, drugs, flag burning…

Right now we subsidize corn farmers, which make things like high-fructose corn syrup very cheap. I’m not sure we should subsidize any agriculture, but if we do, it should be healthy foods- whole grain rice, green vegetables, lean (and sustainable) meats and fish, etc. Food is cheap in the USA, which is a good thing because it means it’s not hard to get enough food to eat, but the cheapest food tends to be unhealthy.

The OP’s problem with the fruit/vegetable subsidy program seems to be that he thinks it sounds like a dumb idea. Well, it might or might not be a dumb idea. Is there evidence supporting it? What are the results so far?

And yes, incentives are a lot different from bans.

Reminds me of the MA healthy lunch program. Problem is, kids aren’t eating it elsewhere.

I think with government-sponsored things (such as SNAP or lunch), it should be healthy. But food deserts? That’s a tough call. You can make things available, but it doesn’t mean people will want to make the right decisions for themselves.

If you want me to agree with you, you are going to have to make an argument on why it is not a solid idea.

The problem is that if you let kids eat what they want, then they will eat crap. Poor families that get home cooked meals don’t have this problem. The problem is dysfunctional families where the kids browse for food.

Fresh fruits and vegetables were a seasonal item until modern transportation made them available year round. The frozen stuff is perfectly healthy. Even the canned stuff is a lot better than eating crap. I remember my mom canning vegetables from her garden when I was a kid.

Back when I was a kid, fast food was an occasional treat, not a daily item of your diet.

When it comes down to it, neither Democrats nor Republicans adhere in any consistent way to a supposed philosophical platform of small gov/big gov (or, hands off gov/hands on gov); it all depends on the issue and whims of their constituents (as suggested by John Mace).

It’s pretty disingenuous to point at a (local) government’s attempt to ban a product and call it a fundamental example of liberal idealism, while there are numerous examples of bans/restrictions on free enterprise that the conservative republican base is all for.

Here’s a start.

Besides, even Whole Food Porn is filled with chips, candy, soda and other high-calorie foods. Organic isn’t always better or healthier. And Whole Food still sells bad-for-you bran muffins, sugar cereals, Annie’s, and other ‘looks healthy but it’s not!’ foods.

Finally, produce that has mold on it isn’t good for you. Browned bananas are gross. Grocery stores or mom and pop shops that stock fresh foods have to make sure they can sell said fresh foods in a timely fashion.

What I’d like to know is if people actually requested this or if it was pushed on them by well-meaning white folk. It would be nice if Bricker had posted a cite. :stuck_out_tongue:


Really? The Obama plan neither bans behavior nor mandates it, yet somehow it is the same as a ban on large sodas? I can only conclude from this that you 1) really hate the Bloomberg plan (justifiable) , and 2) you really hate Obama and are desperate to link him to another unpopular plan.

I find your argument unpersuasive.

In our state prison system (over 20,000 inmates) we always get a steady stream of complaints that our canteen (where inmates may purchase a variety of items) offers only junk food, not healthy choices such as fresh fruits, whole grain granola bars, low sodium and reduced fat snacks, etc.

So we regularly add those most requested healthier items to the shelves there for purchase.

And there they sit, day after day, taking up the limited shelf space until they go bad or they reach their expiration dates. Then they get tossed. Repeat for a few months, and they get pulled from canteen.

Meanwhile, the Little Debbies, Honey Buns, Ramen Noodles, sugared sodas, snack chips and EZ cheezes fly off the shelves.

Just because people want healthy choices doesn’t mean they plan to choose the healthier option real often.

(BTW, our prison meals are really fairly healthy, though they tend to be heavier on the sodium than they ought to be.)

I think the main problem is that conservatives live in denial of the actual states we, as humans, live in.

Want to curb teen pregnancy? The conservative answer is to demand that they be indoctrinated with an ideological message to not have sex. This denies the fact that we’re animals who really, really want to have sex.

The liberal answer is to accept the fact that humans, particularly young humans want to have sex, and to limit the damage that this can do. With birth and disease control.

As for the food, conservatives in this very thread deny that the desire to eat cheap and fattening foods is something built into us. If the cheap and fattening foods are both cheaper and more accessible, that’s a blueprint to obesity.

The liberal answer is to make the good foods cheaper and and more accessible. It accepts that we are animals that want to gorge, because we’re crafted by nature to eat the fat when it’s available to bulwark against lean times.

Conservatives demand that they live in the world they want to live in and liberals attempt to design systems to deal with the world we do live in.

Generally of course. I’m sure there are exceptions.

Yes, studies exist:

There are multiples studies which show the idea doesn’t work. Three have been cited in the posts above.