Sugar, Sugar

The Democrats may have lost the mid-term elections, but that hasn’t kept liberals from continuing to demand that the president act unilaterally (never mind Congress and all that inconvenient democracy stuff) to force more of the liberal agenda upon all of us. We have all heard about potential executive action on immigration, but there are other areas for proposed action as well.

Writing in the Washington Post, one group of four liberals urges the president to use his executive authority to develop a national food policy, by which the central government will guarantee a large list of good things for Americans, including healthy food, fair wages, compassionate treatment of animals, and reduced carbon footprint (see here). So climate change can step aside. Under the heading “food policy,” liberals can impose their will on the rest of us on just about anything, including climate change.

Voters in Berkeley, California, don’t make national policy, but no doubt the authors of the Post article would approve of the election results in that city. Berkeley voters imposed a first in the nation tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, although voters in nearby San Francisco failed to pass a soda tax of their own, probably because it required a two-thirds majority (see here). Tyranny of the majority is always easier than tyranny of a super-majority.

The rationale for attacking and taxing sugary drinks is that sugar causes obesity and diabetes, especially in children. But sugar and soda consumption among kids actually declined between 1999 and 2008 (see here). So it’s hard to see how declining sugar consumption increases obesity, given that the relationship between sugar and obesity is supposed to be direct (i.e., sugar consumption and obesity move in the same direction).

Of course, liberals ignore the sugar consumption facts in the context of a tax because the tax is expected to generate additional revenues. Unless other taxes are reduced to offset the new one (yeah, keep dreaming), liberals will have more money to spend. They won’t lose any sleep over the facts as long as the rationale sounds even marginally convincing.

The attack on sugar isn’t limited to incoherent arguments in support of taxes. Liberals obsessed with sugar are now comparing sugar with tobacco. Liberals call their opponents “anti-science,” but the dishonesty of liberal researchers makes it unwise to uncritically accept the results of studies that conveniently support the liberal agenda. It has nothing to do with the lack of a scientific outlook.

The authors of a new sugar study claim that drinking soda (and only soda that contains sugar, other sugar drinks don’t have the same effect) ages our cells and is as bad for us as smoking cigarettes. But this study and the media reports about it are so misleading that even liberal writers are offended by the journalism and the underlying science.

Daniel Engber of Slate is one liberal whose honesty might even impress Diogenes of Sinope, at least with respect to sugar. Engber finds the write-ups of the newly published paper to be shallow, insulting and “possibly injurious,” but he finds them to be less offensive than the underlying science (see here). As he puts it:

The newly published paper delivers a mishmash of suspect stats and overbroad conclusions, marshaled to advance a theory that’s both unsupported by the data and somewhat at odds with existing research in the field. Its authors are less concerned with the health effects of drinking soda than with their broader project to establish a still new and fuzzy concept—“cellular aging”—as a pole star for public health.

And the study’s authors are not amateurs. One of them is a former Nobel Prize winner, so the politicization of science in this instance is not limited to politicians or lowly party hacks. As liberals promote ideology over science in food policy and other areas, they are getting closer and closer to creating the American version of Lysenkoism (see here).

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