This morning's Wall Street Journal contained an article about Starbucks and kids. Seems that some critics are howling that Starbucks is "marketing" to kids by serving up overly sweet confections and by selling DVDs and tapes of kids' books.
Okay, I'll bite: What the hell is wrong with that? The people at Starbucks are in business to make money. They want people -- all people, even, gasp, parents -- to frequent their stores. If a parent comes in with kids, well, he or she won't come back often or again if there's nothing there for the kids to consume. The crux of the matter is, of course, fat and calories. Yes, the do-gooders who think government should monitor our diets are upset that some Starbucks products contain lotso calories and lotso fat.
Among them -- surprise! surprise! -- are the zealots at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, one of my all-time my least favorite organizations. (The outfit's name cracks me up. At the very least, head watchdog Michael Jacobson ought to change it to something more accurate, like, say, Center for Pseudo-Science in the Name of Our Own Personal Pet Peeves.) The folks at CSPI are shocked, shocked!, by the amount of fat and calories in a Starbucks Frappuccino, as is Barbara Rolls, the Penn State prof who came up with "volumetrics."
A few years ago, I dismissed this kind of crap with eye-rolling and groans, but not anymore. Now I see complaints like this as another face of the cult of victimization and as yet another example of the mania for government-as-parent.
Let's just say that these attack dogs succeed in banning Frappuccinos (and french fries and shakes and doughnuts). Seems to me that what lies at the bottom of this slippery slope of excess government is parenting-by-mandate: Some government agency (The Bureau for Parental Authorization? The Agency for Permission to Parent?) will decide who is fit to parent and who is not. You're overweight (at least according to government standards)? Sorry, no kids for you. You enjoy a drink or two before dinner? Too bad, Jane, no permission to parent for you! You eat the occasional Big Mac? We'll schedule you for a hysterectomy.
Obviously this sounds insane, but so does the notion that government ought to dictate what foods can and can not be purchased in a supposedly free marketplace. Now excuse me while I go eat some bacon and eggs.