THE BLOG
02/02/2009 11:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Bitter Taste of "Lemon Socialism": Let Them Eat Crap

2009-02-02-chewablepamperspreview.jpg

Image from eatmedaily.com

The "Chewable Pampers" commercial on Saturday Night Live last weekend was pretty hilarious, turning brown to green with an eco-friendly edible diaper that comes in three different flavors: "tangy cheddar, spicy lentil, and corn chowder." Gag me with a biodegradable bamboo spoon.

OK, so it was funny--but how farfetched, really? Thanks to our tanking economy, folks are eating crap en masse. Who knew that a pyramid scheme would generate its own food pyramid? Frank Rich took a peek at the ponzi'd-out pantry in his Sunday op-ed in the New York Times:

What are Americans still buying? Big Macs, Campbell's soup, Hershey's chocolate and Spam -- the four food groups of the apocalypse.

So, we're responding to a bankrupt economy by turning to nutritionally bankrupt foods. George Will cited this phenomenon as an example of capitalism at its finest when he was on ABC's This Week last week. As Jed L noted over on Daily Kos:

George Will argues that the rising consumption of cheap fast food during the Bush Recession shows the market works, saying the boost in quarterly profits at McDonald's is a perfect example of "the market sorting this out."

Oh, really? Given that Agribiz is a major corporate welfare queen, the resurgence of cheap convenience foods hardly constitutes a victory for free market principles. Our schizoid USDA perpetually lectures us to eat more fruits and vegetables even as its agricultural policies ensure that fresh, wholesome, unprocessed produce will continue to be a luxury item for affluent urbanites with the means to shop at farmers markets and Whole Foods. The rest of us can eat shit, to put it bluntly.

This warped Western diet is killing us on a scale that our enemies in the Middle East can only dream of. You hear a lot about diabetes and obesity these days, but a diet deficient in nutritious foods is also a major factor in nearly half of all cancers. Our fondness for salty convenience foods also leads to high blood pressure and heart attacks, which is why New York City recently launched a campaign to persuade the food industry to lower sodium levels by 50 percent over the next decade. Such a measure could save 150,000 American lives a year, according to NYC health commissioner Dr. Thomas Frieden.

In the meantime, we, the people, will continue to foot the bill for this food system that's poisoning us, just as we are paying for the bungled bailout and an unjust, unnecessary war. Did I say war? Make that wars, plural. Because, in addition to the War on Terror, we're waging the catastrophically wrongheaded War on Drugs.

Our celebrity-besotted media's too busy tarnishing Olympic swim star Michael Phelps over his golden boy-with-bong photo-op to focus on the faceless fatcats who are doing infinitely more to undermine our way of life than an athlete blowing off steam--or sucking up smoke. Does it really make fiscal--or moral--sense to persecute pot smokers and squander billions to incarcerate marijuana merchants while the robber barons of Wall Street remain free to fleece us all?

What would founding father (and hemp grower) Thomas Jefferson make of the fact that we now have more prisoners than farmers? The US has the highest rate of incarceration in the western world. What a collosal waste of human capital, as well as tax payer dollars. Why not fund a program to convert all those renegade hydroponics experts to "aquaponics," the brilliant marriage of fish farming and greens growing perfected by MacArthur genius Will Allen at Milwaukee's Growing Power?

But wingnuts would rather invest in misguided, unwinnable wars than fund frivolous things like health care, education and infrastructure. You know, porky kinda stuff like healthy school lunches for our kids, say, or high speed rail, or rebates on renewable energy. Anyone remember Dubya dissing Al Gore's proposed tax credit for solar panels in the 2000 presidential debates? He could barely conceal his disdain, spitting out the word "pho-to-vol-taic" with the same scorn that "real Americans" Sarah Palin and Rudy Guiliani heaped on community organizers in our last election.

Barney Frank called out Senator Jim DeMint and his Republican colleagues on their demented priorities last Sunday on This Week when DeMint started carping about how President Obama's stimulus plan relied too heavily on spending--as opposed to those conservative cure-alls, tax cuts and a blank check for the military-industrial complex:

...And I don't understand why, from some of my conservative friends, building a road, building a school, helping somebody get health care-- that's wasteful spending, but that war in Iraq, which is going to cost us over $1 trillion before we're through -- yes, I wish we hadn't have done that. We'd have been in a lot better shape fiscally... ...That's the problem. The problem is that we look at spending and say, "Oh, don't spend on highways. Don't spend on health care. But let's build Cold War weapons to defeat the Soviet Union when we don't need them. Let's have hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars going to the military without a check."

What we have here isn't really capitalism at all; it's what Paul Krugman aptly titles "lemon socialism," a form of government in which corporations and their CEOs make out like bandits on the basis of corrupt business practices while the rest of us pick up the tab for their toxic mortgages and toxic food.

Our bridges and roads are crumbling, our students are stumbling, our Wall Street wizards and the Beltway brigade are fumbling. But it's scary muslims and scummy socialists who purportedly pose the greatest threat to America, according to Rush Limbaugh, that "corpulent oxycontin aficionado" and climate change naysayer who is famously praying for our new president to fail.

In fact, it's our dependence on fast food and fossil fuels--aided and abetted by the idiotic ideology of Limbaugh and his ilk--that truly jeopardizes America's future.