Should the Food Industry Be Abolished?

Here’s a thinkpiece that appeared on Feb 6 with tendentious title and sensible editing provided by the good folk at The Atlantic.

Abolish the Food Industry

FEB 6 2012, 8:07 AM ET 161

If public health is a legitimate reason to curb corporations’ advertising to kids, why limit bans to cigarettes, booze, and toys in happy meals, and not include, say, all unhealthy food?

FoodIndustry-Post.jpg

In the fall of 2008, San Francisco polished its progressive credentials by banning something. From October 1, 2008, the sale of cigarettes was prohibited in certain places. You could still buy them in convenience stores, of course, and bodegas, gas stations, and even the occasional bar. But the city thought that perhaps it was a bad idea to allow them to be sold in pharmacies. As the city attorney, Dennis Herrera, put it: “Consumers — and especially young people — should reasonably expect pharmacies to serve their health needs, not to enable our leading cause of preventable death.”

Pharmacy and tobacco executives were apoplectic. The Walgreens pharmacy chain argued that they needed to be allowed to sell cigarettes so that they might counsel people on how to quit. The tobacco industry was upset too. From the hallowed garden of constitutional law, it argued that the ban was an infringement of its First Amendment rights to free speech. Big Smoke argued that it was being muzzled by an over-reaching government marching down the road to tyranny. The judge who heard the case took a dim view of this logic, pointing out that while advertising is a form of free speech, “selling cigarettes isn’t.” The ban continues.

The cigarette industry survives, as does its advertising. Cigarette companies’ rights to free speech have, however, been curtailed on grounds of public health, and for the health of children above all. Joe Camel isn’t familiar to children today, as he was in the 1970s, because most people agree that it’s probably a bad idea to have a hip smoking cartoon character to which kids aspire, even if the company behind it swears blind it was just going after the pro-dromedary slice of the adult market.

Alcohol is similarly circumscribed, again with an eye to public health and, again, with a particular concern for young people. But if public health is a legitimate reason to curb corporations’ advertising to kids, why limit bans to cigarettes and booze, and not include, say, unhealthy food?

A paper in the latest issue of Nature by Robert Lustig, Laura Schmidt, and Claire Brindis fuels the debate, pointing to the long-term similarities of sugar and alcohol consumption.

The paper’s authors freely admit that a little sugar is fine, but “a lot kills — slowly.” They argue that sugar meets the same four generally accepted public health criteria used to regulate alcohol: it is unavoidable, toxic, has the potential for abuse, and has a negative impact on society. Which is why they suggest restrictions on advertising of sugary processed foods, lauding another of San Francisco’s bans — the one that prevents toys being given away with unhealthy fast food meals.

Given the food industry’s power, and fears of a nanny state, it’s unsurprising that the paper’s authors are caught in a flame war.

I side with the American Psychological Association in thinking that advertising to children is unconscionable. Rather than dwell on the First Amendment issue, which strikes me as an easy case to make, I think it’s worth addressing a deeper question underlying the San Francisco cigarette-in-pharmacy ban: Why allow an industry that profits from the sale of unhealthy food at all?

It’s worth addressing a question underlying the cigarette-in- pharmacy ban: Why allow an industry that profits from the sale of unhealthy food at all?

Returning to tobacco is helpful. Stanford historian Robert Proctor’s life work has been to expose the lies of the tobacco industry. In his magisterial new book, Golden Holocaust, he makes the case for the abolition of the industry entirely (interview here). Cigarettes, when used according to manufacturer instructions, will lead to death. So why harbor tobacco’s peddlers? (This argument, incidentally, won’t come as a surprise to R.J. Reynolds, who subpoenaed the manuscript because Proctor had in the past testified as an expert witness against the industry.)

The history of banning things is admittedly inglorious. The war on drugs, Prohibition, and censorship have few fans. There are two reasons why Proctor’s proposals are different. First, most smokers don’t want to be smokers. “Only about three percent of people who drink are alcoholic,” he says. “If smokers could choose freely, then they would choose not to smoke. Nicotine is not a recreational drug…. It’s really fundamentally different.”

Second, he doesn’t want to ban smoking. The language of abolition — not prohibition — is well chosen. Proctor doesn’t yearn for the criminalization of smokers, nor does he foresee the end of cigarettes or tobacco. He’s simply arguing that the industry that profits from it oughtn’t to exist in a society that has a minimum concern with public health. If you want to smoke, you’re free to grow and cure your own tobacco, he suggests.

The analogy of tobacco with food isn’t perfect, clearly. People who eat Twinkies often want to eat Twinkies, and we all need to eat. But it’s increasingly common to see the medical literature push forward an understanding of sugar addiction and it’s also true that our food choices are far from free, in no small part because of the commercial and cultural power of the food industry. Weaned as most of us are on Big Food’s free speech, we ought to be suspicious of our instincts when it comes to food.

This week’s Nature article doesn’t argue for the abolition of Big Food, but indicts the industry nonetheless: “Sugar is cheap, sugar tastes good, and sugar sells, so companies have little incentive to change.” Limiting the power of these corporations to sell their products — just as we limit alcohol and tobacco companies — ought to be widely agreed, and the battle among health professionals in the years to come will see the transformation of this proposition into an axiom.

The food industry tastes its own blood in the water, and is responding aggressively to the nicks and cuts from public health professionals. It’s unwise to underestimate the chutzpah of an industry that spread trans fats across the Western diet in the 20th century, and made a marketing pitch of their removal in the 21st. So the industry has adopted a strategy that counters a pound of sugar with an ounce of nutrition.

Derek Yach, senior vice president of Global Health and Agriculture Policy at PepsiCo, offers Sun Chips as a food that “would do very well on almost every nutrition criteria.” The problem is that while they’remoderately better than other chips, they’re still chips, and part of a business whose main profit derives from food high in salt, fat, and sugar. More important, Sun Chips are still a snack food — the growth of which,some argue, is the main engine for expanding American waistlines.

The breadth of products controlled by the food industry — amply toxic and less so — is itself a symptom of a deeper problem that has public health symptoms, but a political economic cause. The food industry is an oligopoly that has transformed not only what we eat but how we eat it, and what we think of food. Which is why the logic of Proctor’s argument as it could apply to the food industry waits in the wings — for now. It’s hard to entertain the abolition of the food industry, because it’s difficult to imagine ourselves in a world without PepsiCo, Nestlé, Kraft (formerly part of Philip Morris), and friends, and their product lines.

Few have lived in a world in which a handful of corporations don’t run the food system. The food industry has made our world theirs. Instant meals and ready calories are as much a part of the fabric of late capitalist life as the culture in which they’re acceptable. Excising corporations from an economy that has come to depend on their products addresses the problem of added toxins in food. But it does little to change the circumstance that renders those foods a caloric raft for the poor, nor does it address deeper injustices within the food system spawned by corporate power.

But a better food system needn’t be limited to one where food giants behave a little better because they are taxed and hushed a little. Lustig and colleagues argue for limits to corporate power in food because, by adding sugar to almost everything they make, they make us less free as consumers. Extending Proctor’s argument to those very corporate powers invites us to imagine what a world without Big Food might look like — and dream ourselves freer still.

15 Replies to “Should the Food Industry Be Abolished?”

  1. Per Cynthia Kenyon, an American molecular biologist and biogerontologist known for her genetic dissection of aging in a tiny worm, has determined that all us mammals have two genes that control aging. I am not even remotely close to having this woman’s knowledge base in anything, but she puts it in layman’s terms so that folks at even my level can understand the impact of this situation contained within each of us. One gene is referred to as the Sweet Sixteen gene, and the other, the Grim Reaper gene. High levels of a particular substance turns on the Grim Reaper gene and turns off the Sweet Sixteen, and low levels of the same substance turns on your Sweet Sixteen and turns off your Grim Reaper. That substance is insulin. Eating anything that causes excessive insulin spikes in your system is turning on your Grim Reaper, speeding up the aging process, making you old, fat, and vulnerable to all kinds of terminal diseases. Carbohydrates. Based on this, if all you had to eat was a Big Mac, and you had to pick one thing to toss off of it to make it more healthy, it wouldn’t be the burger, but rather, it would be that bun chalk full of carbohydrates. Which is better, sugary fruits or a candy bar? Well, the way I’m seeing it, if both make your insulin levels spike, neither, except maybe some vitamins you might get from the fruit. Turns out we’re not designed to eat those carbs; they should be the exception rather than the rule. Eat the fruit, you shall surely die, heehee! Looks like lean meats and veggies are the best route for us if we want to live long, young, and healthy, and keep the carbs at a minimum. The chances of you getting a terrminal illness is minimal if you are not vulnerable to it. Cranking up your Grim Reaper full bore is like saying, come on cancer, I could use a good batch of you right now. Hey Alsheimer’s, hop on board because I need a good brain erasing. Based on this knowledge, I’m thinking the same warning on a cigarette pack should be slapped right onto the back of a Snickers bar, also.
    Now as far as feeding the poor goes, why I would think that the general public on an individual bases is not where to start necissarily, but where the wealth is. On a region basis, the big three wealth holders are North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific, in that order. Next, would be to find all the door keepers of all that wealth and present the need to those who have the warewithal to make an impact; not by law, but by volunteering. If our leaders would lead by example, the rest of those in mid income situations I believe would be more prone to follow suit. You know, have the Rothchilds, the Bilderbergs, the Bush Family, P Diddy, Madonna, the Ferderal Reserve, Oprah, etc, come on TV and disclose there wealth level, and what they are doing monetarily to end world hunger forever, and lobby the world to perportionally follow suit, might just be a step in the right direction. We focus here on health care being pulled out of the realm of Capitalism, when it should have been food all along; not everyone needs a guitar, a computer, a TV, but food and water, well, we all need that. Now most all that know of Raj, know that it’s out there that there are those accusing him of being the AntiChrist, so here’s some advice Raj; scrap any plans in your quest to feed the world that would match up with fulfilling scripture prophesy, because that just validates the whole thing, especially anything like putting a computer chip in one’s right hand or forehead in order to be able to buy or sell (boy, that would leave a mark, wouldn’t it). Figure outside of that box.

  2. Sorry for the mis-spelling of the following in my last posting: necessarily, basis, Federal (Ferderal, haha, that one made me laugh), and any others you find that I may have missed. Thanks for allowing me to post.

  3. Hi Raj. I heard you on CBC radio’s “Q” with Jian Ghomeshi.

    Thanks for reminding me of the dangers of sugar; fructose, in particular. I doubt, however, that you will have much luck in persuading governments to put sugar under similar rules as alcohol.

    But if nothing else, you have brought out the dangers of sugars and the power of big lobbies to run countries.

  4. While I agree with the basic premise and argument that Mr. Patel presents, I must say that:
    With the ever increasing population of the rock we live on, availability of cheap and abundant food sources will become even more important in the years to come than they are today.

    In a world where one of their most advanced nations is still entangled in the debate whether contarceptives are god’s choice, and whether those promoting their use are anti christ or anti religion, it would be prudent to believe there will only be MORE PEOPLE to feed as we move forward.

    This, I realize, goes beyond sugar addiction in societies such as the US, or the appetite for mass-produced meats, but is a question that will need to be answered regardless.

  5. Actually, this is a question Dr. Patel (yes it’s Dr.) has addressed many times in excruciating detail.

    It’s a little weird to believe that a food system which is currently leaving 1 billion hungry or starving is the same system that will provide enough food for an even larger population. What would change to bring this miracle about?
    1 billion going hungry is not something the food industry has any problem with. Industries are concerned with profits. And these are rolling in just fine, thank you.

    The fallacy here is the notion that a plentiful food supply can only come about by the benevolence of a few humongous multinational corporations, and can only be distributed through the markets whereby they profit. Take these out of the picture and everybody starves, right? Well, no, actually.

    This all speaks to a question Raj has been asking recently:

    “Why can’t we imagine a world without the food industry?”

    It’s basically because most folks aren’t yet aware of the alternatives. But alternatives there are. Abundant, various, complementary and already being implemented at present. A familiarity with Raj Patel’s work will acquaint one with more than a few of them.

  6. Well, if you take the question, “Why can’t we imagine a world without the food industry?”, I think you have to define the term “industry”. Of course, there are various statements that define this term. The most popular is ‘the commercial production and sale of goods’. The term ‘commercial’ is a term derrived from the term commerce. Commerce, by definition, is ‘the buying and selling of goods, especially on a large scale, as between cities or nations’. To abolish by definition, is ‘to do away with; annul’ or ‘to destroy completely’. Now if you replace the word industry with it’s definition, this question would read something like this, “Why can’t we imagine a world without the production, buying, and selling of food on a large scale?”. Now, I’m hoping that Raj is not wanting us to imagine a world void of the production, buying, or selling of food. Now if Raj was saying to transform the food industry into one that provides healthy food and is managed in a way that all people, regardless of class, can pipe into it, and those that are employed within that supply chain are fairly compensated, then that’s different, but that’s not the term Raj, as a highly educated man, chose to use. He uses the term abolish. In order to abolish, or completely destroy the current food industry with out causing some unimaginable havock in areas of the world that are at least getting something to eat, you would have to get your replacement system in place first, without using any part of the food industry already in place, because after all, you’re going to abolish it, right? Oh, and the replacement system surely wouldn’t have any the components of the previous one, because that would be silly, wouldn’t it; destroying the current food industry just to make a system just like it, or taking any part of the current food industry and using it in your future food supply plan. So to me, to abolish the current food industry is to say that none of it is salvageable to use in your future system (planting, watering, growing, harvesting, shipping, packaging, etc). Surely abolishment is not what Raj means, is it? Renovating parts of it that hinder healthy quality and food access is understandable of what I assume Raj would like to see achieved, but abolishment of the whole thing? Why, I’d venture to say only the devil would want to abolish man’s food supply, no matter how flawed, without having a proven, working, superior alternative in place before destroying the current food industry. Georgia Guidestones anyone? I hope not.

  7. Well, you’ve wrapped it all up quite nicely, haven’t you?! From a mere rhetorical question posed in the title of an article, you’ve gone on a logical tour-de-force to conclude that its author is the devil (OMG!).

    But, back in the real world, actually endeavoring to read the attached article might have saved you a lot of freaking out, you see, because the article is nothing close to a call for the sudden abolishment of the food industry. It is a bit more nuanced than that.

    Here’s an idea: Why not read what Raj has actually written about the changes he’d like to see in our food system, y’know, more in detail, beyond the title of an article? That way you wouldn’t have to assume (erroneously) what he thinks and waste all your energy going off on a feverish tangent about it. Make sense?

    And I wouldn’t worry too much about a food industry abolishment by decree of anyone, for that matter, because it isn’t likely to happen even if startling rhetorical questions could go viral or write legislation.

    Rather, this is all to do with identifying the ways in which our food system can better serve the people of this world, and finding the courage to take the steps necessary to gradually implement positive change. Raj knows this. Most of his readers know this. Really. So take heart. Our Froot-Loops and Doritos will still be there tomorrow morning, gleaming as bright as ever in their colorful packagings, none less infused with sugar and MSG. And no, Raj is not the devil, nor even a fiend or ghoul. I promise. You can take his likeness off your dart-board now. It’s going to be alright.

  8. Tricky situation.

    Health is complex. It is almost impossible to tell with certainty what is healthy and what is not. Sugar has bad long-term effects, but we know a lot less about many other ingredients. How can we abolish unhealthy food if we don’t know what unhealthy food is?

    Also, how do we know that big firms in the food industry won’t use government regulators to shut down competitors while keeping their own doors open?

    For example, they’ll lobby heavily to have competitors’ top brands added to no-sell lists, due to technicalities that can be easily manipulated with the right amount of money.

    It will trigger huge competition for even more regulatory capture, in other words.

    I am skeptical, though principally in favor.

  9. We indeed know that foods high in sugar, salt, saturated fat, or containing neurotoxins or a list of other commonly used chemicals, are definitively unhealthy, in the same way we know cigarettes and alcohol are unhealthy. We’ve known this for some time. Countless scientific studies have led us to this knowledge.

    And giant food corporations *already* use government to crush competition. This shouldn’t be news to anybody. But the competition isn’t other giant food corporations. Big Food is all of a piece – a tight, fraternal league of profit. The competition is any method of bringing food to our tables other than by Big Food themselves. Every year a new host of legislation is passed to tighten the choke-hold on small, independent, and/or organic growers, producers and sellers, and to further tilt the tables towards giant multinationals and their bottom line.

    Maybe the words spoken by Dwayne Andreas, when chairman of Archer Daniels Midland in 1995, are appropriate:

    “The competitor is our friend and the customer is our enemy… There isn’t one grain of anything in the world that is sold in a free market. The only place you see free-markets is in the speeches of politicians.”

    So it isn’t a matter of ensuring that food giants will play
    fair with each other. The issue is whether or not we find it wise to hand more and more power over our food system to an industry where lust for profits dictates that health, labor and environmental concerns are to be kept far removed from its list of priorities.

    Big Food sees lobbying as a sound investment, and as the good graces of government can be bought, it has proven to be just that. The catch is, our government (at least potentially) is somewhat responsive to the people as well. And by making our voices heard, perhaps we will claim a measure of power to pull our food system, kicking and screaming, closer to our own values.

    But in prompting us to imagine a world without the food industry, Raj invites us to think even bigger. What would an ideal food system look like? Why not try to imagine it? In doing so, we at least step outside our current system for a placid moment, and acknowledge that there can exist an alternative.

  10. Here’s some of what the UN’s special rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, has to say in his latest report:

    “The right to food means not only access to an adequate quantity of food, but also the ability to have a balanced and nutritious diet. Governments must not abstain from their responsibility to secure this right.

    We have deferred to food companies the responsibility for ensuring that a good nutritional balance emerges. Voluntary guidelines and piecemeal nutrition initiatives have failed to create a system with the right signals, and the odds remain stacked against the achievement of a healthy, balanced diet.

    Heavy processing thrives in our global food system, and is a win-win for multinational agri-food companies. Processed items can be produced and distributed on a huge scale, thanks to cheap subsidized ingredients and their increased shelf life.

    But for the people, it is a lose-lose. Heavily processed foods lead to diets richer in saturated and trans-fatty acids, salt and sugars. Children become hooked on the junk foods targeted at them. In better-off countries, the poorest population groups are most affected because foods high in fats, sugar and salt are often cheaper than healthy diets as a result of misguided subsidies whose health impacts have been wholly ignored.

    We should not simply invest our hopes in medicalizing our diets with enriched products, or changing people’s choices through health warnings. We need ambitious, targeted nutrition strategies to protect the right to adequate food, and such strategies will only work if the food systems underpinning them are put right.”

  11. @Garrett Cassey. I’m not saying Raj is the devil; I toy with it because Raj toys with it himself. You know, going on Stephan Colbert with the Messiah bit; any guy going on national tv and dancing on the line that that is going to get a rise out of a guy like me hasn’t yet come to the conclusion just yet that the fulfillment of Bible prophesy is, well, just not gonna happen. Listen, I’m not angry with you or your comment. I hate to see pictures of the hungry just like anyone else, and hate the idea of our country being full of a bunch of sick people, including myself, because of a lifetime conditioning of easy access to a high carb, high sugar diet. Though I didn’t word for word read the article, I did get from it the comparison of how cigarettes are bad for you, big business cigarettes should be abolished, though not making smoking in itself illegal; if you want to smoke, grow your own and smoke it. As for cigarrettes, so should be bad food in big business; if you want a Twinkie, grow or obtain the ingredients and make it yourself, because twinkie big business has been abolished, because bad for you big business is not allowed anymore. I just think the term abolish is a strong one by definition, whether its used in a rhetorical application, an actual question looking for an answer, or in a statement, which is the original application Raj used in writing this article for the Atlantic, which title Raj describes as a tendentious one. Now I’m a bit of a dummy, but not so much that I make it a habit to consistently pretend to know what a word means when I don’t. So I look up this word “tendentious” thinking I would find a definition like ‘exageratively speaking, but meaning something less strong’ but instead found the meaning to be “Expressing or intending to promote a particular cause or point of view”. So my conclusion is that Raj’s point of view is that he’d like to see the food industry abolished, and the article content backs up why this needs to happen. I personally think transformation would be more applicable than abolishment, that’s all.

    The sad reality is that we have a food supply system that depends highly on transportation, as opposed to one that consists of local greenhouses, and if you eat meat, local raised cattle. If an event big enough ever happens that would compromise that transportation system, I really don’t think our country’s cities are set up to be self-sustaining as far as food goes. I also believe that if your own town is growing the majority of it’s own food, a higher level of quality and nutrition whould be the result because your community will be eating what it growing, thus creating a big incentive for insuring high nutritional value and quality. I’ve heard of places like that in California getting raided for selling raw foods. Here is a link I just found http://distributistreview.com/mag/2011/08/what-happened-to-our-health-freedom/ So let’s say all the cities in our country decided to take the majority of thier food supply situation in thier own hands for the sake of health and quality, and create local mega greenhouses, it would have to be in compliance with the law so that some Fed group doesn’t come dropping in unanounced with machine guns and all. The community garden isn’t my idea of course; they have them in the Portland Oregon area, as an example, where it’s easy to pull off because of the climate and all. C’mon, it’d be fun. I know cities do it with community health centers, why can’t we do it with food, or at least the kind of non grain foods that grow out of the ground? It seems we are dependantly latched to the teat of the grocery store and restaurants. In the Disney movie Aladin, Jafar says something about the golden rule; he who has the gold makes the rules. But I think food is more realistic in this application; if you are not in control of your own food supply then someone else is. If the group in control of whether or not food is supplied to you decides to yank that chain, you may find yourself vunerable to their desires. Now excuse me while I go get a pizza; change can sometimes be difficult.

  12. Again, you’re mistaken in thinking Raj is pushing for an abolishment of the food industry.

    See, actually, he didn’t even chose that title himself. The staff at Atlantic did. That’s what Raj is indicating when he says “… with tendentious title and sensible editing provided by the good folk at The Atlantic.” This happens frequently in the mag business. Especially with a mag as formidable as the Atlantic. They have final say over titles and the exact edit of the article that will appear. They often chose titles with a lot of “punch” and “impact” to grab readers’ attention. And they certainly grabbed yours.

    Furthermore, Raj can be heard in a recent radio interview stating that he is in no way in favor of a sudden abolishment of the food industry. He knows positive change doesn’t happen like that. We’re talking about a bloke who has degrees from Oxford, The London School of Economics and a PhD from Cornell. He sort of realizes that the food system is a very complex issue. That’s why he wrote a 300 page book on the subject called Stuffed and Starved (which I’ve read). The food system also features prominently in his latest book, The Value of Nothing (which I’ve read twice).

    In these books, Raj amply illustrates how Big Food is already “yanking our chain” and how we are already “vulnerable to their desires”, as well as how current economic and agricultural policies are wreaking disastrous havoc on the lives of billions of people around the world, and on the natural world herself.

    As to “taking the majority of our food supply situation in our own hands for the sake of health and quality” – I think this is best embodied and expressed in the concept of Food Sovereignty, an idea which is an ongoing thread in Dr. Patel’s work, and is starting to take shape in the US in the form of local Food Policy Councils.

    A familiarity with Raj Patel’s work will afford anyone interested more than just a passing glance at concepts like these, not to mention the many other edifying discoveries one could possibly come by on the journey.

    So the next time you really want to know what Raj is all about, instead of picking up a dictionary to look up a word contained in, or pertaining to, some title a mag editor chose for one of his many articles, why not pick up a copy of one of his books. You’ll learn a lot more.

  13. Alright, Garrett, I will commit to buying The Value of Nothing. I’m picking that one because people do have a tendency to change or refine their veiw of things over time, and to my knowlege it is Raj’s most current work in book form to date. I have watched many videos of Raj on youtube though, and not just the ones from the Musilim fellow who is sure that Raj is the Dajjal (what ever that is; I’m not Muslim, but think it’s their equivilent to Lucifer), down to where he feels like Raj just flaunts it. I have also watched some of Raj’s video commentaries without people jumping in and out of the video pointing out things about him. Some were quite lengthy too, including the one he did at Berkeley titled on youtube as Edible Education: Feeding the World, which I would like to watch again to get a solid jist of his train of thought. I must say though, it is crazy right now with RFID chip technology, Obama’s Yes We Can speech being put to music video done by Will I Am and various other artists, then some guy posting a backmask of it, showing these folks saying Thank You Satan in backmask all through it, Jay Z intentionally putting Kill Jesus, Six Six Six in backmask form on one of his works, Masonic architecture in Washington DC with the Pentagram with an intentional break in it just in front of the White House from an aerial view, then we got Benjjamin Creme here on his soap box proclaiming Maitreya has already been on major TV and is soon going to admit he’s the real deal, the Georgia Guidestones calling to keep mankind population under 500 million (to hit that number you would have to take out all of China and would still have a whole bunch of people that would have to take one for the team) I must say all this is making a guy like me uncomfortable, having two young daughters and all.

  14. Robert, don’t worry yourself too much with all the weirdness. Ignore it. It doesn’t mean anything. There are boatloads of positive developments happening in the world right now. It just takes a little more effort to find out about them.

    What’s really going on on this planet at this time is far more substantial than any paranoid delusion could ever be: People are waking up and learning to demand that their rights as global citizens be honored.

    Yes, big changes are afoot. But these changes will be positive, brought about by a groundswell of populist activism, and have nothing to do with Masons or rap stars (‘cept in a roundabout sort of way).

    I think most of us currently sense the inevitability of major, fundamental changes to our world. Thing is, many people fear change in any form. And the human mind doesn’t think too clearly when frightened. Hence all the distorted half-baked theories and witch hunts.

    But that is easily bypassed. It behooves us as concerned individuals to go where the sensible, intelligent ideas are… and learn a thing or two.

  15. Hey Garrett. Just barely bought The Value of Nothing today (don’t have a Barnes and Noble in our town, but went to one today, and did not forget my commitment to getting it to read). I’ll start in on it tonight. Hope you are doing well.

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