Feeding frenzies

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 2, 2004

Big news on the fat front, friends. Fat folks are now dropping dead at a rate that rivals the rate of their fellow citizens dropping dead from using tobacco.

It’s alarming, say health experts, who then point to an immediate need for something to be done.

The Centers for Disease Control called attention to the obesity &uot;epidemic&uot; threatening the nation earlier this year and wants to raise the alarm that folks have to start doing better. That report says obesity kills 400,000 Americans a year, which is just short of the 410,000 Americans killed each year by smoking and other tobacco products.

Meanwhile, the government also responded to this dire threat to human mortality with bills in Congress that would protect the fast food industry against lawsuits. As I understand it, the “Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act,” passed by the U.S. House of Representatives by a 276 to 139 vote in the spring – just days after the CDC’s warning – makes it impossible for us fat folks to sue the restaurants we’ve eaten in for making us fat.

This is apparently a response to a recent call to arms by the Shyster Lawyers of America to start suing restaurants, especially fast food chains, for &uot;making people obese.&uot; These are the same people who are still suing tobacco companies for &uot;making people smoke&uot;.

It’s good to see that Congress recognizes the stupidity of these kinds of lawsuits. This was, in effect, a first salvo in President Bush’s war against trial lawyers, who he blames for the skyrocketing price of medical care and just about everything else. That was a big part of his campaign and a way of attacking Sen. John Edwards, a trial lawyer by profession before his foray into Washington politics.

But you know how them Democrats can be – protecting the greedy trial lawyers who eat into the bottom lines of multinational corporations. Corporations just want to make a product that makes a profit and they should have the right to make a defective and hazardous product if that helps the profit margin a little bit.

Of course, the Republicans ignored the fact that Edwards and Sen. Kerry also had proposals to end erroneous lawsuits – an idea that could have resulted in disbarment for lawyers who filed bogus lawsuits.

It should go without saying that if you’re fat, it ain’t because the high school kid working at McDonald’s offered to supersize that Big Mac combo. If you’re sitting around your house (literally) and are blaming the food companies for your inability to get up and get out, I reckon these new laws are a real threat to your consumptive habits because you might have to get up and go to work rather than get your shyster lawyer to deliver a big, fat settlement check.

Of course, like all big, fat settlement checks delivered by shyster lawyers, you’re only going to get about a fraction of it. So if you started smoking in the last ten years to qualify for one of the tobacco lawsuits, just remember that out of the $9 billion you’ll be awarded by a brain-dead jury, your lawyer gets $4 billion, Uncle Sam gets $4 billion and you’re left with only a billion.

I agree with the common sense view that suing food companies because you’re fat would constitute frivolous litigation. Just as I think anybody who smoked cigarettes after the Surgeon General announced that they cause lung cancer, heart disease, and a host of other health ailments would be engaging in frivolous litigation if they sued.

The health police – those who think they should force everybody to do as they think we should do – did a masterful job of making tobacco use the biggest sin in the world. They did this through constant, never-ending litigation and a campaign blaming the tobacco industry for the high cost of health care in this nation.

They may not be able to do exactly the same thing with obesity, but they’re going to give a shot. They will certainly try to demonize (they already are, actually) foods they consider bad for the rest of us and further ostracize fat people. Or maybe, instead, they’ll try to get folks to feel pity for fat folks because they’ve been targeted by evil, greedy restaurateurs into becoming fat.

As one of those fat people, it offends me that anybody thinks they should be allowed to force me to eat what they think I should eat – even if I should be eating it. Every now and then I like a supersized Big Mac value meal. Not often, but every now and then I should be able to eat it. I don’t want the government telling me what I can eat and I sure don’t want a bunch of shyster lawyers telling me what I can eat.

And if I die because of my lifestyle choices…I was gonna die sometime for some reason anyway. These health police people act like there’s some way to avoid death. If not for smoking and if not for fats and sweets, we’d all live forever and we’d never get sick and we’d never need to go to the hospital and we’d never need medication….

Yeah, right. We’re all probably gonna get sick and we’re all definitely gonna die. Do the right things so you can live healthy longer, but please get it through your thick skulls that no matter how good you are, this mortal coil will expire.

Meanwhile, if you get fat, don’t blame the farmers for growing food, the manufacturers for processing the food, and the stores for selling the food. Blame yourself for eating more than you burn through physical activity.

If you don’t know that smoking is bad for you and you don’t know that obesity is bad for you, then the rest of us need to be protected from your gluttonous ignorance and your shyster’s avarice.