atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,
atomic_fungus
atomic_fungus

#5237: Take it with a grain of salt.

The government has a new standard for salt in diets which is probably dangerous. I don't watch my salt intake. I don't watch my fat intake. I try to watch my carb intake. Carbohydrates--sugars, especially--are bad for you.

Salt, however, is an electrolyte, and you need that. As long as you're not eating it by the spoonful, it's fine.

I notice, however, this:
...[E]vidence indicates people on low sodium diets place themselves at risk. The government disregarded peer-reviewed research showing that low-salt diets can lead to insulin resistance, congestive heart failure, cardiovascular events,...
Here's the thing: generally, when someone is put on a low-salt diet, it's done because he's fat and hypertensive. What else does the government say to do when you're fat and hypertensive?

Cut out fat. Eat more carbs. Which increases insulin resistance and leads to further obesity and a bunch of other bad stuff.

I know that I'm still suffering from the effects of years' worth of drinking sugar water all the damned time. But I've noticed that the incidence of my episodes of hypoglycemia has gradually become lessened since I made the switch to diet-only (and now I can't drink anything but "unleaded" as "regular" makes me feel crappy).

And it occurs to me: what difference does it make to the government how much salt people eat? Why is our government even expressing an opinion on all this, much less promulgating standards?

Starz has a series set in New York in 1901 at the Knickerbocker hospital. The Knick does what all TV series do: it looks at life in another time through the lens of modern progressive sensibility, which is why they had to have a black doctor in the show. (Because raciss, of course.) And naturally one of the first season plot threads was about a nun who performed abortions. (Of course she was a nun.)

So one of the plot threads this season is about eugenics. And naturally Racist Doctor is for it and Black Doctor (who trained in Europe don't you know! so he's extra-smart!) denounces it as "pseudoscience".

No one would have made that argument in 1901.

The recognition that humans have genes and heredity which could be selected for was (and is) a logical extension of genetic science. Humans can be bred like any living thing to select for desired traits and to cull undesirable ones. There is no question that this is the case.

What is at issue here is the ethics and the morals of doing so. Ethically and morally, it's wrong to treat people like livestock.

...but they can't show extra-smart-trained-in-Europe Black Doctor falling back on outdated concepts like morality and ethics, because extra-smart-trained-in-Europe means science! and no religion needed. (And the show's entire depiction of religion is standard Hollywood, of course; no further explanation is required.)

But human eugenics was taken very seriously in the early 20th century, so much so that American progressives like Margaret Sanger were forming organizations to promote it. Planned Parenthood wasn't just about abortions; it was also about culling undesirables from the gene pool, like negroes and mental defectives. Margaret Sanger was a huge racist by any reasonable standard; she promoted abortion as a way to diminish the black population.

In The Knick we have a scene where Black Doctor tries to get Racist Doctor fired for doing vasectomies on about fifty adolescents judged to be mentally deficient, and he's dismayed when head surgeon John Thackery tells him that Racist Doctor didn't break the law and didn't perform the vasectomies at the Knick, so there was nothing he could do about it.

In fact, the only thing--the only thing!--that got in the way of the eugenics movement was Hitler. If Hitler hadn't been a devotee of eugenics we'd still have that nastiness to contend with--but as a progressive socialist in the early 20th century of course Hitler was a proponent of eugenics. And the Holocaust happened in part because the Jews had undesirable genes that had to be culled from the gene pool.

Like most of what came out of the progressive movement of the early 20th century, it's about time we had a good, hard look at what the role of government should be in monitoring our daily lives. We don't need the FDA to tell us how much and of what to eat; we only need the FDA to ensure that the ibuprofen tablets you get at the grocery store contain 100 mg of ibuprofen and nothing toxic (melamine or what-have-you). We don't need the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide emissions and publish position papers on global warming; we only need it to make sure people aren't dumping toxic waste in the water supply. We don't need the FCC to monitor content of media; we just need it to make sure that no one tromps all over someone else's broadcast.

Government is too big, too bloated. Government needs the diet, not us.
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