Feed on

Stuff It

In 2005 Dr. Francine Palma-Long pleaded for the establishment of new government regulations that would limit portion sizes in restaurants by 50% to 67%.

Let’s not at all argue with this sentiment. Americans are getting fat and we need to do something about it – so goes the argument. The argument continues that food corporations are infamous for increasing portion sizes and giving customers more than they need.


But then I just finished listening, actually overhearing a couple of 18-year olds, argue that corporations routinely underpay workers and rip people off (for example notice how a half gallon container of ice cream is now closer to 1.5 quarts).

So … do corporations cause problems by giving folks too much? Or by giving folks too little?

7 Responses to “Stuff It”

  1. Mike says:

    Porque no los dos? Corporations can’t do lots of different things? There are plenty of ways to screw people over. Are these two examples supposed to be mutually exclusive?

  2. Wintercow20 says:

    They’re orthogonal arguments if taken literally. And if folks wish to say that ain’t the case then I believe the exploitation narrative needs updating.

  3. TimL says:

    Via Mark Perry’s blog, here’s Milton Friedman:


  4. Alex says:

    I’m surprised about the first narrative. But I’d be more surprised if those same 18-year olds who claimed the second (corporations rip people off) said that corporations provide *more* than is needed. I definitely know people who claim the second, but I know none who claim the first.

    • wintercow20 says:

      Ask any of them about McDonalds and Sam’s Club.

      In any case, we don’t need the SAME people to be arguing this to point out their collective incoherence. If Group A argues that corporations are harmful because they “stuff you” and Group B argues that corporations are harmful because they “limit you” … then either stuffing people or limiting people cannot be characteristic of corporations qua corporations. It’s the same problem we see with people ascribing thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and even behaviors to entire groups like, “All Muslims think …” or “all college students …” … it’s not helpful.

      • Alex says:

        Yes, these two views are clearly contradictory, and one shouldn’t hold both unless they clarify which corporations do which things. But I’d have thought that the “stuffing people” argument was more nuanced–more like “serving unhealthy food to people”.

        I bet you’re right, though, that these claims are usually much more sweeping than they ought to be.

        Thanks, as always, for responding WC.

        • wintercow20 says:

          I should be clearer … one CAN hold both views about how corporations tend to behave, but if that is the case then the implication/narrative has to change … I hope that was clear.

          Hope all is well Alex.

Leave a Reply