Letters for November 28, 2002

Big Food is not Big Tobacco

Re “The Junk-food Wars” by Melinda Welsh (SN&R Cover, November 14):

I would love to see a decrease in the production of junk food in America, but can we really compare Big Food with Big Tobacco?

Big Tobacco companies deserved to be sued because they aimed their ads toward an illegal audience in addition to lying about the harmful additives and addictive potential of their product. What they did was not only despicable but also criminal.

It is true that Big Food is producing high-fat, high-sodium and high-sugar foods, and I certainly do not condone the consumption of these substances on a regular basis.

However, I am not aware of any representatives of Big Food companies claiming that their products are nutritious, nor is it illegal to serve this food to children. One would certainly hope that food companies would adhere to social conscience, especially when marketing their products to adolescents. Unfortunately, their goal as private enterprises is to make a profit (within legal parameters)—not to protect consumers. That is the job of our lawmakers, who have yet to set nutritional standards for Big Food.

With that in mind, it appears that the real culprits of the junk-food wars in schools are our legislators. They have not only failed to designate enough money for education, which has led to the necessity of seeking funding elsewhere, but also have failed to prohibit public schools from making big-dollar contracts with Big Food.

Through television advertisements (as referred to in the article, regarding Channel 1) and product-sponsored consumption, these companies are lawfully taking advantage of a captive group of adolescents in order to help boost their profits, and our lawmakers are doing nothing to stop it. Luckily, Senator [Martha] Escutia introduced SB 19 as a way to governmentally prohibit the sale of junk food by setting nutritional standards.

I agree that the government should have food stipulations in order to regulate the nutritive value of school lunches. This type of government involvement is long overdue. However, an even bigger principle at stake is not so much the types of products these corporations produce but rather that we have allowed them to market their goods to students in the first place.

Tempa L. Stellmach

Big Mac should pick up the check

Re “The Junk-food Wars” by Melinda Welsh (SN&R Cover, November 14):

The solution lies not in battling each and every school lunchroom one at a time—each cause requiring new startup and funding costs—but in making the corporations responsible for the problem pay directly for the cleanup.

Enact a law requiring a corporation to pay for an equal amount of advertising for an opponent cause as it pays to promote whatever product it makes that gives rise to that opponent cause. Fringe causes could be filtered through public choice, just as consumer products are chosen.

You make Pepsi and want to advertise in California? No problem, but this, this and this group have an issue with your product. An amount of money equal to what you spend on promoting Pepsi the junk food will be used to promote well-being, organic foods and proper diet. And, equally, if Rustic Ranch Natural Foods wants to advertise, it would have to fund Pepsi’s complaints. It would then be the responsibility of the people to decide which advertiser they believed and which product they would continue to support with purchases.

This prohibits nothing. It simply enforces the public good over corporate greed.

Students, who only ask that they be given the opportunity to choose for themselves, would be happier and healthier and would be making informed decisions based on a broad spectrum of facts presented with equal weight rather than a single drumbeat of persuasion.

Corporations would fund it all. If they raised prices in order to fund this program, that might not be such a bad thing, either. In this age of price-conscious shopping, what costs more is bought less. And the new ads would still be running and providing healthy information for informed decision making.

Roger Graham

Gun down illegal immigrants

Re “For Now, No New Immigrants” (SN&R Guest Comment, November 14):

Yeh Ling-Ling is half-right that barring new legal immigrants from California would be a good way of solving California’ problems. But that’s only half the solution.

Many of the immigrants who are already here entered the country illegally. Round up the illegals and deport them, and thousands upon thousands of openings will appear in our overcrowded schools. Problem solved.

Since the INS doesn’t seem to be doing a very good job of keeping the illegals out (the few who get sent back to Mexico are usually back in California within a few days), maybe California should take charge of its own southern and southeastern borders.

When I visited Germany during the Cold War, we were taken to the border. Every few hundred feet, there was a guard tower on the communist side. In each tower, round the clock, was a sharpshooter. There were no plants, no grass, no gullies—nowhere to hide in a strip several hundred feet across. At night, the area was lit up like day. Anyone in the “no man’s land” area would be shot. No questions asked. No questions needed to be asked because it was obvious the person was in a prohibited area. Maybe it’s not politically correct, but it was almost 100 percent effective at curbing illegal immigration.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Karen M. Campbell

Not all immigrants are foreigners

Re “For Now, No New Immigrants” (SN&R Guest Comment, November 14):

It is obvious that Yeh Ling-Ling has not considered the many Californians who come not from other countries but from other parts of the United States. Indeed, it is rare to meet someone who was born in California.

Although California is bulging at the seams from a variety of in-migrant streams, not all foreign-born, other states are experiencing a net loss of population. The state of Iowa, for instance, has lost so many people that the state is actively seeking newcomers.

Although her proposal gives the impression of solving a problem, it in fact is a xenophobic, knee-jerk reaction that will ultimately do nothing to solve California’s problems and will intensify the problems of other states. She needs to think this through more carefully.

Maurine Huang

It takes more than prayer

Re “Let Us Pray … for Action” (SN&R Letters, November 14):

In her letter, Methodist Lila Fraizer states that the concept of a just war is an oxymoron. If this were true, then “courageous pacifist” would be one, too.

The intellectual disconnect between war and freedom is truly astonishing in this disturbing mindset. Ms. Fraizer suggests prayer and action. (Remember Herman Melville’s admonition: “Better to sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian.")

Though Christians and Jews prayed mightily, their actions did not liberate them from the death camps of Nazi Germany. The actions that did were ships, tanks, planes and the courage and blood of American soldiers.

Part of the extraordinary dumbing-down of America in the last 30 years is the notion that peace is synonymous with justice. It is not! Peace is merely the absence of war, not the presence of justice. Unspeakable crimes against humanity have taken place under the guise of “peace.”

Since the end of the Vietnam War (demanded by the peace movement), more than a million Cambodians and a quarter-million Vietnamese have been murdered without a word, a prayer or an action from pacifists.

And, by the way, where was the anti-war movement during the eight-year Soviet war in Afghanistan? The answer: Nowhere!

Dennis McMurray
via e-mail


On page 75 in the November 14 issue of SN&R, we misspelled the name of local nutritionist Fred Beyerlein. We also neglected to list his credentials. He has master’s degrees in business administration and science and is a registered dietician as well as a certified nutrition support dietician.