Is Our Economy Causing the Obesity Epidemic?
by Lowell Ponte
Feeling hungry? In one European country, this now entitles you to steal food from the local supermarket.
An Italian court on May 2nd set a dangerous precedent by ruling that a person’s “need” in the form of “hunger” gives him or her the right to steal the property of others.
Western civilization was built on property rights, but these and other rights are rapidly being destroyed by court rulings, government regulations, executive orders, political social engineering, Nanny statism, and the deliberate debasement of our money. Get ready for this Italian legal ruling to be echoed soon by American courts.
Americans have food in abundance, and more than 25 percent of our population is obese – 20 percent or more above a healthy body weight. But, ironically, millions of the heaviest among us feel not only hunger but also starvation. By the Italian court’s new standard, they too could steal supermarket food.
This paradox exists, many scientists say, because today’s fat- and sugar-laden foods stimulate the appetite and cause us to gain weight. Overweight then prompts us to diet. But as new scientific research confirms, our bodies perceive dieting as famine and weight loss as starvation.
The New York Times reported in early May that dieting spurs our bodies to unleash many hormones that stoke our food cravings and binge eating so we regain and surpass our previous peak weight. This drives a vicious cycle of more dieting and even more weight gain. The latest research suggests that this is why only about one percent of dieters achieve permanent weight loss.
On May 2, Italy’s Supreme Court of Cassation overturned a lower court theft conviction of Roman Ostriakov for stealing cheese and sausages worth approximately $4.50 from a supermarket.
“[H]e took possession of that small amount of food in the face of an immediate and essential need for nourishment, acting therefore in a state of necessity,” the court ruled. Theft, in other words, is “not a crime” if the thief says he is “hungry.”
But in Italy, food could almost certainly be had for the asking at the church or charity down the street, or from the supermarket itself if Mr. Ostriakov requested it. He could have gotten free food without stealing.
Italy is a Euro-socialist welfare state whose government would likely have been delighted to feed him. But this court’s Progressive judges may have found it delicious to implicitly remind their countrymen that Karl Marx advocated taking “from each according to his ability” and giving “to each according to his need.”
The founder of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Lenin, however, shared the Bible’s view that those who do not work should not eat. Without such a rule, everyone would be happy to devour the food in a socialist state, but few might work to produce more. Mr. Ostriakov could have offered to wash dishes at a local restaurant in exchange for a meal.
In South America’s Incan empire, people were assigned to a group of 10 workers under a manager, who would be one of 10 managers under a higher manager – an authoritarian hierarchy that extended to the Inca himself. As historian Victor Von Hagen tells, if a worker stole a loaf of bread he would be put to death – unless he could show that he stole out of “need,” in which case the manager above him would be executed for failing to provide the worker with sufficient food.
If one person’s subjective “need” gives him a right to steal the property of others, how long will it be before some future court uses a similar logic to rule that a sex-starved man is entitled to force himself upon women? Or that those hungry for power be allowed to enslave others? Or that a “needy” egomaniac denied his 15 minutes of fame has the right to shut down city streets to make himself a media celebrity?
I suspect that we are seeing deeper hungers here. Hungry for power, Progressive judges here and abroad are overturning thousands of years of tradition to engineer new rules they wish to see imposed in Western societies.
And the epidemic of obesity sweeping America may come not only from fast food but also from survival instincts hard-wired deeply into our DNA.
When humans unconsciously sense disaster approaching, one stress response is to put on weight. We, after all, are descended from the winners who survived ice age winters, food shortages and famines when thinner people around them died from not packing on enough calories stored in their bodies as fat.
Millions of us now sense that a major crisis might soon overtake our society.
Some are preparing a survival shelter with their teeth, feeling an urge to put on weight without knowing why. Many are getting ready for the breakdown so many of us sense coming by filling a home stockpile with preserved food before the “hungry” strip supermarket shelves bare. The prudent are also exchanging a portion of the politician paper promissory notes we call dollars with the hard, real survival money of gold.
Millions of us feel hungry, even if we weigh hundreds of pounds. This might be from chronic dieting – or might be nature’s way of telling us that something is very wrong.
Perhaps our deeper hunger is for security against an approaching social breakdown caused by government giving others a license to steal while taking away our fundamental rights to life, liberty, property, self-defense, and honest money.
“Italian Court Rules Food Theft ‘Not a Crime’ if Hungry,” BBC News, May 3, 2016. URL: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36190557
Sandra Aamodt, “Why You Can’t Lose Weight on a Diet: The Problem Isn’t Willpower. It’s Neuroscience. You Can’t – and Shouldn’t – Fight Back,” New York Times, May 6, 2016. URL: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/08/opinion/sunday/why-you-cant-lose-weight-on-a-diet.html
Gina Kolata, “After ‘The Biggest Loser,’ Their Bodies Fought to Regain Weight:….Why So many People Fail to Keep Off the Weight They Lose,” New York Times, May 2, 2016. URL: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/02/health/biggest-loser-weight-loss.html
Lowell Ponte is a veteran think tank futurist, former Reader’s Digest Roving Editor, and co-author with monetary expert Craig R. Smith of six books about our economy and how to protect ourselves and our families.