Exploiting and Indulging Fat, Stupid Americans

Ashby tells me that Burger King has introduced a bacon sundae. That's a hot fudge and caramel sundae with bacon pieces sprinkled on top and a whole stick of bacon jammed into the side.

At the risk of sounding like the King of All Liberals, I seriously think they ought to tax the shit out of these things -- the Double-Down, the Doritos Taco and this awful bacon swirly -- and use the revenue to help finance a public option. In 2008, $147 billion was spent on obese Americans. Coupled with smoking, obesity will cost $2.4 trillion over 10 years.

The fast food and soda companies are exploiting self-indulgent Americans who subsequently create huge demand for prescription drugs and medical services, contributing to an exponential increase in costs. In other words, shitty food and the people who buy it are creating a burden on our healthcare system. There ought to be cost for doing this kind of business.

  • Benjamin Biemeret

    Hello all, long time reader of GDAB (yeah, I’ve been reading since before Bob dropped the God Damn). Felt I had to comment on this. First off, let me begin by saying that I am in no way defending the “bacon sundae”. That sounds as gross as their “bacon shake”. But as someone who has dealt with weight issues due to an eating disorder for many years, I feel it is necessary to point out that in addition to the constant onslaught of bad food choices advertised and made available to us “fat, stupid Americans”, many overweight and obese people suffer from undiagnosed and untreated medical conditions. Unfortunately, many companies have figured out how to capitalize on that.

    I’ve had undiagnosed ADHD since I was a child. I recently began to be treated by a neurologist, who informed me that many ADHD sufferers absorb glucose in the brain at a much slower rate than most, sometimes up to 8% slower, creating a glucose deficiency, which can lead to cravings for sugar and refined carbs as a cheap and easy method for altering brain chemistry. This form of self medicating has many bad side effects. The sugar crash can exacerbate the ADHD symptoms, increasing sugar cravings in a vicious cycle that eventually, in my case, turned into a compulsive eating disorder. Stress, including exercise, creates a demand for glucose. Dieting limits the amount of glucose available. This means that for people who suffer like I do, diet and exercise almost always fail unless the underlying condition is treated.

    I don’t mean to excuse bad behavior. We all have to take responsibility for the choices we make, and I have done so by seeking treatment. I have just come to see the condition differently than most. Most obese people do not make a conscious choice to be obese. Eating what they eat and how they eat is the only way they know how to feel better. But then the consequences end up making them feel worse. Most obese (not all) are quite embarrassed by their weight and eating habits, but feel powerless to change it without professional help. Some have just given up and accepted being fat as their fate.

    If there is anything that “The War On Drugs” has taught us, is that prohibiting the things we crave is an exercise in futility. You’ll never curb supply, people will always find a way to get what they want or need. You have to curb demand, changing the behavior and desire in people. To do that, you have to inform and educate, not ridicule and punish. But that’s just my two cents.

  • D_C_Wilson

    I am a fat, stupid American and that sounds disgusting.

    Bacon is not a magic flavor that goes with everything.

  • astrocat96

    It’s possible that taxing junk/fast food could encourage healthier eating habits by reducing the cost disparity between junk food and healthier alternatives. For people with limited incomes (which is higher than usual due to the recession) it is difficult to eat healthy because it tends to cost more. If the government is too busy subsidizing Big Oil to subsidize healthy eating, perhaps increasing the cost of eating poorly could result in similar dietary changes.

  • Mike Edinger

    Here’s what it boils down to: Your terrible eating and exercise habits has a direct influence on my health care costs and quality. Thus, I want the government to tax the shit out of your terrible food. Eat better and you won’t have to pay the tax.

  • mrbrink

    Burger King should be ashamed of itself. I’ve been in a Burger King at least five times in the last year, and eating there feels like waiting in line to die a little. They hired a chef at McDonald’s to put better salads and oatmeal and fruit on the menu. I think Burger King is picking through their own dumpsters for salvageable pickles.

  • alleditions

    Dear Bob aka King of All Liberals,

    Taxing the shit out of fast food won’t deter fat people from eating it any more than taxing the shit out of cigarettes deters smokers in the process of coughing up a lung (just ask my mother who swore she’d quit when cigarettes hit $1.00 a pack),from smoking or taxing the shit out of alcohol deters alcoholics with a fist-full of DUIs from driving.

    And let’s be honest, if being fat only involved the invisible symptoms without the visual proof of fatness the only people jabbering on about the “cost of obesity” would be the insurance companies. The fact that anyone else “cares” is because fat people are considered to be unattractive and there’s nothing more upsetting to those sensitive, “caring” souls than to have to look upon some fat person dressed in stretch jeans and flip-flops.

    Is adding bacon to ice cream a good idea? No. But neither are so many other stupid, harmful, potentially costly things people accept without question. We all “cost” society in some way or other. The only difference is being fat offends while doing any number of other idiotic things somehow passes the societal test of acceptability.

    Other than that, KOAL, love your blog :-)

  • Robert Scalzi


  • Victor_the_Crab

    It would have done New York mayor Michael Bloomberg a whole lot of good if he had just taxed any soft drink cups sold at convinience stores and movie theatres instead of banning them outright.

  • reginahny

    I’m so disappointed to see you jumping on the “obesity OMG ELEVENTY!!!!!” bandwagon. I’m not sure where your figure regarding spending on “obese americans” came from? But it feels like the same “research” that brought us the Cadillac Welfare Queen, or the Hoodie Wearing Thug. Divide and conquer much? There is no accepted standard of obesity, there is no “cure” for “obesity” (95% of diets DONT WORK), there is a huge business interest in selling obesity — a billion dollar industry. No word about systemic poverty, food deserts, no time / role model for healthy cooking, unrealistic to the point of absurdity “standards of beauty”…. Need I go on? Probably not — you hit a sore point. Please don’t scapegoat so-called obese people any more than you would any other systemically oppressed group. Arrrrrrrrggggggghhhhhhhh.

    And equating “fat” with “stupid” makes only one of us stupid. And it’s not me.

    • Ryan Carson

      Sensitive much? Seriously, if you have a BMI of over 27 for a man and 35 for a woman, and you choose to eat garbage and lots of it, it is irresponsible behavior and comes with externalized costs whether you know it or now.

      As for food deserts and under-education about food choices, I’m with you. But who’s got the money for education about food choices? Taxing the bad food choices (as well as moving away from large scale corn and soybean subsidies) is smart economic, as well as health policy.

    • Bob Cesca

      Sorry — anyone who eats more than a curious single helping of this crap is stupid. Likewise, when I smoked cigarettes for 17 years, I was equally stupid (I quit in 2007 and never looked back).

      I got my healthcare spending numbers from the CBO.

  • Draxiar

    Bob, I was hoping you’d post about this.

    I hesitate to call this “food”. Technically it is, I suppose, in the that you can order it from a menu, chew it, digest it, and shit it out the following day (or throw up depending on the situation).

    Since it offers little to no positive nutritional value I would rather call it a “consumable” in the same manner that cigarettes and alchohol are consumables…and I agree, shit like this should be taxed as such.

  • Razor

    I’m always split on these things. On one hand, it’s your right to put whatever poison you want into your body. But on the other, I’m totally cool with the government keeping fast food joints from pumping bizarre chemicals into food that you’d never know about unless you click 487 times on their website and maybe find some ingredients.

    Food should be food and the government should regulate that.

    • astrocat96

      I agree that we all have the right to put whatever garbage we desire into our bodies, but that doesn’t mean we can do it without cost. I would consider it similar to taxes on other “vices” like alcohol and tobacco.

  • GrafZeppelin127
    • Ned F

      I was at the beach last summer and stopped into the Bacon Store. All things bacon…bacon gum, bacon shampoo, bacon room freshener, and of course, the “I love bacon” t-shirt.