The real thing - credit Picture of an authentic Neapolitan Pizza Margherita taken by Valerio Capello on September 6th 2005 in a pizzeria ("I Decumani") located on the Via dei Tribunali in Naples. CC By SA 3.0

We have in fact performed this experiment. We generally call it the 20th century. It is not possible for us – or any subgroup of us – to successfully plan the economy according to our desires. We can indeed manage to entirely screw it up by trying, possibly nudge it mildly in one direction or another by pressures upon the tiller of state – interest rates, say, fiscal deficits. But detailed planning of who does what, where, for how much and whereby, no, we’ve shown this does work. Anyone standing at the Brandenburg Gate and surveying the rubble of East Germany in 1989 knows this.

So, what happens? We get the old delusion back but in another guise:

Pizzas must shrink or lose their toppings under Government plans to cap the calories in thousands of meals sold in restaurants and supermarkets.

Pies, ready meals and sandwiches will also be subject to the new proposed calorie limits, in a desperate bid to tackle Britain’s obesity crisis.

Under the draft proposals, a standard pizza for one should contain no more than 928 calories – far less than many sold by takeaways, restaurants and shops. And the recommendations suggest that a savoury pie should contain no more than 695 calories.

Public Health England (PHE) said “drastic” measures were needed to combat Britain’s obesity crisis.

Their plans will see recommended limits on thousands of regularly consumed foods, including cooking sauces, soups, burgers and processed meats.

No, really, they want to measure the calorie content of pizzas to within 0.1%. That is what one calorie in one thousand is, a tenth of a percentage point. There are how many food outlets of all types in the country? One hundred thousand? And they want to make sure that the calorie count is less than this, to that 0.1%? How do you even measure the calorie count of a cooked and prepared item of food to that level of detail? And what army of people is required to attempt it?

These people are mad. Gripped by one of those extraordinary popular delusions, a madness of crowds, that Charles McKay so warned us about. And yet we’ve got to pay for these fools with our tax money? Fire them all and confiscate their pensions, selling them into bondage not being quite in tune with the mores of today, and definitely plough the soil with the salt they so despise.

As a pendant has pointed out, it should be or fewer in the headline

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Southerner
Member

The story goes that as WW2 started to turn against the Germans, Hitler called a meeting of his captains of industry to find out what was going wrong.
One of the delegates opined, “We are mining too many inessential minerals.”
Hitler said, “Then mine less.”
The Grammar Nazi simply could not keep quiet and interrupted, “Mine fewer!”
Hitler looked at him and said, “Yes?”

Soarer
Member
Soarer

I have a condition which, as a side effect, causes me to lose weight. Keeping my weight stable is very important to effecting a cure. There are a limited number of things I can tolerate, which don’t include pizza, but do yogurt. It is quite difficult to get full-fat yogurts etc. in sufficient flavours. Also, Lucozade and many other drinks have been adulterated with ‘sweeteners’, many of which are quite strong laxatives. Long story short – it is surprisingly hard to ingest enough calories. As the head of the NHS wants to reduce to below 10% the sugar in items… Read more »

Hallowed Be
Member
Hallowed Be

Alternative name for this policy. Less food for the same money.

Spike
Member

No, less food for more money, as learning the regulations, documenting compliance, and taking days off to host inspectors and auditors, costs something.

Spike
Member

“Obesity crisis” is at least better than obesity epidemic, which suggests a contagion by which seeing a fattie induces me to eat more. The problem that has become a crisis is that we are eating more of what we want (or as Tim often notes, performing less calorie-consuming manual labor). And in the case of Brits, overeating confident that any health consequences will be paid for out of the Exchequer. Diabetes isn’t your fault; you are a victim. Requiring even mom-and-dad pizza joints to perform this detailed, unwanted calorie-counting is 100% wasted effort. (The same, without hard limits, is in… Read more »

Arthur the Cat
Member
Arthur the Cat

If this fuckwittery gets enacted there’s an easy way round it – just label the normal pizza you sell as “large”, but offer a “standard” at a fractionally lower price.

Spike
Member

— as businesses have long survived while nominally complying with price controls.

Arthur the Cat
Member
Arthur the Cat

“As a pendant has pointed out”

That’s someone who likes hanging around? Yes, I can be a pedant.

TD
Member
TD

hmmmm. So the government wants thinner people. What about simply requiring regular reporting of an individual’s BMI to the taxing authorities and assessing a tax penalty for each point over the appropriate BMI for someone of their height and age? A fat tax could probably generate more tax revenues at less expense than trying to monitor pizza calories and assessing fines on pizza parlor owners. While they’re at it they might also ban double scoop ice cream cones. But a fat tax. Put it on the ballot. I’m sure the support will be overwhelming.

Spike
Member

Banning large portions famously had no effect in New York City except make Mayor Bloomberg a bigger laughingstock everywhere else. But yes, so much more elegant than overt coercion to simply use taxation to set the prices of things wrong, so that people do what we want and not what they want.

Problem solved — only, there wasn’t one.

TD
Member
TD

Ironically, it might then make the government want to encourage obesity, setting the planners to mandating higher calorie pizzas.

Spike
Member

The US Government is now a full partner in tobacco marketing (thanks to the Comprehensive Agreement of the late Sen. McCain). This may partly explain Dr. Gottlieb’s jihad against less-unhealthy vaping. (Not fully; he is a nag.)

FrankInFL
Member
FrankInFL

Obviously you meant ‘pedant’. Not to worry; those of us fluent understood what you meant.