Don’t eat like this man

Driving in to the office this morning, I caught an interview with Whole Foods co-CEO John Mackey.  (I actually caught it twice, since I have to switch NPR stations midway through my commute.  I listened the second time just to make sure I’d heard correctly.)  For those of you unfamiliar with Mr. Mackey, he caught a lot of heat a little while ago for likening the Affordable Care Act to socialism, which didn’t sit well with a lot of the well-heeled liberal-ish people who patronize his store.  It didn’t really bother me all that much, since if I avoided buying things at places where people have views I don’t like, I would probably have to revert to homesteading.

Mr. Mackey hasn’t backed off his objection to the ACA.  In fact, he’s doubled down.  From the interview:

When Inskeep asks him if he still thinks the health law is a form of socialism, as he’s said before, Mackey responds:

“Technically speaking, it’s more like fascism. Socialism is where the government owns the means of production. In fascism, the government doesn’t own the means of production, but they do control it — and that’s what’s happening with our health care programs and these reforms.”

I don’t really want to focus on Mackey’s views on the ACA.  I happen to think saying the ACA smacks of fascism is absurd, but YMMV.

I have some genuine admiration for some of what Mackey has tried to do with Whole Foods.  One of the things that keeps me up at night is overfishing the oceans and the potential for catastrophic collapse of the oceanic food chain.  (I’m speaking metaphorically, of course.  In real life, the periodic yowls of my small children keep me up at night.)  From what I can tell, Whole Foods is making an effort to stock only sustainably-raised or harvested seafood, and I think they deserve our admiration for that.

But a couple of other things got under my skin.

The first (which you’d have to listen to the audio in the linked article to get, as it’s not mentioned in the text) was Mackey’s description of his mission for Whole Foods to promote healthier eating in the country.  Which, I’m sorry, but malarkey.  Yes, his stores tout the organic and the natural and the holistic and the blah blah blah.  However, to what degree any of these descriptors overlap with “healthier” is unclear at best.  There is little evidence that eating organic fruits and vegetables renders a consumer in any way healthier than one who eats the conventionally-grown alternatives.  One may have other reasons for buying organic produce (I do, to a certain extent), but it is specious to include health among them.

Furthermore, Mackey goes on and on about breaking America’s addiction to sugar, fat and salt.  Well and good enough, though I happen to think all of those things are just dandy if people could learn how to enjoy them sanely.  But when I run to the nearby Whole Foods to grab my lunch later today (and yes, I shop there consistently), I will walk past aisles loaded with potato chips and chocolate bars and soft drinks.  Even if the potatoes are organic and the salt comes direct from the sea, even if the cacao is stone-ground and the produced cooperatively with indigenous communties (again, perfectly laudable in itself), even if the soda is sweetened with “cane juice” and colored with beet instead of some chemical die, it’s all still junk food, of which Whole Foods sells an ample supply! Don’t blow your trumpet about fighting against America’s addiction to sugar, salt and fat, when you peddle a significant amount of the high-end versions of same.

This last little bit just about made me drive off the road:

Still, he acknowledges how hard it can be to stick to a health-conscious diet. Restaurant meals, he says, rarely meet his personal dietary rules — not just no meat, but also no oil or refined flour. Luckily, Mackey jokes, there’s a Whole Foods to be found wherever he travels.

Mackey insists that his diet is more delicious than it was when he ate “unhealthily” before.  Like my co-blogger, I am skeptical of such claims.  But that’s not really my point right now.

To begin with, how the hell does this man cook?  No animal fats?  Fine.  But no oil?!?  I guess maybe every single thing he eats is raw, boiled, poached or steamed?  (In which case, see above re: claims of deliciousness, Russell’s skepticism of.)  Or does he subsist on the charred remnants of whatever dish he has hacked out of the dry pan?  In any case, no thanks.

But, um… you need fat to live!!  Fats and oils are part of a class of biological compounds called “lipids.”  Almost every single part of your body needs them to exist and function.  (Waxes also fall into this category.  Maybe Mackey eats a heaping helping of beeswax every day?)  A great many hormones are synthesized from lipids.  Your brain comprises a great mass of lipids.  You cannot absorb and metabolize fat-soluble vitamins (like A and D) without lipids.  You need them to live.

A diet devoid of any fats or oils is not a healthy diet.  Wanna do without the animal fats?  Fair enough (though, since essentially every cuisine that has ever arisen from human civilization has included them, I think judicious inclusion in the diet can be perfectly healthy).  But no oils, either?  Ridiculous.  Just simply ridiculous.  Oils are good for you.  You should eat them.

Mackey is welcome to his politics and to run his company however he sees fit.  He’s welcome to expound upon the virtues of a healthy diet as he perceives it.  But I would no more eat how he does than vote how I suspect he does, and as far as the former is concerned you shouldn’t either.

Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.


  1. IIRC Whole Foods sells a whole lot of oil. Olive oil, grapeseed oil, and so on. Pure fat. And a part of what most people would consider a balanced, healthy diet. Tastes good, too.

  2. One of my favorite things from Whole Foods is their brand of Cookies and Cream ice cream.* I’ve never been under any illusions that it’s better for me.

    I too am skeptical of the organic mania. However, I do wonder whether “organic” might be healthier for some items. I imagine organic milk is healthier, for example. I rarely drink the organic version myself (too expensive), but when I do, it tastes much less “chemically” than my regular milk.

    *Sadly, there’s not a Whole Foods near enough for me to carry the ice cream home or ride the bus and be confident it won’t melt….and I won’t pay a taxi just to get ice cream home quickly. I suppose when the weather is really cold, I could walk the three miles or so (about a mile and a half each way), but it’s just not that important to me.

    • I think avoiding the hormones in a lot of milk is probably a good choice. (We buy non-organic milk that doesn’t come from cows that have received it.)

      Might there be some health benefit from organic foods? Possibly. But it hasn’t been demonstrated to any particularly notable degree as of yet. And certainly not to the point that it justifies the expense for people who would have trouble affording it.

      • That’s precisely the reason we buy organic milk; because there’s less antibiotics and no growth hormones.

        There’s still *some* antibiotics present; contrary to what a lot of the ‘crunchy’ folks seem to think – because the farmer is still required to TREAT a cow that’s sick with an infection – otherwise it’s abuse.

        The local ice cream truck carries organic ice cream too. I was always skeptical about the taste difference, but for this particular company it’s pure ambrosia.

        • All milk has growth hormones. To help calves grow. IGF-1, at least, though there may be others.

    • Do you have an insulated grocery bag? Maybe buy a bag of ice or other cold things in along with the ice cream to put in it? I bet there’s ways to keep that ice cream cold.

      • I don’t have an insulated bag, but I do have a couple of “blue ice” packets that I suppose I could use. I honestly never thought of it, but the ice cream is really good (chunks of oreos, not just flecks chocolate cookie). At the same time, I certainly don’t *need* the ice cream 🙂

        • Ahem.

          Everyone *needs* ice cream. Without ice cream, I’m fairly certain the world would stop turning and the Earth would drift off into the cold dead of space.

          • Actually, I believe Massachusetts has the highest rate of ice cream consumption in the world AND one of the lowest rates of diabetes in the US!


            Yes. Yes, probably a coincidence, that.

    • I’ve read that the degree to which produce retains water is a good indicator for the positive benefits of buying organic. Produce that has lots of water (say, an orange) in its cells retains dangerous chemicals to a much higher degree than produce that doesn’t (say, broccoli).

      • That and the empirical fact that a lot of chemicals we still use routinely have been long banned by countries that enjoy far better public health metrics than we do.

        Not to say that correlation implies causation or anything.

        I’ve also heard it suggested that it’s worth buying organic for items with a large surface area, like leafy vegetables, broccoli, etc.

    • Sustainable I’m all for. Organic? Only insofar as it means less reliance on pesticides in general.

      Interestingly enough, I read an article not too long ago that indicated farmers could make more money by switching to the new-fangled “crop rotation” system. (They use a two-crop one now, this was four crop.)

      It needed a lot less fertilizer, reduced toxins/pesticides washed off into the water, and basically mitigated a lot of problems — and had the same yields, and I think actually had a better profit margin.

      I’m all behind stuff like that.

      • …new-fangled “crop rotation” system.

        It’s only about as new-fangled as the dustbowl days of the great depression. Seriously, the concept is old. (And works.)

        Another farming “trick” is to let your cattle graze on the stalks of a harvested crop. Natural fertilizer.

        • I know that. 🙂 That was sarcasm.

          I understand current ‘crop-rotation’ is a two-crop setup that requires a ton of fertilizer, pesticides, and other inputs.

          The four-crop setup would look darn familiar to any farmer from the 20s and is cheaper, has the same yields, and doesn’t wreck the neighbering environment (so win-win-win).

          Well win-win for everyone except the fertilizer guys.

  3. Not exactly what you were getting at, but I do find a high correlation between eating healthy (or at least healthier) and enjoying my food more. A lot of the problem for me isn’t taste so much as time an convenience.

    Making healthy delicious food for my family is rewarding, but with a family, coaching basketball, multiple schedules, deadlines, etc., too often takeout or quick but unhealthy is appealing.

    • Can healthier eating be tastier? You bet. I cook in a very healthful manner (including with copious amounts of oils, like delicious coconut oil), and it’s uniformly better than crap I could get more conveniently made elsewhere.

      But I refuse to believe that Mackey’s diet is actually healthy or particularly tasty. And if it is magically delicious, then it’s probably because he can afford to hire people whose job it is to make it so.

      • I bought coconut oil for Zic’s cookie recipe (yum!), but now I don’t know what else to use it for. I’m just now learning to cook without setting off the smoke detector.

    • Pizza’s done in about 30 minutes, and Beef Stew takes five minutes to reheat. Cook for the whole week, and be done with it.

    • How about quick AND healthy?

      Chipotle is better than most any other fast food joint from a health standpoint. Many Chinese places offer healthier options (sauces tend to be high in sodium but I’m off the belief that absent a specific condition, high salt dishes here and there aren’t much to bother about).

      It’s harder, but not impossible.

      Additionally, I think there are different kinds of “unhealthy”. A steak might have high amounts of saturated fat. But I prefer that kind of “unhealthy” to a long list of ingredients i can’t even pronounce but which might technically be lower in fat. I realize a steak isn’t necessarily fast, but I use it only as an example. In a nutshell, eat more food, eat less stuff.

      • By the time I’m done with it, Chipotle is far from healthy. Not just cause I put the cheese and sour cream on there, but because I’ve never been good at eating a half-burrito and those things are huge.

        • I should clarify that when I typically use a different definition of “healthy”. I’d rather consume 1000 calories of meat, vegetables, beans, and avocado than 600 calories of whatever is in a Big Mac.

          Then again, I’ve never really struggled with weight and, thus, am not much of a calorie counter. I have a fast enough metabolism that I can generally get away with eating most anything, but feel better and get better results from my workout when I’m loading up with real food.

        • By the way, damn you, Kazzy and Will. I was going to have an apple for lunch. But after reading this, I had Chipotle instead.

          • I just had Popeye’s, having carefully avoided reading any nutrition information.

          • I approve, Mike. Alas, we didn’t get a chance to eat at Popeye’s while back home.If our next way station is in California, I look forward toiignoring the nutritional tables at the likes of Popeye’s and Chipotle.

          • At least Popeye’s is tasty. KFC is bad on all fronts.

            KFC-Taco Bell, on the other hand, is proof that there is a God.

      • My understanding about Chipotle (of which I am a fan) is that the amount of calories in their burritos is insanely high.

          • I once read a study that said the average amount that people underestimate the calories of meals (including beverages) at restaurants – the amount they underestimate, mind, not that actual amount of calories in he meal – is almost 1,000.

          • People also way overestimate how many calories they burn off when exercising. So its easy to see how people can eat out at decently healthy places and get some moderate exercise yet still not lose any weight.

          • I went through enough stints as a calorie-counter to have a pretty good idea of what I’m doing when I go out to fast food or chain places (I know that, for instance, McDonald’s food is actually not that bad for you as far as nutrition goes, but Jack in the Box is worse. I was really enthusiastic about the calorie counts on menus thinking that would do a lot of good…. but it seems that the numbers can be right there and it doesn’t actually change consumption habits.

        • Have you guys considered a Chipotle ad sponsorship, or maybe some subtle product placement in comment threads (“as I consider how best to respond to your obviously mendacious and fallacious argument, I am enjoying a delicious and fresh Chipotle burrito…”) to boost League revenue? It keeps coming up around here. Did they just open up in your area recently or something?

          • Yeah. We could do that in a smooth, subtle way. Smooth and subtle. Like Dewar’s White Label Scotch Whisky. Just the right amount of sweet, just the right amount of smoke. Dewar’s. Ask for it at the service counter of your finer food and beverage stores. Please enjoy Dewar’s responsibly. So yeah, that’s a good idea, Glyph!

          • Did you eat at Chipotle yesterday? Did you say “yeah, I’ll get the hot salsa?”
            Are you finding yourself asking yourself “why did I get the hot salsa?”


          • If I have both the Dewar’s and the salsa, I’ll definitely need the Charmin.

          • We need to go big like Colbert. He has companies pay him to do product placements where he mocks the products and the people that use them.

        • I read an article by someone (perhaps him) in the NYT Magazine about 5 or 6 years ago that summed up the approach, which I’ve tried to stick to. I prefer full-fat peanut butter with 3 ingredients to low-fat peanut butter with 15, most of which I can’t pronounce. It is more of a lifestyle choice than a “diet”. Though I still indulge in crab.

          What are your thoughts of the approach?

      • A good steak should be fast, if it isn’t good rare it isn’t good.

  4. Dr. Saunders, First, let me state that I really enjoy your posts and almost always agree with your conclusions and really admire your calmness when dealing with trolls. But, I am very suprised that, as a pediatrician, you can believe that pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides have no side effects. From an EPA website: “Pesticides may harm a developing child by blocking the absorption of important food nutrients necessary for normal healthy growth. Another way pesticides may cause harm is if a child’s excretory system is not fully developed, the body may not fully remove pesticides. Also, there are “critical periods” in human development when exposure to a toxin can permanently alter the way an individual’s biological system operates.” But I still love ya.

    • Thanks for your comment, Dexter.

      First of all, could you link to that website? I’m not questioning the veracity of what you say; I’m genuinely curious to know what it contains in full.

      Here is the best answer I can give. As far as I am aware, there is no conclusive study that demonstrates a benefit from eating organic vs conventionally-grown produce. I try to make a practice of limiting my recommendation, as best I can, to those things that have reliable evidence to back them up. As of now, there is no such body of evidence to support a broad recommendation to eat organic food.

      Now, my practice is situated at the border of two very different communities, one very affluent and the other very not. In neither case do I offer outright recommendations about eating organic. But when I’m asked, for those whom cost would not be prohibitive, I say that erring on the side of organic food may offer some heretofore undetected benefit. But for those who have a hard time making ends meet as it is, I reassure them that the most important thing is a healthy diet, and I’d rather they choose affordable, whole foods than have to scrimp and ration to buy the organic version.

      The AAP actually weighed in on this recently, and my thoughts are pretty much in keeping with theirs.

      Anyhow, hope that addresses the substance of your objection.

      • Doc, Sorry about taking so long to reply. The quote comes from “http//www.epa/gov/oppfead1/Publications/pest”. I got to the site by typing “epa pesticides harm to children.
        The EPA articles uses about the same amount of” maybes and possible side effects” as yours. It all comes down to how much one trusts the corps. In my case there is no trust.
        I definitely think that eating fruits and veggies that are grown conventionally is better than eating junk food. Its all those “possible side effects” lines from both articles that leaves me going hummmmm.

  5. Russ,
    A bit of charity? If he’s not using oil, then he must be using butter (or ghee).

    Also, people colloquially say “no oil” when they really mean “no fried foods, minimal oils added.” After all, you’d have to avoid most nuts to avoid oil.

    • If he is vegan, then he is using neither plain butter nor ghee nor any other animal fat. (I see from the quote that it’s not clear that he’s vegan. It is stated more plainly in the audio.)

          • A big part of the Raw Food Movement is doing away with most kinds of processed food, regardless of how natural the ingredients are.

            If I’m not mistaken, the tipping point between whether or not processing is OK has to do with whether or not the process concentrates the food. So juicing an orange is OK, because it’s the same amount of juice you’d get in a couple of oranges – but oils are not okay, because they concentrate a large number of olives into a tiny amount of oil.

          • Lookee there! Another reason not to join the Raw Food movement. I shall add it to my list.

            And Kim, I have no idea what Mackey’s views on citrus zest are.

          • Alton Brown apparently demonstrated that certain foods have their nutrients released only through the application of heat.

            My theory is that any weight loss people attribute to raw foods is the result of having limited options and not the actual rawness of the food. If you took the exact same foods in the exact same quantities that they eat and cooked them, I’m sure they’d lose the same amount of weight (if not more, given that some of the food cooks away).

          • Kazzy, cooking also tenderizes food. So you expend less energy chewing it. Someone on a raw diet may be burning slightly more calories chewing.

          • And cooking raises the temperature, and thus caloric content, of food. It’s scientific!

  6. It depends on what is meant by “fascism”…

    Most people, when the F word is used, imagine WW2 & the Holocaust. Is the health care law that? Obviously not. No one is being sent to the gas chambers because of it. However (!!!), it is a further degree of state/corporate collusion, using the force of government for the benefit of well connected big business interests (that is, the same insurance companies admitted to be screwjob merchants during the entire run up to the legislation), all while portraying it as something heroic and selfless for the good of the country. Mackey’s reasoning is off, but the term means things beyond the first image that pops into our heads.

    *awaits groaning*


    I actually caught it twice, since I have to switch NPR stations midway through my commute.

    Damn, you must have one long commute…

    • Sorry Mackey is ignorant. In that same interview i believe he called out Switzerland as an example of how to do things. I’m pretty sure the Swiss use a system of highly regulated insurance companies with the gov providing subsidies….the emphasis on high regulations and universal coverage. Does that sound vaguely familiar? It should.

      And really if people use the F word for any degree of state/ corporate collusion they don’t like than the word becomes useless and vague. Mackey admitted it was a poor word choice…gee i wonder why. If you don’t want to be taken as a loon with a talent for hyperbole then don’t use the forkin hyperbole. There are plenty of ways to criticize something ( you did it) without out screaming Fascism, socialism, dictatorship, blah blah blah.

    • It depends on what is meant by “fascism”…

      Most people, when the F word is used, imagine WW2 & the Holocaust.

      And they’re wrong to do so. Italy was fascist. In fact, I believe Mussolini himself coined the word to describe the system of state/corporate merger. My understanding is that he actually reconstituted the Parliament to very explicitly reflect that merger. (“The representative from Exxon is now recognized by the chair!”)

      Germany, on the other hand, had Naziism, which is where you go to for gas chambers, etc.

      Is the health care law that? Obviously not. No one is being sent to the gas chambers because of it. However (!!!), it is a further degree of state/corporate collusion, using the force of government for the benefit of well connected big business interests (that is, the same insurance companies admitted to be screwjob merchants during the entire run up to the legislation)…

      Definitely not Nazi. Fascist? Meh… not really. Essentially, the PPACA is a great big insurance reform deal with some subsidies thrown in.

      The WTO… now that’s fascism!

      • The WTO are slackers compared to the NFL…privately owned teams using publicly financed stadiums, plenty of tax breaks and infrastructure built by the gov. Plus they got the spectacle fascists luurve and plenty of martial posturing. National Fascist League baby.

      • (“The representative from Exxon is now recognized by the chair!”)

        Well, it would be open rather than behind-the-scenes, as opposed to most developed countries’ current systems. And Exxon would only get one representative, instead of most of them.

  7. Let’s see what has to say about fascism:

    “governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism. ”

    Given that definition vs. socialism, “a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole. “, I’m saying the fascism is CLOSER to the current situation we’re in.

    We have no single dictator. We do have a dictatorship by a class / group of individuals. Dissent IS suppressed–forcibly, and I don’t think that any bureaucrat, congressperson, or administration person doesn’t think there is nothing they couldn’t or shouldn’t regulate.

    • Oh, good gracious. What an impossibly silly comment. If I were wise, I’d ignore it completely… but I guess I’m just not that wise.

      First of all, Damon, let me pass on a tip I got back when I did high school debate. Using a dictionary definition as a way of shoring up your argument makes you seem jejune. Avoid it.

      And since we’re talking about definitions here, I believe the system you’re describing in your last paragraph would be more accurately defined as an “oligarchy,” rather than a dictatorship. But perhaps I’m being pedantic.

      Anyhow, I’m super-curious how you feel dissent is being forcibly suppressed. Dissent against whom? The President? Because it seems like roughly half of Congress has managed to avoid the clink, and they’ve been dissenting pretty loudly. I’m having trouble parsing that last sentence, but you seem to be saying that everyone in the government (all of them) is hell-bent on regulating everything. Which, again, is wholly at odds with the stated aims of a major political party in our country, the vast majority of which comprise free, un-repressed men and women.

      I know I’m just poking a hornet nest asking you to provide some kind of support for your very silly comment, but I guess I’m in that kind of mood this morning. So… whatcha got?

      • Well, I for one believe that words have definitions, a common source we all can generally agree to seems the best place to start. If it’s juvenile, so be it.

        RE last para: I’d agree that we’re on the bleeding edge between the two states, so I don’t think you’re being pedantic. It really doesn’t mean much difference.

        Now, as to dissent being repressed: I’ll cite a few examples, none with links since they are general and I’m “supposed to be working”:

        “free speech zones”

        The reaction of many of the police at the OWS events throughout the country–particuarlly in NY (IIRC) where the “preemptory” arrested protestors.

        TSA body scanners and the opt out–well documented that opt out folks get “extra attention”.

        The “don’t taze me bro” dude.

        Any number of videos found various places recording cops doing illegal stuff to civilians that essentially amount to “contempt of cop”. Radly Balko has quite a few.

        I could go on…No, it’s not some guy with a rubber hose in a dungeon, but still….

        • So you believe there is some kind of organized collusion between the TSA, NYPD, various other law-enforcement agencies on behalf of what entity? If we live in a near-oligarchy, who are the oligarchs pulling the strings and to what end?

          If you think we live in a society with an inappropriate fondness for security over liberty, that’s a different argument. But you’re positing the existence of a ruling class, and none of your examples strike me as actual evidence for same.

          • I don’t think that there’s any organization or collusion necessary. Just remember back to 6th grade and the people who were most drawn to being given the orange “hall monitor” belt.

            While, sure, some of those sixth graders took their monitoring of the hall very seriously indeed, some of the sixth graders lived for THE POWER that that orange belt bestowed.

            Now fast forward 20 years and give these people uniforms.

          • But it hardly follows that we live in a dictatorship because some members of the law enforcement community take liberties with their authority. Such liberties aren’t actually sanctioned by the state, and if they rise to the level of outright abuse then there is legal recourse for those wronged.

            Is it a perfect system? I would be a fool to suggest as much. But it’s hardly the same as living in a fascist dictatorship.

          • If I’m comparing today with yesterday, there are some things that are a lot better indeed.

            But when I was a kid, we used to make jokes involving yelling “papers, please!” about government intrusion. “Papers, please!” encapsulated everything we said was bad about Those Other Countries.

            There are a lot of things that are a lot better than yesterday, of course.

          • If you’re making an argument about overly zealous immigration laws, I’m right there with you.

            But since at least one of those ominous examples Damon mentions (that would be the soon-to-be-abandoned Rapiscan body scanners) are being abandoned because they have been deemed too invasive of the privacy of those who go through them, I still find the outcry about TSA regulation being some ominous step toward fascism to be unconvincing.

          • I’ve never stepped through one of those scanners (Maribou has, however) and I can still generate quite the rant about what flying is like today compared to what it was like in the 90’s and how the TSA makes flying a *LOT* worse than it was back then.

            You used to not have to show your ID at the airport. Just your ticket. (Remember college classified ads “for sale, one round trip ticket, female”?) You used to be able to just walk through security and hang out at the gate when you were picking up a friend. Heck, we did stuff like tell friends that we had a 4 hour layover in Chicago, and invited them to lunch at the airport. It was a small enough hassle to go through security that my friends did that sort of thing.

            Now? It feels like another era entirely. Scanners that show your bits or not.

          • Having traveled quite a bit lately, it is my belief that airport security is more about perception than reality. It seems largely intended to A) give customers a sense of safety and B) give would-be bad guys second thoughts about becoming actual bad guys.

          • So in all seriousness, what trade-offs in flying pleasure would you be willing to make in the face of very real security threats faced while flying? Any? None? Do you think the threat overblown?

            And let me assure you that the security we face here when we fly is nothing like what my bag was subjected to when I flew in India.

          • Personally, I think that having a solid wall between the cockpit and the passengers (that is, the pilots enter the plane from a different door entirely) would give all of the necessary security to prevent hijackings without changing a single other thing.

            Much of the problem with the whole “papers, please!” joke going further and further into the past is that the new normal makes more and more sense and the old normal seems more and more alien. Well, of course you have to show your ID to fly on a plane. Why *WOULDN’T* you have to prove who you are?

          • I’m with Jaybird on this. The level of security at airports is completely needless. The problem with security issues is that things only get ratcheted up, never ratcheted down, because if we possibly loosened up in any way, any attack that occurred would immediately be blamed on it. And the high level of security becomes what’s normal, and we forget things didn’t used to be that way.

          • A single dictator is not necessary for fascism. We have a ruling body of elite.

            TSA is a perfect example talked about in this thread. And the scanners are NOT being removed due to TSA realizing they are a privacy problem. It’s likely becuase an upcomming report will reveal the radiation dose is greater than what has been claimed, maybe even in the unsafe level.

            This is also a good link about authorita not liking civilian “push back”.

        • “TSA body scanners and the opt out–well documented that opt out folks get “extra attention”.”

          My wife has opted out of body scanners since becoming pregnant. I haven’t see her get any “extra attention” outside what was necessary to properly search her.

      • If the point of contention is whether it’s appropriate to use a particular word to describe something, a dictionary definition strikes me has having a certain degree of relevance.

        • Meh. This seems like a copout in terms of how we use political labels.

          It seems like there are a million things that governments do that, if you look at the dictionary definition, can be called “socialism,” fascism,” theocracy,” etc. People use these terms to get people panicked about an adversary, and when called on hyperbola point to the dictionary and say, “See? See?” But invariably, these same people always support some candidate, position, policy, etc. that – if we’re going to be that broad with labels – applies just as much to them.

          Which is to say that pulling out Webster’s to “prove” that an extreme label works on a mainstream candidate or party too often seems purposefully dishonest and manipulative.

        • Not all dictionary definitions are necessarily going to be accurate, particularly with the dynamism inherent in popular use of language. If you rely on a dictionary, at least read the definition and see if it rings true. Do you think atheists are any more or less moral than people who profess religious faith?

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