So says free-market economist Richard McKenzie.
We don’t need overconsumption at Thanksgiving to remind us that America is the home of the fat. That fact can be confirmed by standing on any street corner in any city of the country and watching Americans waddle by. Yet what many don’t understand is that one of the overriding causes of our weight problem has been our good fortune, which has been founded on the country remaining the land of the free.
Official statistics confirm casual observations. Since 1960, American adults have gained on average 26 pounds, which equal the weight of the largest turkey most families will have this Thanksgiving. This means that American adults now weigh nearly 3 million tons more than they would have weighed had they held to the average weight of 1960 adults.
Why has the country gotten so fat? The easy explanation—Americans eat too much and exercise too little—adds nothing that is not widely known. Embedded in the many explanations for the country’s weight gain is one surprising theme: in no small way, our weight problem is the reflection of our growing economic freedoms and a mirror image of our growing prosperity over the decades, which has, in turn, mirrored the spread of free-market economics and policies....
So prosperity + freedom = fat? What kind of important observation is that?
It's the poorer people (or stupid middle-class people) who have to make do with McDonalds french fries for supper and video games for entertainment who are fat. If free-market economists want to give laissez-faire capitalism the credit for that, go ahead, I guess. But it sounds kind of dumb to me.
Free Market Economics is in crisis. The prevailing economic model in America for the last 30 years is increasingly being seen as having failed. The above quote is just a somewhat bizarre example of this.
A better example is the esteem (or lack thereof)in which Alan Greenspan is now held. He was our Federal Reserve Chairman for 19 years and was the economic guru for the Washington Establishment, through three administrations of both political parties. Until 2008, that is. When suddenly, everyone realized that Alan Greenspan didn't have a clue as to what was happening or what he was talking about. His whole free-market, Randian, libertarian worldview--and his reputation with it--collapsed overnight, with the financial crisis of 3 years ago.
No one seems to know the way forward now when it comes to economics. But what we've been doing the last 30 years ain't it.