Ronald McDonald and Ayn Rand

What if Ronald McDonald met Ayn Rand?

In the New York Sun, Andrew Young tells another sad story of government sponsored tyranny for all the usual reasons: money, power, headlines, TV face time and rewarding Friends in High Places (see also Trial Lawyers Ass. and Special Interest Groups).

In this exciting next episode, CA Attorney General Bill Lockyer (D-Absurdistan) is the hard-charging Villain cum White Hat. His evil plan is to force McDonald's, Burger King and the rest of the Fast Food Boys to put warning labels on French (formerly known as "Freedom") Fries. Not the fries themselves, of course – that would be over the top even for a public extortionist — but on the packages in which they are delivered. Just to show he is an Equal Opportunity bully, Lockyer has also filed suit against the French Fries dangerous cousins, the dreaded Potato(e) Chips!

Lockyer's noble cause? He wants to warn everyone everywhere throughout the People's Republic of La-La Land that their lives and more importantly, the Lives of the Children are in danger. Why? Young reports; you decide:

"…a nasty little chemical called acrylamide, commonly used in making paper and dyes, in grout and cement and in processing ore. By itself it probably tastes terrible.

Acrylamide in high concentrations has long been known to cause cancer, but before 2002 it was thought to pose risk only to workers who handled it in factories and on construction sites. Then Swedish scientists discovered that acrylamide was also formed naturally in the cooking of starchy foods, including grains (breads or cereals), nuts, some vegetables and potatoes.

Food-borne acrylamide, however, unlike the stuff you’d find in a puddle at a construction site, apparently has negligible effects because the doses are minuscule.

Young goes on to report on FDA, Harvard and British tests supporting the innocuousness of the substance.

All of which is irrelevant to General Bill. Trial Lawyers put their pantyhose on one leg at a time just like the rest of us. They have Country Club dues, prep school tuition, BMW, Lexus and yacht payments and vacation resort home mortgages to pay just like the rest of us. And if The General and his posse with the white subpoena papers won't protect the good but terminally ignorant citizens, who will? So McDonald’s Corp., Burger King Corp., Pepsi Inc.’s Frito-Lay unit and 6 other nasty, horrible companies — Big Potato(e) — are gonna have to pay and pay and pay for forcing hapless CA residents to ingest oodles and oodles of the Fries Formerly Known as "Freedom" and those like unto it: the dreaded Chip.

Of course, this whole tasteless process doesn't have to tie up our legal system with unnecessary court time. After all, there is no argument at stake here. No, it's not "public health"! It's money (see also "fees," "billable time" and "cut you losses").

As Young reports so accurately:

"When a state’s attorney general files a lawsuit, no practical consideration will stand in his way."

I'm gonna take a shot at it anyway. After all, desperate times call for desperate actions. Here goes:

ATTENTION CEO's of McDonald's, Burger King, Pepsico-Frito Lay and every other corporate entity named in this legalized extortion:

To borrow a phrase from "BRILLIANT!" British satirist Monty Python, "Run Away! Run Away!" Or to put it in blunt business terms: Close. Leave. Lock the doors; throw away the key. Stick a fork in it and adios! While you're at it, invite Coke and Pepsi and all their bubbly buddies to join the exodus. Gov. Terminator, in legislation that might even make General Bill happy, recently signed a prohibition outlawing soda pop in public schools to fight the so-called "epidemic of obesity" bursting seams throughout the Golden (for trial lawyers) State. Why hang out where you're so obviously not wanted? Certainly the State could find something to do with all those vacant drive-thru windows and empty grocery store shelves. And the suddenly unemployed? Hell, give 'em State jobs! Certainly the phrase "Would you like to Super-size that" would be right at home in Sacramento(e) and state agencies from the "Leaving Tijuana" to the "Welcome to Oregon" sign!

Read Atlas Shrugged and use your imagination!

OK – this ain't a'gonna happen. There will be the usual snorts of outrage from the Corporate Attorneys' offices, more self-serving righteous indignation from the CA AG and the Trial Lawyers Ass. with appropriate "Me-Too's" from "health groups" lining up for a piece of the pie (so to speak). And checks will be written and hands will be shaken and press releases released all claiming some sort of victory over Big Potato(e) or Big State. The Warning Labels will be affixed – and ignored. Later, new law suits will be filed by some bloated potato(e) head, the Ambulance Chaser claiming (insert random malady here) due to French Fry/Chip ingestion "…and insufficient warning from a Corporate giant that knew – KNEW – the ingredients were both addictive and life-threatening and that will be $20 bazillion dollars please, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury……"

But in the Land of What-If….What if Mickey D's et al. did just that: leave California? Of course they won't. The financial resolution of this will be an expensive and unfortunate footnote on the defendants' Annual Report. But What If? What If they just threatened to walk? Yes, most of the stores are franchise outlets, not Company O&O's — but just consider the possibilities of a corporate mindset that would force politicians to experience public reaction to ham-handed interference in the Free Market. What If "Big Tobacco" decided to no longer sell product in CA or any state using them to supplement their General Fund with non-stop law suits?

Too bad the Freedom Fries label didn't stick. Maybe the irony wouldn't be lost even on Bill Lockyer & Friends.

WARNING: Holding one's breath waiting for anything referenced above to actually happen (other than the lawsuits) has been shown to more deleterious to your health than a Whopper.

October 1, 2005

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