"Let nothing human be alien to me"- Terence

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

My Angry Libertarian Old Man Crank Comes Out

Nothing makes my blood boil more than people criticizing and pointing out the dangers of meat that comes in the shape of a tube.  This doesn't happen very often, which is good for my health (that is important, given my love of meat that comes in the shape of a tube).  My good pal and old fishing buddy Dan, over at Bleakonomy, has a post up about how the American Association of Pediatrics is now issuing choking warnings about hot dogs, and how much of a danger they pose given their deadly, deadly shape and uncontainable appeal to children.

Dan is gently disagreeing with the recommendations of his colleagues, whereas I think they are just insane.  Here is a terrifying money-quote.

“If you were to design the perfect plug for a child’s airway, you couldn’t do much better than a hot dog,” said Dr. Smith, also a Professor of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. “It will wedge itself in tightly and completely block the airway, causing the child to die within minutes because of lack of oxygen.”

Literally the only solution for this is to mandate the redesign of hot dogs.  Not having parents cut them up.  Redesign them, take away the deadly, deadly tube form. If I were you, which I am not, I would immediately invest in whatever company is going to manufacture a new bun for our brave new hot dog.  A kind of "flat bun" for the flat, processed meat made of mostly leftover animal parts.  We could even come up with a hip new name for it, like X-TremeDawg2K10, or, more accurately, a bologna sandwich.

I am not just ranting about this because I am drunk or because I love hot dogs.  I do, dearly.  Not as much as Christopher Walken, maybe, but I do. 

No, I hate this kind of stuff because it reduces us all to children in order to protect the children.  I have nothing against children- I was once a child myself, and many of my best friends are children.  But what groups like the AAP are doing here is finding a remote danger and thinking they have to take away all agency from the individual.   It combines the worst of a committee-think "do something!" mentality with the mawkish and condescending nanny complex that too many professionals have.

So, one might ask, how do I reconcile this with a desire for health car reform, which will put things in the hands of organizations that want a nanny-state.  Well, it is a matter of degree.  Hot dog makers have no interest in killing us.  Their profits go down when people die (or if there was a perception of danger).  Insurance companies, on the other hand, have a strong incentive to deny health care, because that maximizes their profits.  The free market isn't solving this problem; it is exacerbating it.  There isn't a body strong enough to control the market, and it refuses to police itself, so the government needs to step in to protect its citizens.  With hot dogs, though, it is a professional association inventing a problem with the desire to make infants out of us. 

Man, I wish I had a hot dog.


  1. I think you're being unfair to the AAP by focusing so much on their terrible recommendation to redesign the hot dog. As I make clear in my post (to which you graciously linked -- thank you), there were several other recommendations that were just as terrible.

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