Reason Magazine just put out a piece about Mars Inc, makers of Snickers and a bunch of other candy bars, downsizing their product. You can read the piece here. Here’s a summary followed a few quick thoughts:
“By the end of 2013, consumers will no longer be able to purchase king-sized Snickers bars…Mars is implementing the 250-calorie threshold as part of an agreement with Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), a non-profit organization that aims to ‘broker meaningful commitments’ from commercial food manufacturers like Mars to ‘end childhood obesity.’ PHA was founded in 2010 in conjunction with the Let’s Move! program, First Lady Michelle Obama’s federally funded government initiative that aims to shape up the nation’s tubby youth through a vigorous regimen of legislation, regulation, and mass jumping jacks. Mrs. Obama serves as PHA’s honorary chair, and according to its website, PHA’s mandate is to ‘monitor and publicly report on the progress’ of its private-sector partners like Mars, and, more generally, to ‘make the healthy choice the easy choice.’”
Friends, these non-profits and “federally funded initiatives” are not just feel good groups altruistically trying to convince us all to lead better lives. They’re canaries in the coal mine. What begins here, ends on the president’s desk after a congressman drafts a bill.
Where are the unintended consequences? Businessmen aren’t stupid. That’s why they’re rich are you aren’t. A good businessman sees this as the canary in the coal mine that it is. Congressman Shmuckatelly writes up this bill in the interests of making us healthier. What do you think a good businessman does? Outwardly, the business touts their interests in your health. Inwardly, they smile at their margins. When this bill comes, (and it WILL come) there is no longer the market pressure to provide a bigger bar for a competitive price. Capping the size allows you to sell a smaller bar at the same price. There’s small incentive to lower the price. If you want the candy bar, you pay the price. And now there’s no one offering a bigger bar for the same price.