In San Francisco, Judge Richard Kramer has dismissed the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s lawsuit on behalf of parent Monet Parham seeking to declare unlawful McDonald’s practice of including a toy in its Happy Meal. I wrote about the case last year. [SF Weekly, earlier here, here]
Another law professor finds the hot-coffee and obesity lawsuits admirable, and Ted Frank once more begs to differ.
It takes effect Thursday, but, as some had predicted, the hamburger chain seems to be evading its reach fairly easily just by assigning a separate price to the toy. [SF Weekly]
Columnist Steve Chapman has their number:
People don’t like cheap, tasty, high-calorie fare because McDonald’s offers it. McDonald’s offers it because people like it. … We live in an age of inexpensive, abundant food carefully designed to please the mass palate. Most of us, recalling the scarcity, dietary monotony and starvation that afflicted our ancestors for hundreds of millennia, count that as progress. But those determined to save human beings from their own alleged folly see it as catastrophic.
Displaying a healthy sense of the absurdity of it all.
My New York Daily News opinion piece stirred up a whole lot of discussion: at Megan McArdle/The Atlantic, Hans Bader/CEI, Mike Riggs/Daily Caller “TheDC Morning”, Outside the Beltway, Radley Balko, AllahPundit/Hot Air, Never Yet Melted, Modeled Behavior, Above the Law, Twitter mentions, John Hayward/Human Events, Jammie Wearing Fool, Andrew Stuttaford/NRO “Corner”, Amy Alkon, Chris Robinette/TortsProf, Ira Stoll/Future of Capitalism, Tom Kirkendall, John Steele Gordon/Commentary, and my own write-up at Cato at Liberty.
Also: Check out the further information Ira Stoll has developed at his site about the meals San Francisco serves at its own schools, which seem to compare not at all favorably with the meals the city’s council has seen fit to ban.
Remember, this isn’t a once-every-so-often treat provided at parental discretion, like a Happy Meal — this is the food the state is serving for lunch in the essentially compulsory government schools. The fact that it’s McDonald’s rather than the government schools that are getting sued by this parent and advocacy group gives away what the lawsuit is really about. It’s not really about food, or calories — it’s about an attempt to increase the power of the state over private enterprise by restricting the power of the private enterprise to market its product. The suit isn’t about the “meal,” it’s about the “happy.”
More on the nutritional background: Patrick Basham and John Luik, “A Happy Meal Ban Is Nothing to Smile About”, Spiked Online; David Oliver. On the legal: Russell Jackson. And welcome listeners of Lars Larson’s Portland, Ore.-based radio show, which welcomed me as a guest to discuss the case Dec. 17.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, also known as Busybody Central, is filing a would-be class action under California consumer law over the hamburger giant’s marketing of fast food with toys. I have much more to say about that at the New York Daily News online opinion section (& linked at Above the Law, John Hayward/Human Events, Jammie Wearing Fool, Andrew Stuttaford/NRO “Corner”, Chris Robinette/TortsProf, Ira Stoll/Future of Capitalism), and am also quoted in the Reuters coverage. Earlier on Happy Meal law here, including a pointer to this Bruce Nye post from June on why CSPI’s claims are unlikely to prevail.
P.S. Happy to see that as of late Wednesday evening my piece is the most read, most emailed, and most discussed at the Daily News opinion site. Followups and links here.