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Profits spur sales of unhealthy products

Dear Editor,

Kathleen Parker’s column of July 16 ridicules people for suing companies for injury caused by smoking tobacco or overeating fast food. She appears to consider the producers blameless, and proposes that potential victims of such harmful, habituating products should simply use free will (ostensibly God-given) and common sense to exercise restraint and personal responsibility.

Indeed they ought to. Unfortunately, in the real world, this doesn’t go far enough.



Such products today are not simply available in a neutral context for unbiased individuals to accept or reject. They are produced and promoted by very large, rich, powerful corporations, which spend enormous amounts of money developing and using sophisticated psychological campaigns to persuade people to buy their unwholesome junk, and making it easy for them to. On a statistical level, such strategy works well enough to enhance the makers’ profits.

Yes, people should spurn bad products of their own will. I reject these particular commodities myself, and so do many others.



But we have here a systematic problem that is promoted by large, organized institutions, and has social as well as individual costs. It seems to me appropriate to use institutional tools, including legal ones, to counter the damage.

God doesn’t seem to be seeing to it that personal responsibility controls corporate excesses well enough. If a few greedy lawyers will help do the job, maybe we shouldn’t begrudge them their fees.

Donald Davis

Parachute


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