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Brainwashing starts with this two-letter word


The big news out of New York City these days is Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s proposed ban on the sale of soda drinks over 16-ounces (about 1/2 liter) at restaurants, movie theaters, sports stadia, street carts, fast food chains, etc.

Bloomberg stressed that we have a responsibility to combat obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, and that the government must consequently regulate what people can/cannot put in their bodies. Michelle Obama even came down to applaud the idea.

Last night I was out with a group of friends at a chic Soho restaurant called the Dutch, and we started talking about the soda ban.

One of them defended it, saying that ‘we’ have a responsibility to do something about the obesity problem in this country.

“Excuse me,” I asked, “but who exactly is ‘we’…? I certainly didn’t come into this world born with a burden prevent obesity. And I’m pretty sure nobody else signed up for it either.”

‘We’ is one of the most dangerous words in the English language, particularly when bandied about in Western representative democracy.

It’s a term often used when a politician wants to thrust a burden or obligation onto everyone else’s shoulders, but without being too direct about it.

‘We’ masks responsibility by pushing the burden to some nebulous collective like ‘society’ or ‘the country’ rather than directly to individuals. This makes things much more palatable.

For example, it’s easier to say “We have a responsibility” rather than “You three guys– Don, John, and Bill, have a responsibility.”

‘We’ is disarming. It makes the stakes seems smaller, so it’s easier to achieve buy-in. And this is what makes it so dangerous… because in actuality, ‘we’ is code for ‘you’.

I live my life by the principle that human beings come into this world born free, born without obligation to serve another human being, a government, some political construct bounded by invisible lines… and certainly not to ‘do something’ about the obesity problem.

Simultaneously, government is based on the principle of awarding a small handful of individuals a set of powers that no human being should wield– the power to kill. The power to steal. The power to wage war. The power to control what we put in our own bodies.

Throughout our lives, governments use these powers to create artificial obligations and reduce the natural freedom that we were born with. It’s so commonplace that most people have simply become accustomed to it… hence only 30% opposition to the soda ban.

Such policies, however, fall on a very slippery slope. When government begins regulating X, the regulation of Y and Z will follow by extension.

This is how frogs are brought to a boil– slowly, deliberately, gradually, and grounded in good intentions. The real question is whether you want to be trapped in the same pot as everyone else.

Needless to say, the rest of the conversation didn’t go especially well; we debated endlessly over several bottles of wine, after which I reached an obvious conclusion:

People will either see the light for themselves, or they’ll become victims. Trying to change their minds is fruitless.

In the meantime, when you find yourself philosophically and ideologically separated from the majority of other people… isn’t it time to consider relocating to greener pastures?

If not, what’s the breaking point? I’d like to hear your thoughts.

Our goal is simple: To help you achieve personal liberty and financial prosperity no matter what happens.

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About the author: Simon Black is an international investor, entrepreneur, permanent traveler, free man, and founder of Sovereign Man. His free daily e-letter and crash course is about using the experiences from his life and travels to help you achieve more freedom.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Wightlightmarketing

    I think that any bans such as this are simply acts of control cloaked in a different form.  Get the populace used to control little by little and eventually you will be able to direct them wherever you want them to go!

    And anyway, so what if you ban the 20oz bottle, what is to stop somebody buying 2 X 16oz bottles with their meal?  You have now pushed somebody into consuming 12oz more than they would have were the 20oz bottle available?  It is all about control and nothing more!

  • Mrobbins954

    They should ban the sale of sodas, they are as bad for us as cigarrettes. They should be banned too.

  • phemysola

    can’t agree with yu more.. yu agree to the “WE”_thingy, yu starve ur self and dat doesnt mean he/ she who is depressed and want “some” wldn’t get it.. 

  • Coplanner

    Collective thought is something I know very little of.  I can see how I could get caught up in this.  I have the habit of looking at problems and thinking “we” need to fix that.  This seems especially true when the problem is very large and goes well beyond my creation and my scope of direct participation.
      I, too, seek to be responsible for my own life and my own reactions to the world I have created.   I, too, want others to take responsibility for their own actions and the consequences there of.  And, I especially do not want to be taken down by others’ lack of responsibility.
      It is only recently that I have looked at government taxation as force and stealing from one to give to another.  And, only recently have I really looked into the massive failure of government to solve problems on all fronts nearly all the time with the justification “we…”
     So, I am just saying is that “we” seems subtle, seductive,  and collaborative.  And I don’t know if I have been taken in by guile or my own self-deception.

  • Tom

    I’m not surprised that you couldn’t make a dent in your friends’ preconceptions.

    “Never attempt to teach a cow to sing.  It wastes your time, and it annoys the cow.”

  • Rperkmfm

    Couldn’t agree more, Simon. I see no evidence that suggests that they care if it is caloric or non-caloric beverage, but maybe I missed it through lack of attention. I wouldn’t be ordering any drink in NYC anyway, because it would probably be too expensive.
    I am troubled, as are so many, by the fact that the present trend, cloaked in the guise of helping the poor to be better, is simply treating them like stupid paeons in desperate need of someone to think for them; and, in time, and we may already be there, it will be true. We have dangled dignity in front of the poor for generations, and kept them pulling the wagon while we rode. And yet, as one who provides medical care for so many of them, they seem to dress better, have nicer PDAs, and expensive nail jobs than my middle class colleagues. Obese, well adorned, nicely provisioned, and totally clueless that we have robbed them of their innate dignity by making them dependent upon the entitlements we purvey. I’m angry, I’m sad, and I’m a little afraid of what will happen when it all goes away — from all of us left here.

  • Rob

    You’re in a bit of a bubble-like echo chamber. Let me take a moment to pop it.

    I appreciate that “we” all need to think about language.  But your argument falls apart with the sentiment about being “born free.”  If I am “born free,” then I can kill, steal, wage war, and foul anyone’s water or food.  Then you can’t even control what you put in your body because I am “born free” to mess with it.  (For further reading on this, please consider “On the Social Contract” by Rousseau.)

    Look, for health matters, it all comes down to being Good Samaritans:  “we” have decided that “we” aren’t willing to let people die at the hospital’s door.  The question is, ‘Do we let them get to the hospital door and only treat them then?’  That’s kind of expensive.  Is there a better way?
    Not so far.  Instead, “we” have decided that insurance is the way to pay for it.  But the way it is going, what “we” have been doing has just led to increasing insurance premiums.  So, “we” acknowledged that preventative care is less expensive than emergency care, hence a yearly checkup is covered by insurance even if we are healthy.  Then, “we” finally acknowledged that smoking was a bad idea, and “we” taxed cigarettes like crazy and banned them in many public places.  Still, there are people who may not have worked hard enough to take care of themselves.  They smoke.  Still, we care for them at the hospital.  There are also those who drink too much, or are obese, and these activities also lead to a lot of future medical costs — costs that could be prevented if people took better care of themselves.  Still, we care for them at the hospitals that “we” have decided to pay for with insurance.  It’s not working so well, and insurance premiums continue to go up.  Is there a better way?

    Mayor Bloomberg is proposing an alternative way.  It remains to be seen if it is better.  But you appear to be arguing that we shouldn’t even consider it.  That it is some burden on us.

    Well, certainly, there are many burdens of community — laws, regulations, insurance, etc. — must be examined.  But those burdens also provide us with electricity and other fuels, clean air and water, building codes so our houses and buildings don’t fall down, roads and trains and airplanes for travel, and the security to know that if we get too sick or too old to work then we won’t be thrown into the streets to die… or left to die at the hospital’s door.

    • ZosimaUSA

       Social Contract?–I’d like to see a copy of this contract, I don’t remember signing any contract. And I never decided insurance was the best way to pay for anything…And I agree that I don’t want people dying at the hospital door…but I am not willing to use violence again you, or anyone else to prevent it. A governmental solutions  rest on the willing to use force/violence.

    • TimSingleton

      Quoting Brainy Smurf:

      “I find it comical that these people who claim “We need to regulate
      what people eat and drink” are generally the same ones who don’t want
      Government know who they have sex with.

      So you want the Government out of your bedroom, but in my Dinner table? Yeah real smart…”

    • Jvinje

      “And what is good, Phaedrus, And what is not good — Need we ask anyone to tell us these things?” Robert Pirsig

    • slider123456

       “If I am “born free,” then I can kill, steal, wage war, and foul anyone’s water or food.”

      This is where your spiel falls apart because no one claims this assumption you make is true. You are free to do whatever you want and take responsibility for your choices as long as you do not infringe on another persons free will and they in turn take the same responsibility for their actions. If you feel it is necessary and moral to help someone who is sick, even if they didn’t take care of themselves, at the emergency room or before then that is your choice alone and it is %100 separate from what the person did or did not do to make him sick. You’re choices are to help that person whenever and however you can or do nothing. Those choices lie within the realm of your free will but what steps beyond that realm is to arrogantly impose your will on them because you disagree with the personal choices they made because then you are not only destroying their dignity you are also undermining their freedom as well as your own and everyone else’s.

    • http://comparegoldandsilverprices.com/ Bilderberg CEO

      Rob, since you know what’s best, why don’t you make all of our choices for us?

  • seafarr1

    Simon – another excellent article !  I’m an original subscriber to Soveriegn Man; who looks forward with great interest to each new release. 

    I have been frustrated for years with the increasing, oppresive bureaucracy, that describes the current US Government. I’m fed-up with invasion on our personal lives & the zombie society.

    My new path is South of this hemispshere; looking to hook-up with John Gault at 32S/72W.   

    • kyletrotta

      Would that happen to be in Chile?

  • LesMBA

    I believe that if Mr Bloomberg is true to his word of what he wabts us to do, he should limit all official meals and banquets to 1000 calories. That is still too much if one is expected to follow a 1500-2000 calorie diet, but I don’t believe in being extreme or draconian. It would still leave 850 calories after the 12 ounce soda drink. While he’s at it, why doesn’t he ban all cuts of meat over four ounces and any high cholesterol foods.
     Mr Bloomberg, I’m glad that I don’t live in your utopia of Gotham where the public is so stupid and unable to make choices and face the consequences. WE have the right to live our lives withou a nanny state telling us what we can and cannot do. I wonder if Soviet Russia ever got to the extremes that NYC is courting.

  • starchild

    Excellent piece Simon, thank you for speaking out against the collectivist use of the term “we” in discussing public policy. I talk about this frequently, in the context of the under-recognized evil of nationalism. People often say “we” or “us” when what they really mean is “the U.S. government”, or to be more technical about it, “the organization claiming primary jurisdiction over that part of the earth’s surface commonly known as the United States”. 

    Nationalism is like racism, except that instead of judging people based on their skin color, it judges them based on where they were born. Governments have no right to discriminate on the basis of nationality. This bigotry needs to stop.

    • SueQuade

      Too late.

  • Loganv

    Two Thoughts:
    – As I was taught in the US Army (a wonderful school for effective thinking up to the platoon level):  What We?  You got a mouse in your pocket?  _You_ do things!
    – You came close with the “People will either
    see the light for themselves, or they’ll become victims” line.  Many times folks will see the light with a little help.  Past a little help you hit diminishing returns fast.  People have an almost limitless capacity for self-deception.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/3FFSYOTXPMYXQCADUUCWVZBX2E richard wizardry


    I agree with Simon. It is not the government’s job to tell
    us what we can do with and put in our bodies whether it may be harmful or not.
    I never gave up the sovereign rights to my body to any government and no
    employer has the right for drug testing, if you are screwing up on the job fire
    the person or offer rehab. It is another way that insurance companies are
    trying to control what we do with our bodies to determine rates. New York has
    become the biggest police state in the country with a cop on almost every
    corner and now they want one to measure what you drink and they will next say
    you can only have one of those glasses of wine and not the whole bottle.
    Prohibition does not work and politicians just don’t seem to get it. Chip away
    our rights one at a time and there will be no one left to stand up for them as
    we become less free in the totalitarian state the land of the not so free has become

  • Voice of Reason

    I have come across a similiar delema… So I am moving to join the Free State Project because it is a waste of energy to debate those whom have been indoctrinated and brainwashed.

  • slider123456

     Even worse than the “we” bit, in my view, is that government subsidizes farmers to not grow crops, then encourages them to farm corn with other subsidies which leads to massive amounts of corn syrup and essentially underwrites junk food such as pop. Government morons then turn around and try to fix the problem they helped to create by infringing on personal liberties. Subsidize healthy foods instead of empty farmland and corn syrup so the price of healthy vegetables drops and the price of junk food goes up reversing the situation they created. While subsidies are not the optimal solution it is better to use it to encourage a healthy diet than detrimentally encouraging obesity. The problem is the incentive in government are completely distorted ending up with it creating problems more often than it solves them and then creating even more when it attempts to solve those problems. Government needs some sane incentives integrated into its framework to counteract all the external perverting influences.

    • Janet West

      I would give you two thumbs up if I could. Don’t hand me a cookie and then tell me I can’t eat it.

  • Tina

    Every sovereign person should invest in health care by taking care of themselves and learning (suppressed info.) about nutrition in the role of disease. Start by reading The China Study and then Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell Esselstyn. The debate about soda is a distraction from the real truth. Invest in yourself and you won’t ever need a doctor. It would be better to mandate that every person graduating from high school read these two books than to focus on something so controversial and distracting that yields nothing purposeful.

  • Madeleine J English

    Well, I have to agree with you. What I don’t necessarily understand about the “political decision” to protect us from the problems associated with drinking sodas. Why is this even an issue when you stop to consider all the toxins (intentionally) added to most foods today? Toxins which are intended to “dummy us down”, die a slow death, etc., When they are doing that, then why is anyone even making a statement about “protecting” us from ourselves by preventing us from drinking sodas. BTY, have you looked at what they are adding to Pepsi, Coke, and most other soft drinks? Check it out. Not only horrifying, but disgusting. With what I’ve learned in the last 10 years or so about what the feds have done and are doing to the general public, they simply have NO credibility with me anytime they talk about making decisions for us – to ‘protect’ us. Anything they do benefits them first and formost – they can ‘say’ it’s to help us. Believe me, that’s only to get you to buy into whatever it is they are attempting to do. They don’t give a damn about us.

  • Dilemma

    Where are those greener pastures? I’ve been looking for years in hope that one day I might be able to live the remainder of my life in peace and happiness. Though somehow as the years fade away it gets harder and harder to see anything but bleak darkness and depressing sadness. Why do the chattel masters choose this? Because the intelligent few overpowered the many strong and hold hostage all hope of peace and happiness. Strength is in numbers. This is why they need us fighting against each other. It is why they have us fearing and believing that socialism is bad. Socialism will truly be the only way we can survive beyond agrarianism. If it is taken from you should you cower and let it be taken lest you end up like all other indiginous peoples? Do we truly need someone to lead us to an ill fated end? Can we not work together and make things better for all not just a few? There is only so much water and earth, but I would rather my demise come at the hands of nature where I at least have a fighting chance versus at the hands of the elitist thugs who control the world now.

  • john

    People have a right to die fat and happy. We have no right to make them drink water and run each morning. This is probably their escape from a meaningless career and a hopeless lifelong debt situation. Death is preferable to water and running and living without the newest BMW.

  • PaulR

    You made these comments in Manhattan?

    Did a collectivist mob form and try and beat you to death for “hate speech?”

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