Unintended Consequences

McDonalds Happy Meal

Let Politicians Decide

My local McDonald’s recently started complying with the wishes of the political class.  Over the weekend, we purchased a Happy Meal for my kid.  It came with a reduced, 100 calorie fry packet and a bag of sliced apples.

My kid, who by the way eats fresh fruit everyday not provided by fast food companies, was mortified with the smaller fry packet.

My wife instantly understood the unintended consequences.

She said, “Well, that’s just going to cause people to spend more money.  They’ll either buy an extra or larger order of fries to make up for the fries taken out of the Happy Meal.  Or, they’ll just buy the kid’s stuff ala carte to get what they want.  No wonder McDonald’s supported it, they probably realized it will increase their sales.

Let’s review this situation.

1.  Political class deems kids meals with toys unhealthy and persuades (by threatening to legislate) companies that sell kids meals with toys to make them “healthier”.  

Result:  Voters see the political class as making a positive change.

2.  The bean counters at the companies that sell kids meals with toys run the numbers and determine there’s a good chance people will order extra stuff to make up for what’s taken away.  Companies that sell kids meals support the wishes of the political class. 

Result: Political class looks like they have done something positive and company looks like it has done something positive.

3.  After customers realize that they no longer get what they want, they purchase more to make up the difference or do without. 

Result:  Customer choice is reduced or customer cost is increased.  Many of the apples that do make it into kids meals go to waste.

On net, the political class and the company are heralded by non-vested parties for doing something positive.  Customers pay the price and continue making unhealthy food choices.

So while the political class and company reap the political benefits, the company benefits from increased sales — nobody is actually healthier.

This is the same poor logic that I pointed out in this post.  Except this time it has to do with food and health rather of housing or wealth.

Poor logic:  “People are unhealthy because the food provided by companies is unhealthy.  Let’s encourage those companies to provide healthier choices.”

Better logic:  “People are unhealthy because of the food choices they make.  Let’s encourage folks to eat healthier.”

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3 thoughts on “Unintended Consequences

  1. Pingback: Unintended Consequences Realized? | Our Dinner Table

  2. Pingback: Not at all surprising | Our Dinner Table

  3. Pingback: A Nutrition Group learns what I learned nearly 3 years ago | Our Dinner Table

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