The New York Times has written a follow-up to a piece I wrote in 2010 on Michelle Obama’s food desert hypothesis.
From the article:
It has become an article of faith among some policy makers and advocates, including Michelle Obama, that poor urban neighborhoods are food deserts, bereft of fresh fruits and vegetables.
But two new studies have found something unexpected. Such neighborhoods not only have more fast food restaurants and convenience stores than more affluent ones, but more grocery stores, supermarkets and full-service restaurants, too. And there is no relationship between the type of food being sold in a neighborhood and obesity among its children and adolescents.
Too bad the article didn’t mention that our government passed a $4.5 billion bill based on this incorrect hypothesis. That’s money we won’t get back. It also created a bureaucracy that will not go away — no matter how ineffective it is. Who cares if it works? It’s for the kids, right?
This is a good example of the ineffective feedback loops on government programs and why we should be resistant to create new government programs.
Had Michelle Obama started a private charity to address her hypothesis, people could give what they want. When the information came out that that hypothesis may not be accurate and the charity doesn’t actually solve the problem, people would give less and the charity would disappear. That’s a good feedback loop. When something doesn’t work, it goes away.
Put the program in government and it won’t disappear whether it works or not.