By Jim Towey
Have you seen the new deception game that food manufacturing companies and grocery stores now play with the public to disguise inflation?
I first noticed it when I saw what I thought was a pint of Häagen-Dazs ice cream that turned out to be only 14 ounces – two ounces less. Through a nearly imperceptible downsizing, the container that otherwise looked exactly like the pints of old was now a few scoops light. Same with Heineken beer. The nearly-identical-looking bottles now for sale were 11.2 ounces, not the standard 12. Talk about light beer! And what would a cold beer be without potato chips? But lo and behold, the bags were the same puffy size as before but now suddenly had fewer chips. A five-ounce bag of Cape Cod chips? Delta Airlines shrunk its Biscoff cookie, too.
The deception game doesn’t stop with shrinkage. After consumers get used to slimmed down items, prices go up. That means less product and higher prices. What’s not to like about that? These deceptive marketing practices prey on weary consumers trying to cope with reduced buying power, mental health challenges after years of bombardment by the Covid fearmongers, and untrustworthy media outlets large and small that make it hard to know fake news from the real thing.
Loss of credibility
Government loses credibility whenever it plays the deception game. The word “recession” is being redefined in some quarters to avoid admitting the obvious about our faltering economy. Congress’ packaging and marketing practices – under Republican or Democrat rule – have been known for decades to stretch credulity. Now we have an “Inflation Reduction Act” about to become law that experts say will not reduce inflation (it may do some highly laudable things with the $500 billion it spends from the new taxes it raises, but few truly believe it will reduce inflation).
Such deceptive messaging erodes trust in government and comes on the heels of a pandemic where officials got it consistently wrong, and may have intentionally misled us. As Allysia Finley described last month in the Wall Street Journal commentary, “Biden and Fauci Botched the Covid Pandemic Response,” Fauci projected in December 2020 that a 75%-85% vaccination rate could provide a “blanket of herd immunity.” Well, the herd never formed, and never could form because of the highly contagious and ever-mutating nature of the virus. Both President Biden and Dr. Fauci are poster boys of this reality. Both were vaxxed and double-boosted and both got Covid. And they aren’t alone. Virtually everyone I know has had a Covid infection in the last few months, and nearly all of them had been vaccinated. That explains the breakout of “breakthrough infections” we now witness.
Restoring public confidence
What if our leading health officials had been honest with us about the limitations of Big Pharma’s solutions and not oversold vaccines and boosters? What if they had spent more time on Sunday talk shows talking about mitigation strategies to reduce obesity? Bill Maher, in a recent HBO commentary, cited statistics from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health which reported that obese people with Covid were 113% more likely to be hospitalized, 74% more likely to be admitted to the ICU, and 48% more likely to die. Focusing attention there might have instilled public confidence.
Instead, these same officials recently decided to squander their credibility further by pronouncing monkeypox as a public health emergency. When I heard their claim that any of us could get monkeypox, I recalled a sex-education class decades ago where the instructor was asked if one could get a sexually transmitted disease from a toilet seat. She replied, “Yes, but you will have to try really, really hard.” Her point was that while it was scientifically possible, it was highly, highly improbable. Monkeypox is a serious matter, but it is not a public health emergency because the general public is not at risk. The greater emergency before us is the “cry wolf” problem that HHS, NIH, and CDC now have. It explains why only 32% of people 50 and older have been boosted. Deception destroys trust. Our elderly and disabled depend upon us for honest communication.
Americans are a forgiving people. We simply ask for the truth – the whole truth and nothing but the truth – from those in positions of authority. Deception in the packaging and pricing of food or in the making of public policy frays the bands of trust that bind us together.
Call it out when you see it.