Mom: What do you think you’re doing? You know better than that? I’m taking away your Super Mario Brothers and you need to go to your room
Me: But Mom. That’s not fair. Everybody was doing it. I wasn’t the only one. Why am I the only one getting yelled at?
Mom: So if everyone jumped off a bridge, would you do that too?
So, now, fast forward some many years later, and I’m amazed that this excuse is still being tried. But not by my niece, nephew or cousins. It’s being used by grown ass men and women. Huh? I guess they never got the “if everyone jumped off a bridge” lecture when they were younger.
Case in point: there’s a new report from Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity that outlines how unhealthy sugary drinks (sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, etc.) are contributing to obesity and how the industry is aggressively marketing these products to children. Further, according to the study, “The data show that companies marketing sugary drinks target young people, especially black and Hispanic youth.”
Now this would seem like a reason to sound alarm bells. Kids are fat, they’re getting fatter, companies are marketing aggressively to them to get them to drink more of their fattening drinks…you see how that cycle ends (warning…suitable for work, but clicking on this link could be bad for your health). This has to be stopped, right?!?!!?
So how does the beverage industry respond? By releasing a statement distinguishing between marketing to children under 12 and teens, and…wait for it….using the “everybody’s doing it” excuse. Specifically: “This report is another attack by known critics in an ongoing attempt to single out one product as the cause of obesity when both common sense and widely accepted science have shown that the reality is far more complicated.”
And this is not the first time this excuse has been used. When David Patterson pursued the idea of placing a tax on sugary drinks in New York (similar to the one that was placed on cigarettes), he was met with a full scale campaign by the American Beverage Association and it’s members (these guys really do advertise well don’t they?) to defeat the measure. One of the arguments, again, was not WHETHER sugary drinks contributed to obesity, but that it was unclear HOW MUCH sugary drinks contributed to obesity.
Lest you think that the beverage industry is the only one pulling this rabbit out of the hat, let me also point you to another favorite industry…yes my friends, that would be the banking industry. In the aftermath of the Occupy movements actually being taken seriously, the narrative from the industry has moved from we didn’t do anything wrong (well, some, like the esteemed Mr. Michael Bloomberg still, unbelievably, tell that story), to we may have done something wrong, but there are a lot of others who did as well. Washington screwed up. Other corporative executives get lavish salaries for running their companies into the ground. In other words, the banking industry is not the only one that contributed to the crisis, so why the laserlike focus on it? Sounds familiar right?
Well, let me answer that question. Even if you accept the argument that the banking industry may not have been the largest contributor to the crisis or not, the point is that just because there may be many factors that contribute to something going off the tracks, doesn’t mean you (the general you) didn’t contribute. For instance, if three people rob a bank, and they catch the guy who was the lookout but not the other two who broke into the safe, the defense attorney doesn’t get to say….you know, um, I get that my client did something wrong, but the other two did something even worse. So until you catch them, well…it’s just unfair to charge my client. There actually may be some unfairness to his client being directly singled out while others are still out on the streets free and likely laughing about it. But, you know what is even more unfair? No one being held accountable because everyone points to someone else and said they did it too. That didn’t work when I was 9 years old and it shouldn’t work now either.