Agents of Influence


Happy Meals are once again under fire in California.  The San Francisco city council banned them recently, and now a consumer group has teamed up with a typical suburban mom to launch a class-action suit against McDonald’s.  The mother in question claims that McDonald’s formidable marketing prowess, including the toys they put in Happy Meals, causes her children to “frequently pester” her into purchasing them, “thereby spending money on a product she would not otherwise have purchased,” as reported by Walter Olson in the New York Daily News.

That sounds like a declaration of war against all advertising, whose purpose is to make people “spend money on products they would not otherwise have purchased.”  If we limit the jihad to only products desired by children, we’ll only be wiping out half the U.S. economy.

As Olson points out, there’s a lot more fishy about this story than the face-palm level of stupidity in the class-action suit.  For one thing, the “consumer group” in question is the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a whack-job fringe organization with a history of using junk science to pursue their real interest, the expansion of the regulatory State.  They’re statists, not scientists.

Which brings us to the “typical suburban mom,” Monet Parham-Lee.  As Olson relates, she’s actually a “regional program manager” for child nutrition… an employee of the State of California, whose regulatory interests are advanced by the sham lawsuit she filed.  As a commenter at the Future Of Capitalism blog pointed out, after determining her true identity: “She presents herself as an ordinary mother.  She is not.  She is an advocate, and an employee of a California agency tasked with advocating the eating of vegetables.  To the extent that Monet Parham-Lee has EVER taken her daughter to a McDonald’s, she should have known better.”

In other words, this story is about an employee of the State concealing her identity to work with a statist organization, filing a patently absurd lawsuit designed primarily to gain publicity.  They’re looking for sympathy, and donations, from every parent who’s ever grown tired of telling their kids they can’t have a Happy Meal… or listening to them whine, when the parents choose from the abundant healthy alternatives McDonald’s offers.  The goal is to build an environment where “everyone knows” Happy Meals are a dirty trick by an evil corporation, whose perfidy can only be halted by the courageous intervention of the wise and compassionate State. 

What Monet Parham-Lee should be is unemployed, immediately.  The state of California is far beyond bankrupt.  Full-time propagandists for nanny agencies, and the fees they rack up by using the courtrooms for performance art, should be among the first ridiculous expenses trimmed from a bloated payroll.  The overstressed taxpayers of California don’t need to see their money wasted on paying someone to trick them into making the government larger.  They can save a lot of cash supervising the diets of their own children.