Farnam Street helps you make better decisions, innovate, and avoid stupidity.

With over 400,000 monthly readers and more than 93,000 subscribers to our popular weekly digest, we've become an online intellectual hub.

What happens in a bureaucracy?

What happens in a big bureaucracy? Poor decisions, stupid decisions, or no decisions. Common sense is lost. Consider this bit of news from the NYTimes on the Food and Drug Administration.

A new food-labeling campaign called Smart Choices, backed by most of the nation’s largest food manufacturers, is “designed to help shoppers easily identify smarter food and beverage choices.”

The green checkmark label that is starting to show up on store shelves will appear on hundreds of packages, including — to the surprise of many nutritionists — sugar-laden cereals like Cocoa Krispies and Froot Loops.

…The Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture have also weighed in, sending the program’s managers a letter on Aug. 19 saying they intended to monitor its effect on the food choices of consumers.

The letter said the agencies would be concerned if the Smart Choices label “had the effect of encouraging consumers to choose highly processed foods and refined grains instead of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

The incentives here are obvious.