Taco Bell’s CEO is bragging that his company’s wildly popular Doritos Locos Tacos have created thousands of (low-paying) jobs, an example of what he calls, “having a social conscience.”

“It’s great we sold lots of tacos and it’s great for our shareholders, but if you can get 15,000 people off the unemployment line and give them jobs — that to me is giving back to society. That is having a social conscience in doing the right thing. That’s really important to me,“ ABC Radio News quotes Greg Creed as saying.

Let’s unpack that statement: Is it having a social conscience to expand in order to meet demand? No, it’s just business. Also, as Slate’s Matthew Yglesias points out, “presumably some large fraction of those sales either displaced sales at other fast food establishments or else displaced nonfood purchases. People might be cutting expenditures on cable television or movie tickets in favor of Netflix and plowing some of their savings into buying more meals outside the house. The impact of any particular firm’s successes on overall levels of employment and output is totally ambiguous.”

Let’s keep going. Is it having a social conscience to market grossly unhealthy food to consumers? No, but Taco Bell has an answer for that. According to ABC, the firm plans to “have 20 percent of combo meals meet the government’s nutritional guidelines for calories and fat by 2020.” So in seven years, a small fraction of its combo meals — not the whole menu, just the combo meals — will meet existing government guidelines. That’s certainly doing … part of the right thing (kind of?).

The hits keep on coming: “Creed said there was no ‘silver bullet’ to the issue of obesity.” Yes there is. The silver bullet is broccoli. And spinach. And Brussels sprouts. And quinoa. And kale. Doritos Locos Tacos, now with more kale. Coming in 2020. Or not.

— Posted by Peter Z. Scheer


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