Republicans and being just a little fat

In my daily news trawl, I came across two articles listed right next to each other. Here’s the first:

House Republicans have temporarily blocked legislation to feed school meals to thousands more hungry children.

Republicans used a procedural maneuver Wednesday to try to amend the $4.5 billion bill, which would give more needy children the opportunity to eat free lunches at school and make those lunches healthier. First lady Michelle Obama has lobbied for the bill as part of her “Let’s Move” campaign to combat childhood obesity.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has also taken a swipe at the first lady’s campaign, bringing cookies to a speech at a Pennsylvania school last month and calling the campaign a “school cookie ban debate” and “nanny state run amok” on her Twitter feed.

It has been abundantly clear for a long, long time that Sarah Palin is intellectually inferior to most people. I really don’t see how this can even be debated. But it hasn’t always been clear that she’s also just a bad person. Now it is.

Now, if she was scientifically literate, maybe this second article would have an impact on her thinking:

The latest research involving about 1.5 million people concluded that healthy white adults who were overweight were 13 percent more likely to die during the time they were followed in the study than those whose weight is in an ideal range.

“Having a little extra meat on your bones — if that meat happens to be fat — is harmful, not beneficial,” said Dr. Michael Thun of the American Cancer Society, senior author of the study.

The study’s conclusions, published in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine, are similar to three other large studies, said the lead author, Amy Berrington of the National Cancer Institute.

“Now there’s really a very large body of evidence which supports the finding that being overweight is associated with a small increased risk of death,” Berrington said.

This is what I’m talking about when I say human beings are more important than the abstract ethical principle of liberty. Letting kids get fat is going to have real world consequences that no one wants. Human lives matter.

But kids do like cookies.

15 Responses

  1. The problem isn’t cookies, its lack of activity.

    Its easy to legislate healthier meals in school and pretend that will go a long ways to fixing the problem. It’s impossible to legislate that kids get off of their asses and do something.

    Climb a mountain in Africa for example. Sounds like excellent physical activity.

    This bill would legislate what could be sold in cafeterias and vending machines in schools, not only the meals served on the taxpayer dime. I’m going to have to agree that they should leave that stuff alone. If kids want candy and soda they will buy it elsewhere anyway, where its cheaper. Might just as well keep them in school.

  2. Nate:
    There are two ways of losing weight: eating less and exercising more. You said it yourself, it’s impossible to legislate more exercise, so how is limiting the amount of calories they eat not the only way to fix the problem?

    Yes, they can get it outside school and yes they probably will. But if you give them decent food at school, they’ll have a better capacity for learning while there and they’ll get candy and soda because it tastes good, not because they’re hungry.

    Last time I checked, the US was one the countries with the highest percentage of overweight people in the world. That proves it’s possible to do something about it. Isn’t it time to?

  3. I not disagreeing that something needs to be done. I’m not disagreeing the meals provided at school should be healthy.

    You are assuming it is the governments place to tell people, of any age, what to eat. That that’s okay. When we are paying for the meals than certainly we get to decide what their content is, when tax payers are not paying for it, I don’t think its any of the governments business.

    If it weren’t for a whole slew of laws across the country about salt and trans fats and toys in happy meals, I might have a different view.

    For now I am completely fed up with elected officials deciding that it is their business to control and dictate what is allowed to be sold for food. This goes far and beyond simply ensuring the safe handling and storage of food.

  4. Government institutions – schools and states – are currently deciding what is to be sold, and their basis is cheapness, not health.

  5. But mostly on the basis of what they can sell.

    Cony High School has a more or less open campus for the high school aged kids. They can go have an 8-ball for lunch or just a greasy pizza if they like. If the school sells food the kids don’t want to eat, than they will get food they want to eat.

  6. The study showing the unhealthiness of being fat is irrelevant to the point. The nanny state, by definition, is a state that forces “what is good for you”. A nanny state is not bad because what it does is bad, it’s bad because of the ‘force’ it uses.

    I would agree that if food is being given away for free, that the government can decide what kind of food it is, and making it healthier food makes sense. If, however, it is food people are buying for themselves, regardless of the setting, then forcing particular options is morally wrong.

    Human lives don’t matter, humans matter. Liberty and autonomy are not abstract ethical principles, anymore than a census represents abstract human lives.

    Respecting autonomy, and especially ensuring the _government_ respects autonomy seems a worthwhile goal.

    I’m assuming Sarah Palin is wrong because, well, she’s Sarah Palin, but if she is it isn’t because liberty isn’t important. It’s because it’s irrelevant if the school is providing meals for free. If part of the bill is trying to regulate all of the food in the schools in a ‘nanny state’ manner, then she makes a point.


  7. If, however, it is food people are buying for themselves, regardless of the setting, then forcing particular options is morally wrong.


    Would you apply the same logic to, say, drugs? Or mercury levels in foods, which is currently regulated by governments?

    There is a level where nannying becomes wrong, but it’s not an absolute, if you ask me.

  8. I would. Let people get cracked out all they want. Survival of the fittest after all.

  9. I haven’t read where parents aren’t allowed to be irresponsible and send their kids to school with chips and Twinkies. Can anyone direct me to that language in the bill?

  10. I’m sure it would have been there if the votes had been present.

    How exactly is that automatically irresponsible? I’ll say it again, I eat all kinds of crap and I am in excellent health. The issue is less what they eat and more how they behave. How about we bring back PE. Let them eat crap, it tastes good.

  11. That argument sounds a lot like “Mah pa used to smack me all the time and there ain’t nuttin wrong with me now!”

  12. You think you will be healthy if you eat ‘right’ but sit on your ass nonstop?

    Or is it possible that actually get up off of your ass what you eat might take a secondary role?

    I like bacon and potato chips and I like hiking and kayaking. I quite sure activity is more important than what exactly you gobble down.

  13. And that was a false dichotomy. Thinking food matters is not the same as thinking everything else doesn’t.

    No, exercise is important, but food is at least as important. It’s quite possible to look slim and fit and still be very unhealthy.
    I’m certain a person who eats right but never moves a finger is more likely to have a reasonably long and healthy life than one who exercises but eats at Micky D’s every day.

  14. I wasn’t saying that. Look at what the physical education programs are like these days. Its a nice thought to lump everything from reproductive health and archery in there but ultimately a foolish notion. Physical education has gone from just what it sounds like to a catch all for stuff no one else wants to teach.

    When my father was in school they had PE at least 3 times a week and a work out was part of it. Today the answer is what? Serve more boca burgers that they don’t want to eat in the cafeteria?

    How about we worry less about that and worry more about how schools actually spend the time they have the kids captive. How about a work out in the morning.

    How many centurions spent their lives eating eating rabbit food? How many of them had bacon and eggs for breakfast every day?

  15. Half of being healthy is eating to be healthy.

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