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Friday, August 26, 2011

Are We Too Fat or Too Hungry?

I’m confused (no jokes, please). The Obama administration and the mainstream media really need to work on coordinating their message better. I mean, usually memos and pressers from the White House, the pages of the New York Times, LA Times, and Washington Post (et al), and the broadcasts of ABC, CBS, and NBC are nearly indistinguishable. Thus, this recent piece from ABC news left me rather perplexed.

According to the story, “Every day, children in every county in the United States wake up hungry. They go to school hungry. They turn out the lights at night hungry…To put it another way, one in four children in the (U.S.) is living without consistent access to enough nutritious food to live a healthy life.”

Yet, barely a year ago, in February of 2010, the Washington Times revealed that “Nearly one-third of U.S. children are overweight or obese — a rate that has tripled among adolescents and doubled in younger children over the past 30 years. In addition, one-third of children born in 2000 or later eventually will suffer from diabetes, according to the White House.”

Thus we end up with Michelle Obama involved in policy and get bombarded with messages of “Let’s Move!” We also end up with school systems telling children that they can’t bring their own lunch to school.

So, in barely a year we’ve gone from one-third of all U.S. children being overweight or obese, to one-fourth of them continuously being hungry (and three-fourths of all U.S. high school students can’t correctly place in least-to-greatest order the three fractions I just used, but I digress). No wonder C.S. Lewis bemoaned, “Lord! How I loathe great issues…Could one start a Stagnation Party— which at General Elections would boast that during its term of office no event of the least importance had taken place?”

And who is better at creating, or at least dictating, the “great issues” than liberals within the U.S. federal government? The aforementioned report trumpeted by ABC was on the subject of a study funded by ConAgra Foods, which was “based on 2009 statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”

If one wants more government, the quickest way to such an end is to create a “crisis” that only government can solve. After all, there is no way that we can fight obesity and hunger without the government, right? Evidently not, because, again according to the ABC report, “a shocking 49 percent of all babies born in the U.S. are born to families receiving food supplements from the WIC program,” which is operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

To qualify for WIC, women, or families, with children under 5 must have a household income that is less than 185% of the federal poverty guidelines. Why not 175% or 150%? What government bean counter decided 185% was the magic number?

Speaking of the federal poverty limit, according to the U.S. census, 30 million Americans are living in poverty. That’s about one in ten Americans. What does it mean to live in poverty in the U.S.? According to a recent Heritage Foundation report, which used the government’s own data, the average household in America that “lives in poverty” has air conditioning, cable TV, a microwave, and a washer and dryer. They also have a car, two color televisions, a DVD player, and if a child is in the home, an electronic game system.

Not quite the emaciated African we’ve often seen in those moving television ads, is it? But that’s what happens when we allow our secular federal government to define things. That’s what happens when we give the purse strings of a trillion dollar kitty to professional politicians. That’s how we end up with the conflicting, confusing, and asinine messages of “fight obesity, but not too hard!” It’s how far too many politicians buy votes and create a perpetual and seemingly unending culture of dependency on government.

I know! Perhaps we need a government agency to prevent contradictory federal programs. We could call it the Washington Institute to Stop Everything Undertaken by Progressives, or W.I.S.E. U.P., for short. To work there, one would have to be able to identify at least 50 oxymoronic federal behaviors. Their motto would be, “The Bucks Stop With Us!”

(See this column on American Thinker.)

Copyright 2011, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World

Monday, August 1, 2011

More Consequences of Redefining Marriage

Several recent developments have me thinking again about the consequences of legalized gay—I mean “same-sex”—marriage.

First of all, in the battle to redefine marriage, almost certainly the next step after gay marriage is polygamy. As I noted in 2008, with the attention received by then fugitive Warren Jeffs, president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, polygamy was declared “the next civil rights battle.”

“Reality TV” last year gave us TLC’s “Sister Wives.” The show documents the lives of polygamist Kody Brown, his four wives, and their 16 children. Upon receiving strong ratings, the show was renewed for a second season. The emboldened cast recently declared that they were suing Utah’s governor over the state’s long-standing law against polygamy.

The lawsuit says that, “By criminalizing religious-based plural families and intimate relationships under the criminal bigamy law, Utah officials prosecute private conduct between consenting adults.” (Never mind that laws often govern the behavior between “consenting adults.”)

In 2003 the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 6 to 3 ruling, overturned the Texas anti-sodomy law, and thus invalidated similar laws in the 12 states that still had them on their books. In his dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote “State laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity are likewise sustainable only in light of…laws based on moral choices.”

As late as 1986, in Bowers v. Hardwick, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Georgia’s anti-sodomy law. In his dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens declared that “the fact that the governing majority in a State has traditionally viewed a particular practice as immoral is not a sufficient reason for upholding a law prohibiting the practice.”

Given that from the Georgia to the Texas ruling the Court reversed itself and embraced Stevens’ conclusions on law and morality, Scalia declared that the Court had effectively decreed “the end of all morals legislation.”

Thus, as Scalia feared, in the U.S. today, “private conduct between consenting adults” often trumps traditional (especially Christian) morality. Never mind that all laws (and behaviors) are governed by some morality.

Secondly, in what seems to be an attempt to stake out a more moderate position on same-sex marriage, potential GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry said of the recent events in NY, “Our friends in New York six weeks ago passed a statute that said marriage can be between two people of the same sex. And you know what? That’s New York, and that’s their business, and that’s fine with me.”

The problem with the “states’ rights” approach is that doesn’t prevent the federal government, especially via the courts, from stepping in, as it has before, when it deems states to be “discriminating” against its own citizens. The states’ rights argument also fails to address how the law should handle same-sex couples who are legally married in one state, but then move (or travel) to a state where same-sex marriage is illegal.

Finally, there is this interesting scenario posed by an American Thinker blogger: “Indeed, ‘gay marriage’ does roll more trippingly off the tongue [than ‘same-sex marriage’], but it's really not ‘gay marriage’ at all. When applying for a marriage license, there is no box to check, no oath to take, no questions about a person's sexual proclivity. Ironically, the very heart of the ‘gay marriage’ movement -- homosexuality -- gets nary a mention on the marriage application.”

Thus, concludes Fred Kopp, “In several states it's now legal for any two people to get married, regardless of gender, regardless of sexual preference. I'm not saying that two straight women or two straight guys are going to rush right out and get married just because they can. I'm sure that would be extremely rare (at first), but the point is that they can, and to leave this little tidbit out of the marriage discussion is disingenuous.”

Now combine the “any two people” scenario with the “any number of people” scenario that polygamy provides. Not only could we could see things like heterosexual friends marrying to provide one with health care, or to allow one to receive the Social Security or Medicare benefits of the other, but we could see an individual marrying multiples to do the same. We could see one couple marrying another couple so that they could file joint tax returns, or three lesbians marrying because they enjoy each other’s company.

Again, as I have noted multiple times before, redefining marriage will have profound consequences. Much of the above may seem absurd, but that’s what happens when one redefines a fundamental truth that lies at the very foundation of our nation.

Copyright 2011, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World