April 10, 2010

The Baptists

I find the Baptists in this country to be a considerable nuisance. When I think of Baptists, I am not referring to the church denomination (though as with any group thinkers, they can be annoying too), but rather to all the people in this country who think that it is acceptable to restrict and limit the liberty of others. There seems to be a growing sentiment that all the "ills of society" should be officiated over by the government. What I find entertaining about this is that I believe these problems are actually caused by the government, rather than solved by them. My particular bone to pick right now is obesity.

The Baptists think that there are too many fat people in this country cluttering up the landscape and sucking on our healthcare system. Obesity comes with its own set of punishments though...a lack of energy, constant health problems, and shortened life expectancy to name a few. Add to this the fact that most employers (equal opportunity or otherwise) are not going to hire a fat man or woman wheezing during an interview over a fit man or woman who is active and energetic. So, why would anyone want to be fat with all of these drawbacks?
Let's start with unemployment...If you are too fat to get a job, the government will pay you monthly to sit at home. If that isn't good enough, let's go for healthcare. Obamacare aside for the moment, it is free to go to the hospital emergency room when your heart gives out or your thyroid goes completely off the grid. Now with Obamacare, you can not only go to the hospital for free, but to any doctor as well, and if the doctor prescribes such care, you can get surgeries, such as gastric bypass to make you skinnier, compliments of the American taxpayer dollar. Maybe if people couldn't extend their lives for free, they might stop to consider before buying 3 double cheeseburgers and skipping the gym. Perhaps there is also something to be questioned about what qualifies as obese? Who determines what falls under this label? At one point in history, plump indicated wealthy because you could afford to eat well, while skinny was an indication of poverty and lack of sustenance.
Now, if a person is outside a specific weight bracket, determined by nutritionists hired by the government to say so, then you are obese. These numbers are then taken and applied to test groups of people and an aggregate number is thrown out that says people in America are too fat.
I don't think that people are hungrier now than they used to be, so perhaps the culprit really is the food that is being sold. So, what changed to make food so unhealthy? Perhaps it is the government regulations that favor some food markets over others. For instance, purchasing organic food which has not been subjected to the pesticides and antibiotics that are required by government in most food markets, is unbelievably more expensive than buying antibiotic and hormone filled foods. Why? The answer is fairly simple. In order for a farm to be able to produce "organic" food, the USDA has imposed a number of regulations that make its production cost much higher than the cost of the average pound of meat. For example, in order to call itself "organic" and thereby be able to sell in that market, a farm must be pesticide free for 7 years. In combination with the other regulations that raise the cost of producing organically, this is a severe limitation as these organic producers are not able to place the organic label that assures it's consumers of the growth processes. Without this assurance many consumers will not buy the product, particularly at the higher price, thus protecting the normal food market and those already producing organically. This severely limits the amount that can be produced and therefore the amount that can be purchased and also the ease of accessibility to many products as most traditional supermarkets carry a very limited amount of organic food.
It is true that some food, such as corn syrup, is more difficult for our bodies to process, but corn, in general is more difficult for the digestive tract to process, so that may be the source of that problem rather than the innovation that has allowed the corn market to diversify. Or perhaps the reason that corn syrup and other products like it that are being touted as fat people producers is because they are cheaper than things like sugar due to tariffs and other government regulations that protect them from price competition. This enables the foods to enter the market that are supposedly responsible for making everyone fat. How, though, does this account for people making the choice to consume? And if people are making the choice to consume, why should they be stopped from purchasing, or forced by the Baptists to look at the calorie count on the menu?
I would theorize that if enough people keel over from heart disease or diabetes, and others can't afford healthcare because they are too fat and unhealthy to work, the problem would likely work itself out at some point. After all, people are generally self interested and act for their own gain in one way or another. I would be interested to know what the Baptists hope to gain from a skinnier society. Perhaps just a little more space to walk on the sidewalk or through the supermarket aisles.... maybe it just makes them feel good to point and say "you're too fat! Eat a carrot". Perhaps this increasingly government sanctified discrimination is actually perpetuating the problem as obese people are criticized by their skinny counterparts. Who can say for sure? But the answers to these and other questions will never have an undisputed answer because it will never be a matter of fat vs. thin as the government has appointed itself the nanny of both sides and will keep these two kids from battling it out by telling them what to do instead. One thing I would bet, menu calorie counts aside, Mcdonald's isn't going out of business, and healthier food isn't going to get cheaper. Sorry, Baptist people, I believe you have once again been outsmarted by the bootleggers.

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