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, L.A. 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, 1 in 4 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 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 age 5, must have a household income that is less than 185 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. Why not 175 percent or 150 percent? What government bean counter decided 185 percent 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 1 in 10 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. It also has a car, two color televisions, a DVD player and, if a child is in the home, an electronic game system.
Not quite like the emaciated Africans 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!"
Trevor Thomas is a Hall County resident and frequent columnist.