Sunday, October 17, 2010

Round the Bowl, Down the Hole

As A\

As the country continues to move down the slope toward midterm elections, the economy continues its slide into the sewer. The battle for economic progress has become the earmark issue for this election cycle. No matter what the Democrats say about their progress, or the Republicans tell you about their plans for improvement once they are reinstated to power in Congress, the following facts remain an indicator of the giant mess we are in right now in the United States. Let me give you some examples of the horrendous economic plight of Americans.

  1. 31% of home sales in September 2010 were due to foreclosures. 31%. Over one quarter. This is a sad and telling number. Although a few banks have temporarily halted foreclosures (see the video here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/gallery/2010/10/04/GA2010100406108.html), the fact remains Americans are losing their homes, and fast. The reason for the temporary halt by Bank of America foreclosures is faulty paperwork. As I reported on my show two weeks ago, officials for the bank actually admitted to not even reading the paperwork for the foreclosures they were signing due to the large volume of foreclosures being requested. If you think this is alarming, look closer at individual states and the rates for home loss. Nevada leads the nation, followed by Ohio (http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2010/10/mortgage_foreclosure_uproar_sw.html). This article states, "millions may have lost their homes in error." Millions because of an error in paperwork? This is TOTAL and UTTER incompetence by banks and government officials, once again costing the American citizens. I was outraged to read one family lost their home because of miscalculating their mortgage payment by FOURTEEN CENTS. Meanwhile, the news reports stories every
    single
    day about the money raised for political campaigns, or the members of Congress receiving a free spa and wellness event, complete with free massages and vendors giving out freebies. And the government has the AUDACITY to question why Americans are ticked off with the current administration? Regardless of party, our government is bent on eliminating the middle class. The middle class is being flushed away in favor of a two-class system, the haves and the have nots, with the haves sitting firmly in power in DC.
  2. Let's move on the gloriousness known as health care reform. If you have not been paying attention, here is a quick recap: thanks to the reform, the current doctor shortage is getting worse; corporations are getting a pass to continue their coverage at certain rates; Congress does not have to partake (why would they, when they get those free wellness events anyway?) and the list goes on and on. This week a judge has ruled to allow 20 states to proceed with a lawsuit against the government health care takeover (http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/5897168/federal_judge_oks_states_challenge.html). Couple this news with the increasing number of Democrats calling for repeal (http://thehill.com/house-polls/the-hill-anga-poll-week-1/122851-distaste-for-healthcare-law-crosses-party-lines), and what we have here is not the crown jewel of the Obama regime, but a gigantic mess. What does this mean for the economy and Americans, the theme of this post? Let me tell you. First, let's take a stroll down memory lane, back to the good ole days (days when I was not even around, mind you), when corporate America took care of their employees. People worked at the same job for 10, 20, 30 years, and when they retired from their great company, their benefits stayed with them, paid for in retirement, no worries. Now people are expendable. Employers have a much different view about people as people. For example, when my husband was laid off for the second time this year, he was fortunate to be offered two jobs. We decided as a family unit to take the job paying less. Why? Because that particular job invested time in my husband. He had a two hour interview, a follow-up meeting to meet other employees and managers, and the benefits were paid by the company. The other employer held no interview, just a phone call and an offer. But to us, the second company did not invest in him as a person, and therefore, he would be more easily dismissed. However, this situation is happening more and more in our country. It has happened to me at current job, ending in December. No regard for the domino effect a layoff will have on a family. The new health care law doesn't help me have continued coverage for my children. COBRA will cost me a little over $600 per month, and with no income, how will that be paid? The "life changing event" will allow us to add the children and me to my husband's benefits….after a 90 waiting period and a decrease in pay when it takes effect. Not to mention the taxpayers liability coming down the pike for the overall reform. I just hope we are not going to be a statistic under problem number one in this blog.
  3. Some disturbing facts: 9.5 % unemployment rate for 14 straight months. 95000 jobs lost last month in government layoffs. 39000 private sector jobs lost last month. But the lies from Washington haven't been laid off. The Obamanation regime continues to claim job growth and economic recovery. WHERE? WHERE ARE THESE JOBS? WHO EXACTLY IS REAPING THE REWARDS OF THESE LIES? Not me, the average American citizen. When my contract ends in December, I will join millions of Americans in collecting unemployment because I cannot find a midyear appointment to pay the bills. Again, it is utterly ridiculous when the liberal media and the President seem SHOCKED when Americans voice how angry they are that they are struggling to put food on the table for their families and keep shelter and the lights on over their families' heads. Other figures released last week contribute to this anger. According to reports, 41.8 million Americans live off of food stamps. This number is expected to increase. The bigger problem, however, is how many people are allowed to abuse this system. As an example, let's look at the jobs and poverty issue from the perspective of the oil spill victims. Last week, a friend in the Gulf told me of a story involving a restaurant in which the cook filed a claim with BP and received over 20,000 dollars, while the actual restaurant owner received a little over $1500. WHAT?!?! The COOK. At best, a minimum wage job. The cook, by the way, quit his job when he received the payout. The restaurant owners are just trying to stay afloat. This is abuse by the system. But have we heard these stories? NO. We hear stories about members of Congress not paying their taxes and getting away with it.


     

An Associated Press poll in September about the economy, 92% of Americans said the economy was out of control and not in a recession, 79% said the economy was in bad shape, while 15% said the economy was healthy. Those 15% must be in cahoots with Congress, or rich, or both. The rest of us are simply trying to not be flushed down the toilet with the rest of the United States economy. VOTE.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sticks and Stones and Matches?

This week the mainstream media is filled with stories about American men and women burning books. In a storyline reminiscent of Fahrenheit 451, the concept of burning books to show protest against the mosque in New York City has brought about anger, fear and sparked even more hatred in communities nationwide. The FBI and the President got involved to stop Florida preacher Terry Jones (read the story here: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hKWWJdTrfALpbYfWB6fM58p6u-pwD9I4I32G0). Although Jones called off his plans to burn the Koran, other cities and preachers followed through (http://www.wsmv.com/news/24972042/detail.html). Here is my take on the events.

First, people fear what they don't understand. A majority of Americans blame Muslims and Islam for the terrorist attacks on 9/11. And they are partially right. An extremist group within Islam were/are responsible. But should we punish all for the few? Get a clue, folks. That is how America works. It is not right or just, but it is what it is. And people seemed shocked. Think about it this way: don't we blame one "bad" Democrat or Republican for a "problem," then punish the rest of the party by electing the other? Sure. Has everyone forgotten that right after 9/11, innocent Muslims were attacked on public streets and in their homes simply because they were Muslim? The fear of the mosque being built on "hallowed ground" has just reignited the smoldering debate about good versus evil, Christianity versus Islam. Countless other examples from our great nation's history of mistreatment of misunderstood groups might include The Trail of Tears, the Reconstruction of the South after the Civil War, or the Civil Rights Movement. What we have here is history repeating itself.

Second, the proposed and subsequent burning of the Koran exposes the liberals for manipulating the media to their advantage. Let me remind you all I do NOT believe in liberal media bias, as the conservatives frequently claim. There is no bias because we all freedom to pick and choose the media we read and listen to on a daily basis. I DO believe, however, liberals are guiltier than conservatives when it comes to manipulating news when it suits them (make no mistake, conservatives are guilty too, ahem, Andrew Breitbart videos). Explanation: liberals are bleeding hearts, and want to force everyone to get along all of the time, and to insure underrepresented groups are equal. So the fundamentalists who are calling for the burnings are playing right into their hands. If not for the coverage of the mosque controversy in the first place, a little church in Florida making a political statement would not have made the news.

Third, I believe in the 1st Amendment. As a media scholar, I will say it again: I firmly believe in the 1st Amendment. It is the constitutional right of the preachers to burn whatever book they want, as long as it is not government property. I can burn the American flag. I can burn the Bible. I can burn the Koran. Why? It is constitutionally protected freedom of expression. These items only have power because our society, or whatever religion, gives the symbols power and meaning. The Confederate battle flag is a symbol of racism in our society today, but the stars and bars didn't start off that way. To paraphrase President Obama, the burning of the Koran is not representative of the American values of religious freedom and tolerance. But isn't this a question of the freedom of these groups to express their opinions? What I hear President Obama saying is "play nice."

Finally, I don't buy the argument that burning the books will make life tougher for American military personnel. Countries at war will commit crimes beyond our scope of comprehension to win. Military members sign up for service to our country knowing they will possibly be fighting on foreign soil, abused and mistreated, possibly captured, and the list goes on. I am not in any way belittling military service. I am a proud wife of a Navy veteran who served on the USS Cole, the ship bombed in Yemen. I am simply stating fact: young men and women who sign up for the service know what they are signing up for, or they should. We have been at war in Afghanistan for years. I don't think burning the Koran will make the combat any more or less arduous. It is WAR. To take it one step further, you can't tell me the 9/11 attacks were planned overnight. Years of planning and training went into those horrific attacks. If these militant groups are already planning another attack, burning or not burning some holy books will not end or start these plans.

It is unfortunate these events have overshadowed the day of remembering those fallen in the terrorist attacks on 9/11/01, and I think these groups proposing the burnings and even following through with burnings of the Koran should have chosen another time to create controversy. But that does not give the American government the right to censor the speech and expression of these citizens.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Cutting the Proverbial Purse Strings?

Normally I ignore state politics in favor of spending my time focused on the national political scene. But the national scene is ignoring a grave injustice, and as a member of the academy, I can no longer ignore the current state of higher education, whether in Louisiana or in any other state. The parallels between higher education and the national economy are striking.

One of the most alarming trends in higher education is the application of the business model to the university. Students are treated as consumers, while the faculty is expected to provide excellent customer service. Lower entrance standards are a priority in this model, because the university needs students (i.e. paying customers) to keep the lights on. No mention of how lowering the standard also lowers student quality. Not to bust any bubbles of you parents out there, but not every child is cut out to be in the college classroom. Trust me, I know. This is indicative of our society caters to the mediocre to make a buck and make everyone feel equal, which is quite the load of politically correct bull hockey. All men (and women) are created equal, but the Constitution does not guarantee all men (and women) equal brain power. So universities now have this surplus of consumers, both bright and dim, but in this economy, no surplus funding. Sound familiar? It seems state legislatures are taking the cue from the national government. And much like the national government ignoring its constituency, universities are not heeding the voices of the consumers, even if they are not ready mentally to take the administration to task.

The second problem with higher education is somehow the power is in the hands of few, while the problems on campuses are shouldered by many. Also sound familiar? An elite group of decision makers and gate keepers tell everyone else what is the best course of action, regardless of the outcomes or effect on the masses or even the individual. In my case, my job was sacrificed because I wasn't a good fit (read: the nice, polite academy way of saying we don't all get along). It was no matter I am an excellent teacher, receiving top marks from my students, or my research record surpassed others in the department. The elites don't care about my individual plight of no health insurance or income to support my family in three short months. But my individual case is not unusual, nor am I alone. University decision makers across the United States make similar decisions every day. The faculty members are expendable, and in some cases, so are the students. This is in direct correlation to the current economic situation of many Americans. Individual businesses are expendable in order to protect unions and big business. Our government bails out auto makers and Wall Street, but small businesses are suffering. This article today is case in point: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/03/AR2010090305391_pf.html.

These issues are only the tip of the iceberg. And universities across the nation are feeling the purse strings tightened with virtually no input from students. Remember, the students, or the consumers who pay for it all in the first place? Before I continue, however, let me dispel a few myths spewed in the national media about the university economy. I was particularly alarmed by the musings of David Horowitz recently on Fox News, discussing the free and easy life of university professors on the student's dime. Horowitz also claimed all university professors make six figure salaries; a statement I can assure you by my own experience in liberal arts is a complete and utter falsehood. However, if you want to read further about Horowitz' radical claims about the university setting being a virtual hotbed of liberals and leftist thinking, to which I am inclined to agree to a certain extent, feel free to check his site: http://www.horowitzfreedomcenter.org/.

At a time when the national economic woes are reaching a boiling point, state legislatures are facing tough decisions regarding a number of state institutions. Unfortunately in Louisiana, the economic crunch is being felt the hardest by two areas: higher education and health care. Now the consumers, er students, in Louisiana are finally weighing on the debate. It is about time. Instead of being forced to suffer in silence on campus, students are beginning to take action against the elite corporate forces running the campus system. Again, this should sound familiar. The Tea Party movement is gaining momentum by speaking out against the traditional party elites on both sides of the government. Perhaps the students in Louisiana took notes. Here is an example: http://www.leesvilledailyleader.com/news/x863078331/Analysis-Protests-wont-stop-college-budget-cuts. Students at the University of New Orleans staged a protest. According to my higher education sources in Louisiana, more protests are being organized, including a march on Baton Rouge.

I will not be so bold as to say these staged events will work. While I admire the gumption, the power elites have too much control, and Governor Bobby Jindal is too set on destroying higher education in Louisiana to change his mind about budget cuts because a few students said their piece on the capitol steps. But I will say I am impressed. These students are standing up for their consumer rights, and therefore standing up for the quality of their education. As Americans, we should follow their example. Stand up for our rights as taxpayers. Stand up for changing this economy. March on Washington DC to say our piece. Perhaps, just perhaps, someone will listen. We will know November 2.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

You Can Fly Friendly Sky, Just Don’t Expect Anything on the Ground

A fabulous news story emerged this week regarding the Jet Blue flight attendant who deployed the emergency chute to escape the aircraft on the tarmac at JFK. [You can read the story and see video here: http://abcnews.go.com/US/jetblue-flight-attendant-steven-slater-arrested-flight-jfk/story?id=11361298&page=1]. After exchanging unpleasant words with a passenger, and allegedly hit by said passenger, flight attendant Steven Slater grabbed a six pack and jetted to the ground. Now he is facing potential criminal charges for reckless endangerment and criminal mischief. Oddly enough, there was no mention of the beer theft in the police report. Even so, Slater potentially faces up to seven years in prison, for simply having a bad day at the office.

Slater's reaction, though questionable, sheds light on the one of the glaring problems in society today. In the words of Rodney Dangerfield, "can't get no respect." Does anyone else find it alarming that there is no further mention of the bad behavior of the passenger? Post 9/11 passenger rules anyone? Slater is disrespected, cussed at, allegedly hit, and yet everyone is more upset that Slater chose to exit the escalating situation on the emergency chute? Was anyone truly in danger? The plane was, at least, on the ground. And lest not forget those passengers who might have just been offended at Slater's choice of words upon exiting the aircraft. I imagine we might hear from a concerned parent, whose child was exposed to the F-bomb over the plane's intercom. To me, this is as silly as the parent who was offended when their child was exposed to foul language at the KISS concert, or better yet, caught the millisecond flash of Janet Jackson's breast on CBS during the Super Bowl.

Nowadays in society, people get angry at the slightest injustice. The passenger was inconvenienced by being asked to sit down and not retrieve baggage until the plane was in the terminal. Of course this called for yelling at the flight attendant, because the rules of flying and not getting your stuff from the overhead compartment before the plane parked just changed last week, right? Slater has a bad day at work, but instead of calmly reminding the passenger about rules, he overreacts and jumps off the plane.

I am always amazed at the odd behaviors of people in general. One of my favorite reactionary responses to judge is rioting, specifically when the rioting is a reaction to an event warranting celebration (e.g., the riots in California following the Lakers' NBA victory this year). Nothing says yay my team won a championship like destroying property. Even advocates for immigration rights held protests after the government injunction banned parts of Arizona's SB1070 and several people were arrested.

Slater's actions have spawned an unbelievable amount of attention. People magazine currently has an online poll for folks to vote hero or felon [http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20409276,00.html]. I find this amusing, yet it is indicative of a paradox in our culture. I speak out often against the ever decreasing level in customer service. My opinion is if you don't like people, or can't work with them, do not work in a service industry. And before anyone uses the "at least they have a job," or "there are not equal opportunities for everyone and for some people it is all they can do," you need those drugs Robert Gibbs was talking about today [Read that story here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/richard-adams-blog/2010/aug/10/robert-gibbs-crazy-liberal-critics-obama].

Just this weekend, I had the opportunity to shop in the big city. In one store, I asked the salesperson for the location of an item, and was rudely informed they didn't know, and I should keep looking. This exchange of bad service outweighs all the memories of good service I received on my trip. The paradox is we don't often think of the plight of the worker in customer service, although in the above example, I can't quite come up with an excuse for the girl's bad job performance.

Whatever Slater's excuse, I say kudos for illustrating the paradox. Thanks for letting the world know the customers are jerks too.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Racism is Dead in the United States? Coulter Must Have Received the Only Memo

In a recent interview on Hannity, Ann Coulter declared racism doesn't exist in America anymore (see the interview here: http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/201007210089). I am not sure how or where she got this information, but I can assure you all, she is misinformed. This is as almost as laughable as the White House declaring the media to blame for the recent fiascos concerning race in our country, and almost as funny as the CNN reporters calling for Internet police to monitor blogging.

I can assure you dear readers, racism is alive and well in our country. It has been and will remain to be a topic of dissension within our society. Racism is the white elephant in the room everywhere. In addition to religion, politics and sex, race and racism is just a taboo topic of casual conversation. Even Obama himself chooses, generally, to ignore issues of race. Well, unless there is a teachable moment to be found. And over the past two weeks, teachable moments are abundant.

First, we hear the NAACP is proclaiming elements of the Tea Party Movement to be racist in nature. Then we see the video of Shirley Sherrod, from the Georgia USDA, speaking to the NAACP meeting about racism, skillfully edited to be out of context. Sherrod is forced to resign, after which the full video is seen, then asked to be rehired. Read those lines again if you didn't follow those convoluted actions. Now we have the White House claiming the media is responsible for igniting this firestorm against one woman, and therefore, against blacks in authority positions. Seriously, those articles are out there, and I have been reading.

A sense of entitlement belabors all classes within our society. This is a feeling in society that transcends race, class, creed, religion…you get the picture. My point is that we all have a sense of entitlement when it comes to feeling in line with a particular value or group. The way we choose to express the sentiment of entitlement is where it all gets blurry. Let me explain. Some people (cough…liberals...cough, cough) spend a lot of time trying to maintain the fa├žade of equality and justice for all. This can be in the form of simply framing every statement with "I am not a racist, but…," or a qualifying statement like "I have [insert appropriate ethnicity] friends." If framing isn't your cup of tea, you can always be one of those who fight for all causes involving the weak, unjustly persecuted members of society. You know who I am talking about, those that picket and don't know why, or rather, do so hypocritically. An example might be the peaceful protestors on the campus of my alma mater who, while protesting the upcoming Dixie Day to be held by a fraternity, held signs saying, "Go Home Rednecks." Oh the hypocrisy.

There will never be a world where racism does not exist. ALL PERSONS ON THIS PLANET HARBOR SOME PREJUDICE. I would be willing to bet 99.9% of adults in this country have had a racist thought. I am not saying this is okay; it is just the way the world turns. As Walter Lippmann pointed out in his 1922 work Public Opinion, stereotypes are durable and erroneous. These stereotypes in society form the basis of these types of public opinions and private thoughts. That said, it is unfortunate there are so many stereotypes in this society we believe in, if for no other reason, because it is what we learn and hear, from a variety of sources, is the right way to think or behave towards others. Unfortunate, but it is what it is. No more or no less. I felt tempted to type a qualifying statement here about how again, I am not saying this is okay, but I refuse the need to justify stating the obvious. Racism is here. Period. Not leaving. Period.

The most serious crime in all of these activities, in my view, is that above and beyond the problems facing our country where race is concerned, it should NEVER be acceptable to use race and racism to gain the upper hand politically, or to prove your political point of view. Here is an example. As a member of the academy, and a teacher of mass media, 2008 was a great year to introduce students to the theories of mass communication. The election coverage provided excellent fodder for classroom discussion. Over the course of the fall semester, I was accused twice of being a racist, simply because I did not agree with Obama on matters of policy. It didn't matter that I explained I voted on matters of policy and chose to be a critically informed voter. I have voted for Republicans, Democrats and Independents in a variety of elections. I do not fundamentally agree with pulling the lever for a straight party line vote under any circumstance. Case in point: Pulling the lever for the Democrats as a whole in South Carolina might put Alvin Greene into national office. And no, I don't dislike him because he is black, but because he was accused of a felony, and might be making decisions in the United States Senate which could potentially affect me.

The NAACP has been pushing a political agenda for quite some time. All major mainstream news channels push a specific political agenda, even when they claim objectivity. But playing the race card, no matter who you are or what organization you are, to gain political momentum is just wrong. To guilt someone into voting a certain way is wrong. The Justice Department disagrees that voter intimidation is wrong, at least this was the message I got when they chose not to prosecute the Black Panthers. I can assure you if right now Tea Party members stood outside voter registration for these primaries, wielding weapons, we would never hear the end of it.

Ms. Coulter, I assure you racism is alive and well. Right now in our society racism is more than just abuse of the minority. Racism is being wrongly used to abuse everyone with a vested interest in the political happenings of today.


 


 


 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Why Can’t Monopoly Money Be Real?

In my house we have frequent family game nights. This is an opportunity for the entire family to sit down together and enjoy sibling rivalry, er, family bonding. I always think about how great it would be if the paper game money were real. I don't think I would know what to do. Roll around in it? Try to spend as much as possible (think Richard Pryor in Brewster's Millions)? Realistically, I realize money doesn't solve everything. Our current administration begs to differ.

President Obama has spent a lot of time in the past two weeks…wait, his entire Presidency…blaming the economic problems on the GOP, or former President Bush, depending on the speech and the end goal expected. While I agree certain aspects of the problems in our country can be laid at the feet of W, not everything falls in this category. But the blame game is quite popular these days, just in select locations. Did you see the latest approval ratings to come out of the capital? 85%. I am caught between disbelief and laughter. Either the poll was small, think 100 people, or there is a lot of imbibing in the big city. Then again, the most recent poll of Arizona puts the President's approval at a teensy 28%, so I guess it must be true. I mean, come on, those Arizonans are pretty pissed off at the government and have no reason to tell anything but the whole truth on a poll, right? But I digress.

The economic woes of the United States are going to be here for a while. I have a hard time believing anything coming from this administration, but particularly feel cheated and lied to about the current economic status of our country. Before anyone starts the blame game, or the defense of the Chosen One, read this link: http://blog.heritage.org/2009/03/24/bush-deficit-vs-obama-deficit-in-pictures/. See the pretty pictures of the deficit during W and after? President Obama predicts the deficit to be cut in half by 2013. HOW? How will this be possible? This is a pretty bold claim from an administration who claims the massive stimulus bill passed 17 months ago actually did its job. Of course it did. How else would the country be graced with the presence of so many new roadways being named after Obama? Obama and his ego probably had that provision written into the fine print of the bill.

Unemployment remains high. The numbers "have improved." What a great turn of phrase. I consider improvement that requires a pat on the back to be larger than +/- .2 percent. Of course, in the society we live in, where even the biggest failures receive a ribbon for "participating," this is not shocking. Americans live to praise the mediocre. How else do people get elected with no business being in an elected position? On a related side note, one of the first places to begin repairing this rift would be in our nation's education system: primary, secondary and at institutions of higher learning. Case in point for the academy: the student who felt deserving of an "A" simply by attending every class, regardless of test score. Not to mention, the academy is where the liberal minions are trained and brainwashed. We need to spend less time appreciating failure and more time focusing on results. And I am not convinced this administration is "results" oriented. I am also not convinced this administration will be around to see any long term results. "I would rather be a great one term President than…." You get the picture.

Now we have the passage of the financial reform bill. According to a July 15, 2010 article from The New York Times, the bill "reasserts the importance of federal supervision of financial transactions." You can read the full article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/16/business/16regulate.html?_r=1. The question I have is this: who is in charge of supervising the federal government's financial transactions? Answer: TAXPAYING AMERICANS. Remember, this only includes 53% of us. The other 47% doesn't get a say. In fact, I think that until the federal government magically does away with taxes (which will never, ever happen), then those who don't pay shouldn't get to vote these kinds of administrations into office in the first place.

The federal government's partial solution to the economic crisis was to print more money. It's that easy. Credit card companies found ways around the 2009 Credit Card Reform Act. Ask me about my current opinion of Capital One's "new policies." It is not a far stretch of the imagination to think financial institutions can't find a way to skirt the new rules of Big Brother. Just like kids find a way to secretly hold all that play money, it can and will happen.


 

Monday, July 19, 2010

If Fast Food Restaurants Served Chocolate Bars, I’d Be In Heaven…

I contemplated this question seriously as I waited in line at the local fast food chain for my lunch this week. Then I saw the news about some of the upcoming changes as related to health care, and I thought I might need to rethink that grand idea. When the health care debate reached critical mass in early 2010, Americans were left feeling the effects of one the largest political rifts in quite some time. The chasm created over the passage of the health care overhaul is far reaching and still the source of much debate around the proverbial dinner table. I would argue a majority of Americans are still trying to decide how health care changes will affect their own households. Rest assured, change is coming, as promised. However, it is most likely not the change Americans envisioned when they elected the Chosen One in 2008, at least in regard to health care.

In the midst of other large crises looming in our country, health care seems all but forgotten. One small article here and there in mainstream media, perhaps, or you might think about the healthcare changes as you sit waiting in your current doctor's office for what seems an eternity. There are only so many magazines that can help pass that time, right? But, be aware, the health care overhaul is coming soon to your home. The media is slowly filtering to the American public some of the changes yet to come. Perhaps one of the most intriguing is the use of the Body Mass Index, or BMI, for each individual to be placed on a national exchange for medical records. The BMI calculates a ratio between an individual's height and weight, which is then used to determine if a person is obese…or not. Even the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) consider, the BMI an ideal measurement of your overweight status. A BMI of 30 or greater is considered obese. In the interest of full disclosure, at 5'8" and 215 pounds, I scored a BMI of 32.8. Whoa. I didn't know I was so unhealthy, although I eat generally healthy and exercise. My recommended weight hovers somewhere in the 130-140, which, after three children and being 33, is absolutely not going to happen unless a weight fairy shows up at my front door.

Thus, the BMI, a debatable measure of obesity, is being used to determine the obesity status of individual Americans. Can we not see where this is going?

I can. Michelle Obama has made childhood obesity the theme of her term as First Lady. No more chubby kids addicted to television and video games allowed. Oh, and they can't have toys from fast food chains either. Those evil toys, luring innocent children to steal the keys to the family van and fly to the nearest hamburger joint in search of a piece of plastic heaven and fatty French fries. I am not saying school lunchrooms will not benefit from these proposed changes to childhood eating habits, but to take on private corporation(s) and tell them how to market to their customers is a stretch. I mean, come on, we have already lost Joe Camel.

It is also not a stretch to see where the BMI fits in for the adults in our country. As ObamaCare heads down the rails, the illusion of equality must be recognized. It is only an illusion. The BMI is a perfect example. A faulty measure to determine obesity in adults…will this determine the type of coverage you are actually eligible for? Why else would information be needed by the federal government? "Dr. Highly Trained and Specialized is only allowed to accept patients with low BMI. Dr. Quack Last in Class is available for you." And this information will be right there at the touch of a button. According to the health care bill, providers seeking federal subsidies of any kind must use the electronic records system. So any doctor anywhere, without ever having seen you, met you, diagnosed you, can know how supposedly fat you might be. And don't think for a minute your information will not be accessed without your permission. The fine print says there are exceptions to the sale of your information, such as "research." My, what a nice broad term for a large umbrella.

This is only the beginning of the changes, and these seem small. In an article dated July 17, 2010, The Wall Street Journal outlined the new duties of the IRS as it relates to ObamaCare. Do you realize how many new employees the IRS will require to enforce this new social program? Since one of the new jobs of the IRS will be to determine who has the required government insurance and who doesn't, and specifically collecting penalties from those who do not, the IRS cannot even speculate a number on the increase in human power to carry these jobs through. I wonder if in the 2300 some odd page bill there is fine print on obese folks being charged more in penalties. Would this surprise you? I wouldn't be. The government is getting ready to levy PENALTIES on people who don't follow the rules about insurance. Funny how the federal rules in place about immigration are ignored by the powers that be, but that is a topic for another post. It is also ironic for a President to complain so much about the GOP halting jobs and the economy….oh wait, the President keeps creating new six-figure federal jobs. Again, this begins a topic for another post.

I urge you to not forget about the health care changes on the horizon. I am not. These are a very, very small part of that mountain. I am, however, still thinking about how to convince those fast food chains to carry a chocolate selection at the drive through window. If grocery stores can tempt me at the checkout, then why not fast food too? Oh well. I would not want to encourage the attention of the government food police.