Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Government Subsidizes Junk Food and the Costly Lifestyle Diseases Resulting from Poor Nutrition

If there ever was a defining characteristic of insanity, it's got to be the US government. Only in America are taxpayers forced to subsidized unhealthy bad food that results in expensive to maintain lifestyle diseases that are also publicly funded. The Big Food and Big Pharm lobbies are determined to perpetually guarantee big profits through mandates and subsidies. The marriage of big government and big business has churned Americans into fat pharmaceutical dependent blimps.

Cato has a fascinating piece on this issue.

How Uncle Sam's Making Us Fat
The US Department of Agriculture is Exhibit A for foolish, wasteful federal policymaking: It spends billions subsidizing the same unhealthy foods it tells us to avoid.

This year, the USDA will spend more than $1 billion subsidizing the growth of four common food additives: corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, corn starch and soy oils (hydrogenated vegetable oil).

These additives "provide a cheap dose of sweetness and fat to a wide variety of junk food products," warns the US Public Interest Research Group. PIRG found that the USDA spent $18.2 billion from 1995 to 2011 to subsidize junk-food additives.

Yet, while some of your tax dollars pay for these junk-food additives, more pay for public-health education campaigns that strive to convince us to eat less and to eat better.

The USDA lectures and hectors us to avoid anything that's fatty, salty, sugary or filled with processed ingredients — like the ones our tax dollars subsidize.

Clearly, the Agriculture Department puts the D in double standard: The bureacuracy's left hand is at war with its right.
The government doesn't just subsidize nasty things like the manufacture of HFCS and hydrogenated oils, it also subsidizes the retail sale of these nasty products with food stamp subsidies.  Food stamps have been renamed SNAP, Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, although there's nothing nutritious about the program.  Even liberal organizations are waking up to the stone cold reality that the government subsidizes junk food that makes folks sick and unhealthy. The farm bill passed by Congress is loaded with all kinds of subsidy horrors

Farm Bill Jackpot – How Much do Corporations Benefit from SNAP?
* Powerful food industry lobbying groups such as the American Beverage Association and the Snack Food Association teamed up to oppose health-oriented improvements to SNAP, at times working with anti-hunger groups

* At least nine states have proposed bills to make health-oriented improvements to SNAP, but none have passed, in part due to opposition from the food industry In one year, nine Walmart Supercenters in Massachusetts together received more than $33 million in SNAP dollars—over four times the SNAP money spent at farmers markets nationwide

*In two years, Walmart received about half of the one billion dollars in SNAP expenditures in Oklahoma

* J.P. Morgan Chase holds contracts in 24 states to administer SNAP benefits, indicating concentrated power and a lack of competition

*In New York, a seven-year deal originally paid J.P. Morgan Chase $112 million for EBT services, and was recently amended to add $14.3 million—an increase of 13 percent States are seeing unexpected increases in administrative costs, while banks and other private contractors are reaping significant windfalls from the economic downturn and increasing SNAP participation.
While food stamps supporting liberals are not exactly recognizing that the government freebies that they so cherish are unhealthy, they are beginning to wake up to the reality and some of them are lobbying for nutritional improvement in the junk food laden food stamp program.

As a Libertarian, I oppose the food stamp program.  That said, I don't believe it will ever vanish.  However, it can be vastly improved by restricting food stamp use to fruits, vegetable, meats and dairy. Food stamp users are notorious for loading up with junk food, sugary cereals for their kids and soda.  They don't have the common sense to eat sensibly which is precisely why junk food needs to be banned from the food stamp program.

But there's a hugely expensive companion problem to the food stamp insanity and junk food subsidies.  Bad food results in lifestyle diseases that are very expensive to treat.  Not only are American taxpayers forced to pay for the junk food that makes folks sick with lifestyle diseases, they are also forced to pay for their healthcare.  In fact, Medicare and Medicaid are costing American taxpayers near $1 trillion a year, here.

With 60% of the American people already on some form of taxpayer subsidized healthcare, America is already a socialist nation and most Americans absolutely do demand government provided healthcare and other entitlements.  Support for Medicare, Medicaid and other government programs remains quite strong. Americans are just like everybody else – they want something for free (translation: at the expense of somebody else) but there is no such thing as a free anything and anything the government does is very costly, inefficient and life threatening.

America spends more on healthcare than any industrialized nation and by a very wide margin.

Also, there is no corresponding increase in American longevity considering the huge amount of money we pour into health care. In fact, we keep going backwards, 3rd world nations are surpassing us and we ranked 42nd in longevity.

U.S. ranks just 42nd in life expectancy
Americans are living longer than ever, but not as long as people in 41 other countries. For decades, the United States has been slipping in international rankings of life expectancy, as other countries improve health care, nutrition and lifestyles...

Among the other factors:

Adults in the United States have one of the highest obesity rates in the world. Nearly a third of U.S. adults 20 years and older are obese, while about two-thirds are overweight, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

•“The U.S. has the resources that allow people to get fat and lazy,” said Paul Terry, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Emory University in Atlanta. “We have the luxury of choosing a bad lifestyle as opposed to having one imposed on us by hard times.”
Tragically, American is a nation swimming with fat entitlement dependent pigs. Of course, the government itself is responsible for this nightmare by doling out freebies, free junk food and free healthcare to those who simply refuse to eat or live responsibly.

Kids are eating high calorie, low nutrition diets that primarily consist of simple carbohydrates, sugar, corn syrup, fats and sodium. Much of what kids eat in the schools is taxpayer funded garbage. Even more horrifying is that Migration Information reported that schools actually sell advertising to junk food purveyors by signing “"pouring rights" contracts that permit snack and soft drink companies to advertise to children on school vending machines, scoreboards, book covers, t-shirts, and news programs shown on televisions in the classroom., here.

Only in America do we kill our kids for profit and do it with our tax dollars!!

A group called reported in June 2009 that "Today, we spend nearly $800 billion on health problems that are directly linked to lifestyle and poor health habits each year-about one third of our total health care spending…” and that article was quoting a congress critter, here.

America can't begin to solve its immense economic and fiscal problems because we remain a nation of spoiled rotten morons, from the political class and all the way down to the people who vote to hire the police powers of the state to forcibly steal from somebody else to give them what they think they want or deserve.  So long as folks are allowed to vote for politicians who will keep them fat, lazy, sick and entitlement dependent, the soul of a once proud, independent, prosperous and responsible people will continue to die and morph into something so vile that neither America nor Americans will ever be restored to our glorious legacy of being the the strongest, most prosperous and freest people in human history.

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