Monday, February 6, 2012

How Can You Have Any Pudding...?

Ah, the eternal question:  How can you have any pudding if you don't eat yer meat? 

Ok, that has hardly anything to do with the topic du jour, except that it refers to pudding/sweets.  And it just popped into my head.  (That's what happens when you're exposed to Pink Floyd from infancy. (g)) 

The story:

A Florida lawmaker is pushing a bill that would ban the use of food stamps to purchase snacks and sweets, such as cookies and cakes.

Republican State Sen. Ronda Storms, of Valrico, says her goal is to stop a small percentage of recipients who misuse food stamps.

Her bill would also require food stamp recipients to take state-run classes on healthy eating and how making your own baked goods is cheaper than store-made sweets.
The bill is moving through state committees in Tallahassee.

Critics say the government shouldn't be telling people what to eat.

Democratic Rep. Gwyndolen Clarke-Reed, of Pompano Beach, also says the educational provision is demeaning to minorities and the poor by implying they aren't smart enough to make their own choices.

At first glance, at least, I don't see a problem with putting restrictions on what food stamps can buy.

In response to those who argue that "the government shouldn't be telling people what to eat," I laugh.  First, some elements of the government would love to be able to tell all of us what we can and cannot eat, and that would be wrong-- but they still want to do it (and we are told that we are ridiculous or just plain wrong for worrying about the slippery slope).  However, when it comes to food stamp purchases, it seems completely reasonable that there be limits on what is and is not allowed.  If you don't like being restricted in your purchases, find a way to earn more money and get off food stamps

And as for Clarke-Reed's statement that "the educational provision is demeaning to minorities and the poor by implying they aren't smart enough to make their own choices"... some might ask if she isn't being demeaning to minorities by implying that they make up the majority of those on food stamps-- and the ones buying unhealthy sweets instead of fruit or the more affordable ingredients for baking their own sweets at home. 

Besides, it's not a matter of intelligence.  It seems more a matter of laziness.  (Yes, I said it.  Er, wrote it.)  Let's face it:  People don't buy sweets instead of baking them because they aren't smart enough to bake-- or to figure out that it's cheaper to bake sweets themselves.  People buy pre-made sweets (and other convenience foods) because they're easy.

It feels like the law-abiding, tax-paying citizen's choices are being limited on several fronts-- or at least there's a feeling that our choices are increasingly threatened by those who salivate over the thought of controlling how parents choose to educate their children, what we eat, how we handle our health care, what we drive-- even something as silly and simple as what light bulbs we can use.  And yet we're supposed to get upset when someone suggests tightened control in one of the few areas that could benefit from it.

Sorry if it sounds callous, but if you're on food stamps, there ought to be some limits on what you can and can't buy with them.  Ever hear the old saying "beggars can't be choosers"?

...The idea of requiring classes on healthy eating and how to bake, on the other hand... I'm not so crazy about that.  I imagine only a tiny percentage of people would benefit from such classes-- and it's just one more program we'd have to fund.  And aren't you supposed to learn about that sort of thing in school?  Good grief!  Why even bother with schooling at all, if we're not learning something as simple as basic nutrition?  Seriously, how can you be alive in the U.S., with our current obsession with health and food and not pick up a few pointers on healthy eating?  Anyone with a TV has access to tons of information.  All those cooking shows!  All those health-focused snippets in the morning news shows!  There's really no excuse.  The answer is that by far the majority know good and well what to eat for health; they simply don't want to do it, because it's not easy and/or it doesn't taste as good.  It requires a sacrifice of some sort-- either of time, or of quantity of food, or of comfort/pleasure-- and we don't like to sacrifice of ourselves on a daily basis.  (I speak from experience.)