The Government Cure

Gretchen Becker Health Guide
  • [Humor]


    The United States needs a "national plan to combat obesity," according to the authors of a report called "F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies are Failing in America," by the Trust for America's Health.


    I think that's an excellent idea. I remember President Johnson's War on Poverty and how successful that was, and I assume a national War on Obesity would wipe out obesity just as the War on Poverty wiped out poverty for all time and the War on Drugs solved the drug problem for all nations.


    In fact, obesity is easy to cure. Rich people tend to be thin, and poor people tend to be fat (except, of course, during times of famine). The reason is obvious: starchy and fatty foods are cheaper than protein. You get more calories for the dollar at McDonald's than you do at La Snootee Gourmet, which serves slivers of Alaskan salmon garnished with a tablespoon of spinach, obscure herbs no one has ever heard of, and a mysterious sauce made from mushrooms picked by the chef himself, all for only $75 plus beverage and tip.

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    So if we want to cure obesity, all we need to do is give poor people more money. If we stopped fighting wars, we'd have billions of extra dollars to give poor people, and obesity would go away. If we legalized drugs, we'd save billions in law enforcement expenses, so the police and undercover agents could devote their efforts to making sure fat children ate more fruits and vegetables.


    However, assuming no one wants to stop fighting wars because the uniforms are so sexy, a national War on Obesity would have other advantages. For example, it would provide high-paid jobs to the Secretary of Obesity and his or her staff, who could sit around in air-conditioned offices writing memos telling fat people to eat more fruits and vegetables and get more exercise while the poor people spent their days moving heavy furniture or mowing lawns during heat waves and then went home exhausted to dinners of macaroni and cheese, the only food they could afford.


    But hey, I have a much better idea than a War on Obesity. How about a War on Getting Old? The government could come up with a national plan to combat getting old.


    Of course, the best way to avoid getting old is to die young. Wars and famines are always good ways of ensuring that thousands or even millions of people will be spared the horrors of growing old.


    Another way to avoid getting old is to lie about your age. A national plan to combat getting old could teach people how to doctor their birth certificates to appear much younger than they really are. This would also save billions of dollars in Social Security and Medicare payments that could then be funneled into the War on Obesity.


    I eagerly volunteer to be Secretary of Not Getting Old, assuming I'd be offered a six-figure salary for sitting in an air-conditioned office while I wrote memos about how to lie. But I'd probably never get the job. Most politicians have a big head start when it comes to knowing how to distort the truth, and they'd probably do better in the job interviews.


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    Then how about a national plan to combat those Internet jokes that keep getting passed around? A national War on Spam? A national plan to get people to stop telling us over and over again to eat more fruits and vegetables?


    Sorry, Trust for America's Health. I know your heart is in the right place. But I think Prohibition demonstrated how useful it is for the government to decide what people can eat or drink. The "obesity epidemic" started after the government spent so much money publicizing its notorious Food Pyramid that urged people to eat more white bread and potatoes.


    You'd think they'd learn that national guidelines telling people how they should live their lives doesn't work well with most Americans, who value their independence. But then, who ever listens to me?

Published On: August 29, 2007