I used to think that our Senators and Representatives, you know, the ones that we elected, actually represented us. Silly me. Right now, we to have two political parties. One of them clearly and unapologetically represents the ultra wealthy, and the other one represents, well, I am not too sure who they think they represent. In either case, neither represents me.
Look at what is going on in our government right now. We have a financial crisis. A lot of it is real, and some has just been created by right(er) wing Republicans. It seems clear that most of our problems have been caused by Wall Street greed aided by their Republican enablers – as well as some Democrats. We Americans are learning that it is almost impossible to make laws that would stop the greedy behavior from happening again. A law was passed which reinstated a lot of the Great Depression regulations (which worked for over 60 years), but, at the insistence of the Republicans, it had to be watered down a bit. They are almost guaranteeing that in another 10 years, or so we will have the same sort of crisis that we have now. A lot of our congressmen are simply owned by the banking industry. There is no polite way of putting it.
Let’s look at some other lobbying that has slipped under the radar. A lot of “our” congressmen are fighting the Obama Administration’s efforts to take unhealthy foods out of schools. The Obama Administration at the recommendation of the US Department of Agriculture has proposed a new requirement that would limit the used of potatoes in the lunch line, inserting new restrictions on sodium, and boosting the use of whole grains. Sounds OK, doesn’t it? Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee said defeating the administrations requirements would “prevent overly burdensome and costly regulations and would provide greater flexibility for local school districts to improve the nutritional quality of meals.” Improve? Who are they kidding?
School meals that are subsidized by the federal government must include a certain amount of vegetables, and the USDA proposal would have probably pushed pizza-makers and potato growers out of the school lunch business. The lunch program that the Obama Administration had proposed was first recommended to the USDA by the National Academy of Sciences. It is necessary, they say, to reduce childhood obesity and future health care costs.
The health of our children is getting so bad that now, there is even a group of retired generals advocating for healthier school lunches. This group, called Mission Readiness, has called poor nutrition in school lunches a national security issue because obesity is the leading medical disqualifier for military service. I presume that congress simply feels that the frozen pizza industry knows more about good nutrition and health then does the US military.
One conservative congressman says, in defense of junk food, that the government has no business telling kids what to eat. Really? In school, the schools are responsible for the health and safety of the children. This has always been an established legal principle. That congressman is speaking sheer nonsense. If we allowed complete freedom of choice of foods, a large proportion of the kids would be eating pizza all of the time, would be morbidly obese by the time they were 30 and would have no teeth left.
What is going on is that The United States Congress is putting on a rather shameful display of catering to banks, corporate interests, etc., giving us all a real lesson in how politics works. In the end, it is not about the kids, it is about kowtowing to special interests.
We don’t need Al-Quid-a to destroy the United States. With our own inattentiveness to the actions of our government, and Congress’s shameless support to big business, we are doing it to ourselves.