I won't lie. Today has been very difficult for me. I cannot quite find the words to describe how I feel: disappointed, disheartened, stunned, sickened, scared. I am even more shocked at how this is affecting me emotionally. It is almost like the bits of hope and promise to which I was clinging simply dissolved. I have never ever felt this way after an election. Normally, I would just shrug my shoulders and move on with life. This time it is different, and it aches.
I am not interested in trying to dissect the exit polls, demographic data, campaign strategies, and voter turnout. I am not interested in hearing conspiracy theories, stories of illegal voting and "missing" ballots, and what-ifs. I do not want to hear rallying cries or victory speeches from either side. I do not care about who controls what house and who did or didn't do what. I just do not want to hear any more politics, propaganda, or lies. I have had enough.
While I can understand, respect, and even appreciate the celebrations of those who support President Obama and voted for him, I cannot stomach the blatantly racist tweets and comments pouring forth from the ignorant and illiterate. They are probably the same ones who threatened riots and violence if Obama lost or posted hateful comments about voting white or black. They are the ones tweeting, posting, and shouting," 'obamas president!' 'yeah fuck white people!' hahaha" -Danni@SugarGummy. (Don't believe me? Look it up on Google. "Fuck White People" actually trended.) I know that type of people have always been out there, but thanks to social media, I get to see it up close and personal. I will never find it cute, funny, or in the slightest way acceptable to talk, write, sing, or act in that way. For me it shows the erosion of polite and intelligent society.
For some, yesterday was unimportant. Some argued that things would not change with either candidate, so they did not vote. Or if they did, they did so without any real thought and scrutiny. There are those who voted solely based on color. There are those who fell prey to negative campaign ads. There are those who so strongly believe in the party line that they gave up all independent thought. What most don't understand is that this was not about winning or losing, republican or democrat, white or black, rich or poor. If things had been that clear, it would be much easier for me to reconcile. This election was not about uteruses, gay marriage, or immigration. This election was not even really about the economy. This election was about a fundamental way of life, a guiding philosophy for our country. It was about choosing a path for the future of the country- choosing an ideology. Anyone who has been paying attention closely understands that. Now, it is clear that Americans have chosen one.
Unfortunately, for me, the president that the voters chose is not the one that I support. I am not upset for the reasons some would argue. It is not because he is black or a democrat or liberal. It's because the direction in which he wants to lead this country is so opposite of what I believe. I won't belabor the talking points and arguments. They have already been made, and we heard them all. I will even admit I did not agree with Romney on several things. However, I don't believe that Obama ever cared one percent about me and my family or our values and quality of life. I do believe that Romney was America's best chance to move forward in a way that is true to what our founding fathers and the Constitution intended. I do believe that Romney could have gotten the job done, helped heal the economy, worked in a bipartisan fashion. I believed in America, that was until last night.
Now that is all gone. If anyone thinks that Obama and his supporters care about the 100%, they are sadly mistaken. It only took 50% to win, and the rest of us are irrelevant. Yes, they intend to move the country forward but on a path that is very different from what many think. A path where self-reliance is seen as selfishness and weakness. One where those who work hard will be forced to compromise their own values and hard-earned livelihoods in ways that they may not support or agree; they will have no choice. One where exceptionalism is not embraced, encouraged, or even tolerated; only celebrities and athletes receive a free pass. One where responsibility and accountability no longer exist; instead, excuses, lower standards, and entitlement dominate. One where lying, bullying others who believe differently, and division rules; racism, intolerance, and violent threats prosper. This is the vision I have for Obama's America.
So, now I have to come to terms with the results of the election. Obama will be president for another four years, at least. How much or how little damage there will be to what I thought was my country I do not know. How much will change I do not know. Nevertheless, I do know this: I accept the fact that the American people voted for Obama. I accept the fact that he will remain president. I accept that my values and beliefs are now part of the minority. However, I do not have to hide or control the revulsion I feel inside whenever I hear either of the Obamas or Biden speak, especially when it is about compromise or American spirit. I do not have to pretend to "respect the office." I do not have to play the good little American and feign support for a president for which I did not vote. As long as there is free speech, I do not have to keep my opinions to myself. I do not have to agree, smile, or accede nor do I have to argue, fight, or blame. I do not have to change or sacrifice my principles. I do not have to change who I am.
My sense of charity, my sense of national pride, and my belief in real hope and change have all vanished for now. I will mourn the loss of America's greatest qualities and move on. I will continue to teach my children about personal responsibility, a strong work ethic, and true freedom. I will continue to be a good person, but on my terms for what I believe is right, not what someone else tells me I am supposed to believe. I will focus only on those who are closest to me and hold on dearly to who I am. I will find a way for my family to survive the ensuing mess. Moreover, for those who voted for and support Obama, I will pray that you are right and I am wrong. It is done, and now we all will reap whatever consequences YOUR choice has brought.
Bigotry is the state of mind of a bigot, defined by Merriam-Webster as "a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially: one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance". Bigotry may be based on real or perceived characteristics, including age, disability, dissension from popular opinions, economic status, ethnicity, gender identity,language, nationality, political alignment, race, region, religious or spiritual belief, sex, or sexual orientation. Bigotry is sometimes developed into an ideology or world view.
So as I sit here, skimming Twitter and the news (thereby avoiding the task of writing a research paper), I sigh and sigh. As the presidential election creeps closer, it seems the attacks grow more vicious, the rhetoric more misleading and childish, the desperation for campaign contributions more feverish. The heated vitriol among the most loyal supporters has always been there, but now it spreads through everything like a virus, infecting even those who had been more moderate and tolerant in their opinions and commentary.
I am tired of people who wish to argue or debate but cannot make the effort to support their viewpoints with unbiased evidence. They simply regurgitate information that they hear on radio and television or read on the internet and in newspapers without looking for bias and bothering to educate themselves or understand the issues further. The irony is that as we grow up, we make every effort to provide strong, well-substantiated arguments to our parents and others as to why we should be able to do certain things like drive the car. We struggle against their viewpoints so that we may develop our own. But as adults, many of us are simply willing to adopt someone else’s argument as our own rather than expend the energy- either because we don’t have it or we choose not to use it.
If you want to present a valid argument, you should be able to do two things:
1. Prove that you understand the issue AND
2. Be able to use or apply supporting points/ evidence in ways that go beyond what you read or hear.
Politicians and campaigns are very good at suppressing and manipulating information to serve their purposes. That is where the individual must be responsible for sorting through evidence to come to a fair and objective conclusion. Unfortunately, it is time-consuming and tiring to do so. Sometimes it is downright confusing. Nevertheless, the individual who does not truly understand the issues (beyond reciting information from the media) easily falls victim to logical fallacies and misdirection- a tactic widely used in campaigns. To complicate matters, individuals have a tendency to identify with a person or “team” (ie. democrat, republican), and they then take cues on their positions from someone influential in that team. Some become extremely loyal and refuse to entertain anything outside of that circle. This leads the individual to accept arguments and evidence consistent with the position without being critical and to reject opposing arguments and evidence without understanding them. Even the wisest individuals are susceptible to this.
The key is to THINK for yourself. Resist the urge to side with the “team.” Be aware of tricks. Understand and consider the evidence. Come to your own conclusion. In order to do all of this, educate yourself about the claims that anyone makes, no matter what side of the issue. Ask yourself: How much of it is biased? Is there any missing or misdirected information? Question everything and learn as much as possible before coming to a conclusion.
Image from Haley's Comic by Haley Wolfe http://www.haleyscomic.com/2012/01/race.html
I don’t care which side of the issue you take as long as you can have an educated and passionate discussion that is devoid of insults and epithets. Be reasonable and civil. Prove to me that you can think beyond what others say. Show me that you care enough to understand and know the issues, making the argument your own rather than a recitation of someone else’s talking points. If you can do those things, you may very well bring something new to light that I hadn’t known. You may even succeed in convincing me to consider more or think differently.
I am an American woman, and there is a war being waged against me, at least according to many liberals, feminists, and democrats. According to them I should be outraged that the GOP, and any republican or conservative for that matter, is trying to revoke my rights. So I am left wondering whether or not I should be worried. I mean, after all, are we talking about women in America being subjected to many of the horrors of women in the Middle East such as Sharia Law? Are we in danger of becoming indentured servants to our fathers and husbands, being required to have four male witnesses for rape, or being stoned to death? Now that would be a true war on women, one that I would fight wholeheartedly.
As usual, I have sought to find a more clear and accurate definition that goes beyond the slogan. According to Karen Teegarden women should, "Watch TV news coverage. Read news stories in your morning paper. The War on Women is a war on reproductive rights. The evidence is clear" (1). Dave Helfert defines it as, "... what Democrats call an onslaught of legislation in state capitals across the country and in Congress aimed at limiting women's health and family planning services, curtailing women's access to contraceptives and legal abortions, even restricting women's ability to fight employment discrimination" (2). After reading these articles as well as many others, the main conclusion that I can draw is that the "War on Women" is supposedly a war being waged by republicans in controlling women through legislation- the majority of which focuses on contraception and abortion. There are also allegations that republicans are trying to dismantle equal pay laws and stand in the way of violence against women legislation. All of these anti-women measures are surely an attempt to strip American women of their rights and freedoms- rights to access birth control, receive equal pay, and escape from domestic violence.
Wait a minute....can they do that? Is this really what is happening?
You see, part of the problem in our society, and part of the reason that these types of attacks are so successful, is that many people cannot or do not read between the lines. They hear something and latch on rather than understanding the details and issues. Nothing is ever black and white, but many like to present it as such.
More appropriate would be a title such as the War on Abortion, but you will never hear that because it changes the game. Not all women support all types of abortion. We are not talking about going back to an age where it is illegal to use birth control or an attack on women's health services. Is it a stripping away of women's access to health services if republicans argue that Planned Parenthood, who does provide abortion, should not receive taxpayer dollars to fund those services? It is a grey area. One side argues that the majority of Planned Parenthood's services are for non-abortion things such as well-woman exams and counseling, and PP does not use federal funds for abortions. The other side argues that cutting off funding from America's largest abortion provider would stop its ability to perform abortions. In my opinion, if Planned Parenthood is such a huge advocate for women's health services, then it could easily find a way to separate tax-payer funded services from abortion- even breaking into two different groups. Maybe they could call it Planned Parenthood and Prevented Parenthood. That would quickly resolve the issue.
And what about contraception? I mean, it is clear that republicans and conservatives want American women to be pregnant and barefoot in the kitchen, right? After all, if there is not mandated contraceptive coverage- free contraception that is- then women will not be able to avoid getting pregnant. According to Sandra Fluke, "...[women] have suffered financially and emotionally and medically because of this lack of coverage...contraception can cost a woman over $3,000...Women like her have no choice but to go without contraception...." (3). She said all of this and more in her testimony before Congress. Granted, she was specifically talking about women attending law school at Georgetown University. Yet, she never mentions the availability of free or low-cost options such as Planned Parenthood clinics and Walmart, who offers birth control prescriptions for as low as $9 per month. Maybe those options aren't good enough for the Georgetown crowd or maybe they just don't have access to Walmart. Even so, in the early 90's when I was working for around $5.00 an hour as a fast food manager at McDonalds, I could afford my monthly prescriptions of birth control pills without insurance coverage or government intervention. The argument continues that it is not just about birth control but also about women who need the pills to help with medical problems such as PCOS and endometriosis. However, if you read the PPACA closely, free contraceptive coverage includes ALL US FDA approved methods and sterilization procedures: Male Condom, Female condom, Diaphragm with Spermicide, Sponge with Spermicide, Cervical Cap with Spermicide, Spermicide Alone, Oral Contraceptives (progestin-only) "The Minipill", Combined Oral Contraceptives (Extended/Continuous Use)(estrogen and progestin) "The Pill", Patch (estrogen and progestin), Vaginal Contraceptive Ring (estrogen and progestin), DMPA Shot/Injection (progestin), Emergency Contraceptives “The Morning After Pill”, Copper IUD, IUD with Progestin, Implantable Rod (progestin). The majority of these methods have nothing to do with medical necessity, and some are much more expensive than others. But anyone who pays taxes and insurance premiums will be footing the bill for women to have access to contraception because $9 per month is just too much of a burden to bear to avoid becoming pregnant. It is obvious that republicans, conservatives, and religious organizations are determined to strip all women of control over their reproductive rights by not supporting this legislation- isn't it?
So the war on women's health care access is really a war about the funding of Planned Parenthood and abortion. The war on reproductive rights is really a war on mandated coverage, or free, birth control.
What about equal pay for women? The White House and democrats tout statistics that state women earn 77 cents for every dollar that a man earns. However, many of the articles I have read point out that these numbers are not necessarily accurate as they are based on a broad range of data. There are indications that there is still a gap in pay, but it may not be as large as some purport. Personally, I have never encountered discriminatory pay. I admit that I often feel like I am living on a different planet because my experiences must not be typical considering the issues at hand. Nonetheless, when I was a public high school teacher, my salary was set by the county and published for all to see. My salary was based on my level of education and years of experience. It was the same for my male counterparts, and the only way we received a pay increase was through step (year of teaching), cost of living, or contract negotiation with the union. I find this ironic as some of the articles I read claimed that female teachers earned less than their male counterparts, which leads me to believe that some of the data is definitely misleading or faulty. Or maybe they were just referencing teachers in private institutions. Even though The Equal Pay Act, which clearly prohibits pay discrimination, was enacted in 1963, many claim that it is not enough to fight wage disparity between men and women. A new law has been proposed, the Paycheck Fairness Act, that will supposedly give the original act more strength. The law has not passed the Senate because of those nasty, women-hating republicans. Unfortunately, there are many hidden facets in the PFA that make it excessive and burdensome to business. For example, The EPA already prohibits discrimination, but there are some elements that could be used as loopholes in lawsuits. Supposedly, the PFA remedies this. However, it also would make it extremely difficult for businesses and HR departments to use their professional judgments to make salary offers and pay decisions. It also would make it easier for lawsuits (including class action) against employers with no limit on punitive damages (except for the federal government) and would require businesses to disclose detailed salary information to the government. As with anything, there are obvious pros and cons to the act. Nevertheless, I do not believe that it is a war on women because some republicans and conservatives do not support it. Rather than trying to find a compromise and rewrite the act so that it truly helps women and businesses, it has become a rallying cry for democrats and liberals.
So the war on women's equality in pay is really a war about playing politics for women's votes.
What about the Violence Against Women Act? Are republicans holding it hostage as another attack on women? The act originated in 1994 and provides assistance to victims of domestic violence. It has been renewed twice before and is up for renewal again. This should be a no-brainer, right? So why is that republicans are holding out? It is not as simple as republicans refusing to support the law. In reality, the original law has had strong support from both sides of the aisle. The real debate involves two different versions, a republican bill that the house passed and an expanded version passed by the senate. The battle is not over the basics in the original law but rather the expanded provisions in the senate version. The new items in the senate version are as follows: "One would subject non-Indian suspects of domestic violence to prosecution before tribal courts for crimes allegedly committed on reservations. Another would expand the number of temporary visas for illegal immigrant victims of domestic violence [from 10,000 to 15,000]. The last would expand Violence Against Women Act protections to gay, bisexual or transgender victims of domestic abuse" (4). There are plenty of arguments for and against the new additions, which I would expect on any piece of legislation. The problem here is not that those nasty, evil, women-hating republicans want to eliminate assistance for victims of domestic violence. It is that they do not all agree with the new provisions that democrats are pushing. So, once again, instead of Congress working together to find compromises in a bill that all can agree upon, they are turning it into a bitter debate. To make matters worse, democrats are using it as another example of the republican war on women.
So the war on stopping violence against women is really a war between political parties over the fine print.
I am deeply offended by the gross rhetoric being spewed forth. The War on Women is nothing more than political propaganda geared at gaining women's support by using misleading phrases. Women such as Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Nancy Pelosi, Sandra Fluke, Andrea Mitchell, Rachel Maddow, and others in the group of liberal women and leftist media infuriate me. They believe they can speak for ALL women. They have no idea what I want or think. Me, the suburban mom who is literate, educated, professional, and American. I don't give two flips about free birth control, funding for Planned Parenthood, more legislation to allow the government to regulate business and encourage litigation, or adding provisions to the VAWA. What I care about is the future of this country- economically. I care about my husband and I having jobs, paying the bills, my children's futures. I care about being able to afford the gasoline that we need to get to our jobs and school while still keeping the lights on and buying groceries. I care about the housing market and how we are so upside down in our mortgage that there is no way we will be able to sell and move for years, even though the jobs we now have require longer commutes, and more gas. I care about personal freedom being protected and personal responsibility being endorsed. Those are the issues that are important to me, and none of them exist in the supposed War on Women.
He's done it again. New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has made the headlines for his extreme measures to control the behavior and limit the choices of his constituents through nanny-state policies and programs. While some could argue that the salt and trans fats bans have a direct impact on consumer health and there are many potential benefits, the latest measures reek of pure idiocy. I wrote previously on how ridiculous I felt the soda ban was. Another absurd ban is the donation of foods to homeless shelters
because the Department of Homeless Services cannot measure the nutritional content of donated food- or in other words, it may contain too much salt. Now it seems that the brazen Bloomberg is reaching even further into the private lives of individuals. It is a true war on women (unlike the war fabricated by proponents of the PPACA that included free birth control).
The program to "encourage" new mothers to breastfeed is set to begin in September and affects New York hospitals. It begins with “ 'the city keep[ing] tabs on the number of bottles that participating hospitals stock and use' " (3). Then it outlines that new mothers who want formula for their babies must wait for a nurse sign out the formula like a medication. Not only must mom ask and wait, but she must then sit through a lecture about how breastfeeding is the better option each time
she receives a bottle. I am sure this "mandated talk" will be generic and scripted by someone beforehand. Most likely, it will be the same information that she has encountered throughout her maternity care and in advertising. But it does not stop there. To make this measure even more sinister, the hospital staff must document a medical reason
for providing the formula. Granted, "The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene...is strongly encouraging — though not yet requiring —" this new program (3). My question is how long it will be before it becomes mandatory, and what if any provisions are set for those who have exetenuating circumstances.
Before I begin, I would like to pay a small tribute to one of the victims who lost her life Friday night. I think it serves to remind us that these were real people with real lives, and tragedy (and in this case irony) are not strong enough words to describe the loss of these lives. She wrote a poignant piece on her own blog about the gift of life, " After Saturday evening, I know I truly understand how blessed I am for each second I am given" (**). Rest in Peace Jessica (Redfield) Ghawy .
As is true of many Americans, the recent shooting in a Colorado movie theater has rocked my world. No, I do not have any personal connections to the city of Aurora. I did not know any of the victims or witnesses. But as a living, breathing human being, I still feel intense grief and shock. I am horrified by the details as they emerge. How can one individual so callously end the lives of 12 people and harm numerous others? How can so many innocent people attending a movie screening end up in a situation like this? What if it had been me or someone I loved?
Whenever such a thing happens, these questions come to mind, as they should. Horrible events serve to remind us that we are mortal beings, often vulnerable to tragic circumstances. There is no way to explain how or why, which creates even deeper pain and fear in many people's minds. And despite our best efforts, there is no way possible to explain away the pain and fear or understand it. It is an irrational act by an irrational individual and defies all logic. Period.
Yesterday, as I watched the news, I found myself at a loss for words. I was filled with a profound sadness and even shed some tears as I listened to witness accounts on the news. I am not a religious person. Nevertheless, my heart still filled with sympathy, and I said a few silent prayers for those who were directly affected. What else could I do?
I expect that many Americans felt the way I did. I believe that we all were doing a little soul-searching and reflecting on our own lives and loved ones. I was pleased to see that the majority of our local and national leaders made it a priority to set aside their political agendas to extend condolences and express deep sympathy to the people of Aurora. Both Obama and Romney suspended campaign efforts, set aside their negative attacks, and kept their responses short and devoid of blame or negative rhetoric. Many other officials echoed the sentiment. I read through 57 comments gathered by the Huffington Post
(4), and each expressed deep-felt sympathy. This is the way it should be in the wake of a national tragedy. It provides some measure of comfort to the American people and shows respect for those affected. Nevertheless, not all leaders followed suit. There were some who decided to take advantage of a tragedy to serve their own political agenda less than 24 hours afterwards. They could not even wait for 24 hours!!! This to me is vulgar, disrespectful, and just proves how callous and insensitive these individuals/ groups are.
A prime example of this is one politician who has proven again and again that he is a selfish, narrow-minded zealot, Michael Bloomberg. The man could not wait to espouse his view and barely acknowledged any of the victims before launching into his diatribe. He was joined by the mayor of Boston and the president of the Brady Campaign.
I must admit that I am somewhat torn by the current debate over whether or not Mitt Romney should release more tax returns. I have listened to arguments on all sides, and I feel somewhat divided on the issue. The one conclusion that I have drawn, however, is that many of the politicians calling for the release of his tax returns are quite hypocritical.
The argument that the opposition is putting forth is that anyone who runs for the office of president should be transparent. In addition, they claim that it is tradition for presidential candidates to release many years. Many top Democratic officials have gone so far as to imply that Romney will not release his returns because he is hiding something nefarious. Some have not gone quite that far but are willing to speculate that there are years when Romney did not pay any taxes or that he is avoiding paying taxes by "hiding" his money in offshore accounts. It is all speculation of course, laced with the worst kinds of innuendo designed to discredit and paint the Republican candidate in a negative light.
One example of this practice is in a statement by Obama's campaign manager, " 'The President and the Vice President released their tax returns today so that Americans can review their personal finances, understand how they earn their income and ensure there are no conflicts with the interests of the nation...But on the eve of April 17th, Governor Romney has yet to provide tax returns from the period in which he made hundreds of millions as a corporate buyout specialist, or as governor of Massachusetts, the experience he says qualifies him to be president' "(3). Senator Reid gave a speech to the Senate in which he asked, “ 'We’d like to know what’s in those tax returns that he refuses to show to the American public. Did he pay any taxes?' ” He has even gone so far as to suggest that "Romney’s refusal to release more than two years of tax returns would make him ineligible to serve even as dogcatcher" (9). Another example of the innuendo is when "Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee,...harangued Romney for refusing to release more tax returns, calling it a 'penchant for secrecy' ” (9).
On the other hand, Romney supporters argue that this issue is just a way for Democrats to distract the voters from the real issues at hand such as the economy and President Obama's poor record in office. According to John D. McKinnon, "Democrats see a way to deflect voter dissatisfaction over the weak economy and diminish the GOP’s advantage on tax issues by attacking what they describe as tax breaks that have unfairly benefited wealthy people and big corporations and drawn jobs and investment away from the U.S." (5). Supporters also claim that even if Romney did release more returns, it would not be enough to silence the opposition, and the returns would become a tool that the Obama campaign would use to manipulate Romney's image as a fat cat who only cares about the wealthy. The tax code is so complicated that even if the public did review Romney's returns, it might not understand many items such as investment dividends, which would make it very easy for the opposition to distort. " 'In the political environment that exists today, the opposition research of the Obama campaign is looking for anything they can use to distract from the failure of the president to reignite our economy,' Romney told Costa. 'And I'm simply not enthusiastic about giving them hundreds or thousands of more pages to pick through, distort and lie about' " (6). An article in The Washington Post states, "Florida GOP Chairman Lenny Curry said that by calling for the tax returns, Obama “wants people to be jealous of and resent wealth” and that the president “is without question wanting a street fight in this campaign.” (7)
On Friday, the Obama Administration changed its policy on another hot-button political issue, deportation of illegal immigrants. This of course does not include all illegal immigrants. It focuses on those who entered the United States as children (under the age of 16), are currently under 30, and meet certain requirements such as residing in the US for five years and attending school (or graduated/earned a GED) or serving in the armed forces (or honorably discharged from). In addition, the individual cannot have any felony or significant misdemeanor convictions and must not pose a threat to national security. (Read Napolitano's memo
for specifics). The executive order grants those who qualify a 2 year reprieve from deportation and will allow them to apply for work permits.
So, What is the big deal one might ask. It seems like a reasonable compromise to make for a small population (approximately 800,000) of illegal immigrants who are here due to no fault of their own. In addition, as Napolitano argues, "The change is part of a department effort to target resources at illegal immigrants who pose a greater threat, such as criminals and those trying to enter the country now,..." (15). Actually, it is very similar to provisions outlined in the DREAM Act. The order does not provide amnesty or guarantee citizenship, nor does it provide a permanent or lasting solution.
While I have strong feelings about illegal immigration and the United States' policies toward it, I am neither hard to the left or right. There are many things that Obama outlined in his vision for immigration reform that I could get behind. Some of the proposals include holding business accountable, establishing E-verify, requiring illegal immigrants to submit to rigorous security checks, deporting felons and convicts, requiring the learning of English and American civics, etc (9). Nevertheless, while I would support the policy outlined in Obama's executive order, I DO NOT SUPPORT the method, motivation, and timing behind it. As a matter of fact, I am actually quite disenchanted, to put it mildly.
a 32 oz soda has approximately 300 calories.
One of the current news headlines "New York Plans to Ban Sale of Big Sizes of Sugary Drinks" makes me shake my head, throw up my hands in despair, and sigh most emphatically. I see it as yet another attempt to regulate American life (for the supposed good of society). Rather than advocate personal choice and responsibility, politicians are again sending Americans the implied message that we are either too stupid or simply incapable of knowing what is and what isn't good for us. They know that most will only listen to the rhetoric, however biased or misleading it may be, instead of forming educated opinions. And no matter what spin anyone puts on this issue, it is really just another overstep by officials to dictate American choice.
Throughout history, there have been many efforts to help foster a healthier society. " Federal regulation of the industry began on a large scale in the early twentieth century when Congress enacted the Pure Food and Drugs Act of 1906"(4). Most food regulation is for good reasons such as avoiding the adulteration of food and drug products that could pose health risks for consumers. In 2008, New York became the first American city to require that restaurants publish the calorie content of their items on menus (5), and despite protestation from critics, it has become somewhat of a standard throughout America today. Even the current trend towards public smoking bans seems reasonable. In all of these instances, the regulations and laws work to inform consumers so that they may make educated choices in regards to their own health and to protect non-smoking individuals from exposure to possibly toxic factors such as second-hand smoke. However, I believe that there is a difference between these types of regulations and the more recent attempts to control what Americans eat and drink, all under the guise of public health.
Some of the more recent items banned in some cities and states (California and New York leading the way) have been trans fats, table salt, and food trucks. Even froi gras is now on the chopping block in California (8). Other efforts are not direct bans or regulations of food, but have a similar approach such as a ban on toys in kid's meals in California (9). Supporters and politicians claim that all of these things are in the public's best interest. "Trans fats raise your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and lower your good (HDL) cholesterol levels. Eating trans fats increases your risk of developing heart disease and stroke. It’s also associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes" (10) . Too much sodium can lead to problems with high blood pressure and heart disease. Too much sugar can lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes. In regards to large sodas, Walter Millet states that "High intake of these beverages (the standard 20-ounce soda contains 15 to 18 teaspoons of sugar) increases the risks of obesity and diabetes and is clearly unsafe for anyone" (1) .
According to an online debate, 65% of respondents argue that the government should NOT regulate fast food (12). Although this is an informal site and bears no significant recording of public opinion, it is an insight into how people feel about the issue. There are arguments for and against, and it is always productive to see both sides of an issue. One of the the things that bothers me about some of the responses is what I believe is indicative in much of our current society. Individuals do not attempt to do the research on their own in order to form educated and informed opinions. I mean, why bother to read the research and learn about the science behind the issues? It is time consuming (as I can verify through the amount of time it has taken me to complete this post). Much of the information is contradictory and confusing, especially when it comes down to interpreting statistical data. And honestly, it is just that much easier to listen to what we want to hear in order to support our own opinions. So maybe the government is right and we are just too stupid- or at least too lazy- to make our own choices. At the very least this is what these public officials are counting on.
There are several things that I have come across in my "research" that demonstrate to me how much rhetoric plays a factor over actual evidence.