Saturday, August 7, 2010

Clarification: What I meant to say about Missouri

When my previous post about Missouri's health-care insurance vote and obesity rates was re-posted on Sojourners' God's Politics blog, commenters told me I was "a little unfriendly," "insulting," "trashing obese people," and lacking compassion for the poor. Among other things.

I went back and reread my post, and I wish I hadn't used the word "fat." My "good luck, Missouri" remark was meant to be sarcastic, but not all readers saw it that way. I am sorry for my insensitivity and have made a few changes to the post.

In addition, I discovered that some important text had been inadvertently dropped. I would like to blame blogpost, but I suspect the fault was my own. The WSJ quote was missing, which meant much of the rest of the article made less sense. The stats on health-care costs were then wrongly attributed to the WSJ, whereas the report actually came from Trust for America's Health. I got it right in the first draft, but somehow the published article was incorrect. I have no idea what happened in the meantime. I have made more changes to the post to fix these errors.

Here's what I meant to say, with a few points of added clarification:

Every year, more and more Americans cross the line into obesity. Obese people, on average, have lots more health problems than normal-weight people. The poorer you are, the more likely you are to be obese. (This is partly because the government subsidizes corn, which is turned into high-fructose corn syrup, which is especially prevalent in inexpensive junk food.) When health insurance is not mandatory - and subsidized for people who can't afford it - a lot of poor people suffer unnecessarily. They have more health problems than their richer neighbors, and unless they have Medicaid or health insurance, they have fewer resources for treating them.

I strongly believe America needs a mandatory, not-for-profit health system that provides basic health care for everyone in the country. I also strongly believe our agricultural policies have led to eating habits that are harming us all, but especially the poor. I found it ironic that last Wednesday's news included both Missouri's vote against mandatory health insurance and Missouri's joining the list of states with obesity rates of over 30%. I do not think either of those facts is going to be good for the poor.

And I would like to add a P.S. I am not putting down on obese people. I am not unaware of eating disorders (I wrote about my aunt's experience here). There are lots of theories out there about why Americans are getting heavier every year, and about why countries that adopt American eating habits are also getting heavier: some of them are probably right. But that's not my point. My point is this: we need to provide basic health care for everybody - especially since we appear to be getting less healthy every year.

1 comment:

LaVonne said...

As a conservative Christian, I could not agree more. We really do need this for our country. Thanks for being honest and kind in your words here on this blog post.