top 5 ways to know: mayor bloomberg doesn’t care about fat people

this post is dedicated to the winds of change, so many gifts floating in this fall air, so much challenge as growth draws near.

dear readers,

the times today had both a front pager
and an editorial on mayor bloomberg’s recent proposal to combat obesity by burdening ebt users with new items on the list of banned foods.  the insider editorial piece, justifies the proposal by saying: it will reduce obesity, it will ensure taxpayer dollars are going to good use, it will reduce long term health care costs, it will reduce what amounts to a subsidy of the sweetened beverage industry, and as a test program it will send a signal to the rest of the nation to follow suit.  my prediction is that the regulation will pass.  but i don’t think it should.  i don’t buy it at all.

here’s my top ten reasons ways to know: mayor bloomberg doesn’t care about fat people.

1. in a time of economic hardship, it doesn’t make sense to increase minute regulation of the working poor.  it unnecessarily increases stigma of the working class while failing to address core issues underlying the failing health of americans.

when the editorial reads, “they could still purchase soda if they chose-just not with taxpayer dollars,” it’s saying: 1. there is an us and a them.  us, we, need to change their ways, civilize them.  it’s also saying, 2. this is about soda.  it’s not.  it may not even just be about sugar as much as it is about state control.  but let’s just say it’s about sugar.  i’m all for a reduction of sugar in the presence of the american diet.  but my sense is that this new regulation is about more than the health of the working class. it is about the control of us.

the idea that the poor cannot rule themselves, that the masses, the citizenry must be controlled, is as old as power, as studied as machiavelli’s, the prince.  the implication here is that nyc’s ebt recipients cannot be taught to make better decisions through green food or locavore exposure programs, where, for example, youth get hands on experience with sustainable gardening, with farmers market economics, and with chefs in nyc’s innumerable restaurants who can show how cooking with with healthy foods is not only better for you, but hella tasty and, ultimately, a dope business venture.  so instead of long term solution, engaging a populace in a ground swell of healthier practice, the bloomberg regulations aims at the bottom of the food chain, literally.  on the food chain, the bloomberg regulation targets the most preyed upon for foraging through the little nutrition that remains on corner store shelves, and for resorting to the foods that spell instant gratification in a cold world.

2. bloomberg, if you really cared, you wouldn’t just say no to soda, you would also say yes to other, long term factors that promote health access for all.

you would also say yes to healthier foods in schools, you would say yes to healthy food access in working class neighborhoods, you would say yes to increased employment and educational opportunities for children, because we know that a vigorous interest in ones own life promotes health.  you would say yes to increased mental and physical health support for parents who are not only in charge of mapping the food landscape within their households, but who inevitably pass on food habits like second hand smoke, or like good genes.

you would say yes to implementing programs which not only teach how to shop and cook for the month on the ebt benefits, but which also create jobs.  i am so lucky to have come up in a household where i was exposed to good cooking, on the cheap.  but so many don’t have that exposure.

you would say yes to the de-privatization of health resources, such as health clubs, and make working out easier for all income brackets, not just those who can afford it.  or perhaps that’s only reserved for the incarcerated, who exchange total state control over their bodies (in best case imprisonment scenarios) for regiment, including time for and access to physical conditioning.

3. if bloomberg really cared, he would say no to soda and no to other, contextualizing factors that encourage sugar consumption and poor health.

you would also say no to coca-cola contracts in schools.  you would also say no to the presence of soda conglomerate advertising, product placement, product proliferation in low income areas.

4. super star mayor: the byline in the editorial piece reads, “the next step in new york city’s campaign against obesity:”  bloomberg is running this as a demonstration project, no doubt hoping to amplify nyc’s presence on the worldwide metropolis crackdown map.

but we deserve more than a condescending slap on the wrist.  soda is so cheap, by design, it is cheaper than healthy food.  and ebt recipients can and still will buy it.  so health may or may not be affected by the regulation.  but the mayor wants to appear as though he’s doing something.  well he is.  he is sending a message to power holders in all cities, worldwide, that the working poor can and will be regulated in increasingly intimate ways.

5. let’s just get this straight: “no food stamps for sodas?”

first of all, they’re no longer called food stamps, they are called ebt, or electronic benefit transfer.  second of all, bloomberg’s proposal does not just ban soda, it bans “beverages with more sugar than substance.”  huh?  “beverages with low nutritional value that contain more than 10 calories per 8 ounce serving.”  wha?  don’t worry, milk substances and milk substitutes are not included.  neither are fruit juices without added sugar.  which basically means, we’re at the checkout line, wondering, is this juice cool?     bloomberg’s line goes something like this, eliminating foods from the list of ebt approved items will not eliminate an “enormous subsidy to the sweetened beverage industry.”  i doubt it.  not when beverage conglomerates include alcohol and sodas, and not when alcohol lobbies are the top contributors to political campaigns.

stay tuned for more,

political poet

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2 thoughts on “top 5 ways to know: mayor bloomberg doesn’t care about fat people

  1. sabrina says:

    funny that i came over to read this just now-my colleague and i were just discussing this, and it has been on my mind since i heard about it the other day. the first thing that i thought of were the TANF (welfare-to-work) reforms that they implemented about 10 years ago here in nyc, where they made all recipients work to pay back their benefits, and/or in order to get them, leaving no time for real job searching, no money for babysitting, etc., all while wearing a fluorescent vest, just so everyone knew you were on welfare while scooping up trash from the curb. just another example of the wrist slapping you refer to. Sure, i was raised on tofu and whole grains, and feel like slapping those people on the train munching on their Mcdonald’s at 8:30am, but that is not my place. and it won’t make a difference, not one bit. the obesity issue goes so much deeper, and warrants a multi-faceted approach. yes, education at the base level, parents feeling that they are armed with knowledge and have control over what goes into their children’s mouths. when i was young, my mother used to give nutrition classes to teen moms on the LES. she would take them to the supermarket and show them how to buy whole, decent food with their fixed incomes in their crappy (at that time) stores, and how to start off their baby’s lives right, from the very beginning. i currently work with the older population in nyc, where the great majority of blacks and latinos over age 60 have type 2 diabetes and unmanaged hypertension; it’s just the norm, and its scary. something is very wrong, and simply being tsk tsked when you try to buy pepsi with your eggs and milk won’t begin to scratch the surface.

    • politicalpoet says:

      your writing is powerful sister. you are right to point out the tsk tsk, the new measure is mad condescending. and it’s true, what’s worse is that the stated goal may not even be on the horizon of this regulation.

      yeah, it is reminiscent of the welfare to work program. does state control have to feel so invasive, so nosy? i don’t think so.

      while i was doing the dishes tonight, i was thinking about how working class new yorkers really aren’t organized, and without a unified voice it is hard to fight back. but i wonder what it would take to get organized, to the point where we can take steps towards regaining/gaining more footing in this life game, both in pubic perception and in measures.

      i have a friend who i love dearly, but who’s battle with obesity is sometimes hard to witness. that fanta bottle, that sugary coffee drink is always up under his arm. like an insulin iv set to overdose. or like linus’s dusty, trusted blanket on charlie brown. people, especially grown people, are responsible for their own decisions, yes. but there is something to be said for education, of all classes.

      your mom sounds like she cared, a lot. i’d be curious to hear how she got into teaching nutrition to local teen moms. i’m indian, and i’ve always thought how with just a small investment in spices, folks can eat so well off of lentils, rice, vegetables, chic peas, kidney beans. anyway, holler back.

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