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Thomas Sowell: The ‘Hunger’ Hoax -- It’s part of the larger poverty hoax
National Review ^ | 10/05/2011 | Thomas Sowell

Posted on 10/05/2011 6:45:48 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

Dan Rather opened a CBS Evening News broadcast in 1991 by declaring, “One in eight American children is going hungry tonight.” Newsweek, the Associated Press, and the Boston Globe repeated this statistic, and many others joined the media chorus, with or without that unsubstantiated statistic.

When the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Agriculture examined people from a variety of income levels, however, they found no evidence of malnutrition among those in the lowest income brackets. Nor was there any significant difference in the intake of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients from one income level to another.

That should have been the end of that hysteria. But the same “hunger in America” theme reappeared years later, when Sen. John Edwards was running for vice president. And others have resurrected that same claim, right up to the present day.

Ironically, the one demonstrable nutritional difference between the poor and others is that low-income women tend to be overweight more often than others. That may not seem like much to make a political issue from, but politicians and the media have created hysteria over less.

The political Left has turned obesity among low-income individuals into an argument that low-income people cannot afford nutritious food, and so have to resort to burgers and fries, pizzas and the like, which are more fattening and less healthful. But this attempt to salvage something from the “hunger in America” hoax collapses like a house of cards when you stop and think about it.

Burgers, pizzas, and the like cost more than food that you can buy at a store and cook yourself. If you can afford junk food, you can certainly afford healthier food. An article in the New York Times of September 25 by Mark Bittman showed that you can cook a meal for four at half the cost of a meal from a burger restaurant. So far, so good. But then Mr. Bittman says that the problem is “to get people to see cooking as a joy.” For this, he says, “we need action both cultural and political.” In other words, the nanny state to the rescue!

Since when are adult human beings supposed to do only those things that are a joy? I don’t find any particular joy in putting on my shoes. But I do it rather than go barefoot. I don’t always find it a joy to drive a car, especially in bad weather, but I have to get from here to there.

An arrogant elite’s condescension toward the people — treating them as children who have to be jollied along — is one of the poisonous problems of our time. It is at the heart of the nanny state and the promotion of a debilitating dependency that wins votes for politicians while weakening society.

Those who see social problems as requiring high-minded people like themselves to come down from their Olympian heights to impose their superior wisdom on the rest of us, down in the valley, are behind such things as the hunger hoax, which is part of the larger poverty hoax.

We have now reached the point where the great majority of the people living below the official poverty level have such things as air conditioning, microwave ovens, either videocassette recorders or DVD players, and either cars or trucks.

Why are such people called “poor”? Because they meet the arbitrary criteria established by Washington bureaucrats. Depending on what criteria are used, you can have as much official poverty as you want, regardless of whether it bears any relationship to reality.

Those who believe in an expansive, nanny-state government need a large number of people in “poverty” to justify their programs. They also need a large number of people dependent on government to provide the votes needed to keep the big nanny state going.

Politicians, welfare-state bureaucrats, and others have incentives to create or perpetuate hoaxes, whether about poverty in general or hunger in particular. The high cost to taxpayers is exceeded by the even higher cost of lost opportunities for fulfillment by those who succumb to the lure of a stagnant life of dependency.

— Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: democrats; hoax; hunger; liberalfascism; liberals; nannystate; poverty; socialism; socialistdemocrats

1 posted on 10/05/2011 6:45:52 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: All

Stop buying cigarettes, beer, good chains, cable, smart phones, tattoos, and piercings..... and FEED YOUR KIDS!


2 posted on 10/05/2011 6:48:52 AM PDT by icwhatudo ("laws requiring compulsory abortion could be sustained under the constitution"-Obama official)
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To: icwhatudo

Tribal habits are hard to break!


3 posted on 10/05/2011 6:50:15 AM PDT by PALIN SMITH (In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.)
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To: SeekAndFind
If going to bed hungry means running out of Twinkies and going to bed wishing you had another box to eat, then yes I agree there is a large percentage of the population that goes to sleep hungry every night and most of them are poor.
4 posted on 10/05/2011 6:51:07 AM PDT by TexasFreeper2009 (Obama = Epic Fail)
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To: SeekAndFind

My concern is that this nonsense is self-fulfilling. They will enact more socialist panaceas that will indeed leave most of us hungry.


5 posted on 10/05/2011 6:54:26 AM PDT by all the best
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To: SeekAndFind
Figure that four McD's Value Meals will set you back $25 plus or minus a couple bucks.

I shop carefully, and my weekly grocery bill for four is $100, again, plus or minus a few dollars.

So, I feed my family for a week for the cost of four lunches or dinners at McD's. And, we eat pretty well. I could easily shave some more off that bill, if necessary.

The problem isn't a lack of food, or a lack of money. It's just a lack of intelligence and/or discipline.

6 posted on 10/05/2011 7:04:40 AM PDT by wbill
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To: SeekAndFind; TexasFreeper2009

I almost upchucked yesterday when I read that Sesame Street is going to introduce a “Hunger Muppet,” supposedly representing children who suffer from what they call “food insecurity,” to call attention to what they refer to as the “problem of hunger in the US.”

The only kids who may be hungry are those whose parents are too strung out on drugs or alcohol or partying to bother to feed them, but that’s not a new problem.

The whole point of this is to create an image of a desperate population waiting for socialist salvation.


7 posted on 10/05/2011 7:07:14 AM PDT by livius
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To: icwhatudo

Being poor is a state of mind, being broke is a temporary economic situation. Poor people stay poor because they do poor people stuff. Broke people will some day become wealthy because they will behave like rich people.


8 posted on 10/05/2011 7:08:36 AM PDT by CSM (Keeper of the "Dave Ramsey Fan" ping list. FReepmail me if you want your beeber stuned.)
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To: SeekAndFind

I agree, as per usual, with Sowell’s viewpoint.
I was listening to a radio ad the other day that mentioned a similar statistic regarding the number of American’s who go to bed hungry, i.e., 1 in 6. This struck me as being hyperbole but it would have been more useful if Dr. Sowell could have provided some more up to date information on actual numbers.


9 posted on 10/05/2011 7:09:33 AM PDT by bjc (Check the data!!)
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To: SeekAndFind

We have the world’s richest and fattest poor people.


10 posted on 10/05/2011 7:09:48 AM PDT by rllngrk33 (Things will continue getting worse until January 21, 2013.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Several years ago, the three local network affiliates started drives to collect food for the needy at Christmas. They all made so much attention for themselves, they have since expanded their food drives to where they have one at least Quarterly, and the only goal is to try and top one another for the sheer weight of the donated food they collect.

Same goes at Christmas with toy drives. They try and out-collect each other for the sheer number, size and volume by weight in donated toys, all for supposedly disadvantaged children.

Same goes starting in early August when the school supply drives start up, collecting literally tons of donated school supplies that all of the parents of these supposedly “disadvantaged” kids cannot afford to purchase for them.

I’m betting that every single Freeper who reads these comments has seen the exact same things going on in the city they live in as well. We have this myth going that there are millions of “disadvantaged” kids that need all of this help, but there is never any kind of proof offered that the need actually exists, or that the people who are showing up to collect all of this free stuff actually need it in the first place.

Frankly, most of the “poor” I see are packing around more extra pounds than I am, have a newer cellphone than I do, newer shoes, the latest bling; the list of examples is endless. This is indeed a hoax that is being foisted on the public that still works for a living, and I’m sick of the non-stop demands to kick in ever increasing amounts of largess that I am expected to just cough up with no questions asked.


11 posted on 10/05/2011 7:10:22 AM PDT by Bean Counter (Obama got mostly Ds and Fs all through college and law school. Keep repeating it.....)
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To: livius

Go to any poor middle school in America and look around to see the truth.

Rampent childhood obesity is the reality amoung poor kids, hunger? lol 80% of those kids could use a little hunger.


12 posted on 10/05/2011 7:11:44 AM PDT by TexasFreeper2009 (Obama = Epic Fail)
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To: SeekAndFind
Dan Rather opened a CBS Evening News broadcast in 1991 by declaring, “One in eight American children is going hungry tonight.”

That's because a Republican was president. Ahh, back in the good old days when we used to go into poor neighborhoods, knock down doors and carry out everything in the pantry and refrigerator.

One trick is to define "hunger" creatively. One definition included hunger if you didn't have enough variety in your food, so if you are eating a lot of rice and beans because they are cheap, then you are hungry even if you've developed a gut from all the food you're eating. You can also be "hungry" if you are worried that you won't be able to buy enough food. So if you have to scrape to make ends meet, but you are still able to buy enough food after shaking out the couch cushions you will be counted as hungry.

13 posted on 10/05/2011 7:15:23 AM PDT by KarlInOhio (Compare "Delay is preferable to error" - Thomas Jefferson // "Pass this bill now!" - Barack Obama)
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To: Bean Counter
I understand what you mean. Even at church during Christmas, when we're encouraged to take a tag from the "giving tree" and buy the gift for the person listed.... I think, what happened to poor people who'd be grateful for warm coats, mittens or even some toiletries? Now we're supposed to provide skateboards, video games and jewelry? There's no question that many people are in financial hardships, but it seems the expectations of others for what that means have gone haywire.
14 posted on 10/05/2011 7:18:00 AM PDT by workerbee (We're not scared, Maobama -- we're pissed off!)
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To: Bean Counter
You are right.

And don't forget the tattoos. These people spend more on tattoo's than I make!

15 posted on 10/05/2011 7:18:31 AM PDT by SMARTY ("Bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny. " Edmund Burke)
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To: rllngrk33
Uhhhh . . . R rated for language and adult content. Also Our so called welfare programs are specifically designed to be abused. You-Tube has a plethora of vids making fun of this fact.
16 posted on 10/05/2011 7:25:58 AM PDT by fella ("As it was before Noah, so shall it be again.")
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To: SeekAndFind
For some reason, no one mentions (or seems to remember) the following.

From March 3, 2010:

The Obama administration announced Tuesday a new formula that will take into account a wider range of factors in determining who is poor. The Supplemental Poverty Measure will provide a more accurate portrait, the administration says, of how many Americans are struggling financially, though it will not entirely replace the existing poverty measure in use since the mid-1960s.

The new measure is expected to show that the poverty rate in America is higher than the number produced under the existing formula.

It is just like the time the feds redefined 'obesity'. I went to sleep while I wasn't obese and woke up obese because the government made me that way.

17 posted on 10/05/2011 7:39:00 AM PDT by Bob Buchholz
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To: SeekAndFind

If we had actual poverty and hunger in these United States - we wouldn’t be importing it wholesale from the Third World.


18 posted on 10/05/2011 7:51:15 AM PDT by allmendream (Tea Party did not send the GOP to D.C. to negotiate the terms of our surrender to socialism.)
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To: SeekAndFind
Dan Rather opened a CBS Evening News broadcast in 1991 by declaring, “One in eight American children is going hungry tonight.”

He lied.

In 1948 when JFK was running for Congress he started a sentence, "Now that no one goes to bed hungry in America ...," and then pitched some other program he was advocating. My quote may not be exact, but it's close. Long ago I saw a film clip of him giving the speech. It would be nice to find it and throw it back in the faces of the whiners from time to time.

ML/NJ

19 posted on 10/05/2011 7:54:46 AM PDT by ml/nj
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To: SeekAndFind

“I really want to move to a country where even the poor people are fat.”


20 posted on 10/05/2011 8:00:55 AM PDT by Darteaus94025
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To: SeekAndFind

I’m a member of an American Legion Post that used to assemble and distribute a few dozen Thanksgiving baskets for the needy in town. Everything from a turkey and stuffing to pies and cranberry sauce went into the baskets.

A few years ago I went to help load the baskets and found they had stopped the program and weren’t giving out baskets anymore. So I asked why.

Because it was always the same people receiving the baskets, year after year, I was told.

Hmmm. Interesting.


21 posted on 10/05/2011 8:43:45 AM PDT by DNME (We need new Sons of Liberty and their knack for civil disobedience.)
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To: workerbee
"I understand what you mean. Even at church during Christmas, when we're encouraged to take a tag from the "giving tree" and buy the gift for the person listed.... I think, what happened to poor people who'd be grateful for warm coats, mittens or even some toiletries? Now we're supposed to provide skateboards, video games and jewelry? There's no question that many people are in financial hardships, but it seems the expectations of others for what that means have gone haywire. "

I've largely given up on these sorts of campaigns for exactly that reason. The 'poor' kids would ask for high-end fashion and electronic gifts that we could ill afford to buy for our own kids. When I helped out at our middle school's school store in September I'd have 'poor' kids in expensive clothes carrying cell phones and iPods hand me vouchers from the guidance department so that they didn't have to pay for their gym clothes, school spirit t-shirts or school supplies. I never saw any gratitude - only attitude. My kids confirm that they see the same. These are also the kids most likely to throw their (free) lunch food around in food fights or to toss it in the trash uneaten. The soft-headed liberals have created a monster.

22 posted on 10/05/2011 9:53:43 AM PDT by Think free or die
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To: All

Once again, Thomas Sowell has hit many nails on the head with his mighty hammer. The real story though, is that the income of poor people does not include benefits received from the government. The government could give every person $100,000 worth of benefits each year and they would still be under the poverty level. The way they calculate it, no program will EVER decrease the number of poor people.


23 posted on 10/05/2011 10:14:25 AM PDT by copetsitter
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To: SeekAndFind

After being in the grocery store accidentally on the 1st throughout he 5th of the month I find it very hard to believe that there are any kids going hungry n America anywhere.Most of them look like they could safely skip a few meals and still be overweight.


24 posted on 10/05/2011 10:47:32 AM PDT by chris_bdba
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To: SeekAndFind

After being in the grocery store accidentally on the 1st through the 5th of the month I find it very hard to believe that there are any kids going hungry n America anywhere.Most of them look like they could safely skip a few meals and still be overweight.


25 posted on 10/05/2011 10:48:04 AM PDT by chris_bdba
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