Monday, July 04, 2005

Point/Counterpoint: Paul Krugman , Allen Ginsberg, and Wendy's on obesity


I've been looking into the issues surrounding obesity because it plays an important role in health care costs. According to a study recently published in the journal Health Affairs, the extra costs associated with caring for the obese rose from 2 percent of total private insurance spending in 1987 to 11.6 percent in 2002. The study didn't cover Medicare and Medicaid, but it's a good bet that obesity-related expenses are an important factor in the rising costs of taxpayer-financed programs, too. Fat is a fiscal issue.

But it's also, alas, a partisan issue.

First, let's talk about what isn't in dispute: around 1980, Americans started getting rapidly fatter.

Some pundits still dismiss American pudge as a benign "affliction of affluence," a sign that people can afford to eat tasty foods, drive cars and avoid hard physical labor. But all of that was already true by 1980, which is roughly when Americans really started losing the battle of the bulge.

The great majority of us (yes, me too) are now overweight, and the percentage of adults considered obese has doubled, to more than 30 percent. Most alarmingly, obesity, once rare among the young, has become common among adolescents, and even among children.


C'mon Pigs of Western Civilization Eat More Grease
- Allen Ginsberg (1926 - 1997), City Lights Review #6 (1994)

Eat Eat more marbled Sirloin more Pork 'n gravy!
Lard up the dressing, fry chicken in boiling oil
Carry it dribbling to gray climes, snowed with salt,
Little lambs covered with mint roasts in racks surrounded by roast potatoes wet with buttersauce
Buttered veal medallions in creamy saliva, buttered beef, by glistening mountains of french fries
Stroganoffs in white hot sour cream, chops soaked in olive oil, surrounded by olives, salty feta cheese, followed
by Roquefort & Bleu & Stilton thirsty
for wine, beer Coca-Cola Fanta Champagne Pepsi retsina arrak whiskey vodka
Agh! Watch out heart attack, pop some angina pills
order a plate of Bratwurst, fried frankfurters,
couple billion Wimpys', McDonald burgers to the moon & burp!
Salt on those fries! Boil onions & breaded mushrooms even zucchini in deep hot Crisco pans
Turkeys die only once, look nice next to tall white glasses sugarmilk & icecream vanilla balls
Strawberry for sweeter color milkshakes with hot dogs
Forget greenbeans, everyday a few carrots, a mini big spoonful of salty rice'll do, make the plate pretty;
throw in some vinegar pickles, briny sauerkraut check yr cholesterol, swallow a pill
and order a sugar Cream donut, pack 2 under the size 44 belt
Pass out in the vomitorium come back cough up strands of sandwich still chewing pastrami at Katz's delicatessen
Back to Central Europe & gobble Kielbasa in Lodz
swallow salami in Munich with beer, Liverwurst on pumpernickel in Berlin, greasy cheese in a 3-star Hotel near
Syntagma, on white bread thick-buttered
Set an example for developing nations, salt, sugar, fat, coffee tobacco Schnapps
Drop dead faster! make room for Chinese guestworkers with alien soybean curds green cabbage & rice!
Africans Latins with rice beans & calabash can stay thin & crowd in apartments for working class foodfreaks -

Not like Western cuisine rich in protein cancer heart attack hypertension sweat bloated liver & spleen megaly
Diabetes & stroke - monuments to carnivorous civilizations
try murdering Belfast Bosnia Cypress Ngorno Karabach Georgia
or mailing love letter bombs in Vienna or setting houses afire in East Germany - have another coffee, here's a cigar.
And this is a plate of Black forest chocolate cake, you deserve it.

Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy's, if memory serves me right, died of heart failure. And also, if memory serves me, Allen Ginsberg was never a nutritionist, but then again nobody'd ever seriously demand literal facticity from Ginsberg.

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