The Common Good

What I Meant To Say About Missouri

When my previous post about Missouri's health-care insurance vote and obesity rates was posted, 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." So did The Wall Street Journal article I quoted, but compassion for the poor may not be their strong suit either. My "good luck, Missouri" remark was meant to be sarcastic, but not all readers saw it that way. I am sorry for my insensitivity.

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 percent. I do not think either of those facts is going to be good for the poor.

portrait-lavonne-neffLaVonne Neff is an amateur theologian and cook; lover of language and travel; wife, mother, grandmother, godmother, dogmother; perpetual student, constant reader, and Christian contrarian. She blogs at Lively Dust.

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