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home : most recent : statewide implications July 19, 2018

7/2/2018 11:34:00 AM
OPINION: Tyranny of the Nanny State

Morton J. Marcus is an economist formerly with the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University.  His column appears in Indiana newspapers, and his views can be followed on a podcast: His column appears in Indiana newspapers.

        Alex Azar, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), lived in Indiana for the last ten years as an executive for Eli Lilly. Therefore, I humbly appeal to our fellow Hoosier for relief from the tyranny of the nanny state.

          Tell me, where, in the name of our Vice President, does the federal government, via the Department of HHS, get off telling me I’m obese?  I know this is a left-over from some previous administration, but it’s a year now and the oppression continues.

          Now that I am shorter than I used to be, and in possession of a mature male figure (think Grover Cleveland or William Howard Taft), my Body Mass Index (BMI) tops 30, the magic number for being classified as obese.

          That’s right. HHS tells us that Indiana ranks tenth in the nation with 32.5 percent of the population age 18 and over wearing the Big O for Obese pinned to their Triple XL tee-shirts. Imagine, one of every three adult Hoosiers is righteously rotund, compared to 29.6 percent of all Americans.

It doesn’t end there. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an agency of HHS, headquartered in swampy Georgia, spreads the tale that 26.8 percent of Indiana adults “engage in no leisure-time physical activity.” That the 13th highest figure in the country.

          Do they give us credit for getting up for another beer when the game is stopped for a commercial break? And you know the real exertion that plastic wrapping on the chips requires.

          But denigrating us isn’t enough for these bureaucratic busybodies. They’re after our kids too. The CDC reports that nearly 48 percent (might as well say half) of the young people in our state have “parks or playground areas, community centers and sidewalks or walking paths available in their neighborhood.”

          Nearly half of youth have healthy resources and that seems pretty fine to our way of thinking. Yet CDC ranks us 13th from the bottom (which is Mississippi). And they don’t stop there.

We’re 16th in percent of “students in grades 9-12 who drank regular soda/pop at least one time per day.” That’s only one-fifth of our youngsters enjoying some traditional refreshment each day. Think about Kentucky where the figure is close to a third of all students having a daily pop. Makes you wonder: What are the other two-thirds drinking?

However, the worst of these CDC figures is a direct challenge to private enterprise working with schools to satisfy consumer demand. Indiana ranks third in the nation in “percent of secondary schools that allowed students to purchase soda pop or fruit drinks from one or more vending machines or at the school store, canteen, or snack bar.”

Mr. Secretary, Stop this harassment! Just because taxpayers pick up the medical bills resulting from our habits, shouldn’t mean we have to be responsible citizens.

Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR

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