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Throughout Junk Food, Obesity, Economics and Politics The Poor Must Fend For Themselves
3/12/2014 11:56:18 AM

By Barney Blakeney

Some weeks ago I had a conversation with educator James Campbell. Mr. Campbell’s one of the smartest cats I know. He’s had a wealth of experiences, has travelled the world, lived outside the US of A and has retired back here to his hometown sharing with us the value of his infinite wisdom. Mr. Campbell’s involved in a lot of stuff. So much stuff, I can’t keep up with him.

I’m a fairly smart guy. I’m no whiz kid, but my IQ once locked in at over 100. Of course that doesn’t make me smart and a lot of folks who know me would argue that I’m not smart at all. Anyway, I can’t touch Mr. Campbell.

I often think in philosophical terms. Sometimes when I talk to people I see a look that asks, “What’s this fool talking about?” That’s usually because I’ve gone into some non-concrete aspect of the subject they don’t grasp. That’s often the look I have while talking with Mr. Campbell. I feel proud of myself just keeping up with the subject, never mind the concept.

During our last conversation - about poverty - Mr. Campbell said some stuff I’m still trying to figure out. He’s been sending me written materials to help me. I remember one comment he made noting how ironic it is that our nation’s poorest states have the highest rates of obesity.

I don’t know if it’s a sign of the times or what, but as a single man I look at women. I’ve had my official Girl Watchers Of America membership card since 1967. It seems now days all the girls, even the young ones, have bellies. Back in the day they’d hold them in with girdles, but now days, they just let it all hang out.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Us guys are carrying some spare tires too. But I hate seeing a woman’s belly hanging over the top of her hip hugger pants. Have you no shame? Or maybe it just doesn’t matter since we’re all obese.

Aside from the aesthetics, our acceptance of obesity has other implications. The impact on health is most obvious. Mr. Campbell links poverty with nutrition, health and education.

I was in the grocery store the other day behind this young woman who had a cart-load of stuff. She was a big girl. That didn’t bother me because I like a woman with a little meat on her bones. But this young woman was on the phone the whole time talking as if we all were participants in her conversation.

I was a little out done when she told her girlfriend she’d needed to go to the bathroom before somebody had riled her feathers and that she still needed to go. Uh, TMI?

That the young woman was on the phone so loudly in the checkout line told me something about her level of education and the garbage she had in her grocery cart confirmed my suspicions. Obviously she was challenged when it comes to health and nutrition.

When she paid for her purchase with a food stamp card my final suspicion also was confirmed. Poverty played a part in every aspect of this young woman I could see.

Like I said earlier, Mr. Campbell has been sending me stuff. Some time ago I got a column about economic opportunity. I seems that in the nation’s 100 largest cities ranked for upward economic mobility from the lowest to highest income earners, it’s least probable to move up in former slave states.

A study by economists from Harvard and Berkeley found that in those communities if you’re born poor you’re most likely to die poor. And in southern cities like Charleston, Columbia, Charlotte, N.C. and Atlanta, Ga., economic bigotry no longer is aimed especially at Blacks, but at all ethnic groups.

In an article by Eric Zuesse the writer said the New Dixie has replaced the aristocracy’s Black slaves with institutionalized bigotry against poor people. What used to be pure racism has devolved into a crushing, pervasive, classist bigotry.

And it doesn’t matter if you’re Democrat or Republican. After the Civil War the Republican party, Abraham Lincoln’s political party, became a new version of the old aristocratic southern Democratic Party.

The transition continued after Theodore Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal’ and was completed after John F. Kennedy paved the way for Lyndon B. Johnson’s Civil Rights Act, Medicare and Medicaid. Zeusse said that doesn’t mean the Democratic Party favors the poor, only that it doesn’t hate them as Republicans do.

Republicans look out for the aristocracy and Democrats look out for the middle class and the aristocracy. But nobody looks out for the poor, he said.

That means us junk food-eating, obese folks with bellies hanging over our pants must look out for ourselves.

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