Tuesday, November 28, 2006

USDA eliminates Hunger in America!

Well I am sure You'll all be pleased to note that as of today , Tuesday November 16 2006 The USDA has officially , announced that there are no longer any Hungry people in America.

Every year, the Agriculture Department issues a report that measures Americans' access to food, and it has consistently used the word "hunger" to describe those who can least afford to put food on the table. No longer....Beginning this year, the USDA has determined "very low food security" to be a more scientifically palatable description for that group.

How very Nice for them. Hate to think they'd have to use terms they find "unpalatable" to describe people who have no idea when or where their next meal is coming from; cause we have a LOT of these "people with Very Low Food Security":

The USDA said that 12 percent of Americans -- 35 million people -- could not put food on the table at least part of last year. Eleven million of them reported going hungry at times.
Sickening/Astounding/Sad isn't it? But wait there's more:

This is a problem that, I'm sure you will not be shocked to find out, Has been getting Worse not better in the last five years, so much so that the Government is falling FAR short of even the modest anti-hunger goals it set for itself:

The United States has set a goal of reducing the proportion of food-insecure households to 6 percent or less by 2010, or half the 1995 level, but it is proving difficult. The number of hungriest Americans has risen over the past five years. Last year, the total share of food-insecure households stood at 11 percent.

But You'll be reassured to know that the USDA swears they are changing this terminology NOT to hide their abject failure, but simply to Better and more accurately study the problem. Whew. That's a relief isn't it?

Three years ago, the USDA asked the Committee on National Statistics of the National Academies "to ensure that the measurement methods USDA uses to assess households' access -- or lack of access -- to adequate food and the language used to describe those conditions are conceptually and operationally sound."

Among several recommendations, the panel suggested that the USDA scrap the word hunger, which "should refer to a potential consequence of food insecurity that, because of prolonged, involuntary lack of food, results in discomfort, illness, weakness, or pain that goes beyond the usual uneasy sensation."

Damn! why does that verbiage seem so familiar? Where else have I heard such elaborate and weasel-worded verbiage used to try to re-define a term which used to be perfectly well understood as a matter of common sense? hmmm... oh yes:
The Bush Administration's infamous Torture Memo. Compare and contrast:

Defined Torture as "severe physical or mental pain or suffering." which was defined as "involving damage that rises to the level of death, organ failure, or the permanent impairment of a significant body function."

Chilling innit?, Also Like the DOJ's Auto-da-Fe Legal Trust, the USDA scientists working on the hunger problem seem to exhibit that same Vulcan-like quality of detachment that allows them to say things like :

Mark Nord, the lead author of the report, said "hungry" is "not a scientifically accurate term ..."We don't have a measure of that condition. Hunger is clearly an important issue," Nord said. "But lacking a widespread consensus on what the word 'hunger' should refer to, it's difficult for research to shed meaningful light on it."

Tell ya what, Mr. Nord, how's about you go all Morgan Spurlock on us and move into household dependant on food stamps for 30 days? I betcha by the 26th or 27th you'd have a pretty damn concrete idea of exactly what "hungry" means.

Now I'm sure you'll be shocked to find out that some people have had the absolute cheek to suggest that the USDA has less than pure motives for its nomenclatural re-alignment:

Anti-hunger advocates say the new words sugarcoat a national shame. "The proposal to remove the word 'hunger' from our official reports is a huge disservice to the millions of Americans who struggle daily to feed themselves and their families," said David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, an anti-hunger advocacy group. "We . . . cannot hide the reality of hunger among our citizens."

and perhaps they can be forgiven for their skepticism inasmuch as:

A) the USDA apparently played politics with the timing of the report:

The agency usually releases the report in the fall, for reasons that "have nothing to do with politics," Nord said.

This year, when the report failed to appear in October as it usually does, Democrats accused the Bush administration of delaying its release until after the midterm elections. Nord denied the contention, saying, "This is a schedule that was set several months ago."{ and of course several months ago nobody could have imagined that there'd be a midterm election in early November--ED}

B) Our Compassionate- Conservative-in-Chief. George W. "The Decider" Bush simply doesn't believe the hunger statistics, perfering to see them as an evil liberal plot:

That 35 million people in this wealthy nation feel insecure about their next meal can be hard to believe, even in the highest circles. In 1999, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, then running for president, said he thought the annual USDA report -- which consistently finds his home state one of the hungriest in the nation -- was fabricated.

"I'm sure there are some people in my state who are hungry," Bush said. "I don't believe 5 percent are hungry." { Over 10% now doing a heckuva job Georgie-Ed }

Bush said he believed that the statistics were aimed at his candidacy. "Yeah, I'm surprised a report floats out of Washington when I'm running a presidential campaign," he said.

Now This is the part of the Diary when I really want to do some cathartic ranting about what an intolerable national shame it is that ANYONE goes hungry in the richest and most powerful nation on earth. I want to tell you about a man you've probably never heard of named Mike Kirwin who was until his recent death, the Mother Teresa of Washington DC, and how much hunger and poverty he ministered to in our Nation's Capital, for pity's sake.

But I'm preaching to the choir, aren't I? There isn't anybody reading this who finds these numbers even vaguely acceptable right, who doesn't get angry at the thought of bureaucrats shuffling terminology instead of addressing a real and terrible problem like this right? So now the question becomes, with a brand new shiny majority in moth houses of Congress (and one that owe us radicals a favor or two) What are we going to do about this?


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