Healthy Community Initiatives: A Microcosm of What We're In For

Life in small heartland communities is not immune to our present Orwellian nightmare. In fact, we're at the point where there is much celebration whenever solid, decent Midwestern towns wade deeper into the morass.

I host a cooking-and-dining talk show on Saturday mornings on the local news-talk radio station. During the week, it runs syndicated stuff -- Boortz, Rush, Dr. Laura -- but Saturday mornings feature local hosts and specialized topics. I focus on recipes, restaurant reviews, items about wine collecting and herb gardening, and the like. I'm not hesitant to get on a soapbox if a development in our culture seems to warrant it.

This past Saturday morning, I let loose big time.

I arrive at the station about five to ten minutes before my show, and I'm often the one to bring in the local paper off the front steps. On the way down the hall to the studio, I glanced at the big above-the-fold headline: The "Healthy Community Initiatives" program at the regional hospital in our city was going to get a $2-million grant from the federal government to "combat obesity." The grant comes from last year's stimulus money. It will go for such, ahem, essential, impossible-to-implement-locally, and constitutionally specified measures as putting posters in local ethnic grocery stores encouraging healthy shopping, "enhanced programming" at a downtown children's interactive museum, a "Healthy Lifestyles" summit, community gardens, "increased physical activity in child care settings," encouragement of stair-walking, and a "broad media campaign."

There was some kind of a webcast on which Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius congratulated our town and the other grant-recipient cities. The article was full of giddy quotes from local luminaries such as the Chamber of Commerce president.

It's not hard to imagine what I launched into when I got on the air. I started with the fact that there's no money for this, just like there's no money for anything else the Washington overlords are proposing. We're on a deficit trajectory that is going to bankrupt our country. Then I pointed out that the issue of fat kids is something that is properly addressed in America's homes, by America's parents, and that it's a nanny-state intrusion of the most egregious kind for the state to be preoccupying itself with kids' waistlines. Then I pointed out that this is a harbinger of the degree to which the current regime will be micromanaging our lives as we careen down the highway of ruin to a single-payer system.

For a moment, I wondered if I was unwisely stepping on toes. After all, the Healthy Communities Initiatives program has an annual form-a-team-with-your-pals-or-co-workers-and-enter-a-weight-losing-contest project, and in two recent years, I'd been on a team that the station formed. But then I thought that actually, that's when this HCI business began to set my teeth on edge. When I participated in that, it involved checking in at a particular site once a month to get weighed and turn in your record-keeping chart of how much you'd walked, lifted weights, played a sport, danced, stayed away from cigarettes, eaten fresh food, and such. Plus, you had to kick in some registration money. I became quite irritated about having to take all this time out of my life to fool with all this busywork, all in the name of some kind of patty-cake, nicey-nice, collective, hey-everybody-we-know-what-we-ought-to-do-so-let's-do-it notion of human well-being. I'm pretty sure that the last time or two that I showed up at the weighing station, I gave the nice nurses and program coordinators the impression that I was a real jerk.

So, Saturday, on the air, I threw in something about how the particular people who run HCI are very nice and their aims are commendable, but that government involvement was entirely the wrong way to go about it. I played up the local angle.

I've long held that there are two general levels of leftism. There are those you see at your local "Healthy Lifestyles Summits," the ones who think life should be fair above all. They tend to be the movers and shakers in local arts scenes, green-building councils, and human-rights commissions. They're pleasant enough, fun to talk to at dinner parties until they provoke you into an ideological conversation. Then there are the serious power-lusters, the ones who go into politics or work for foundations that wield great cultural influence. The most ruthless of these now hold the highest offices in our land. What those on the nicey-nice level ought to realize is that all their fluffy little initiatives come to a screaming halt if the overlords don't cut them a check. The shots are called in a smoke-filled room on a hill far away.

Writer and musician Barney Quick's website is barneyquick.net, and he blogs at Bent Notes.
Life in small heartland communities is not immune to our present Orwellian nightmare. In fact, we're at the point where there is much celebration whenever solid, decent Midwestern towns wade deeper into the morass.

I host a cooking-and-dining talk show on Saturday mornings on the local news-talk radio station. During the week, it runs syndicated stuff -- Boortz, Rush, Dr. Laura -- but Saturday mornings feature local hosts and specialized topics. I focus on recipes, restaurant reviews, items about wine collecting and herb gardening, and the like. I'm not hesitant to get on a soapbox if a development in our culture seems to warrant it.

This past Saturday morning, I let loose big time.

I arrive at the station about five to ten minutes before my show, and I'm often the one to bring in the local paper off the front steps. On the way down the hall to the studio, I glanced at the big above-the-fold headline: The "Healthy Community Initiatives" program at the regional hospital in our city was going to get a $2-million grant from the federal government to "combat obesity." The grant comes from last year's stimulus money. It will go for such, ahem, essential, impossible-to-implement-locally, and constitutionally specified measures as putting posters in local ethnic grocery stores encouraging healthy shopping, "enhanced programming" at a downtown children's interactive museum, a "Healthy Lifestyles" summit, community gardens, "increased physical activity in child care settings," encouragement of stair-walking, and a "broad media campaign."

There was some kind of a webcast on which Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius congratulated our town and the other grant-recipient cities. The article was full of giddy quotes from local luminaries such as the Chamber of Commerce president.

It's not hard to imagine what I launched into when I got on the air. I started with the fact that there's no money for this, just like there's no money for anything else the Washington overlords are proposing. We're on a deficit trajectory that is going to bankrupt our country. Then I pointed out that the issue of fat kids is something that is properly addressed in America's homes, by America's parents, and that it's a nanny-state intrusion of the most egregious kind for the state to be preoccupying itself with kids' waistlines. Then I pointed out that this is a harbinger of the degree to which the current regime will be micromanaging our lives as we careen down the highway of ruin to a single-payer system.

For a moment, I wondered if I was unwisely stepping on toes. After all, the Healthy Communities Initiatives program has an annual form-a-team-with-your-pals-or-co-workers-and-enter-a-weight-losing-contest project, and in two recent years, I'd been on a team that the station formed. But then I thought that actually, that's when this HCI business began to set my teeth on edge. When I participated in that, it involved checking in at a particular site once a month to get weighed and turn in your record-keeping chart of how much you'd walked, lifted weights, played a sport, danced, stayed away from cigarettes, eaten fresh food, and such. Plus, you had to kick in some registration money. I became quite irritated about having to take all this time out of my life to fool with all this busywork, all in the name of some kind of patty-cake, nicey-nice, collective, hey-everybody-we-know-what-we-ought-to-do-so-let's-do-it notion of human well-being. I'm pretty sure that the last time or two that I showed up at the weighing station, I gave the nice nurses and program coordinators the impression that I was a real jerk.

So, Saturday, on the air, I threw in something about how the particular people who run HCI are very nice and their aims are commendable, but that government involvement was entirely the wrong way to go about it. I played up the local angle.

I've long held that there are two general levels of leftism. There are those you see at your local "Healthy Lifestyles Summits," the ones who think life should be fair above all. They tend to be the movers and shakers in local arts scenes, green-building councils, and human-rights commissions. They're pleasant enough, fun to talk to at dinner parties until they provoke you into an ideological conversation. Then there are the serious power-lusters, the ones who go into politics or work for foundations that wield great cultural influence. The most ruthless of these now hold the highest offices in our land. What those on the nicey-nice level ought to realize is that all their fluffy little initiatives come to a screaming halt if the overlords don't cut them a check. The shots are called in a smoke-filled room on a hill far away.

Writer and musician Barney Quick's website is barneyquick.net, and he blogs at Bent Notes.

RECENT VIDEOS