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We're Only Stimulating My Desire To Swear A Lot

February 16, 2010 - John Whittaker
Today, I bring you the first of many installments of the Stupid Press Release of the Month, a post that will shine a flashlight on one special news release that hit my e-mail inbox trumpeting the newest waste of federal or state dollars.
I get a lot of these, but some are just more, um, special than the rest.
Our first installment came through at 3:02 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11, with Governor David Paterson announcing nearly $7 million in grants for wellness programs.
It's bad enough that, almost a year after the stimulus package, we're talking about needing another one. It's even worse that the national unemployment average JUST NOW dipped to less than 10 percent. The fact that one dime of stimulus package money is being used to, "fund policy, system and environmental changes to improve nutrition, increase physical activity and cut tobacco use in New York."
I quoted the press release just for effect.
If anyone's reading this to Gov. David Paterson, I guess air quotes are out of the question, aren't they? Make sure you're laying the sarcasm nice and thick, then, so he knows the Whitless Wonder is good and truly annoyed.
How in the name of all that isn't idiotic does the governor think he can talk about fiscal responsibility out of one side of his mouth while, out of the other side of his mouth, think this new program is a good thing to put out right now?
New York state is in the midst of an $8 billion (that's right, billion with a CAPITAL B) budget deficit. Shouldn't any federal money we get be closing the budget gap or being used in such a way that necessary programs keep their money? New York is getting $6.98 million from the federal government so we can tell kids to go outside and play as well as make sure they get two hours of quality physical education a week, not eat too many sweets, tell them not to pay attention to tobacco advertising and make sure new mothers know breastfeeding is good for their babies.
And, oh by the way, New York state is paying 12 people with that stimulus money to make sure those things get done. On the plus side, at least part of the stimulus money is being spent to put people to work. That should cut unemployment by one thousandth of a percent.
How stupid is this program? Let me count the ways.
1. Schools are cutting back on physical education to squeeze in more educational time and save money. So, the state wants to spend federal money that has to have better uses in an area that schools are de-prioritizing because the federal and state governments are mandating they spend instructional time preparing kids to pass state and federal tests. Makes perfect sense to me.
2. Federal money needs to be spent making sure kids know things that their parents are too stupid to tell them or that the kids themselves can't grasp. McDonald's and other fast food is bad for you. Drinking too much Kool-Aid or pop will rot your teeth. Smoking is bad for you. Some other things we might need to get some federal money to teach kids: 1. Air is good. You should breath it. 2. You could get hurt diving head first into a shallow pool. 3. Poo goes in the toilet, not on the floor. I think we're at that point.
3. Breastfeeding is such a mystery to hospitals and doctors that New York state needs to spend money singing its praises? Really. I had no idea that breastfeeding was such a new idea. I'm sure every OBGYN in New York state had no idea the health benefits of breastfeeding for mothers and children. They didn't spend six years in college to acquire that knowledge or anything. So, sure, let's educate those stupid doctors.
4. The state wants to decrease tobacco use through 'emotionally evocative media campaigns." Who's directing these commercials to make sure they accomplish something schools and parents haven't been able to accomplish for the last 50 years? Here's a clue for Gov. Paterson and Dr. Richard Daines, the state health commissioner. You could hire M. Night Shyamalan to direct the commercials and Seth Rogen and Kim Kardashian to star in them and not make a dent in the number of smokers in New York state. You could hire the Jonas Brothers to sing a song about how bad smoking is and there would be teenagers in the audience lighting up before the song was over. If parents smoke and then choose to let their children smoke, you've lost the war. The kids are going to smoke because that's the example they see every day. Throwing some commercials on TV isn't going to reverse that. If you want to make people quit smoking, make cigarettes illegal and put people in jail for smoking them. If not, stop wasting our money making commercials about the evils of smoking. Of course, maybe we're stimulating Hollywood's economy. Maybe, just maybe, this fits stimulus guidelines by putting filmmakers to work.
5. Am I a fat bastard because I don't know I'm fat? NO. I'm fat because I hate running for no reason. I'm chunky because I like brownies and potato chips. I look like a weeble because I like having a snack while I'm watching a ballgame on TV and then going to sleep afterward rather than taking off on a two mile run before bed. I don't look like Eric Cartman because I don't know how to be skinny. Don't waste my tax dollars trying to beat healthy living into my skull. I like red meat. I like chocolate and sugar. I enjoy a cold beer. I like a cold Pepsi on a summer day and I really like cake and pie. I love gorging myself on Thanksgiving Day. I don't need New York state telling me I'm an idiot. I know that, someday, I'm going to have to watch what I eat and get myself into better shape. There will come a time when I have to eat better. Until then, I really don't need New York state spending my money to tell me I'm stupid. Make tofu that tastes better, and maybe I'll eat it. Until then, make me steak and potatoes for dinner and let me harden my arteries and build my gut in peace.
6. Since this is part of a national package announced by Kathleen Sebelius, federal Health and Human Services secretary, New York's not the only state wasting this money.
Damn, and I thought we were special.


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