Sunday, July 16, 2006

Sofa Tax Would Be Good for the Children, Says Health Group

Flanked by poster-sized images of Fat Albert and Babe Ruth, the American Mendacity Association (AMA) today launched a new initiative for a federal tax on sofas and lounge chairs.

Following its proposal for a tax on sodas sweetened with corn syrup (the "crack cocaine" of sweeteners), the organization's board vowed to do more to "protect our children from the ravages of relaxation."

A new study sponsored by the AMA finds that 384 percent of all children are obese by age five, and most experts agree that -- just behind plentiful food and the division of labor -- the third most dangerous contributor to this epidemic is comfortable seating. According to the study, whereas 100 years ago there was only one lounge chair or sofa for every three households, thanks to technology and productivity there are now four forms of inexpensive, comfortable seating per house. This, says Harriet Hydra, president of the AMA Division of Pleasure Elimination, creates a deadly atmosphere that "inspires children to sit or lay back, and turn all those extra calories to fat."

"We all pay when people relax," said Hydra, citing "negative externalities" imposed on other citizens. Wellness providers, she said, see higher instances of obesity, diabetes, nail-biting, and insanity in children who sit or recline for longer than three hours a month on comfortable sofas. "The epidemic of obesity places a strain on our public health-care system, and hence on all of us. With a 1-cent-per-second tax on sofa sitting, we could not only change peoples' behavior, we could also generate up to $1.5 billion a year, money that could be used wisely by many of my physician friends who are ready to start up new 'sofa counseling' clinics," Hydra said.

Given the respect afforded the AMA and wellness providers in general, such a bill would stand a good chance of passing the U.S. House and Senate. Max Quartlepleen, head of the watchdog group American Scientists Who Are Extremely Concerned, added, "We're extremely concerned. We're here to fight Big Sofa."

Asked by a reporter why the negative externalities of socialized medicine should be forced on free individuals against their wills, thus opening the door to higher costs, price caps on medical services, and more government regulation of private affairs, habits, and living conditions, Quartlepleen replied: "I don't know which lobby group sent you here, whether it was Serta, Sealy, or Stearns and Foster, but buddy, we don't need loudmouths like you at public forums in America. So why don't you just take your sleep-number attitude and get outta here?!"

After the news conference Hydra was asked if she saw any impediments to passage of the AMA proposal. "Well, common sense is a problem," she said. "But we're working on that in association with the National Education Association. We could also stand to curtail the power of free thinkers and those who follow the U.S. Constitution. A lot has been done in those areas, but we're not out of the woods yet."

When asked what the AMA would do if its proposal did not become law, Hydra said that the organization has an alternate plan. "If we can't get a tax to protect our kids and wallets from this deadly scourge, we will work for better regulation of sofas, and health initiatives such as time shockers and spring spikes, to get people on their feet at regular intervals," she said. Many congressmen have openly expressed support for such measures.

As he was led away by authorities, the reporter who had disrupted the conference asked Hydra what she was going to do about things like books, music, films, and conversation, since they all tend to inspire periods of sedentary, fat-building inactivity. "We're working on that," she said.

Source (Satire, of course)


Some Americans are under the mistaken assumption that they "own" their freedom. While it's certainly true that their unalienable rights are theirs, both personally and collectively, the freedom that ensures they can exercise those rights was really bought and paid for by others. And the truth is that, even if they've paid some of the purchase price themselves, it's still not theirs to do with as they will.

As far back as the 13th Century, men fought for freedom; the Magna Charta enshrined the notion that their freedom was theirs and that the government had no right to interfere. In the late 1700's, a group of revolutionaries fought against the unreasoning curbs on freedom by a King and won. Referencing the Magna Charta, they fashioned a Constitution and a Bill of Rights that belongs to no man because it's effectively owned by all of them.

Over the course of the years, Americans have fought and died for freedom. But the reality of it is that they weren't so much fighting for themselves as they were for themselves and their posterity. Freedom, like some other things, is only momentarily meaningful if it's not passed on. So it's perfectly legitimate to suggest that the freedom you and I enjoy today (such as it is) is freedom we're only using until we can pass it on to the next generation.

When our generation was charged with the administration of our country, we were able to speak freely (with a very few notable and thankfully momentary exceptions). Today, political correctness has already resulted in provisions for the deterrence and punishment of "hate speech," and misplaced (and frankly misnamed) patriotism threatens political speech ranging from association to flag burning (certainly you're aware of the FBI monitoring of various anti-war groups and of the Senate's push to amend the Constitution itself to outlaw flag desecration).

When our generation was handed the reins of the country, we were able to order guns via mail orders. But because of the actions of one irresponsible man (conspiracy theories aside for the moment), the assassination of John F. Kennedy (followed by those of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.) put a stop to the freedom of the rest of the population from being able to buy firearms so simply. Boys (and often girls too) looked forward to receiving their first guns, and when they did, they were taught safety and responsibility that ensured they'd enjoy target practice and hunting; today, such recent all American traditions are looked upon as "redneck" at best, and oftentimes viewed as just plain wrong.

When our generation was given the care of American liberties, searches required warrants. But because of the federal government's unbending "war on drugs," various warrantless searches (more commonly called "sobriety checkpoints") are common; because of the federal government's claims of defense in the "war on terror," our e-mails, phone calls, Internet habits, and banking transactions have been monitored, sorted, data-mined, and who knows what else.

When our generation took over from the generation before us, our justice system relied on the crucial proviso that we were innocent 'til proven guilty. Today, the merest accusation of child abuse or drug use is enough that those so accused are often forced to prove their innocence before the courts will set them free - and even then, most find their reputations irredeemably damaged among their neighbors and associates. In the past, men and women were arrested on charges, and held on charges, and tried on charges, and then jailed or released; today, men are even now being held without any charges at all.

When our generation took hold of powers of government, privacy had been ruled a basic right by courts which determined our bedrooms were sacrosanct and our medical privacy inviolate. Today, privacy is assailed at every street corner by ubiquitous cameras in the name of "safety," and in every home with the "war on terror's" arsenal that permits searches and worse without cause, or even the knowledge of the person being searched that a search has been conducted. Data theft is rampant largely because data collection is rampant; medical privacy is virtually non-existent thanks to federal regulations which claim to protect privacy but which in realty offer broad-based exceptions to rules that were previously just fine as they were



Try saying about homosexuals half the things that are said with impunity about fat people. For starters, try having schools running programs designed to prevent people from becoming homosexuals. Uproar!

There's a war going on against fat people. From the fashion industry to Hollywood, supermarket aisles to doctor's offices, fat people are the new pariahs. Excuse me, you're probably thinking. Did you say write that certain word? Don't you mean "weight-challenged"? "Gravitationally pulled"? "Amply adiposal"? No I don't. I mean fat. Isn't it all just another round in the same old battle that thin people like to fight against people of ample girth? We of us who are overweight versus anorexic skeletons? The Paris Hiltons of the world versus the sumo wrestlers? In an age of bulimic movie-star role models, by comparison even thin people are fat. Yes I write the politically incorrect word "fat" because I know of what I speak and have earned the right to.

I've always had a tendency to gain weight and put on pounds. From being relegated to the Fatty Brigade in Army Basic Training to torturing myself with dozens of ridiculous and in the end ineffective diet scams over the years (grapefruit, cabbage soup, chocolate, water anyone?) I suddenly did a very bold thing: I gave up. Bring on the pounds. I don't care anymore. It may not look good and it may be damaging to our health, but isn't it just a personal decision each of us have to make? So I've been there and done that repeatedly and can speak from experience.

Who are these people who don't like it because we all look like we just emerged from the all-you-can-eat buffet and are contemplating going back for sixes and sevens. They're as rabid as PETA people with their paint cans and holier-than-thou attitude: "The war against wearing fur has begun. We will attack anywhere, anytime."

First of all, they're telling us through articles in the media that fat people are not really happier than thin people. The cultural stereotype of the jolly fat person is more a figment of the imagination than reality. We're laughing on the outside and crying on the inside because we're fat and fat leads to depression and other mood disorders. And I say pish. They're just trying to scare us. Go watch a John Candy movie or Laurel and Hardy (at least Oliver). They're a laugh riot. And quite frankly I've known a lot more skinny people in my life who were alcoholics than fat people, and few drunks are a barrel of laughs.

Second point they liked to make in their front on the war against fat people is to call in the Big Guns and try to shame us through political correctness. "Experts," they like to point out, are now debating whether children should be diagnosed as "obese," fearing the negative connotations. Is it OK to tell parents their children, not to mention themselves, are fat? This is pushing PC way too far. Then you'll have to decide when "fat" is not fat but merely "overweight" or "obese." How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

Who decides who's fat anyway? Doctors, I guess, and our peers. These are hard enough times for fat people what with anorexic celebrities and medical scare tactics, so why rub it in? Let's face it. Fat is fat. Call it what it is. Get over it. And if it bothers you so much, lose it.


No comments: