Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Does Sarah Palin think its OK to be unfit and too dumb to serve?

If you don't know by now, or haven't heard, we're a FAT NATION.  This ain't a good thing.  We have the highest rates of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity among advanced democracies, if not the entire world.  While we bask in the glow of our American Exceptionalism, we are also exceptionally FAT.

This is a major concern for our Federal Government and our Armed Forces.  So much of a concern that efforts to raise awareness and move the country to a more healthy place are being championed by First Lady Michelle Obama.  But for Sarah Palin, this is just another example of Big Government trying to tell folks how to live their lives by dictating to them what they can and can't eat. 

Now, its pretty clear that we don't like anyone telling us what to do, or requiring that we have to do something.  We generally have to be dragged kickin' and screamin' in order to change our ways, despite the obvious benefits the change would create or the harm our habits and way of life has on ourselves and others.  In this instance, Sarah Palin and those that joined her in criticizing the efforts of the First Lady to encourage kids to get out and exercise and eat health were just off base.  But again, we are creatures of habit and some folks just can't use the common sense God gave us to see what the First Lady was doing was not another example of Government intruding in our lives. 

This criticism by the former Alaska Governor and public policy lightweight, Sarah Palin, was called out by other conservatives and conservative leaning media outlets for what it was, silliness and amateurish.  God forbid that our young people be physically fit in order to serve this nation when called upon. 

This isn't just about eating right and exercises, this is a National Security issue.  This isn't just the First Lady saying this, but also two former Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, retired U.S. Army Gen. John M. Shalikashvili and Army Gen. Hugh Shelton.  As they wrote in their April 30th, 2010 Op-ed

"It seems incredible, but these are the facts: As of 2005, at least 9 million young adults -- 27 percent of all Americans ages 17 to 24 -- were too overweight to serve in the military, according to the Army's analysis of national data. And since then, these high numbers have remained largely unchanged." 
And this isn't the only National Security issue connected to the fitness of our young people.  A recent Army Study has found that 75% of 17 - 24 year olds couldn't serve because they were unfit, had a criminal record, or dropped out of school.  23% (or roughly 1 in 4) who took the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery exam, a.k.a the ASVAB, FAILED.  Almost 25% of high school graduates who took the ASVAB, FAILED

As the Roanoke Times said in today's editorial,
"Virginia lawmakers especially need to pay attention to the lessons contained in the Army's findings before they head to Richmond and are yet again tempted to balance the state budget at the expense of public education." 
Now, Sarah Palin hasn't commented on the Army Study, and its probably a good thing.  But, small government conservatives with whom she identifies, have been trying for years to cut school budgets.  In many states they have cut education budgets to the point that it would seem state and local governments will have no other choice but to get out of the business of public education, eventually.  Is this the price we pay for not investing in education and smaller government?  Is this what less government advocates envisioned?  Not only is it hurting our economic competitiveness, but our ability to defend our nation. 

That famous scene in the cinematic classic "Animal House" speaks volumns to these issues when Dean Vernon Wormer says, "fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son."  All be it, these were fictitious college students, but if the shoe fits...  But again, maybe this is OK with Sarah Palin and her supporters? 

Images found at:  http://blog.sierratradingpost.com/wp-content/uploads/Childhood%20obesity_1.jpg  and http://wwwdelivery.superstock.com/WI/223/1647/PreviewComp/SuperStock_1647R-76587.jpg

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