New data on the campaign to eliminate “food deserts”

A very interesting article in the Washington Post about an effort to end “food deserts” and improve the eating habits and health of blacks in Philadelphia. The author admits that previous efforts to make nutritious food more “accessible”—meaning physically present in stores—in poor neighborhoods have not worked. The latest effort is more sophisticated. But while it has led to residents of these neighborhoods modestly increasing their intake of vegetables and fruit, it has not made any difference in bad health and obesity.

I think what it comes down to is this: if poor urban blacks are to be healthy, the government is going to have to control what food they eat. The government is virtually going to have to put blacks in a high chair and place the desired food in their mouth. For decades I’ve joked about cradle-to-grave Head Start. But what the problem of extreme black dysfunction is leading to is really cradle-to-grave government maintenance of every aspect of blacks’ lives. This is the Custodial State that Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein grimly foresaw in The Bell Curve.

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Matthew H. writes:

Your remarks prompt me to make the following Modest Proposal:

The functioning part of society will agree to maintain the non-functioning part of society at a certain level of subsistance including:

1. A healthy diet which caring government workers will force the non-functioning part of society to eat.

2. Decent living quarters which the non-functioning part of society will be expected to maintain at some level of order.

3. Guaranteed basic healthcare.

4. Policing to prevent the non-functioning part of society from harming or sexually abusing one another or members of the functioning part of society.

5. The non-functioning part of society will be regularly drug-tested. One positive result will mean expulsion from the program.

6. Reproduction among participants will be strictly regulated.

In other words, the functioning part of society will agree to keep the non-functioning part of society in a style comparable to well-maintained farm animals.

In return the non-functioning part of society will agree to offset the costs of their upkeep by providing labor in fields such as agriculture, road maintenance, domestic service, etc.

Participation will be strictly voluntary. No one will be coerced except in cases where ex-convicts might be compelled to participate for some period of time subsequent to their release from prison. Aside from that, participants would be allowed to enter or leave at will. However, outside this system there will be no public assistance of any kind.

I’m willing to bet a sizable fraction of the non-functioning part of society would take the deal.

It seems to me it’s either this or we return to allowing the functioning part of society to segregate itself and let the non-functioning part of society make do as best it can. In other words, a restoration of liberty.

Peter C. writes:

I was raised in South Africa of English parentage. In 1952 the then Minister of Health, Dr. Karl Bremer, introduced a fortified and subsidized bread (dubbed “Bremer” bread) to help combat the prevalence of kwashiorkor, the result of malnutrition in the native population. Kwashiorkor results in a distended belly in children, not so much from lack of food but because the staple diet corn meal lacks various vitamins and minerals.

My mother bought Bremer bread to both feed me as best she could and to economize.

Needless to say, the population for whom the bread was intended preferred plain white bread.

I see no hope for well-meaning but doomed-to-failure efforts to change the eating habits of Philly’s black population.

LA replies:

I also see no hope in it. I only meant that that the logic of the problem is leading in that direction. Any realistic hope of the lower half of the black population becoming minimally functional again could only come into view after the complete abandonment—or collapse—of the modern liberal order.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at June 11, 2012 12:07 PM | Send

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