Mixes politics and obesity...perfect
Southern states must rise again
It's time to secede from the GOP
Now this ought to make the South rise again.
Mississippi has the nation's highest poverty rate and its fattest people. Nearly a third of the residents of the state that calls itself the "Heart of Dixie" are obese, according to a recent study released by Trust for America's Health, an organization that tracks this nation's expanding waistline.
As that depressing news was making headlines, the Census Bureau issued its annual report on family income, and Mississippi got another dose of bad news. The state ranks last in median household income and first among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in poverty.
But Mississippi is not alone.
When it comes to poverty and obesity, the South leads the nation ? a distinction that highlights the nexus between low income and bad diets. Obesity and poverty go together like grits and gravy. Poor people have higher rates of obesity because they tend to consume a disproportionately large amount of fatty food.
Poverty breeds obesity and obesity increases a person's chances of getting diabetes and hypertension, which give rise to other life-threatening ailments.
Alabama has the nation's second-highest obesity rate and its eighth-highest poverty rate. West Virginia is the third-fattest state in the union and the fifth-poorest. Louisiana ranks fourth in obesity and second in poverty. Kentucky is fifth in the number of obese people and has the ninth-highest level of poverty.
Tennessee, Arkansas, Indiana, South Carolina and Texas fill out the list of the nation's 10 fattest states. The other top 10 poverty jurisdictions are Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and the District of Columbia.
Ironically, Southern red states twice voted to send George W. Bush to the White House. On Bush's watch, a record budget surplus has become a record deficit ? the largest in this nation's history.
The tax cuts that Bush and the Republican-dominated Congress enacted have done more for this nation's rich than for the poor and middle class in the South or anywhere else. So not surprisingly, the Census Bureau also reported that earnings fell in 2005 for people working full-time jobs. Median income dropped 1.8 percent for men and 1.3 percent for women.
That kind of news can ruin a Labor Day cookout.
And it ought to make the South rise again when voters there go to the polls in November's midterm election. Southern voters, once a core constituency of the Democratic Party, have been a reliable Republican voting block for nearly four decades.
But the GOP's economic policies ? policies that have helped fuel the South's problems with poverty and obesity ? should put that allegiance to the test this year.
And there's an opening in the new poverty and obesity reports that Democrats should try mightily to exploit.
A family mired in poverty, working hard at full-time jobs and earning less, ought to be open to ideas that will give them an economic boost. Republican voters in these places ought to be threatening to secede from the GOP in the upcoming election.