Thursday, November 16, 2006

Mark Nord Gives ‘Security’ a New Definition

Mark Nord works over at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and he needs to be put out to pasture on the minimum wage for a while. Mark says ‘hunger’ isn’t a scientifically accurate term. This Republican—about to become Democratic—government seems to have trouble with basic definitions. And it’s a bi-partisan blind-spot; Bill Clinton with the definition of ‘is’ and George Bush with what ‘torture’ really means.

Mark Nord works over at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and he needs to be put out to pasture on the minimum wage for a while. Mark says ‘hunger’ isn’t a scientifically accurate term. This Republican—about to become Democratic—government seems to have trouble with basic definitions. And it’s a bi-partisan blind-spot; Bill Clinton with the definition of ‘is’ and George Bush with what ‘torture’ really means.
Government would be a continuing source of hysterical laughter, if only so many people were not harmed by it.
Getting back to Mark, he’s the ‘lead author’ of a report that measures Americans’ access to food. The USDA has been doing this for years and up until this year, they described people without access to food as being ‘hungry.’ Makes sense. No food in the house, you get hungry. They didn’t say you were starving, because sometimes there was food in the house.
It’s not scientifically accurate enough for Mark, but then he's a sociologist and sociologists may not see the forest, but they can by-god define a tree. He describes people without food in the house as experiencing ‘very low food security.’ Now, does he mean that in the 'freedom from anxiety or fear’ definition or the ‘measures taken as a precaution against theft or espionage or sabotage etc.’ definition? Which one most accurately measures the pain in the stomach, the lightheadedness, lethargy or difficulty concentrating?
We’re demanding accuracy here. Mark may never have actually been hungry himself, but he sees very low food security as more accurate than hunger. It’s possible, perhaps even probable, that Mark has never put a hungry child to bed. “We don’t have a measure of that condition,” says Mark.
Nord is a sociologist for the enormous federal department that administers policy for the single biggest agricultural entity in the world and doesn’t have a measure of hunger. The definition of ‘sociologist’ is ‘a social scientist who studies the institutions and development of human society.’ Mark must have been home sick the day they covered hunger within the institutions and development of human society. Probably had a note from mom.
Elizabeth Williamson reports in today’s Washington Post;
The United States has set a goal of reducing the proportion of food-insecure households to 6 percent or less by 2010, or half the 1995 level, but it is proving difficult. The number of hungriest Americans has risen over the past five years. Last year, the total share of food-insecure households stood at 11 percent.
Well, of course it has risen. While you people over at the USDA were chasing food insecurity, people were going hungry.
Hungry or not, the USDA admitted that 35 million Americans 'could not put food on the table' at least a part of last year. Possibly that’s not ‘scientific’ enough for Mark. Food on the table might merely mean that they were eating from chairs in front of the TV. 11 million said they were ‘hungry at times.’ Now, of course if you want to get ‘scientific’ about it, as Mark insiste, hungry at times could mean the times just before walking into McDonalds for a Big Mac.
Beginning this year (Liz Williamson again), the USDA has determined "very low food security" to be a more scientifically palatable description for that group. Nice choice of wording—palatable—‘acceptable to the taste or mind.’ And you thought George Bush’s ‘condescending conservatism’ wasn’t working.
What is not acceptable to the taste or mind is letting nit-wits like Mark rearrange the language of our nation in such a way as to marginalize the poor (I almost slipped and wrote economically disadvantaged). Poor, poverty, hunger, thirst, abuse, neglect and the ignorance of sociologists are all useful and descriptive terms that must not be swept under the table of political correctness. There is damned little that is correct about American politics at the moment and a large part of that malaise is due to foggy definition of what everyone knows words to mean.
Eleven million Americans are hungry, unless thirty-five million are. Split the terminology any way you like, fifty million are without health care. If people like Mark move on to Health and Human Services, those fifty million will be ‘experiencing very low health security.’
In assembling its report, the USDA divides Americans into groups with "food security" and those with "food insecurity," who cannot always afford to keep food on the table. Under the old lexicon, that group -- 11 percent of American households last year -- was categorized into "food insecurity without hunger," meaning people who ate, though sometimes not well, and "food insecurity with hunger," for those who sometimes had no food.
Someone take these people out in the back pasture and shoot them, before they breed and produce more sociologists.
Among Mark’s current projects is ‘measuring and monitoring household food security in the United States.’ What’re we doing here, Mark? Putting locks on the pantry, making sure the fridge isn’t ajar?
I suggest that it’s way past time for field-work, applicable to Mark's study. Put him under house-arrest, with one of those ankle-bracelets to make sure he stays away from the local pizza parlor. Give him a high-starch, low-protein diet of two meals a day. During certain periods, reduce him to one meal. Occasionally, to better understand the plight of 11 to 35 million of his study-subjects, give him no meals.
Then ask if he’s hungry.
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