Financial panic has hit households across the country, as parents on budgets try to navigate the run up in food prices, gas prices, and health care costs.
According to The Economist, there has been a 62% increase in the price of food, making everything from milk to baby formula to bread more expensive for eaters across the country. And according to the Wall Street Journal (and your local gas station), gas prices are once again creeping up on us, as oil climbs its way back up the charts.
And despite our best efforts to conserve gas, we find ourselves in the car, because our children are sick. Our countless appointments with pediatricians, specialists, allergists, and speech therapists are followed by trips to the pharmacy to purchase more prescriptions for our children who are quickly earning the title, "Generation Rx". As our budgets get squeezed by all of these factors, we find our children overmedicated, undernourished and sick, with health care costs also taking their toll on our family budgets.
Yet at the same time, we watch as our government allocates $600 billion to the Pentagon for war efforts and only $2.4 billion to the FDA "to protect the health of the American public". That translates into the FDA receiving only two days worth of Pentagon spending to serve as its budget for the entire year. It therefore comes as no surprise that, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, that a November 2007 FDA report states that "American lives are at risk" because the FDA lacks resources and "can no longer ensure the safety of the food supply". Two days worth of military spending to ensure that the food that we are feeding our children and the medications with which we are injecting our babies are not going to put them at risk for health conditions later in life.
In the meantime, we read in the New York Times about a beef recall large enough to feed every American two hamburgers, an ABC report about drugs and sex hormones found in our children's drinking water and an EPA report stating that air pollution is so severe that it threatens the public's health, with asthma now affecting half of all inner-city children.
And yet, according to our government, the FDA should only receive two days worth of military spending to protect the lives of our children for the entire fiscal year. Even more explicity, the Food Protection Plan will receive an increase of $42 million - the same amount, according to CNN, that the IRS spent to send all of us a letter announcing the rebate that we will be receiving. The safety of our food supply is worth no more than a letter from the IRS.
As parents, we watch as the government finds resources to fight wars, bailout banks and subsidize corn based ethanol, knowing that these resources are being financed by a future debt and taxpayer burden that our children will never be able to repay.
How will my five year old feel when he is old enough to learn that his parents' government financed a $3 trillion dollar war with his future taxpayer dollars? Is this a war for oil because of our nation's dependency on fossil fuel to run our agricultural system? And what about our government paying farmers some of the largest subsidies in history to encourage them to plant ethanol-yielding corn over wheat, soy and other commodities? Will my children understand the food price inflation that resulted? Will they learn that the Cato Institute tried to warn that ethanol would make gasoline costlier and dirtier?
How will they feel when they learn that, according to the New York Times, these food riots were caused by the food price inflation that resulted from our government's farm subsidies, subsidies financed by their future taxpayer dollars? Will they question if these subsidies were designed to win favor and buy farm votes in an election year as easy money encouraged the use of an untested corn-based ethanol? Will they ever know that, according to the Wall Street Journal, the corn farmers themselves questioned the very development of these crops?
As the EPA, FDA and the CDC repeatedly cite lack of funding as the leading cause for their inability to protect the lives of the American public, our government finances its corporate agenda by taking out billions of dollars of debt on our children's future, potentially indebting them for their lifetimes.
And in the 130 million American households across the country, as we struggle to cope with the sudden inflationary pressures that appear to result from our goverment's allocation of taxpayer resources, the Centers for Disease Control now reports that one in three American children has diabetes, one in three is obese and one in every three American children has allergies, autism, ADHD or asthma.
In 1946, Harry Truman said, "A nation is only as healthy as its children." What have we done to ours?