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November 30 2012

Michelle Obama: Least Influential?

Julie Gunlock

The least influential magazine in circulation -- GQ magazine -- just named Michelle Obama to its list of "The Least Influential People of 2012".

Ouch.

It was a game effort by the first lady to get Americans to eat healthier. She founded the "Let's Move!" campaign to get our children to contemplate forward locomotion. She even wrote a book about growing her own vegetables, which many people bought as a passive-aggressive way of telling someone they're fat. And yet we're still all hopeless corpulent shits. You tried, Mrs. Obama. You really did. Sorry we're such poor listeners. Now why not join the winning team and indulge in this delicious pint of Häagen-Dazs Caramel Cone ice cream? It's so rich and sweet and delectable. Come on. REWARD YOURSELF.

Is that really accurate?

I guess it depends on how you measure success. If we measure it by the American population’s shrinking waistlines; sure, Michelle Obama hasn't really made a mark (although, the latest CDC data does show obesity is leveling off). 

Yet, if one examines the American public's increasing reliance on government programs for food and take into account the government’s increasing tendency to tell Americans what they should and should not eat, then the First Lady and the Obama Administration has been a major influential force in American culture.

Need examples? 

  • Nearly 47 million Americans rely on federal food assistance benefits—that’s a 12-year high!
  • 32 million children get school meals each day.
  • Kids are now served breakfast, lunch and dinner at school.
  • Some schools even serve meals during the summer months—when school is out!
  • In 2010, enrollment in the school lunch program increased because of a procedural change allowing for poor children to be automatically enrolled in the lunch program. In other words, parents aren’t even required to sign their children up for free lunches anymore.
  • Governments are even taking over charitable food donations. In New York, Mayor Bloomberg recently banned food donations to homeless shelters.
  • The Federal government requires restaurants and vending machines to post calorie information.
  • 21 states have implemented childhood BMI data collection initiatives to monitor children's obesity rates.

Despite all of this government intervention, taxpayer investment, and additional regulatory red tape for the food industry, the Institute of Medicine predicts obesity will increase in America within the next decade.

I think GQ is off the mark. Is Michelle Obama influential? Certainly. Is she effective? Certainly not. Maybe if Michelle Obama wanted to be more effective, she’d try out a different message; one that promotes some self-government.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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