Facing the Dietary Realities of the State

On the back of the Rhode Island section of today’s paper is a Timothy Barmann piece on Governor Carcieri’s efforts to “encourage healthy lifestyles”:

The majority of Rhode Islanders could stand to shed a few pounds, and Governor Carcieri wants to help.
Yesterday, the governor launched what he’s calling Healthy Weight in 2008, a campaign designed to educate residents about eating properly and encourage them to exercise. …
In Rhode Island, 38 percent of adults are overweight and another 18 percent are considered obese. That means that 56 percent of Rhode Island adults weigh more than they should. …
Treating these illnesses is expensive, and taxpayers pick up about half the cost of treatments directly attributed to obesity, according to the governor, citing a report by the National Governors Association. In Rhode Island, the costs for medical expenses covered by Medicaid and Medicare for obesity-related illnesses cost each taxpayer $185, the governor said.

Doesn’t anybody want to argue that the governor just isn’t facing the dietary realities of the state? That he’s got an anachronistic vision of housewives who have the time to prepare healthy home-cooked meals for their families? I ask because, at the tail end of Steve Peoples’s front page story on Carcieri’s state-house press conference, such objections arise to the governor’s intention to “encourage two-parent families, a move that would likely reduce dependency on welfare benefits and other social programs”:

Linda [Of No Relation to the Anchor Rising Guy] Katz, policy director for the Poverty Institute at Rhode Island College, said the governor’s perspective is skewed.
“He’s got a very ’50s model of what a family looks like with mom home cooking the meals while dad goes off to the job. Then you don’t have to pay for childcare, mom’s home raising the kids,” she said. “I think his vision doesn’t meet the economic realities of the state.”

Personally, I think it sails over Ms. Katz’s head that the distance between Carcieri’s vision for the state and its realities is precisely the point. A healthier society — in both dietary and familial concerns — would make for a healthier Rhode Island. That, after all, is why the governor believes it is necessary to encourage the behavior and change the culture of the state in that respect.
It’s possible that Mr. Peoples misses this point, as well, given his second paragraph:

The plan would begin diverting hundreds of seniors and disabled Rhode Islanders on Medicaid away from expensive institutional care as soon as July, pushing them to depend on visiting nurses, assisted-living situations, or even their families.

Not their families! What sort of evil society would encourage (let alone insist on) families’ taking care of their members, even during difficult years of decline? We really need a social worker in the governor’s chair, not a businessman — cold-hearted bunch that businessmen are.
ADDENDUM:
I notice that Mr. Peoples (in conjunction with multiple reporters on the political beat) takes a moment to explain that the Family Independence Program (that is, cash payments to the poor) is “commonly known as welfare.” Perhaps I’m not the only one complaining about Projo reporters’ overuse of Poverty Institute legerdemain. At any rate, a review of the various definitions under “welfare” on m-w.com suggests that most usages of the word involve the whole collection of “services for the assistance of disadvantaged groups.” That’s why folks commonly refer to a “welfare system” or a “welfare state.”
ADDENDUM II:
I’m guilty of a bit of style over justice. As Tim points out in the comments, Peoples’s piece is a to-the-letter example of activist media. The front-page headline exclamation of “Medicaire Cuts”and the skewed text under it (which I tried to convey above) are a sucker punch aimed at the governor and those he represents. One must dig into the paper to learn that advocates for the elderly actually support the change. (Of course, Peoples does his best to corrupt even that bit of honesty with practical complaints unleavened with the governor’s response).
Don’t think for a moment that some of the Projo’s staff aren’t fully active members of the behind the scenes coalition to sink Rhode Island for profit and ideological pride.

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brassband
brassband
13 years ago

Do you think there is any correlation between Rhode Islanders’ weight problems and the per capita number of donut shops in this state?

Monique
Editor
13 years ago

Hey, easy there, Brassband. The donut is sacrosanct.

rhody
rhody
13 years ago

Governor, I wish you the best on this initiative, but the price of eating healthy has shot up a lot quicker than the price of doughnuts or fast food.

Tim
Tim
13 years ago

Justin, You ask rhetorically if Mr. Peoples missed the point? Or perhaps you did? The article in question by Peoples was an irresponsible unprofessional yet blatantly intentional attempt at disinformation. Some might call it elder abuse. Why was the screaming headline in the actual paper ~Medicaid Cut~ and not the sanitized online version ‘A change in elderly care’? Perhaps because elderly Gramma and Grampa Rhode Islanders are the demographic who buy the actual newspaper instead of reading it online? The Projo intentionally spun that entire story in a very hurtful and disingenuous way. Steve Peoples Projo propaganda: “The plan would begin diverting hundreds of seniors and disabled Rhode Islanders on Medicaid away from expensive institutional care as soon as July, pushing them to depend on visiting nurses, assisted-living situations, or even their families.” Pawtucket Times Jim Baron description of the same program: “The idea behind the Medicaid reform, Carcieri told a Statehouse news conference on Wednesday, is not to move people out of nursing homes who are satisfied with their arrangements, but to give patients and their families a choice of other options rather than making expensive nursing home care the first resort.” The entire Peoples story was nothing more than a scare tactic engineered by the Projo against elders and their families to cause political blowback on the governor. As bad an example of agenda driven media as we’ve seen in a long time from a group who specialize in misinformation. What should really bother every citizen in Rhode Island is how unreliable and unbelievable the state’s largest newspaper has become. In their thirst to hurt the governor at every turn they’re actually hurting everyday Rhode Islanders with their lies. Have any idea how many elders and families with loved ones in nursing homes read the headline Medicaid Cuts… Read more »

rhody
rhody
13 years ago

Boys, you can always write to the Belo execs in the right-to-work state of Texas and demand that Steve Peoples be fired as someone who kicks dogs (or whatever).
And you can always ring up the Times publisher and demand Baron be fired, but who’ll be left to report?
“Don’t think for a moment that some of the Projo’s staff aren’t fully active members of the behind the scenes coalition to sink Rhode Island for profit and ideological pride.”
I rolled off my chair laughing so hard I think I broke something.
OK. Let the media jihad continue.

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

“right-to-work state”
Another example of why rhody is in the ‘Crackpot liberal’ pile.
What’s wrong with a right-to-work state?

rhody
rhody
13 years ago

It means, Oh Great One, that the ProJo is owned by a Texas outfit that would roll some heads in Providence if it was really as crackpot liberal as some folks here claim it is.
Oh, BTW, no response from the Gov yet re: reconsideration of those budget cuts tyat would harm you.

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

Yeah, Right to Work states … where individual employees aren’t forced to join a union if they don’t want to, and there is significantly more economic growth, i.e., jobs. We certainly don’t want that in Rhode Island, no sir, Mssrs. Montanaro, Grilli, Nee and Walsh just wouldn’t stand for it!

John
John
13 years ago

The fiscal, political and criminal train wreck known as Rhode Island just keeps getting better and better as the year goes on, doesn’t it?
Can’t wait for the fireworks from the PI, NEA, and AFSCME after the Guv announces his budget.
Just waiting now for the bond downgrades.

Tim
Tim
13 years ago

Rhody, Why are you so incapable of having an honest discussion on obvious media bias? You write the following, “Boys, you can always write to the Belo execs in the right-to-work state of Texas and demand that Steve Peoples be fired as someone who kicks dogs (or whatever). And you can always ring up the Times publisher and demand Baron be fired, but who’ll be left to report?” What does Belo in Dallas, Texas have to do with Steve Peoples blatant butchering of the medicaid reform story in the Providence Journal? Why would anyone demand Jim Baron be fired when I cited Baron’s (a liberal Democrat) work as being accurate in reporting the same story the Projo chose to intentionally butcher? Try to follow along if you can Rhody. Try not to live up to our incredibly low expectations of the union intellect. lol Justin writes, “Don’t think for a moment that some of the Projo’s staff aren’t fully active members of the behind the scenes coalition to sink Rhode Island for profit and ideological pride.” and you respond, “I rolled off my chair laughing so hard I think I broke something. OK. Let the media jihad continue” I roll my eyes at your lack of intellectual honesty Rhody. Key words from Justin were “some of the ProJo’s staff”. Not all! Some! Btw you’ll be heartened to know that folk from both sides of the ideological divide from Republican Rep Joe Trillo to NEA’s Bob Walsh think this Projo story was a piece of journalistic crap. Many Democrats support this medicaid reform the governor is working on. This isn’t a partisan issue but simply the Projo attempting to smear the governor they hate by lying to and using scare tactics against Gramma and Grampa Rhode Islander regarding their Medicaid benefits.… Read more »

Monique
Editor
13 years ago

“Many Democrats support this medicaid reform the governor is working on.”
Not strong enough. I challenge Steve Peoples to find anyone other than nursing home operators who does not support the Governor’s proposal. One condition: Peoples has to accurately describe it to them.
Excellent points about how he inexplicably butchered the truth here, Tim. The state’s paper of record has a heavy obligation to report everything accurately, especially something as impactful as this. It’s stunning how far off course they sometimes get. In this case, someone needs to check Steve Peoples’ stock portfolio for congregate care holdings.

Tim
Tim
13 years ago

Monique,
What’s most disappointing is the governor had a very legitimate grievance against the Projo that demanded a public response and a call for a retraction the morning that front-page lie hit the streets. So what happened? Typical wimpish Carcieri happened. Complete silence on the matter until Dan Yorke goes ballistic (Yorke was at the presser and knows firsthand about the lies written by the Projo) on his show the next day then suddenly the governor has something to say and wants to go on with Yorke. Wow how bold of the governor! How pro-active of the governor! Embarrassing! Does it get any worse than intentional lies by the media in an attempt to scare the public especially the elderly? Yes what’s worse is when the object of those lies and that attempt to scare the elderly refuses to publicly call out or challenge the liars. Don Carcieri is a very nice man. Don Carcieri is the biggest spineless wimp I’ve ever seen in politics. Not a guy you want in a foxhole with you. A world class wuss! Sad!

rhody
rhody
13 years ago

Steve Peoples’ paychecks are drawn out of an account in Texas. As a public service, I offer you a way to complain to his ultimate bosses about his allegedly biased reporting (and I’m sure they will only be too happy to kick him to the curb if they find him too liberal):
http://www.belo.com/newsroom/contact.x2
Personally, I think this media bias thing is a bunch of hot steaming monkey crap, but your views may vary.

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