Yo Ho, Yo Ho

If your sense of humor parallels mine in the slightest, you won’t be able to get through watching the video below without laughing. It is funny.  What is more, it is funny without any sexual innuendos, blasphemy or objectionable language (though Jon Stewart presenting the video had comments bleeped out). However, it is also troubling.

A fourth grade class contacted their NY State Senator, Michael Ranzenhofer, requesting that he sponsor legislation naming yogurt as New York’s state snack. Bills as inane as this one pass all the time and even presidential proclamations recognize such important times as National Dairy Goat Awareness Week. Certainly, designating yogurt as the state snack of New York is less objectionable than raising taxes, social engineering or passing regulations that make running a business more difficult.

Still—what if the legislator had responded differently? What if, instead of promoting the bill, he had written the children something along these lines? 

 Dear Fourth Graders,

I am delighted to receive your request asking me to designate yogurt as the official NY State snack. It is wonderful that you are learning how bills are passed and that you want to be involved citizens.

For this very reason, I cannot proceed with your suggestion.  As future voters and responsible members of our society, it is important that you understand what the functions of government should be and what they should not be. My fellow senators and I are paid by taxpayer money. That places a tremendous responsibility on us. There are times that your mothers and fathers can’t be at your recital or game because they are working. Other times they struggle to make ends meet, to feed, clothe and provide for you. One of the reasons they need to work so hard is because the tax burden they carry is tremendous.   You can see that for those of us in Congress to spend our time and taxpayer money on frivolities is unconscionable.

Secondly, we in government are supposed to represent all our constituents. We are constantly being lobbied (your teacher can explain this term to you) to favor one group of citizens over another. While it may seem no big deal to make yogurt the state snack, should we do so we would be showing a preference for one constituency over another, for no thoughtful reason. This type of action weakens our integrity.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, we in the legislature are servants of the people. Sometimes we forget that and instead believe that we are privileged and highly important people. Our only purpose should be to deliberate the issues that are too large for individuals, families and communities to handle on their own. If you want to support the yogurt industry, I urge you to do so. Encourage your friends to eat yogurt, place “Eat yogurt now” signs on your lawns and make “We love yogurt” T-shirts. These are only three suggestions. I’m sure with your creativity and industriousness you can find many more ways to promote yogurt. However, for me to do so as part of my official role as your representative, would send the wrong message to you as well as to me. Our republic is too important for that.

As a token of my personal positive feelings towards yogurt, I have taken the liberty of purchasing coupons to (insert name of local frozen yogurt store) for everyone in your class. Naturally, I bought these with my own money, not with taxpayer funds.

 Please let me know how your pro-yogurt efforts go,


Senator Michael Ranzenhofer

Am I just a humorless curmudgeon or do you too feel that something is wrong with the senate considering this bill?

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15 thoughts on “Yo Ho, Yo Ho”

  1. Susan, yes I did see the WSJ article on Sunday one day after the article was published.
    Interestingly, earlier that same Sunday a Dr. Katz MD, Director of Yale Univ. Nutrition Studies Program (or some equivalent title) had posted a comment that conveniently came up in the search engine results right next to Nina Teicholz WSJ article (funny how that happened!) that looked for all intents and purposes like the article itself. I read his comment.
    The purpose of Dr. Katz post was to attack Ms. Teicholz credibility in an effort to undermine her message. The subtitle of his article is “and why the premise of her upcoming book is complete nonsense”. Dr. Katz suggested that since she had a book coming out on May 12th, her publisher had put her up to writing the WSJ article and that they were both just in it for the money.
    This was right out of Saul Alinsky’s handbook. Rule #12: Pick a target, freeze it, personalize it, polarize it.
    I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Dr. Katz’s department has some very generous benefactors, the likes of Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill, General Mills, Kraft Foods, Kellogs – the list of special interests is endless.
    But none of them would be in it for the money (oh, no no no).

  2. Charity, I certainly was not offended and would hate to think that you would hesitate to post because I might misread something. There was absolutely nothing wrong in what you said and even if there was, friends judge friends positively. Please keep on commenting. (My husband was my rabbi before we got married – he was also more than a year or two older than me.)

  3. Peter,I hope you saw the Wall Street Journal last Saturday on this topic. If not, look for it. It explained how the whole “anti-butter, eggs, meat…” crusade started from flawed studies.

  4. Dear Susan, I wrote a comment a couple of posts back on the article about when you said, “I do”. I didn’t mean to sound ignorant or disrespectful. I just thought that was very nice of you to share your personal story with us readers. I didn’t mean to sound ignorant, I just assumed that a person had to be a certain age to become a rabbi. I might have read it wrong, but I thought you said that he was already your rabbi when the two of you got married.
    Hope I didn’t offend!

  5. Hi Susan:
    To paraphrase former Texas senator Lloyd Benson:
    “I’ve known curmudgeons. I have curmudgeons that are friends of mine. Mrs. Lapin, you’re no curmudgeon.”
    Interestingly, earlier this week a new book was released titled “The Big Fat Surprise” by author Nina Teicholz. The book exposes the decades long decline of American’s diet and the associated health problems caused by the war on saturated-fat.
    Did you know that the U.S. federal government has been telling the American people what to eat since the U.S. Senate released their “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” for the first time in 1977? These guidelines are now updated every five years and the most recent “2010 Dietary Guidelines” continues their 37 year long campaign against dietary saturated-fat.
    The only “New York state snack” yogurt that would be allowable under the federal government’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines would be that prepared with either 1% milk fat or skim milk (skimmed of nutrition).
    After reading dozens of books and articles on this subject, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the reason and rational behind the Dietary Guidelines for Americans including their latest 2010 iteration is Big Food special interest. Crony unethical-capitalism.
    Nina Teicholz’s book is just the latest in a long series of well researched exposes on the source of America’s health problems as they relate to our diet [see Wheat Belly (2011) by preventative cardiologist William Davis, MD and Why We Get Fat (also 2011) by investigative journalist Gary Taubes].
    If we’ve learned anything about nutrition in the past four decades, it is that government is the LAST place we should look for advice on what to eat. Just look around at the average American’s physical condition (let alone his blood chemistry profile). Those Americans most dependent upon the federal, state, and local government for sustenance and what passes for nutrition have BY FAR the highest incidence of that combination of heart-disease risk factors known as metabolic syndrome (insulin resistance/diabetes, high triglycerides, high blood pressure and obesity).
    So Nero fiddles while Rome burns. Jon Stewart and the other court jesters of late-night spend time every day conditioning Americans as to what is hip, and what is uncool, public ridicule being perhaps THE most powerful weapon in the socialist’s thought-policing arsenal.
    There’s one word to describe government that places limits on people’s freedom by choosing the winners and playing favorites. That word is evil. Not enforcing the law of the land, i.e. the U.S. Constitution places further limits on our freedom. We can laugh at legislators debating the merits of a “state snack”, but when Dietary Guidelines for Americans plus 37 years’ time yields 80 to 100 million citizens who are either diabetic or pre-diabetic, well, that is certainly no laughing matter.

  6. Thank you for providing the link to a video which makes such a mockery of such a serious health, societal, economic, and educational issue as the one raised by this fourth-grade class. Indeed, the matter of designating a state snack may have lasting, disastrous effects on the world’s economic stability. What would happen to the pretzel, potato chip, and other suggested snack industries if yogurt were selected as the state snack of New York? This is blatant prejudice against all other possible snacks. It might be classified as a hate crime! Where is our sense of fairness? Never mind that yogurt is said to be healthier than all the other snacks mentioned – even apple muffins. The mere matter of lactose intolerance – if one is allowed to have intolerance of anything these days – should be an unanswerable argument against yogurt as the state snack. I considered calling you to discuss this matter in private, but am unable to talk with my tongue so firmly tucked in my cheek. (In case you missed it, I’m being totally sarcastic here!)

  7. You have a better sense of propriety in the public arena than many a senator. That settles it: Susan Lapin for SENATE!
    [Dear Rabbi, your answer this week to Tina was spot on. With Government seizure and control, ‘charity’ becomes a blind, lumbering juggernaut of redistribution per rules and regulations. Humanity is force-divided into arbitrary categories as fodder for the rules and regulations. But genuine human need is not subject to precise ‘categories.’ And people with genuine need will fall through the regulatory cracks, while others adept at milking the System will thrive on ill-gotten gains. All the while the Government gets bloated, fatter and stronger, more inept and more vicious.]

  8. I never knew about Kasimir Pulaski Day. That’s pretty amazing if it is a paid holiday. It’s also short-sighted. What about the hundreds of other ethnic groups?

  9. Agree with your assessment, but that’s the power of “special interest groups.” Yes, even though these 4th graders aren’t what is normally defined as a special interest group, they are – the political capital that this Congressman believes he can accrue by giving in to their wishes outweighs what is good stewardship of the taxpayers’ money.
    The passage of Kasimir Pulaski Day as a state holiday in Illinois is another example of a publicity-driven bill. This had been proposed as a joke by a state senator from the south side of Chicago in response to the other “ethnic identity holidays” that have been passed federally. The rest of the state legislature was too scared to vote it down and state employees were quite glad to get a secular day off in early spring (malls are open on that day).

  10. Agreed. Wasting taxpayer’s hard earned money on votes such as these is beneath the office and makes a mockery of our legislative process. Full disclosure I am a middle aged curmudgeon. Thank you for the blessing that is your musings, they brighten my day.

  11. Do you think the 4th grade class will now write to their Congressman to see if he will support a bill to make it our national snack? At the level of responsibility they seem to operate lately, this bill could pass in a couple of weeks of partisan debate. Of course, the vote would divide on party lines. There is no sense in investing in independent thought or logic. It might upset the party leaders.

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