(posted by Bryana Johnson on March 22, 2013)
“Obesity is one of the most critical public health issues affecting the U.S. today. Racial and socioeconomic disparities in the determinants, distribution, and consequences of obesity are receiving increasing attention. However, one area that is only beginning to be recognized is the striking interplay of gender and sexual orientation in obesity disparities. It is now well-established that women of minority sexual orientation are disproportionately affected by the obesity epidemic.”
This study is one of those really crucial programs that is reportedly being threatened by the infamous and hyper-inflated sequester catastrophe. Yesterday, we learned about another one. Apparently, there’s not just an obesity epidemic among lesbian women, but also a plague of alcoholism.
Since 2009, the University of Illinois has been receiving federal grants for a study called, “Cumulative Stress and Hazardous Drinking in a Community of Adult Lesbians.” A description of the grant states,
“Studies using both probability and nonprobability samples provide ample evidence of lesbians' vulnerability to hazardous drinking. However, very little is known about the factors that increase lesbians' risk for hazardous drinking. We propose to build on and extend our study of sexual identity and drinking…to model effects of cumulative stress on hazardous drinking among lesbians.”
Doesn’t this make it a little more difficult to take our elected officials seriously when they babble on about how the teeniest funding cuts constitute the end of life as we know it?
Last month I contacted my congressman’s office to apply for a White House tour later this year. After providing detailed information for all of the members of my party, I was informed that I would hear back from the office regarding the status of my submission in about a month. However, I received a follow up e-mail well before the month was out, and it wasn’t the news I was waiting for.
“I wanted to update you regarding your Washington, DC tour request,” wrote my congressman’s tour coordinator. “Our office has received word today from the White House that:
‘Due to staffing reductions resulting from sequestration, we regret to inform you that White House Tours will be canceled effective Saturday, March 9, 2013 until further notice. Unfortunately, we will not be able to reschedule affected tours.’ ”
Not surprisingly, a number of our US senators and congressmen were incensed by the news that White House tours have been discontinued, reportedly due to funding cuts occasioned by sequestration. Especially since sequestration isn’t really a spending “cut,” after all, but only a reduction in the rate of spending increase.
Kansas Senator Jerry Moran stated, “Cancelling White House tours is an unnecessary and unfair way for the Department of Homeland Security to meet its budget-cutting obligations.”
Is it really, though? What is it that makes one program special and another frivolous? Isn’t everyone just pursuing their own interests and working overtime to milk the federal cash cow?
Huffington Post’s Sam Stein seemed to insinuate as much in his column Thursday, entitled, “White House Tours Obsess GOP Lawmakers Despite Sequestration Hits Back Home.” Examining the complaints of Republican lawmakers following the announcement that the tours had been suspended, he points to the supposedly more serious cuts occurring in the legislators’ home states, as though to chide them for not showing enough concern for their own constituents.
The question is, at a time when our nation is over $16 trillion in debt, should we really be avoiding spending decreases like a plague, and expecting every government official to be fighting to keep as much of the available funding in his own state?
Or should we hope for a common sense response that finds lawmakers stepping up to the plate and laying their lucrative but useless and meddlesome projects on the chopping block? Would it be too much to hope that frivolous programs and studies and foreign aid might give way to a concern like allowing the American people to visit their own national monuments and federal buildings?
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul may have said it best when he wrote on his facebook page, “We supposedly can't find $17,000 a week for school kids to tour the White House, but somehow still have $250 million for Egypt.
And for studies to determine why lesbians get drunk and fat. I’m sure they’ll all be very appreciative.
(For those who are under the impression that this misappropriation of our money is a pair of isolated incidents, a quick look at Senator Coburn’s 2012 Wastebook might be enough to peel the scales from their eyes.)