Independent Women's Forum RSS feedhttp://www.iwf.orgThe RSS feed for the IWF. News/Commentary, Blog posts and publications(...)IWF RSS Parents Choose To Put Kids in Harm's Way<p> Two Maryland parents are&nbsp;<a href="">being investigated by state authorities</a>&nbsp;because they let their 10- and 6-year-old children do what many consider a healthy activity: walk home alone from a park less than a mile away. Plenty of nanny-staters were quick to pounce on such parents who believe in what&#39;s popularly called &quot;free-range&quot; parenting (<a href="">a group of us discussed it on HuffPost Live)</a>, but they seem reluctant to address the far more dangerous trend of parents refusing to provide their children life-saving vaccinations.</p> <p> Consider the recent outbreak of measles in the United States.&nbsp;<a href="">Traced to an unvaccinated and infected woman</a>&nbsp;who made a December 2014 visit to Disneyland in California, this woman didn&#39;t just infect the people she stood next to as she waited in line for the Space Mountain and the Matterhorn Bobsled rides, she traveled to and from the park via airplane, where she infected people headed to other states. As multiple media outlets have reported, 70 people have since been diagnosed with measles in California, Utah, Colorado and Washington State. And just this week it was revealed that<a href="">&nbsp;five employees of Disneyland</a>&nbsp;are being treated for measles. It makes one wonder; with how many children did those employees came in contact?</p> <p> The&nbsp;<em>Los Angeles Times</em>&nbsp;reports that health officials are extremely concerned, saying this outbreak &quot;is the worst in California in 15 years, in part because it occurred not in a small, insular community but at a crossroads of the world.&quot; And they are right to worry. Measles is extremely contagious.&nbsp;<a href="">According to the World Health Organization</a>, the disease is spread by the quite common act of sneezing, coughing or coming into direct or close personal contact an infected person. Also, the virus remains active and contagious in the air or on infected surfaces for up to two hours. Now, take a moment to think of those cramped, kid-filled lines at Disneyland. Think of the handrails, the safety straps and bars on the rides, the shared seats.</p> <p> Perhaps the scariest part of contracting measles is that once you&#39;ve got it, there&#39;s not much doctors can do but provide palliative care, as there really is no medication that kills the virus. Rather, one simply has to let it run its course and hope for the best. That is why preventing the disease is so critical.&nbsp;<a href="">The CDC reports</a>&nbsp;that in areas where the measles vaccine isn&#39;t available, 20 million people still become infected resulting in 122,000 deaths per year. And yet, here in the United States, where the vaccine has been available for decades, parents are still declining this important preventative medicine. Why?</p> <p> Much of the unfounded fears of vaccinations can be tracked back to the late 1990s, when now-disgraced British doctor Andrew Wakefield released a fraudulent study declaring a causal relationship between certain vaccines and Autism Spectrum Disorder. The respected medical journal The Lancet, which originally published the study, later retracted the study (a rare move) and<a href="">&nbsp;Dr. Wakefield lost his license to practice medicine</a>. The British General Medical Council, the body that revoked Wakefield&#39;s license, found&nbsp;<a href="">Wakefield had acted &quot;dishonestly and irresponsibly&quot;</a>&nbsp;in his research and in conducting his study, had displayed &quot;callous disregard for the distress and pain the children might suffer.&quot;</p> <p> Yet, Dr. Wakefield&#39;s discredited work lingers to this day and continues to mislead parents. Today, choosing to forgo vaccinations is no longer an odd decision by fringe, hippy parents. It has become mainstream. This makes us all -- both vaccinated and unvaccinated -- vulnerable to the disease for many reasons, among the most obvious that vaccinations are not 100 percent effective. In some, though rare, cases, a vaccination simply doesn&#39;t &quot;take&quot; leaving the person who received the vaccination still vulnerable. Newborns don&#39;t receive many of their vaccinations for months after birth. A small number of people are unable to receive vaccinations because of allergies to components of the medicine. For these reason, and others, all of us have a responsibility -- indeed, a civic duty and moral obligation -- to vaccinate.</p> <p> Our culture should speak openly about what&#39;s happening here and the consequences of those decisions. It&#39;s absurd that senseless fear of a vaccination or certain chemicals used in the vaccination should lead to the unnecessary death or serious illness of a child.</p> <p> We live in strange times. Many moms and dads will freak out about minuscule amounts of chemical preservatives in strawberry jam (added to keep the jam free of really dangerous pathogens, like listeria), or will read food labels until their eyes cross to avoid perfectly safe GMOs, artificial coloring, added sugars and a variety of other things they&#39;ve &quot;heard&quot; or &quot;read on the Internet&quot; are harmful. Some parents, supported by state agencies, disapprove of other parents&#39; decision to let kids walk home from a park. Yet many of these same parents will think nothing of skipping life-saving vaccinations.</p> <p> Some of these parents believe in &quot;natural&quot; remedies and medical treatments, but parents need to understand that death is also natural and common -- particularly when parents refuse to treat their children with man-made medicine.</p> <p> <em>Julie Gunlock writes for the</em>&nbsp;<em><a href="">Independent Women&#39;s Forum</a></em>&nbsp;<em>and is the author of</em>&nbsp;<em><a href="">From Cupcakes to Chemicals: How the Culture of Alarmism Makes Us Afraid of Everything, and How to Fight Back</a></em></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> GunlockTue, 27 Jan 2015 16:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumSchool dinner program, BPA replacements even more scary than BPA • Cam & Co GunlockTue, 27 Jan 2015 14:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumSchool Dinner Expands<p> A Facebook friend posted <a href="">a story praising the news</a> that the federal government is expanding school feeding programs:&nbsp;</p> <blockquote> <p> Since the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010, more than one million students across the United States have received dinner and an after-school snack as part of an unprecedented pilot program introduced in 13 states and the District of Columbia.</p> <p> The program has been received well so far. School officials in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the nation&rsquo;s second largest school district and one of the first participants in the U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded program, are now planning to&nbsp;<a href="">double the number of students</a>&nbsp;who receive nutritious after-school meals. The ultimate goal: to serve every student in the school district, especially those from low-income communities who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.</p> </blockquote> <p> Let&#39;s think about that &ldquo;ultimate goal&rdquo; for a moment. The goal isn&#39;t &quot;to help children from low income households&quot; but rather to &quot;serve every student in the school district.&quot;</p> <p> That statement says a lot. It&#39;s yet more proof that the goal of these programs is not to help kids eat more nutritiously (just a look at the variety of news stories detailing the absolutely disgusting food these kids are getting or just review the many pictures posted on twitter with the hashtag #thanksmichelleobama to get an eyeful of the Dickensian gruel). Rather, the goal is to further remove parents from having any say in what kids eat. The reason? Because, according to those who promote expanding the school lunch program, parents are too stupid to read nutrition labels. They&#39;re too busy. They&#39;re too tired after work. They&rsquo;re too poor (this excuse always annoys me; as if poor=dumb).</p> <p> But really, it&#39;s that you and me and the rest of we distracted parents are simply not trustworthy enough. I mean, you might put something that tastes good or has high calories in your kids lunch box. Or you might make your own educated decisions about what your kid needs and likes. You might want her to have what your mom made you, even if that does annoy the commandant of your kids lunch room (who can forget <a href="">this North Carolina case</a> involving a little girl&#39;s brown bag lunch being taken away in favor of chicken nuggets and fries). <a href="">This guy (a doctor who specializes in nutrition) did just that,</a> and he received a curt note back from a self-important teacher (<a href=";set=a.1240060562570.2037991.1260963127&amp;type=1">his response was epic</a>). Hear that? Even fathers who are doctors can&#39;t be trusted.&nbsp;</p> <p> But the glowing article mentioned above and many on the left view this as good news and are praising the decision. One person on my friend&#39;s FB feed explained her support, saying: &quot;Our district has a program that sends food home over the weekends and breaks. Last year during snow days, counselors even delivered food to kids who were in dire risk of going hungry becasue school was closed.&quot;</p> <p> Ummmm, talk about missing the point? Shouldn&#39;t this be identified as a massive child neglect issue? If indeed, parents are entirely failing to feed their kids on Saturdays and Sundays, shouldn&#39;t these parents be advised of the many state, local and federal food assistance programs designed to help them when school&#39;s out? And why, if indeed there is this dire need in a community, would the answer be to feed ALL (read: rich and middle class) children, not just the children who need it.</p> <p> There are plenty of taxpayers that don&#39;t begrudge the government taxing them if it does indeed serve a need or goes toward a program that is well run. Sadly, that&#39;s not true with the federal school lunch program--a <a href="">program overrun with problems</a>, waste, cost overruns, mismanagement, and fraud.&nbsp;</p> <p> Before we expand these programs any further, is it too much to ask that the Feds fix the broken program first? And perhaps when we see stories like this, we might be a little less gleeful that we&#39;re expanding a program to feed the children of the rich, as well as the poor.</p> GunlockTue, 27 Jan 2015 11:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhat Role Do Cultural Alarmists Play in Causing More Parents to Believe Vaccines are Dangerous • Bill Cunningham GunlockTue, 27 Jan 2015 07:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumEuropean Food Safety Authority Rules BPA Safe<p> The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) just released <a href="">a comprehensive&nbsp;re-evaluation of the chemical bisphenol A (commonly called BPA)</a>, finding that it poses no risk to consumers of any age group, including unborn children, infants and&nbsp;adolescents at current exposure levels. The agency also stated that exposure to BPA from food and a range of other potential sources (dust, cosmetics and thermal paper) &ldquo;is considerably under the safe level.&quot; Read the EFSA&rsquo;s useful fact sheet on BPA safety <a href="">here</a>.</p> <p> So, for all you moms out there, that means that all those sippy cups containing trace levels of BPA that you threw away a few years ago&hellip;welp, you didn&rsquo;t need to throw them away after all. Too bad the money you spent on replacement products wasn&rsquo;t put away in little Timmy&rsquo;s or Susie&rsquo;s college account.</p> <p> There also seems to be a change in the media coverage on this issue. NBC news ran <a href="">this very positive story</a> and Good Morning American has a reasoned, fact-based story on the subject as well (video <a href=";urlid=3">here</a>).</p> <p> This is good news for&nbsp;worried&nbsp;moms who are constantly fed&nbsp;misinformation&nbsp;by activist organizations who want to see more regulations on manufacturers, retailers and the chemical industry and want to control the choices you make for you and your family.&nbsp;</p> <p> Moms should also know that it isn&rsquo;t just the EFSA that finds BPA safe. The FDA, the EPA as well as scientific bodies in Japan, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, the European Union and the World Health Organization have all found BPA to be safe as commonly used. We can all pretend this is one big plot to poison the world, but I choose to believe the science and not give in to the tin hat, grassy knoll, black helicopter conspiracists.</p> <p> If you&rsquo;d like more information on the safety of BPA, see IWF Senior Fellow Angela Logomasini&rsquo;s excellent <a href="">new Policy Focus on the science of the &quot;endocrine disrupter&rdquo; debate.</a></p> GunlockFri, 23 Jan 2015 09:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumAttack on Free-Range Parenting: Under arrest for letting kids be independent • HuffPo LIVE GunlockWed, 21 Jan 2015 12:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumBring Back BPA! <p> A few years ago, the BPA-free movement launched as misinformation about the chemical BPA (a chemical that has been the focus of thousands of safety studies and has been used for over 50 years) began hitting news stands. So, what replaced BPA? Another chemcial called BPS. But now, the chemphobes are complaining about this replacement chemical saying it too is dangerous.</p> <p> Goodness, what are moms to do now?&nbsp; They&#39;re going to have to throw out all those BPA-free sippy cups!</p> <p> But is this really necessary?</p> <p> According to a new study on zebrafish (yes, fish), BPS--the chemical that replaced BPA--caused alterations in brain development leading to hyperactivity in zebrafish.</p> <p> So, if you recently gave birth to a zebrafish and you&#39;re letting them use BPA-free sippy cups, by all means, throw them out. Otherwise, you&#39;re probably okay.</p> <p> As our friend <a href="">Josh Bloom at the American Council on Science and Health says</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p> I&rsquo;m not going to bother delving into the details of a scientific study of something that is very far from being relevant to human health. Besides, this could be good news.&nbsp; I could use a few more neurons before even attempting the Saturday Times crossword puzzle.</p> </blockquote> <p> If you&#39;d like a more detail on why BPA is perfectly safe, check out <a href="">this new Policy Focus by IWF Senior Fellow Angela Logomasini</a>. She tackles the claim that BPA is a dangerous endocrine disruptor (tip: It&rsquo;s not!) as well as provides valuable information on other chemicals that make food and everyday products safer and cheaper for consumers.</p> GunlockTue, 20 Jan 2015 09:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMilk Does Not Cause Cancer<p> I recently took my boys for their annual checkups and each time the pediatrician asked the same question: &ldquo;How much milk do they drink?&rdquo;</p> <p> &ldquo;Three times a day,&rdquo; I answered.&nbsp; She smiled and said &ldquo;good.&rdquo;</p> <p> But according to this <a href="">new study</a>, my doctor is giving me bad medical advice.</p> <p> A good look at the study reveals it is yet another case of correlation, not causation, that&rsquo;s feeding these inflated and hysterical headlines.</p> <p> First, the correlation. Student researchers looking to get their name out there love using this trick and they&rsquo;ve done just that with this latest example of junk science. This is how it&rsquo;s done: The researchers collect data on how people are eating (in this case, they took data from the <a href="">National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey</a>, called NHANES) and find a habit of the American public (in this case, drinking milk and eating meat) and then they line that data up against the number of people who are getting cancer (in this case by looking at data from the <a href="">National Death Index</a>).</p> <p> And what did they find when comparing these two data sets? That the people who consumed animal protein died of cancer more often.</p> <p> But it&rsquo;s important to realize a few things about the NHANES data. Now, I don&rsquo;t want to totally dismiss it because it is a valuable source of information but it does have limits. First, NHANES relies on face-to-face interviews with people where they are asked to recall one day of eating. Well, guess what happens when you are asked very personal questions, in person. You lie! That&rsquo;s right. You lie? Why? Because it can sometimes be embarrassing to admit your weaknesses. Secondly, people have bad memories, which only adds to the uncertainty of the data collected.</p> <p> Also, NHANES data is only a tiny piece of a very large pie. NHANES doesn&rsquo;t have complete information on all Americans. Rather, <a href="">the survey examines a nationally representative sample of about 5,000 persons each year</a>. Do those 5,000 people accurately represent the entire U.S. population? Maybe. Maybe not. Does that mean we chuck all NHANES information? No. But perhaps we shouldn&rsquo;t&rsquo; use it to draw conclusions like &ldquo;milk as bad as smoking.&rdquo;</p> <p> Regarding those inflated and hysterical headlines: Well, no surprise there, right? Headline writers are good at getting clicks and they have to in today&rsquo;s competitive media market. But, people should remember that this latest &ldquo;milk kills&rdquo; study &nbsp;is only one study that says there&rsquo;s a possibility that you&rsquo;ll increase your chances (got that, chances) of getting cancer or that there might be some random, vague correlation between gorging at 10 cent wing night and cancer. Yet there is a ton of rigorous scientific studies that actually show smoking causes (CAUSES) cancer. Spot the difference?</p> <p> When you read most of the stories this study has generated, you get the sense that the researchers are backpedaling; fumbling around saying &ldquo;ummm&hellip;we didn&rsquo;t actually mean people should, you know, drop the glass of milk and ummmm&hellip;.take up smoking&hellip;no, no, no, that&rsquo;s not what we meant!&rdquo;&nbsp; Okay, I&rsquo;m paraphrasing a bit.</p> <p> But <a href="">consider this statement</a> from the lead researcher:</p> <blockquote> <p> The size of the effect we&#39;re finding was similar, however I think the association with smoking mortality is way more clear-cut,&quot; says Canon. &quot;There&#39;s been a lot more research, and there&#39;s a lot less potential for confounding factors. For nutrition, it&#39;s really hard to unravel what someone&#39;s diet is and really quantify that&mdash;whereas it&#39;s quite easy to say, &#39;Do you smoke a pack of cigarettes a day?&#39;&quot;</p> <p> Canon emphasizes that this definitely isn&#39;t a reason to continue (or start) smoking.</p> </blockquote> <p> Well, at least Canon managed to get that good &ldquo;Don&rsquo;t smoke!&rdquo; message in there. Meanwhile, plenty of Americans are going to forgo healthy, nutritious milk and protein because of a weak correlation to cancer and a study that should never have generated a headline.</p> GunlockTue, 20 Jan 2015 09:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumDon't Buy Into Beauty Product Alarmism<p> For many, the New Year brings a familiar rattle of insecurity and sudden drive to be, as Gwyneth Paltrow&nbsp;<a href="">puts it</a>, &quot;look the best version of yourself as you age.&rdquo; Groan.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s not easy. Women are busy and many don&rsquo;t have the money, time or even the narcissistic inclinations to work that hard at looking good. Yet now, the alarmists are telling us it&rsquo;s best to give up entirely since maintaining one&rsquo;s looks is dangerous. Consider&nbsp;<a href="" title="Link:">this December piece</a>&nbsp;in U.S. News and World Report (&quot;<a href="" title="Link: null">The (Health) Price of Pretty</a>,&quot; Dec. 9, 2014), which warns readers against a number of spa and salon services.</p> <p> Quoting a&nbsp;<a href="" title="Link: null">deeply flawed study</a>&nbsp;from the Journal of the American Medical Association, the writer claims that skin cancer caused by tanning kills more than lung cancer caused by smoking. Yet,&nbsp;<a href="" title="Link: null">according to the American Cancer Society</a>, 159,260 people die from lung cancer each year, and most of these deaths are related to smoking. That&rsquo;s more than 10 times the&nbsp;<a href="" title="Link: null">total number of skin cancer deaths</a>&nbsp;in the United States, which kills 12,980 annually. And the&nbsp;<a href="" title="Link:">majority of skin cancer deaths</a>&nbsp;occur in men over age 50, hardly the core sun tanning bed consumers.</p> <p> The piece also exaggerates risks associated with the Brazilian blowout, which involves the application of formaldehyde on the hair before being dried. While there have been a few cases of misusing the product, that isn&#39;t a reason to outlaw it entirely. The writer similarly stokes fear about mercury lurking in over the counter face creams. But is mercury ubiquitous in these products? No. While mercury is banned in United States and discouraged by many other countries, sometimes bad products &mdash; in this case, face cream containing mercury &mdash; imported from other countries slip through the cracks. Bad? Yes. Rare? Yes. This hardly translates into poison lurking on the drug store&rsquo;s cosmetic shelf.</p> <p> The piece goes on to warn that 60 Californians have been diagnosed with mercury poisoning from skin creams over the last four year. So 15 people out of California&rsquo;s total population of 38 million got sick each year. That&rsquo;s a reason to read your face cream label, not give it up entirely. Need some more perspective? More people are killed each year by cows, jellyfish, ants and horses. Hippos kill 2,900 people annually.&nbsp;<a href="" title="Link: null">Death via hippo</a>&nbsp;&mdash; now that&rsquo;s scary.</p> <p> The writer last takes on teeth whitening, saying it&rsquo;s risky while inadvertently hinting at the obvious &ndash; that teeth whitening &ldquo;has led to some troubling results for those who go overboard.&rdquo; She fails, however, to recognize that it&#39;s the going &ldquo;overboard&rdquo; that is harming people, not the product itself. Instead of telling people to use whitening kits the way manufacturers instruct, the writer advises avoiding these affordable, over-the-counter products in favor of a dentist. Translation: It&rsquo;s nice to be rich.</p> <p> These types of articles distract from real dangers and efforts that people can make to live healthier lives and even feel good about their looks. My advice: Ignore the alarmists and do those beauty treatments that, as Gwinnie says, make you a better version of yourself.</p> <p> Julie Gunlock<br /> Director, Culture of Alarmism and senior fellow<br /> Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum</p> GunlockFri, 16 Jan 2015 18:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumContessa Brewer's Unsound Medical Advice<p> Contessa Brewer is not a pediatrician but she plays one on Facebook.</p> <p> See this post from the MSNBC anchor&#39;s page:</p> <p style="text-align: center;"> <a href=";theater"><img alt="" src="" style="width: 495px; height: 617px;" /></a></p> <p> Now, I don&rsquo;t know if Ms. Brewer has kids (it appears so since she mentions &ldquo;her baby&rdquo;) but if she does, it makes me wonder if she&rsquo;s ever seen her kid get really sick&hellip;as in fever, stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s no treat.</p> <p> One of the most difficult things a parent faces when nursing a sick young child is convincing that child to take fluids. This is critically important but it&rsquo;s tough to convince kids who are in the middle of throwing up. They get the idea pretty quickly that whatever goes down, might just come up again. All they want to do is curl up in a ball and sleep in between dry heaves.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s tough to watch and it can be a scary situation for parents. Dehydration is one of the side effects parents are told to watch out for. Kids are easily dehydrated when they&rsquo;re sick because they are losing massive amounts of fluids and they&rsquo;re stubborn about drinking.</p> <p> So, what do parents do? Often they rely on things like <a href="">Pedialyte</a>, which <a href="">according to WebMD</a> &ldquo;&hellip;is used to replace fluids and minerals (such as sodium, <a href="">potassium</a>) lost due to <a href="">diarrhea</a> and <a href="">vomiting</a>. It helps prevent or treat the loss of too much body water (<a href="">dehydration</a>). Having the right amount of fluids and minerals is important for the normal functioning of the body.&rdquo;</p> <p> Hey, look at that, Contessa, it&rsquo;s used to help kids avoid death via dehydration!</p> <p> Yes, it also contains a small amount of sugar and an even smaller amount of dyes (<a href="">which do not cause hyperactivity in children</a>). But that&rsquo;s what makes this product attractive to kids. Getting them hydrated is the point here, Ms. Brewer.</p> <p> I&rsquo;ve known parents who have given their children orange juice or apple juice. Some give their children Kool-Aid. My own mother let me have ginger ale when I was sick. The reason? Because kids can be coerced into drinking liquids when those liquids taste good.</p> <p> The flu season is among us and there have even been fatalities. It would be nice if Ms. Brewer would use her <a href="">B.S. in journalism</a> to continue reading her teleprompter instead of giving medical advice and freaking out parents about useful tools that can help their child stay hydrated while sick.</p> GunlockFri, 16 Jan 2015 12:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumKids Walk Home From the Park…PANIC AND CALL 911!<p> This <a href="">Washington Post story</a> is responsible for the rage headache I&rsquo;m currently nursing. From this story:</p> <blockquote> <p> It was a one-mile walk home from a Silver Spring park on Georgia Avenue on a Saturday afternoon. But what the parents saw as a moment of independence for their 10-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter, they say authorities viewed much differently.</p> <p> Danielle and Alexander Meitiv say they are being investigated for neglect for the Dec. 20 trek &mdash; in a case they say reflects a <strong>clash of ideas</strong> about how safe the world is and whether parents are free to make their own choices about raising their children.</p> </blockquote> <p> That&rsquo;s exactly right&mdash;it is &quot;a clash of ideas,&quot; but it isn&#39;t about safety, it&#39;s about parenting. And when one camp calls the cops on another camp, that&#39;s when things turn from a difference in philosophy about child rearing to a parenting war with potentially serious consequences.</p> <p> Let&#39;s look at these two camps. In one camp--the helicopters--parents believe you should never be more than an inch away from your kids. You should hover over them to protect them from every possible danger. In the other camp--<a href="">the Free Rangers</a>--you believe in knowing and understanding your own child&#39;s abilities and you make decisions based on that child&rsquo;s development and abilities. Now, there&#39;s nothing wrong with there being different philosophies about how to raise kids. The problem is that the helicopter parents have started to feel it&rsquo;s their duty to call the police on Free Range parents. It&#39;s become quite common these days as we see more and more examples of the <a href="">police being called</a> when <a href="">children are seen at a playground minus a parent five feet away</a>.</p> <p> The reason for this is simple: Helicopter parents tend to be evangelical in their parenting style. In other words, they don&#39;t just look out for their own children, they feel it&#39;s their duty to look out for your children. So, if they disagree with the decision you&rsquo;ve made for your kids (&quot;go ahead and walk home from the park by yourself!&quot;), it&rsquo;s time to call the cops.</p> <p> I have no doubt that the pearl clutcher who called the cops on the Meitiv family is currently patting himself or herself on the back. No doubt they felt great self-satisfaction from dialing 911 to report these wandering children but this person&#39;s do-gooder instincts have done a great disservice to this family and to the community. And how much do you want to bet that this same 911-dialer also likes to pick on people for feeding their kids too much snack food and letting them watch too much television? I mean, shouldn&#39;t we be telling our kids to get outside to get more exercise? That&#39;s precisely what Mrs. Meitiv did and she was still punished.&nbsp;</p> <p> I suggest Free Range parents start evangelizing a little too. It&rsquo;s time to start pushing back on these nannies that think they know what&rsquo;s best for our children.</p> GunlockThu, 15 Jan 2015 09:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPeople are Happier & Healthier + Let's Move Gets a New Head • Cam & Company GunlockTue, 13 Jan 2015 13:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumA New Head for Let's Move<p> Deb Eschmeyer, the newly appointed Executive Director of Michelle Obama&rsquo;s pet project&mdash;the Let&rsquo;s Move Campaign&mdash;wants you to believe she&rsquo;s in it for the kids. She&rsquo;s no partisan. She&rsquo;s not an ideologue. She just loves kids and wants what&rsquo;s best for them. Isn&rsquo;t she wonderful?</p> <p> On Friday, <a href="">The Free Beacon ran a profile</a> on the young activists and found this quote:</p> <blockquote> <p> I like to make sure I&rsquo;m looking at the right and the left so that I don&rsquo;t silo myself,&rdquo; Eshmeyer said. &ldquo;For example, I listen to Rush Limbaugh and Rachel Maddow. It doesn&rsquo;t matter if you&rsquo;re wearing a Sarah Palin 2012 t-shirt or that you&rsquo;re an Obama devotee, everyone should get behind Farm to School and improving school lunch and the overall food system.</p> </blockquote> <p> Farm to school&hellip;it sounds nice, doesn&rsquo;t it? Makes you think a tractor pulls up to the school every Wednesday to unload the freshly picked crops, never mind that it&rsquo;s around 12 degrees in most northern states and the ground is hard as cement. And that other line about everyone getting behind improving school lunches: yes, yes, we all want kids to eat better but is growing government&rsquo;s role in how kids eat the best way to achieve that goal? Eschmeyer doesn&rsquo;t seem to understand that that is the real question.</p> <p> Of course, it&rsquo;s not surprising that Eschmeyer doesn&rsquo;t dig that deep. After all, this is a food activist that <a href="">pushed to have Michelle Obama&rsquo;s lunch reforms put in place</a>&mdash;the very reforms that have led to <a href="">fewer kids eating school lunch</a>, more complaints from those who do, <a href="">massive waste</a> in school cafeterias from either 1) kids not eating the food that&rsquo;s offered (and <a href=";src=tyah">tweeting pictures of the disgusting food</a>), or 2) kids taking the food and then depositing it straight into a trash can, and overall depression among school lunch ladies who have been told they can&rsquo;t use simple ingredients like butter and salt to make food taste good (although Congress did just make a change so that schools can now begin salting food again).</p> <p> Does Ms. Eschmeyer concede that the school lunch reforms have been a disaster? Does she at least concede that the USDA&rsquo;s list of dos and don&rsquo;ts make it very hard for schools to make palatable food. Of course not! Like any ideologue, she&rsquo;s going to stay the course, unbothered by the evidence before her that the government has simply gotten in the way of true and good reforms to school lunches.</p> <p> Wouldn&rsquo;t it be amazing if just once, a liberal admitted that government&rsquo;s the actual problem? And government meddling definitely is the problem when it comes to school lunches.</p> <p> Does she know that the USDA actually sends out lists of &ldquo;allowed&rdquo; fruits and vegetables? If something isn&rsquo;t on the list, school lunch ladies aren&rsquo;t allowed to serve it. This prohibits schools from <a href="">using the very produce that grows in their states</a> (and in some cases on school grounds)? That&rsquo;s right, it prevents that whole &quot;farm to school&quot; fantasy she talked about. If Ms. Eshmeyer truly envisions a &ldquo;farm to school&rdquo; scheme, she might consider getting government out of the way of the farms and out of the way of the schools.</p> <p> Back to the actual food being served: It&rsquo;s important to realize that kids aren&rsquo;t refusing to eat the school lunches because suddenly vegetables have appeared on the plate. It&rsquo;s because those vegetables are steamed and then put on the tray with ZERO flavorings. Tell me, do you know a child who eats veggies without a little salt, butter or cheese (Okay, okay, Gwinnie Paltrow&rsquo;s perfect children don&rsquo;t count!).</p> <p> Kids are throwing away trays of food not because suddenly there&rsquo;s brown rice on the plate, it&rsquo;s because the brown rice, again, has nothing on it. No salt, or butter. It&rsquo;s not cooked in bullion (too salty!) or anything else to flavor it. Why are people surprised kids won&rsquo;t eat this gruel?</p> <p> Ms. Eschmeyer replaces Sam Kass as the head of Let&rsquo;s Move. He was the personal chef to the Obama&rsquo;s before the President ran for the presidency. Talk about being in the right place at the right time. Sam regularly made me roll my eyes&mdash;blathering on about school lunch and school gardens and things that won&rsquo;t do a thing to improve the health of kids. But Sam wasn&rsquo;t an activists in the traditional way and according to some in the food industry, he would at least listen to the concerns of food companies and was less conspiratorial than, say, the Michael &ldquo;food is evil&rdquo; Jacobsons of the world.</p> <p> Eschmeyer is different. She&rsquo;s a long-time food activist and founded a group called FoodCorps which is set up like AmeriCorps in that it sends young college grads into lower income area schools to set up school gardens, teach kids about food and nutrition and give cooking lessons&hellip;</p> <p> Hmmm&hellip;tell kids about gardening, talk to them about how to eat right and show them some simple cooking tips. This sounds familiar&hellip;who else is supposed to do this&hellip;why can&rsquo;t I think of&hellip;</p> <p> MOM! And DAD! Yeah, that&rsquo;s it! Parents are supposed to do this stuff, right?</p> <p> Not in Eschmeyer&rsquo;s world.</p> <p> And let&#39;s just take a moment to debunk this idea that school gardens are the solution to childhood obesity and that kids are clueless about where food comes from unless they tend a garden. How about we teach kids about how this country is wonderful and you get to be anything you want and you don&#39;t have to be a farmer. If you want to be a farmer, that&#39;s great, go do that. But in this country, we have farmers who farm so that you and Timmy can go to the grocery store and spend more time being doctors and engineers and stay-at-home dads and moms and corporate executives and hair stylists and welders and all sorts of other things. This idea that we need kids to &quot;grow their own food&quot; is insane. We need kids to read and write and do basic math. Wasting time picking green beans is not going to make kids healthy (<a href="">Caitlin Flanagan is brilliant on this subject</a>). Mom and dad, and their involvement in their child&#39;s eating habits is what&#39;s going to help little Susie and Timmy stop stuffing chips and cake in their mouths. Parents telling kids to turn off the damned television and go run around is what&#39;s going to help kids stay at a healthy weight, not banning food commercials on television, which is what the Senate suggested a few years ago. Cities who spend more time on crime control in urban areas rather than taxing sodas and wasting tax dollars on &quot;obesity cessation&quot; programs is what&#39;s going to help parents in urban areas feel safer about letting their kids go outside. We ban pretend parents are no part of this, but they&#39;re actions (or inaction) is a big determinant in the health of their kids.</p> <p> But not everyone sees the value of parenting. The growth of the school lunch program is a direct result of the Obama administration&rsquo;s firm belief that parents are idiots and are incapable of doing the simplest thing&mdash;like sticking a slice of turkey inside two slices of bread.</p> <p> No doubt Eschmeyer and her ilk would reply to this with the good &lsquo;ole &ldquo;but, people work two jobs&rdquo; and &ldquo;but people don&rsquo;t have the money&rdquo; and &ldquo;cooking healthy is hard.&rdquo;</p> <p> Please. These outrageous and vaguely racist excuses always trouble me. What&rsquo;s too hard? The untwisting the twist-tie on the Wonder Bread? Or is it putting the turkey on the bread? Is it figuring out how the zipper works on the lunch box? Or is it deciding between an orange, apple and banana?</p> <p> Let&rsquo;s Move, the White House, the First Lady and people like Eschmeyer could do a better job of helping kids stay healthy by doing a few things different.</p> <p> 1)&nbsp;&nbsp; Consider some innovative changes to the school lunch program: Privatization is one good example. Allow local restaurants to cater lunches. The local school can set the rules/regulations about what is served so that choices remain healthy and kids get what they want.</p> <p> 2)&nbsp;&nbsp; Take out the Federal Government. The real control over school lunches should be given to local officials&mdash;like the school board, parents groups, and the school nutrition officials. These folks know what kids like, the needs of certain kids, and the tastes and desires of the demographic attending that school.</p> <p> 3)&nbsp;&nbsp; Inform parents of the research on childhood obesity which is pretty conclusive: A high level of parental involvement = healthy kids.</p> <p> I&#39;m sure Deb Eschmeyer&#39;s a lovely person and I hope she&#39;ll truly consider other people&#39;s opinions on these topics. I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but something tells me we&#39;ll get more of the same, boring narrative about the need to throw more money at the school lunch program, the need for parents to cede feeding their kids to the federal government, and more fantasy talk about farming in the middle of winter.</p> GunlockMon, 12 Jan 2015 12:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumHealthier and Happier<p> In this day and age, it&#39;s good to remind people that we live in pretty good times. Life expectancy is now up to 71 years. Women are unlikely to die in childbirth. Formerly common occurences--like losing one&#39;s teeth or having a child die from an infectious disease--are rare. Poverty is down, crime is down, literacy is up, we&#39;re healthier than ever before and we&#39;re living those last years healthier than at any time in history. Fraser Nelson&#39;s <a href="">uplifting end of the year piece in the Telegraph</a> is a must read if you want to feel good about the way we live now.</p> <p> Want more good news? According to a survey of 64,000 people in 65 countries, we&#39;re not just healthier and better off, we&#39;re all a lot happier than we used to be. The BBC reports the details:</p> <blockquote> <p style="clear:left;"> The market research and polling organisation&nbsp;<a href="">WIN/Gallup found</a>&nbsp;that 70% of respondents were content with their life - a 10% increase from last year.</p> <p style="clear:left;"> Fiji was the happiest nation, with 93% of residents expressing contentment, and Iraq the least happy with 31%.</p> <p style="clear:left;"> The survey found that Africa was the happiest region, with 83% of people saying they were happy or very happy.</p> <p style="clear:left;"> Meanwhile, Western Europe appeared to be the least happy, with 11% of people classifying themselves as either unhappy or very unhappy.</p> <p style="clear:left;"> Globally, 53% of those asked thought 2015 would be better than 2014.</p> <p style="clear:left;"> Three-quarters of respondents in Africa were confident of an improvement, compared with 26% of those in Western Europe.</p> <p style="clear:left;"> Nigeria was the most positive country, and Lebanon the most pessimistic.</p> </blockquote> <p style="clear:left;"> This is interesting for several reasons. First, consider the high levels of happiness in Africa. Amazing, right? One might assume that because of the instability of many African nations, the ongoing problems with Ebola and other deadly diseases, war, famine and unstable totalitarian dictators dotting the landscape, that Africa would be made up of miserable people. But despite their many challenges, people living on the continent of Africa don&#39;t wallow in self loathing and pity. Clearly they find meaning and happiness in their lives and have hope for a better future. It&#39;s also interesting that relatively wealthy nations in Western Europe contain a bunch of sad sacks. Perhaps some of this is caused by the alarmists who dominate Western news and social media platforms and who perpetuate the lie that life is getting worse. Who wouldn&#39;t be depressed hearing that over and over again.</p> <p style="clear:left;"> Consider <a href="•-Knock-It-Off!!">this poll</a> released a few years ago by the Independent Women&#39;s Forum which showed 68 percent of women believe the United States is becoming a more dangerous place despite record low levels of crime in America. These same women also said that they don&rsquo;t trust government to react to these percieved problems responsibly, or the media to report on it accurately. Those polled (87 percent) also expressed frustration with finding legitimate sources for health and wellness information, saying that it&#39;s cheap and easy to find somebody to argue a given position. This doesn&#39;t engender much confidence in the sources women use for inforamtion in these issues. This explains why 83 percent of the respondents said it was difficult to discerning between legitimate concerns that might affect their health and well-being, and scary headlines designed to attract attention.</p> <p style="clear:left;"> Women are bombarded every single day with messages that they&#39;re harming themselves and their children with heretofore normal behaviors (like things mom used to do but that now are frowned upon). Perhaps this is one of the reasons Western nations are far less happy than nations with poorer populations.</p> GunlockMon, 12 Jan 2015 10:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumAnimals & Antibiotics + Towns Banning Sledding • Cam & Company GunlockTue, 6 Jan 2015 14:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum