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January 25, 2008

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There are, of course, no homeless vets, either.

Megan McArdle could have looked up the figures on food insecurity before announcing its nonexistence.

I admit to being less and less impressed with her output. She never seems to take the extra step of teasing out her ideas - "looking it up" in the present example.

Reading her posts is like reading someone making beginner level/basic errors over and over again, no matter the subject matter discussed.

Not that erring is any great sin. But coupled with defensiveness, a lack of honest reckoning with opposing views and a seeming unwillingness to rectify the flawed method going forward, it makes for a persistent shallowness of thought.

And that's a shame.

Exactly what I was thinking of, idlemind.

Obesity is a problem for the poor in America... food insufficiency is not

It's not like there's a single poor person (who then couldn't reasonably suffer from both problems). This is as illogical as claiming that, because opiate addition is a problem in a community, ergo there can be no problem with a lack of pain control meds at the local ER.

I admit that she may not have intended to do this illogical lumping process, but I can't find another reason for her inclusion of the obesity problem.

'a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink’
-Dickens from a different time, quoted in the article

“Food insecurity” sounds scary. Here’s what it really means:

“Low food security” means no reduction in food intake but a periodic reduction in food variety.

“Very low food security” means that at least once in a year, food intake was reduced due to financial pressures. 4% of American households suffered from “very low food security” in 2006.

I suffered from chronic and recurring “very low food security” in college; it’s not that bad and one can get through it.

In America-2008, two hours of minimum wage work purchases 50 pounds of bulk rice (500+ servings, 80,000+ kilocalories), or enough energy to comfortably keep a man going for two months. Carrots, celery, and chicken are economical ways to add variety. I’ve got a backup plan, passed down from my grandfather, that includes rabbits, squirrels, and fish. Thing is, you’ve got to cook it.

You've also got to be able to live somewhere you can store fifty pounds of rice without it being stolen, being eaten by rats, mice, or other vermin, getting wet, getting mouldy... and you've got to be able to get to a place where you can buy fifty pounds of bulk rice cheap and then carry it home to where you live, too, of course.

I love it when people whose sole experience of anything remotely resembling poverty was when they were in college, tell really poor people that it wasn't that bad for them so it can't be that bad for you.

Bill,
1.6oz of rice is not much of a serving. From your own numbers, that's 160kCal per 'serving'. If we generously interpret "well over two months" to mean 80 days, you're suggesting that 1000kCal a day is enough to "comfortably keep a man going".
I suggest to you that this is perhaps not the meaning of "comfortably" that Im normally used to. "barely" might have been a better choice of words.

Furthermore
-poor people don't have easy access to bulk food suppliers, so they don't get bulk rates. Their access to fresh vegetables etc is also frequently limited.
-a diet of just white rice is not just unappetizing, it is profoundly bad for one's health, particularly for children.
-there are not many rabbits in areas of urban blight. I would not recommend eating the fish caught in the East River, either, or suggest feeding them to children. Hunting is frowned upon in urban areas in any case.

Finally, I admit to a bit of confusion- you claim to have gone hungry many times in the past, but also point out that 2 hours a week would've kept you comfortably rolling in rice-calories. Were you very stupid in the past, or was rice much more expensive back in the day?

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