Tuesday, September 23, 2008

on formula and politics

Have you been keeping up with the story about Chinese formula and sick babies? From what I understand, manufacturers were using melamine - which is also used in pesticides - to inflate protein levels in formula. It causes kidney stones, and the last numbers I heard were that four children have died and 64,000 have been ill as a result. Because I have chosen to bottle feed, this story has been especially harrowing for me to watch. Poisoning children to increase profit and avoid getting caught? Someone should go to jail for a very long time.

And this, friends, is why I'm a Democrat.

Elections have become about many things - how cool a candidate is, or well-spoken, or experienced. It ultimately becomes about marketing, and the candidate who markets himself best, wins. I never voted for President Bush, but one thing is for sure: the man knew how to win an election. Our culture is still influenced by the Bush campaigns and the success he had in melding "Republican" and "Christian" into synonyms. While elections are about winning and losing, political parties, ultimately, are not. At least, not by design.

The argument is supposed to be about size of government. Not abortion or gay rights or war - size of government. I believe in a bigger government. I want to know my government is randomly screening baby formula for safety and maximum nutritional benefit, and I want to know they are prosecuting those who choose money over the safety of infants. I want that program to exist. I also want a government that guarantees every school-aged child will have at least one hot meal a day, that provides preschool to low income children, that provides peanut butter and milk to mothers who can't afford it on their own.

I want a government that looks after the marginalized, the displaced, the poor. I don't entirely trust free markets, nor do I assume in our society that an individual will place another's need to eat or be safe or be educated above his own need and ability to acquire wealth. I want to know my government does.

And they do. This is also why I am thankful to live in the U.S. Grumble all you want about taxes and wealth and capitalism - in large part, our tax dollars, which increase as wealth increases, are supporting the programs that keep us all safe, healthy, and give everyone the opportunity to get an education. Larger government doesn't impede my freedom, it enhances it. I have the choice to use baby formula because I know my baby will be safe either way. I am able to educate my child in whatever manner I choose - in a classroom funded by the government, in a privately funded classroom, or at home. Because of government programs, I have more options - i.e., more freedom - than I could ever afford independently. And so do thousands of others just like me.

Thanks be to God - and America - for freedom and for oversight.


pallie said...

Amen and Hallelujah! That is why I am a democrat!

I've always wanted to be able to articulate my reasoning in such a straight forward way that anyone can understand and you did it! Thank you!

Jason said...

Amen Stephanie ....those are just of the many reason I am a democrat also....
Great post

The Bean said...

Sorry Liz, but this is one of the reasons we don't buy "made in China" anymore. How many tainted, poisoned products is it going to take???

Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

I agree with a lot of what you say, but I am a Republican, for one main reason - abortion. I hate that the parties have gotten so left-wing and right-wing and I so wish there were some pro-life Democrats and then I could vote for them, because I am liberal, or at least moderate, on a lot of issues. But I just can't vote for candidates whom I know will expand abortion laws to kill even more babies than is already allowed. And unfortunately, Obama is the worst of the worst when it comes to abortion.

Ugh. Politics makes me very jaded.

Anonymous said...

not to bring up the made in China debate again, but just want to point out that one of the main reasons the Chinese even use formula is because of the Amercian culture influence. and remember the nestle debocale (sp?) in africa a few years ago? totally american. its not just the chinese.

and yes steph, great post. it is such a sad situation here right now (well, not so much in HK, but close enough) all to cut a few corners....just tragic. and yes for more safeguards and oversight into big (and all) buisness!

The Bean said...

There is nothing wrong with being influenced by another countries culture. There is however something wrong with shoddy inspections and slack quality control. That can't be blamed on America. The melamine chemical that was found in the formula was the same thing found in the poisoned pet food that killed so many pets in the U.S. last year. It doesn't appear as though proper action is being taken by the authorities if the same poisoning element keeps cropping up.

And while Nestle is an American based company it was the Nestle South Africa quality control group that was responsible for inspecting the formula that was eventually recalled there.