Where's the accountability?

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Four of our federally elected senators, in their divine wisdom, recently issued a letter to Nickelodeon and its parent company requesting that the children’s entertainment network prohibit advertisements that market unhealthy food to children. It reminded me of the Saturday Night Live clip, “Really??”

The letter, dated June 10 and signed by Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV), Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Richard J. Durbin (D-IL) states, “While there are many factors that contribute to childhood obesity, food marketing plays an important role. A 2006 Institute of Medicine report requested by Congress found that television advertisements influenced children’s food and beverage preferences and the requests they make to their parents.”

Sure, advertising is designed to influence preferences. After all, isn’t that why companies advertise? While I would rather companies sell products that are healthy, unless a product is immoral, illegal or dangerous, don’t they have as much right to advertise as the next company? When my children were little, I much preferred the ads for a sugary cereal than those for feminine hygiene products or cures for erectile dysfunction. At least with the cereal you weren’t constantly answering awkward, embarrassing questions.

We have major issues with healthcare, the IRS is being investigated on several levels and the transparency we were promised with this administration is about as transparent as a blindfold. Meanwhile, these elected officials feel the best use of their time is to write letters to Nickelodeon? It would be laughable if it weren’t so sad, especially since they’ve already failed to take real action.

In 2011, Congress killed a plan by four federal agencies to reduce sugar, salt and fat in food marketed to children. Wouldn’t changing the foods have a bigger impact than changing where the ads are seen?

The bottom line is that kids aren’t the ones buying the products – their PARENTS are. Let’s get real and recognize the real source of the problem.

Julie Gunlock, director of the Culture of Alarmism project at the Independent Women's Forum, says just as Americans don't need bureaucrats monitoring salt intake, banning sugary beverages and toys in happy meals, or trying to do away with trans-fats, we don't need a nanny government micromanaging what food commercials run on kids' television.

“This kind of meddling is outrageous and insulting to parents,” says Gunlock in response to the letter. “Americans don't need more regulations … from patronizing Senators who can't seem to understand that parents are ultimately responsible for their child's health and television consumption--where these ads appear. If people want their kids to see fewer advertisements, they simply need to employ the regulator that is built in to every television--the off button.”

What we need is a little common sense, along with a lot more personal responsibility. And that goes for our elected officials, too.

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tonia    
Waterloo, IA  |  June, 13, 2013 at 09:12 AM

Amen.

michael    
kansas  |  June, 13, 2013 at 10:27 AM

Note that all these Senators are Democrats, and the list includes a *Rockefeller*. Welcome to the Nanny State where parents are subservient, often willingly so, to the "village"... of officious, self-righteous, better/smarter-than-you bureaucrats. Children are viewed, often rightly so, as little dictators who have "friends" instead of parents, who take little or no responsibility out of laziness or fear of being identified by The State as unfit or abusive. Only The State can decide how to best "manage" your kids. *Rockefellers - via their various charities - have come to be the go-too folks for social engineering by liberal "interest groups", who believe vast wealth elevates them to a higher plain from which they can help the poor & ignorant unwashed masses by dictating what's "good for them". See Nanny Bloomberg's drives to control diets, behaviors and what his "subjects" can and cannot posess. And, which Constitutional Ammendments & Civil Rights His People may or may not exercise. Exposing the arrogance of liberal fascists, and heaping ridicule and scorn upon them is the only proper response.

JoAnn    
Iowa  |  June, 13, 2013 at 10:40 AM

So true regarding present-day parenting. I went to a small cafe last night and a young child screamed at the top of his voice the entire time. He was old enough to know better, too, but the mom thought it was "cute" and just smiled when people turned her way. That's happened more than once. I would take mine out of the restaurant for a time-out rather than create an unpleasant experience for other guests, but some of these parents don't seem to care.

Jim    
Des Moines  |  June, 13, 2013 at 01:15 PM

To take SNL line, "Really??" JoAnn? This is the best blog you can do? I understand your point but let us make one little change and instead of "unhealthy food" put in cigarettes. In 1970 Congress pass the Public Health Cigarette Act. Shall we roll back that piece of legislation also? Maybe the margins are too good for the "unhealthy Foods- or sugary cereals" Industry leaving large amounts of money available to spend on advertising verses the broccoli producers of America profit margins. Bring back the cigarette advertising-smoking isn't illegal just yet. What a nanny country we live in. Where are my Lucky Strikes?

JoAnn Alumbaugh    
Iowa  |  June, 13, 2013 at 02:05 PM

Hello Jim - I was worried when I wrote it that someone might misinterpret my meaning. I'm not promoting sugary, fatty or otherwise bad-for-you foods. I am promoting the freedom for companies to advertise, and I am promoting better parenting decisions. Ultimately, we all have a choice, whether it's to drink coffee, eat meat, smoke cigarettes, or have an ice cream cone once in awhile. We are each responsible for our own decisions, and as parents, we're responsible for the decisions we make on behalf of our children. I don't feel government is the best entity to make those decisions.


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