Hippie Healers, Congress and Sweetheart Sugar Money


Some things are easy to mock, such as Al Gore — Pope Gorus IV of the Holy Church of Global Warming — selling his Current TV for hundreds of millions of oil dollars. But some other things are so bizarre it’s difficult to mock them because they come across as mockery already. Such is the case with the “Capitol Wellness Expo” happening on Capitol Hill this week.

The master of ceremonies for the event is a woman named Judy Kosovich, an attorney who, among other things, has written of the need for people to reconnect with the Earth. OK, that’s not so weird, right? Well, maybe not conceptually, but when you read what she’s written it gets weirder.

In a piece entitled, “Time to Go Barefoot Outdoors,” Kosovichwrote, “Now that the weather is getting warmer, you might want to consider walking on the earth barefoot. Why? Because the earth has an abundance of electrons that will neutralize the excess positive charge you are probably carrying around.” Um…

She continues, “The process of connecting with the earth is called “grounding” or “earthing.” The most natural way to get grounded is to take your shoes and socks off and stand on soil, sand, or concrete barefoot.” Yeah.

And that’s just the tip of the crazy iceberg. (Check out the whole agenda here.) The only thing missing is a drum circle, though who knows if that warrants mention on the schedule?

But, as is often the case in Washington, D.C., there’s more to this than meets the eye.

The event is sponsored by the Orwellian-sounding Citizens for Health which is chaired by James S. Turner, a lawyer with the D.C. firm Swankin & Turner. Turner, it turns out, is the “sugar daddy” of Citizens for Health in more ways than one.

Bloomberg Businessreported: last year that Citizens for Health, “A group that bills itself as the ‘voice of the natural-health consumer’ has received about $300,000 from the sugar industry to help campaign against high- fructose corn syrup as an alternative sweetener.” That $300,000, by the way, constitutes “more than half” of Citizens for Health’s funding last year.

What does a group scheduling an event for lawmakers and their staff that includes such groundbreaking: things as: “Breathing: the Core of Wellness (with demonstration)” have to do with big sugar? Well, Washington is the home of strange bedfellows, and money makes the strangest bedfellows of all.

The sugar lobby has an interest in attacking any alternative to the sweetheart deal, so to speak, it has with government. That deal comes in the form of federal government support that artificially keep sugar prices high — 41 percent higher than in the rest of the world,: according to the Heritage Foundation.

Why are consumers paying out of their own pockets to support the sugar industry, especially when we are facing an obesity problem in this country? The answer is simple — money.

Sugar spends millions every year not just to lobby Congress, but to support groups with friendly sounding names such as Citizens for Health to endear themselves to as many avenues as possible to influence policy and public opinion.

There’s nothing wrong with lobbying, even though it’s become a dirty word in American politics. A lobbyist, used in the pejorative form, is simply someone who advocates for something with which the person using the word disagrees. We’re guaranteed in the Constitution the right to petition the government for the redress of grievances. The problem is with government itself.

Our government has gotten so big, has its fingers in so many pies and spends so much of our money that even a crumb from the crust of that pie can be worth billions. So you get a group allegedly interested in health (well, as much health as “Reflexology,” the belief that pressure points in feet are the key to wellness, can offer) would involve itself in extolling the virtues of sugar.

There’s nothing wrong with sugar by itself. The problem comes when producers, who aren’t going broke, become as addicted to trade protection and government-guaranteed high prices as some people have become to their product — and we, the consumer, ends up with bills from both ends.

As for Turner’s sweetheart deal with sugar, he told: Bloomberg, “If a marketplace player is willing to support advancing the consumer interest, it’s really important to work with them.” Of course, massive government programs do nothing but distort that marketplace, so…

So while members of Congress are taking the Wellness Expo’s Master of Ceremonies’ advice and “grounding” around their lawns barefoot (twice a day to start), let’s hope they’re wondering why they’re making you, the consumer, pay, even indirectly, for this crackpot advice. Then again, their campaign fund most likely gets a crumb of two of the “sugar subsidy” pie, so it probably won’t matter too much anyway.

Derek Hunter is Washington, DC based writer, radio host and political strategist.: You can also stalk his thoughts 140 characters at a time on Twitter.

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