I’d like to report from West Philly that I again saw no emaciated starving poor lying on the sidewalks as I travelled to and from work this week. I did notice a tremendous number of obese poor shuffling along talking on their cell phones headed to their local KFC or Pizza place. The government drones certainly need to spend billions of your tax dollars to educate the poor to eat fruits and vegetables. I just know this will work.  

The ‘Hunger’ Hoax

by Thomas Sowell 

Twenty years ago, hysteria swept through the media over “hunger in America.”

Dan Rather opened a CBS Evening News broadcast in 1991 declaring, “one in eight American children is going hungry tonight.” Newsweek, the Associated Press and the Boston Globe repeated this statistic, and many others joined the media chorus, with or without that unsubstantiated statistic.

When the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Agriculture examined people from a variety of income levels, however, they found no evidence of malnutrition among those in the lowest income brackets. Nor was there any significant difference in the intake of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients from one income level to another.


That should have been the end of that hysteria. But the same “hunger in America” theme reappeared years later, when Senator John Edwards was running for Vice President. And others have resurrected that same claim, right up to the present day.

Ironically, the one demonstrable nutritional difference between the poor and others is that low-income women tend to be overweight more often than others. That may not seem like much to make a political issue, but politicians and the media have created hysteria over less.

The political left has turned obesity among low-income individuals into an argument that low-income people cannot afford nutritious food, and so have to resort to burgers and fries, pizzas and the like, which are more fattening and less healthful. But this attempt to salvage something from the “hunger in America” hoax collapses like a house of cards when you stop and think about it.

Burgers, pizzas and the like cost more than food that you can buy at a store and cook yourself. If you can afford junk food, you can certainly afford healthier food. An article in the New York Times of September 25th by Mark Bittman showed that you can cook a meal for four at half the cost of a meal from a burger restaurant. So far, so good. But then Mr. Bittman says that the problem is “to get people to see cooking as a joy.” For this, he says, “we need action both cultural and political.” In other words, the nanny state to the rescue!

Since when are adult human beings supposed to do only those things that are a joy? I don’t find any particular joy in putting on my shoes. But I do it rather than go barefoot. I don’t always find it a joy to drive a car, especially in bad weather, but I have to get from here to there.

An arrogant elite’s condescension toward the people – treating them as children who have to be jollied along – is one of the poisonous problems of our time. It is at the heart of the nanny state and the promotion of a debilitating dependency that wins votes for politicians while weakening a society.

Those who see social problems as requiring high-minded people like themselves to come down from their Olympian heights to impose their superior wisdom on the rest of us, down in the valley, are behind such things as the hunger hoax, which is part of the larger poverty hoax.

We have now reached the point where the great majority of the people living below the official poverty level have such things as air-conditioning, microwave ovens, either videocassette recorders or DVD players, and own either a car or a truck.

Why are such people called “poor”? Because they meet the arbitrary criteria established by Washington bureaucrats. Depending on what criteria are used, you can have as much official poverty as you want, regardless of whether it bears any relationship to reality.

Those who believe in an expansive, nanny state government need a large number of people in “poverty” to justify their programs. They also need a large number of people dependent on government to provide the votes needed to keep the big nanny state going.

Politicians, welfare state bureaucrats and others have incentives to create or perpetuate hoaxes, whether about poverty in general or hunger in particular. The high cost to taxpayers is exceeded by the even higher cost of lost opportunities for fulfillment in their lives by those who succumb to the lure of a stagnant life of dependency.

October 5, 2011

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. His Web site is To find out more about Thomas Sowell and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page.

37 thoughts on “HUNGER HOAX”

  1. Wonder what Obama, Sharpton and the “Rev” Jackson think of such “out-in-the-open” writing that Mr Sowell’s presents? John

  2. Stuck: good to see you practicing ebonics. We will be required to communicate in ebonics when our black masters finally take over. I knows das right!

  3. starving fat people will become the new norm. They’re fat because they are eating lots of shitty foods with no nutrients or useful energy in. Would you class me as fat if i pumped myself full of polyfiller and expanded to the size of a whale?

  4. Just go to the grocery store and watch the FSA conduct their shopping sprees. Carts loaded with chips, sodas, cookies, crackers, red meat, etc…..and not a head of lettuce or vegetable/fruit to be seen. Then these fat lazy bastards become obese, their kids become obese, and we get stuck not only paying for their food stamps but then their medical treatments for diabetes and heart disease as well. I can’t fuckin’ stand it. Let the programs end and let everybody just fend for themselves.

  5. “Those who believe in an expansive, nanny state government need a large number of people in “poverty” to justify their programs. They also need a large number of people dependent on government to provide the votes needed to keep the big nanny state going. Politicians, welfare state bureaucrats and others have incentives to create or perpetuate hoaxes”

    That pretty well sums it up. The fucking democrats, and the president in particular, practice “Ghetto politics”, get everything you can from the government and anybody else you can shame into giving you free shit. Then get more free shit. Keep taking until everything is gone and the country is bankrupt.

    The democrats love people in “poverty”, because they can keep them as perpetual voters/slaves just by giving away tax dollars they don’t have to pay. With the national obesity rate rapidly approaching 50%, it’s a joke that anybody is starving. A bad, horrible joke. We need more people starving, until they are normal weight, or healthcare costs in the next 2-3 decades are going to be more than our GDP.

  6. Stucky,

    Watch this video of comedian Shirley Q Liquor. It’ll crack you up. (and it’s short, but you’ll get the feel of the comedy)

  7. Ohmygosh, that was hilarious. Thanks. Added that to my “funnies” tab.

    I checked out a couple of her other videos.

    I also loved this one … “If I was a White Lady”, sung to the tune of, “If I was a rich man” (from my favorite movie Fiddler on the Roof). Shit, man, it’s hilarious.

    I also enjoyed “Who Is My Baby Daddy?”

    “Cheaptoe limbo crackerjack oranjello kmartina salmanela velvita genetillia catfish leeroy cocopuffs and pluto penelope jackdaniels buford and lemonjello. allovera maybelline gingivitous braircream cruex niquil gangstaq and daffodil ronbacardi captainmorgan demartorious and delorian ganalotramin falicia clamidia champagne novascotia bubbalicious couponida ghonnoreah icebucket buttuglia visine and magarhita perkalator terminator velcro and tie kwon doe verachella chromasome absetria and shatheed. Who named these chilun and why dey wanna live with me?”
    Hilarious link. Hits my funny bone. Thanks again.

  8. Stuck:

    I was gonna post the ‘baby daddy’ video link but you beat me to it. AND you somehow got the text. That’s some funny shit. I’ve seen black kids with those names when I was in Detroit, I shit you not. This one chick named her kid “syphillis”.

    Here’s another funny as shit video:

  9. True storty, paramedic friend of mine had a call to assist someone in need. Got to the sec. 8 barracks and was helping a woman of color. She introduced her two kids, lemonjello and oranjello, named after her favorite jello flavors. At least that’s how the story was told to me, I believe it.

  10. True Story. Brief version. Picked up a hitchhiker in Indianapolis cuz it was cold and raining. I ask him his name. “Detour!” he says. Fast forward. I drop him off at a homeless shelter in Fort Wayne. They ask for his ID. He has just one .. a VA medical card. The name? Detour Roadblock! I shit you not.

  11. I’ve never read anything by Thomas Sowell that didn’t cut right to the heart of it and is always on the side of truth and common sense. (Which is more than I can of myself and Smokey)..

    I think he make a great VP, given some real responsibility to force truth and lucidity on the poisonous stew of self-serving jerk offs that work inside the beltway.

    @Smokey: WTF?? Stucky telling fibs? Never happen.. He’s a paragon of truth and light fiction and besides the videos linked above are all laugh your ass off.


  12. In fact, the Phillies today may well be the best lock that I’ve seen all year. I wouldn’t take St. Louis at 100-1 odds.

    The Colts eat shit. They won’t win a fucking game this year.

    Kyle Bass was on CNBC this morning.

  13. Stucky steps on it again by admonishing Admin to learn how to spell. This after he spelled the word “first” instead of “fust.” At least he remembered how to count to “fi” correctly.

  14. Administrator,

    It was only a brief interview. I think they plan to interview him two or three more times in the next couple of days.

    It is the Barefoot Economic Summit like Bass held in Texas last year. He invites several of his friends and they talk global shit for a few days.

    Kyle reiterated that Greece is done, only a formality until default. He is expecting all of Europe to fall like dominoes, since they all hold each others debt. He indicated France is in deep shit.

    One thing that surprised me is that according to him Germany is also in trouble, but not quite as bad. He says that the financial media thinks Germany is some stable country and they are wrong.

    One thing I found out yesterday, reading a brief outline of Michael Lewis new book. Kyle approached Ken Rogoff, the same guy you have quoted. Kyle sat down and gave Rogoff some research that he (Kyle) had done regarding Europe. When Rogoff went through it, he (Rogoff) commented that the European problems were much worse than anyone knew.

    1. Smokey

      How come Kyle didn’t invite me?

      The German banks have big exposure to Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal.

      Germany is just the best looking horse in the glue factory.

      I sold another slug of FXP at $51.22 yesterday.

      Next sell order is at $60. I give it a week or two.

  15. To clarify, because of the research Kyle showed him, Rogoff indicated that the problems were far worse than he (Rogoff) had known about, or anyone else for that matter.

  16. Administrator,

    I talked to Kyle last night. He said he wanted to invite you, but the members of his club had invoked an anti-cur posture after last year’s summit.

    I got him to promise that if you would renounce Ron Paul publicly on your blog, he would invite you to next year’s summit.

    The smartest two business decisions you’ve ever made were when you got out of FXP.

    Now is the time to unload your last slug, and then GO SHORT FXP.

  17. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is a horror story of high carbs, high chemicals and low nutrition.

    Our poor are starving to death nutritionally while packing on dozens and dozens of pounts of fat thanks in large part to our nutrionless food and really, really, bad “health” advice.

    We have homeless camps popping up everywhere – and then growing – we have food banks closing their doors and running out of food, volunteers and donations.

    I’m sure we have people going to bed hungry, but the last thing we need is another FSA program.

    With SNAP cards should come basic cooking classes and remedial math. Maybe then our “poor” would have a chance.

  18. Kyle said that as soon as the next European country defaults, after Greece defaults, he thinks at that time Germany will pull out of the European Union and take the hit—-recapitalize their banking system.

    For some reason, Kyle thinks that Germany will walk from the EU only after first Greece and then the next European country defaults.

    If it plays out like that, all of Europe crashes. Can you say contagion ?

  19. @DaveDoe

    simple – don’t by ETF. Buy physical metals.

    gold and silver are currently massively underpriced thanks to the recent conversion fee hike (ETF to physical) by the Chicago Metals Exchange. This is the only reason that gold and silver prices globally crashed. This is also the only reason that gold and silver prices crashed back in April as well.

    Once Hong Kong gets their Metal Exchange market up and running in the next year or so, such silly buggery games by the CME will just cause the flow of trades to slide over to HK.

    For a good overview on buying gold, here is a link to an article by Simon Black – frequently mentioned here.

    If you’re prepared for more volatility, I’d suggest Silver rather than gold. Gold has no realy use other than monetary, or jewellery. This means that it seems a little odd when compared to other stocks or metals. Silver on the other hand has more industrial uses than currency and jewelery uses combined. This means that its supply/demand curve is much more interesting and it’s much more active. I’ve doubled my stake in silver in the past 9 months just by trading on those peaks/troughs. That is of course its downside too.

  20. Dave Doe,

    I’m not sure there is as much bang for the buck at this late stage. Everybody knows Europe is in the shitter. Kyle Bass will make 650 times his investment, 65,000%, on his derivative contracts, the credit default contracts that he used to short Greece.

    But Kyle has access the average investor doesn’t have. The average investor can’t buy derivative contracts because he doesn’t have hundreds of millions of $. And even if you have that kind of cabbage, you still need connections. Bass has a $800 million fund and he is a former Lehman director, so he has connections. He has access.

    And the inverse ETF’s (like FXP) are extremely dangerous for the average investor. They don’t always track the underlying index accurately, and it is EXTREMELY possible for a person to accurately assess market direction and STILL lose money by using one of those inverse ETF’s.

    During the 2008-2009 stock slide, many people owned inverse ETF funds in an attempt to short the markets. The market fell steeply, as they had anticipated, but they lost money anyway because of the tracking error of the inverse ETF’s.

    If I wanted to capitalize on Europe’s downfall, I’d do a little research to determine which European banks are most exposed to the debt problems. Then I’d short the fucking shit out of them.

    I’m not saying that I am doing this or that the average investor should do this. The average investor doesn’t know what selling short is.

    But if I knew a bright guy that had a wad, I’d probably suggest he consider that route. I do not believe that Greece, Spain, Italy, France, Portugal’s banks get bailed out like the American banks did.

    Many European banks will go to zero when Europe falls. Again, I am no adviser, and this is only my .02 worth.

    Of course, you could always simply short some Europe ETF’s, but I haven’t looked at any and I suspect there are more profitable routes to go.

  21. Dave Doe,

    Mikey is correct.

    If you have a ten year horizon, silver is the best investment out there. The leverage available on the CME is enormously appealing, even though they keep raising the margin.

    The problem with buying the futures on the CME, in my opinion, is that when things collapse in this country in a short few years, ALL contracts on the commodity exchanges (CME) in this country will be voided or rescinded and ALL funds confiscated by the government.

    There is absolutely a VAST shortage of silver today relative to the contracts underlying the metal. There is no possible way delivery could be made on all the contracts.

    Buying physical silver and taking delivery is probably the best bet for the average investor.

  22. Phillies take the fucking gas today against St. Louis. Choked pure and simple.

    What an embarrassing performance.

    But tomorrow they’ll come through like champs.

    Bet on it.

  23. @Dave Doe

    oh, in case you haven’t seen it before, here’s a link to Casey Research’s “2011 Silver Investing Guide”. You have to add yourself to their mailing list, but you can get out of that as soon as you’ve downloaded the guide.

    It’s a good primer, but as always, do your own research and make up your own mind on this. Listen to opinions, but trust no one. Everyone’s got something to sell and it’s your money after all.



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