Congress

Fat of the Land

Fighting obesity with pork.

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The growing national obsession with obesity has been a gold mine for everyone from fad diet hucksters to documentarians. Eager to join in, Congress has determined that the answer to obesity is…more federal spending in every congressional district.

Two congressmen from opposite ends of the political spectrum, Reps. Don Young (R-Alaska) and George Miller (D-Calif.), claim that spending more than $3 billion annually on environmental programs will help cure obesity. The bill they introduced in April, the Get Outdoors Act, permanently dedicates money from offshore oil and gas revenues to everything from local parks to federal wilderness areas. The theory is that these projects will finally give the heavyset crowd a chance to get a slimming workout.

The bill adds more federal land to an already bloated and mismanaged federal estate. A recent joint report from the Pacific Research Institute and the American Enterprise Institute found mostly positive trends in environmental quality, with the notable exception that "although dollars spent on public lands have gone up and land set aside for recreation or conservation has increased, the quality of the lands has, by most significant measures, deteriorated."

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