Sam Brownback doesn’t want to be just a governor.
He’s now auditioning for the role of nutritionist and personal trainer. At least, that’s how it appears judging from his appearance and speech during the Kansas Summit on Obesity last week.
It was a very, very strange spectacle for a conservative Governor who argues government isn’t the solution to every problem.
It makes us wonder just how serious the Governor is about addressing the state’s real problems, which include slimming down the state’s reach into the lives of its citizens.
The Governor issued a call to action asking small and large communities to offer their insights into ways to trim the waistlines of Kansans.
It seems an ironic sentiment to regularly express a desire to take government out of individuals’ pockets only to transfer the hand of bureaucrats to our plates.
Many of Brownback’s calls to assist in solving burgeoning bellies appear to require more money. He called for more spending on things like more walking trails and even horse trails. (Our question: Does this mean government will finally purchase those ponies we asked for in the seventh grade?)
Brownback suggested that the government strengthen the Complete Streets policy and Safe Routes to School program; promote water consumption; educate people on portion size; standardize fitness measures; incorporate more physical activity into classrooms through staff development; and expand school and community gardens. These suggested solutions all will lead eventually to requests for more funding.
And then there were the suggestions that sound like calls to regulation – for example, adopting land use policies that support community gardens and farmers’ markets; encourage personal responsibility; and improve access to affordable healthy foods for employees.
Obesity is, yes, a problem. But the solution isn’t to be found in government intervention. It’s a concern for the individual, not the collective.
At this critical juncture, Brownback and all politicians should be focused less on what people put in their mouths, and more on how people find work to put food on the table.