Sherita Parks went shopping in a corner store in Frankford the other day with her too-thin daughter, Joe-anna, 2….
“I only wanted to spend a dollar today, so this is a lot,” Parks said. “But she’ll eat a slice of cheese for a meal.”
On the walk home, Joe-anna, who weighs 20 pounds but should be 26 or more, dawdled on the dirty sidewalks of Torresdale Avenue until Parks pulled her into the tidy, small house owned by Joe-anna’s father, Parks’ boyfriend.
Parks regarded her daughter with anxiety. “She doesn’t have enough food, and it affects her brain. She can only say ‘Mommy’ and ‘Daddy.’ She can’t even tell me when she’s hungry,” said Parks, an unemployed nurse’s aide and former part-time model who devours Patricia Cornwell mysteries.
“There’s just not enough food in the house, and now she has developmental delay….
Joe-anna has failure to thrive, meaning she has low weight for her age, caused in part by not getting enough food. Drexel University’s Grow Clinic tries to treat the condition, which is underdiagnosed and still being studied by doctors. The clinic, at St. Christopher’s, was founded by Chilton.
“Failure to thrive has impacted Joe-anna’s language development,” said Hans Kersten, the quiet, lanky pediatrician who heads the clinic. “And food insecurity is an important factor in her failure to thrive. We feel she’s not getting enough calories.”
It’s likely that Joe-anna will require extensive educational intervention–which will be far more expensive than providing adequate nutrition. It’s one thing to kick cans down the road, it’s another to kick children.
Meanwhile, Brad DeLong and Kevin Drum point us towards a complaint by Greg Mankiw, who bleats that a slight increase in taxes would discourage him from writing more often for The New York Times (which leads me to wonder if there is a tax structure that could encourage Thomas Friedman and David Brooks to write less).
A more civilized time will look back on this and wonder how, in the midst of plenty–and the U.S. is a wealthy nation–we could be so barbarous and cruel. That those in elite positions will not feed desperate children, while at the same time, they fret over a minor tax increase represents a total ethical and moral failure of our elites:
But Henderson’s outburst does represent a complete abandonment of personal responsibility by the elite (and he is elite, both in terms of educational status and income). It demonstrates a galling lack of concern for others and society as a whole that borders on the narcissistic. It also demonstrates that our ‘elite’ institutions not only fail to inculcate ethics, but that they seem to equip their graduates with the mental flexibility to override personal responsibility.
I challenge you to be better than Todd Henderson and Greg Mankiw.