Alice's Restaurant Revisited:

Remember how Arlo Guthrie advised that you could get out of the military by "singin a bar of Alice's Restaurant"?

He forgot to mention the more obvious approach to avoiding the military--eatin at the counter of Alice's Restaurant.

From Michael Fumento's column today:

Even national defense is threatened. With Iraq already straining enlistment efforts, nearly 20 percent of men and 40 percent of women of recruiting age are too fat to even be considered. "This is quickly becoming a national security issue for us," an Army nutrition expert recently told the AP.


markm (mail):
I think that this is one physical deficiency the Army could correct if they wanted to go to the trouble.
7.11.2005 12:50pm
F. Chad Copier (mail):
Only 20%!? My experience in basic training was that a fairly high percentage (20-30%) of individuals allowed to join did not meet the minimum standard. These individuals were taken with the expectation that basic training would solve the problem. Additionally, for people who don't quite fit the mold of a height and weight table, a body-fat percentage test is available. None of my fellow soldiers failed to meet either the height and weight table requirement or the fat percentage test at the end of basic training. It really is an amazing fitness program.
7.11.2005 2:56pm
The standard cited is too fat *even to be considered.* That must be, like, needing staple-surgery. If you degenerate to that level of unfitness, it can be very hard even to attempt basic training, which is why health clubs always have disclaimers to consult a doctor, etc. (Well, aside from plaintiffs' lawyers.) IIRC, Governor Engler of Michigan was kept out of the military in Vietnam because he was overweight.
7.11.2005 3:15pm
Thaddeus Pope (mail):
These studies have been reported for the past few years. If the epidemiology is sound, this would be a firm basis on which to justify otherwise-paternalistic anti-obesity legislation. It may not be morally or constitutionally permissible for government to take the Big Mac out of my hand to protect me or even to protect the public health. But it certainly may do so if, in the aggregate, people like me threaten national security.
7.11.2005 6:23pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
I've read that part of what started the British welfare supplement system (equivalent of AFDC) was that so many recruits for the Boer War were desperately undernourished, and the government thought that improving the health of the poor would be an effective way to improve the quality of recruits for future wars. This is rather the reverse of the problem that we are suffering from now.
7.11.2005 7:17pm
Au contraire . . . many people who are overweight are also "undernourished" in the sense of not getting enough necessary nutrients, if not necessarily a deficiency in calories. Improving the access of the poor to "slow food" would be a laudable goal. For instance, I saw on Nightline that the entire city of Chester, PA, doesn't have a full-service supermarket! Maybe one start is what schools in New Jersey are doing -- ensuring that school lunches are properly nutritious, against the (rather shameful) lobbying of fast food, inc. and the big soda companies.
7.11.2005 10:35pm
Victor Krueger (mail):
One thing many of you don't seem to be considering is that first enlistment age is 18-35. The vast majority of those too heavy to even be considered were within acceptable range when they were 20.
7.11.2005 11:17pm
big dirigible (mail) (www):
Sounds like rubbish. Note that it says "nearly 20 percent of men and 40 percent of women of recruiting age are too fat to even be considered." It does not say "nearly 20 percent of men and 40 percent of women" recruit-wannabes. The quoted figures are for the whole population. The assertion that 30 percent of the population-at-large is of "staple-surgery" weight (to reuse the criterion cited above) is untenable.
7.12.2005 1:15am
I don't get it: These people take "Be all that you can be" to heart, and now the Army doesn't want them?
7.20.2005 5:58am