Twinkies: It’s What’s for Dinner

By Bill Maher

America is celebrating the return of the Twinkie like a drunk celebrates finding a bottle he'd forgotten he'd hidden. U.S. PIRG, a national federation of state public interest research groups, just released a study that shows, once again, that our farm subsidies go mostly towards paying farmers to grow the stuff that makes us unhealthy. 

The report points out that since 1995, the U.S. government has spent $19.2 billion subsidizing "corn-and-soy-derived junk food ingredients," while, over the same period, apples, "the only fruit or vegetable to receive significant federal subsidies," got only $689 million.

You know how an apple a day keeps the doctor away? Well, tough, because if you distributed the yearly farm subsidies in cash to American taxpayers, they'd each have enough to buy just a half an apple, but 20 Twinkies.

The report continues, "Taxpayers spent $84.4 billion on corn production, $8.1 billion of which funded production of corn starch and sweeteners. Of the total domestic corn produced, 9.6 percent ended up in junk food and beverages as sweeteners or thickeners."

For the Huffington Post, Caroline Fairchild writes, "To put that into perspective, U.S. PIRG notes, the money spent on junk food subsidies since 1995 is enough to buy nearly 52 billion Twinkies, which, if laid out end to end, could encircle the globe 132 times." Or Chris Christie twice. And Fairchild continues, "The recently rereleased Twinkie is made with 17 taxpayer-subsidized ingredients, including corn starch, corn syrup and vegetable shortening."

What happened to the conservatives' hallowed free market? Why is the government "picking winners?" In fact, why do we even pay farmers to grow corn? It's not like it's difficult to grow corn. You could chuck an ear of corn in your yard and, if it rains and a deer doesn't eat it, that ear of corn will grow corn.

And if we all agree we're going to be socialists redistributing wealth, why don't we place our bets on the healthy foods that don't make one out of every three of our kids overweight or obese or that don't produce an estimated $150 a year in obesity-related medical costs?