One In Four Americans On Government Food Assistance, While Half Of Congress Are Millionaires

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is creating a $2 million research center to study how the government can “nudge” Americans toward making healthier eating habits.The agency is currently accepting grant applications to establish a “Center for Behavioral Economics and Healthy Food Choice Research,” which will facilitate studies such as how breaking up combo meals at fast food restaurants would influence customers. “The USDA Center will facilitate new and innovative research on the application of behavioral economics theory to healthy food choice behaviors that would contribute to enhancing the nutrition, food security, and health of American consumers,” the USDA’s grant announcement said.

The center will be given at least $1.9 million over three years, with the possibility of future funding. Its research will focus on “facilitating food choice behaviors” and improving the diets of Americans enrolled on food stamps and the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program. The USDA said it is their responsibility to attempt to alter the food choices of Americans since 25 percent receive food aid from government programs.

“With a total outlay of $108.9 billion in FY 2013, food and nutrition assistance accounted for 72 percent of USDA’s budget,” the announcement said. “Approximately 1 in 4 Americans participated in at least 1 of the 15 food and nutrition assistance programs at some point during FY 2013, making these programs fundamental to the nutritional well-being of millions of Americans.” “These diverse activities share the common goal of improving the nutrition, food security, and health of American consumers,” it said.

The USDA claims that food choices are not made in a “purely rational manner,” but are influenced by food manufacturers and retailers. “The idea of complete rationality is challenged by repeated observance of cognitive biases such as hyperbolic discounting that can lead to decisions that seem to over-value short-term benefits such as the taste or convenience of foods versus long-run benefits such as health,” the grant announcement said.

Via Tims Take

A list of “Topics of interest” provided by the USDA sheds light on the type of research the new center will conduct. “How are firms’ product development, pricing, marketing, and promotion strategies affected when consumers have systematic biases in decisionmaking?” the agency asked. “Can package or portion sizes be presented or promoted in a manner that encourages healthful consumption?”

The USDA also wants to know how changes to fast food combo meals can force Americans to eat healthier. “What would be the impact of changing the presentation order in which food is displayed on fast food menu boards or the manner in which foods are bundled for fast-food or restaurant meals?” they asked.

The USDA also proposed a study on changing how food is described on menus, labeling low-sodium and low-fat versions as “regular,” and “framing regular versions of certain snack products as high-fat or high-sodium.” In addition, the agency is interested in research that could encourage Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants to plan meals in advance, make shopping lists, and avoid shopping when hungry, the USDA said.

Half of Congress Members Are Millionaires, Report Says

Much of the research will involve SNAP, since the average 47.6 million people who received food stamp benefits each month in 2013 had “diets in need of improvement,” the USDA said. “Studies could also explore retailer-participant interactions—for example, could retailers design store formats that assist SNAP participants, perhaps by using store-based symbols or logos that highlight foods that are both healthful and economical, in a manner that simplifies and speeds choice for SNAP shoppers?” the grant announcement said.

“Finally, studies could examine behavioral factors related to SNAP program operations, such as behavioral messaging and cues (‘nudges’) that prompt healthful food choices,” it said. The research will ultimately impact policy. The USDA is seeking to use the studies as a basis for new regulations, after findings are shared with policymakers, program officials, and the general public.
“Studies are expected to focus on ideas that can be implemented within existing legislation and regulations rather than options that change them,” the announcement said.

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19 Numbers Prove Americans Are Angrier/More Frustrated Than Ever

I could see this from 5,00o miles away, now you guys are feeling it, how angry are you and why?

#1 65 percent of Americans are dissatisfied “with the U.S. system of government and its effectiveness”. That is the highest level of dissatisfaction that Gallup has ever recorded.

#2 66 percent of Americans are dissatisfied “with the size and power of federal government”.

#3 70 percent of Americans do not have confidence that the government will “make progress on the important problems and issues facing the country in 2014.”

#4 Only 8 percent of Americans believe that Congress is doing a “good” or “excellent” job.

#5 Only 4 percent of Americans believe that it would “change Congress for the worse” if every member was voted out during the next election.

#6 60 percent of Americans report feeling “angry or irritable”. Two years ago that number was at 50 percent.

#7 53 percent of Americans believe that the Obama administration is “not competent in running the government”.

#8 An all-time low 31 percent of Americans identify themselves as Democrats.

#9 An all-time low 25 percent of Americans identify themselves as Republicans.

#10 An all-time high 42 percent of Americans identify themselves as Independents.

#11 Barack Obama’s daily job approval numbers have dipped down into the high thirties several times lately.

#12 Only 38 percent of Americans approve of the way that Obama is handling the economy.

#13 60 percent of Americans believe that the “economic system in this country unfairly favors the wealthy”.

#14 70 percent of Americans do not “feel engaged or inspired at their jobs”.

#15 Two-thirds of U.S. teens “admit to having anger attacks involving the destruction of property, threats of violence, or engaging in violence”.

#16 36 percent of Americans admit that they have yelled at customer service agents during the past year.

#17 73 percent of Americans believe that Obama’s efforts to “reform” the NSA “won’t make much difference in protecting people’s privacy”.

#18 77 percent of Americans believe that the state of the economy is either “not so good” or “poor”.

#19 65 percent of Americans are either “somewhat dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied” with the direction of the country.

Are you starting to get the picture?

We have never seen anything like this in the United States during the post-World War II era. People are fundamentally unhappy, and that has tremendous implications for the future of our society.

So what is causing all of this anger and frustration?

Well, of course the economic struggles that tens of millions of Americans are experiencing on a daily basis play a huge role. The following is an excerpt from a recent local Fox News report…

Some are describing this as “America’s anger epidemic.” And there are a few reasons: uncertainty in the job market and the economy, working long hours — on average about one month more now than they did in the 1970s and with less vacation.

So if it seems like Americans are angrier these days it’s because we are.

And it is easy to understand why people are becoming increasingly frustrated with the incompetence and rampant corruption in Washington D.C.…

Grim findings have been coming thick and fast. Most Americans no longer see President Barack Obama as honest. Half think that he “knowingly lied” to pass his Obamacare health law. Fewer than one in five trust the government in Washington to do what is right all or most of the time. Confidence in Congress has fallen to record lows: in America, as in Italy and Greece, just one in ten voters expresses trust or confidence in the national parliament. Frankly straining credulity, a mammoth, 107-country poll by Transparency International, a corruption monitor, this summer found Americans more likely than Italians to say that they feel that the police, business and the media are all “corrupt or extremely corrupt”.

Americans are also turning on one another. Since 1972 the Chicago-based General Social Survey (GSS) has been asking whether most people can be trusted, or whether “you can’t be too careful” in daily life. Four decades ago Americans were evenly split. Now almost two-thirds say others cannot be trusted, a record high.

In addition, there are certainly other reasons why people are so angry these days as well…

The “Knockout Game” grows more popular. Athletes throw tantrums that would embarrass most 3-year-olds. Race relations simmer at a constant near-boil, while our leaders engage in enough posturing and name-calling to look more like a modern version of “West Side Story” than the servant-citizens who should inspire peace and mutual respect.

So what do you believe?

Why do you think that Americans are so angry and so frustrated these days?

Is there anything we can do about it?

And how bad will the anger and frustration in this country get when the economy completely collapses?

Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…

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