POINT/COUNTERPOINT: Challenging Mississippians to be healthier, wealthier, wiser

By Ed Holliday and James Hull

Point – Ed Holliday

Former Gov. Haley Barbour’s concerns mimicked new Gov. Phil Bryant’s as both have challenged Mississippians to live better lives – so all can reap the benefits. Both governors reminded us that we are No. 1 in obesity, in teenage pregnancy, and we have high dropout rates in our schools. Obviously these are not new problems to us. We have never been able to find the keys to unlock the doors of hope to solve these realities. James, I hope that our new leaders in Jackson will try bold fresh plans because what we have done in the past has obviously not worked well.
To make us healthier I would hold up Tupelo Mayor Jack Reed’s health initiatives. I would challenge churches and schools to drastically reduce the sugary foods for rewards that are so commonplace now. I would advise parents of healthy children to provide wheels that need to be pedaled or pushed, not motorized scooters and play vehicles.
Barbour opined that if we can keep more of our children in school until they graduate then the attained educational levels would automatically make more Mississippians wealthier. Higher levels of education lead to increases in tax revenues – not by raising taxes but by increasing our number of taxpaying citizens.
Decreasing our number of teenage pregnancies also will make Mississippians wealthier – as less taxpayer funding will be required. Tupelo’s Zell Long and her work with the Boys amp& Girls Clubs has demonstrated success in this area and our entire state could benefit from using what works. Success in decreasing dramatically our number of unwed teenage pregnancies will reap a heap of accumulating good statistics for our state and our citizens’ pocketbooks.
Creating an atmosphere for educational success begins in the home. No education gap of any kind can be closed if children spend more time watching television than reading. Unplug the television. But the whole community must work to create an atmosphere where education is pursued in such a way that it becomes the desire of all students. Mississippi should think out of the box on education. We can lead.

Counterpoint – Rev. James Hull
Here’s a quote: “I have no doubt that we will still be talking about these problems in the next century if we do not have parents who are willing to turn off the TV once in awhile and put away the video games and read to their child. Responsibility for our children’s education has to start at home. We have to set high standards for them and spend time with them and love them. We have to hold ourselves accountable.” Know whose quote that is – which so eerily mirrors your own? Presidential Candidate Barack Obama’s, May 2008, Denver, Colo. He made similar remarks at his campaign stop at MUW a few months earlier.
Regarding Barbour: Is this the same Barbour who fought tooth-and-nail against the highly successful Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi, which won national awards and recognition for decreasing teen smoking in public schools? The same teen smoking which leads to all of those chronic respiratory and cardiovascular diseases among adults that we taxpayers end up paying to treat?
And is this the same obesity problem first lady Michelle Obama came to Mississippi to bring attention to, only to have folks like Barbour ridicule her for coming?
Doc, I don’t question your message, which is righteous and true, but I am seriously wary and suspect of the motive. This is why: Your side seems to engage more in winning the message war than agreeing on real solutions. For example, what makes what you – a Republican – say in 2012, more credible than a Democrat in 2008?
What makes a seriously overweight (I’m not trying to be mean) Haley Barbour’s rhetoric about obesity and good health trump the real work of an agency actually doing something about it?
And why didn’t Laura Bush get the same ridicule as current first lady Michelle Obama when Mrs. Bush pushed early childhood education, something Barbour fought to the bitter end?
It seems to me, your postulations are a bit disingenuous, considering folks with whom you so vehemently disagree, politically, spoke them first.
Dr. Ed Holliday is a Tupelo dentist who has written two successful books. Contact him at ed@teaparty.ms. James Hull is an award-wining journalist and a political consultant. You may contact him at hullmultimedia ms@aol.com.

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