Common Sense Scarce Everywhere, From Sugar to Suffrage Subterfuges

By BILL BONVIE | Oct 05, 2016

“Common sense,” legendary folk humorist Will Rogers once quipped, “ain’t common.” And, boy, do I keep seeing more and more evidence of the wisdom of those words every day.

Take some of the things I commonly see posted on the most common method of sharing information, ideas and anecdotes these days – social media. I’m not talking just about idle chatter, but rather the electronic posters that are so often used in Facebook postings. By themselves, they’re often bad enough, but when combined on some people’s pages, they can be a study in contradictions that defy what would seem like, well, common sense.

Take this one, for example: “If you point a gun at the police and get shot, you’re not the victim of anything but your own stupidity.”

OK, I can see where that seems to make sense. That is, until it’s put together with a message posted by the same individual in answer to the question “Why do you need a gun?” Next to a graphic of an assault weapon, it says, “for preservation of freedom and liberty and to prevent government atrocities.”

So let me see if I have this straight: It’s OK to use that AR-15 or AK-47 to confront the government anytime you think it may be guilty of “atrocities.” Left unsaid, of course, is exactly who you would be pointing that gun at, which would no doubt be the police (along with the military, whose members “took a solemn oath to defend this country against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” according to another posting by this same individual). And that, I can only assume, would make you a victim of your own stupidity.

Then there’s the Facebook placard showing the Statue of Liberty pointing with one arm, presumably toward the ocean, next to the sentiment “If you don’t like our customs and our laws, leave!” This, I can only assume, could be interpreted as a mandate from Lady Liberty herself to those who don’t like, say, Obamacare, one of our laws that seems to be strongly disliked by the very person whose page that appeared on –and which, in fact, may even constitute their idea of an “atrocity.”

But such lapses in logic are merely the work of amateurs, whereas the Great Sugar Subterfuge is one that’s been propagated by presumed professionals.

It just so happens that sugar is a subject I know a little bit about, having just finished co-authoring a book with my sister, Linda, on food additives called Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet and How to Avoid Them. And sugar isn’t one of them.

But another sweetener is: high fructose corn syrup, or HFCS. And it’s definitely not the same thing as sugar, in spite of everything you might have heard to the contrary.

What you might have heard or read, from various highly respected sources, including The New York Times, is that sugar is the root of all dietary evil. And that the reason we weren’t made aware of this sooner is that Big Sugar tried to cover it up decades ago by paying researchers to deflect attention away from the adverse health effects of sugar to the supposed sins of saturated fats.

Now, some of this is apparently true. Back in the 1960s, the predecessor of the Sugar Association did reportedly engage in such an effort, which caused many people to switch to low-fat diets. But those saturated fats, it now turns out, aren’t actually that bad for us after all, with the really harmful fats being the “trans” kind, as in partially hydrogenated oil, which is another one of the “badditives” in our book.

But here’s where these accounts part company with common sense: sugar (meaning sucrose, the granular stuff derived from sugar cane) disappeared from most processed foods years ago, to be replaced by the aforementioned, much cheaper HFCS, which has proven to be far worse. In fact, a substantial number of studies have implicated it as a major culprit in the skyrocketing rates of obesity, diabetes and other diseases that have corresponded with its having largely replaced sugar in the American diet.

Yet, everything I’ve seen on the subject lately would leave me to think, if I didn’t know better, that all that sugar is still out there. And it’s lurking in everything from snack cakes to soft drinks, often referred to as “sugary beverages” – and is primarily responsible for all our health problems.

What makes even less sense, however, is the suggestion in some reports that HFCS is produced by the sugar industry, when, in fact, it’s a synthetic sweetener manufactured by the Corn Refiners Association, a competitive agribusiness lobby that has tried to create the misleading impression that HFCS is “corn sugar,” despite the Food and Drug Administration having formally rejected any such designation.   

And while some health and nutrition experts might draw little or no distinction between these two sweeteners, it doesn’t take a great deal of research to discover that there is in fact a huge degree of difference – sugar being very definitely the lesser of two evils when you’re talking about damage to vital organs.  

But the challenge to common sense posed by the Great Sugar Subterfuge in equating two sweeteners that are nowhere near alike in their ability to cause suffering pales in comparison to another one now being perpetrated throughout the land. I’m referring to the Great Suffrage Subterfuge of 2016, which takes the same basic misconception and applies it to the two major presidential candidates.  

Because if you put preconceived prejudices, such as party preferences or anger over primary results, aside and objectively review the backgrounds of both, it soon becomes obvious that there’s a real danger in lumping them together as equally bad choices. And that voters, like the consumers that they are, can be sweet-talked, or perhaps tough-talked is a better way of putting it, into defying not only the political establishment, but common sense itself by selecting the one who has clearly shown in various ways how harmful he can be to their own interests.  

Is it really sensible, for example, for modern, self-respecting American women whose predecessors fought long and hard for suffrage against a male-dominated society to now use that prerogative to help elect a candidate who routinely demeans and denigrates members of their gender – even while trying to nix the first real opportunity for a woman to become president?

And how much sense does it make for small business people to support a deadbeat who has systematically cheated the suppliers of goods and services to his various enterprises, forcing them to accept a fraction, if that, of what they were owed lest they be held up in years of court proceedings?

Or for honest taxpayers to hand the presidency to a supposed billionaire who, unlike all other major contenders for the office, keeps his tax returns secret and who it now appears may have managed to avoid paying any, and calling that “smart”?  

Or for veterans to vote for a guy who isn’t one, but who makes demeaning remarks about POWs and Gold Star families, and claims to know “more than the generals”?  

Or for patriotic Americans to sanction that same individual’s fawning over an authoritarian Russian leader, and one-time KGB agent, and inviting him to spy on our country’s classified communications?

Or for “Christian conservatives” to cheer for a candidate who has engaged in any number of lewd, crude and vulgar public utterances and displays of conduct?

Maybe the common sense of all this has somehow managed to elude me – in which case, I’d really appreciate if members of one or more of these groups would enlighten me as to which rock it might be hiding under.

But for now, I’m going to have to go on believing that somewhere, the late Will Rogers is enjoying a last laugh over the latest goings-on.

Bill Bonvie, a long-time contributor to this page based in Little Egg Harbor Township, is the author of the essay collection Repeat Offenders.


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