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Perishable Pundit
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Produce Business

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American Food & Ag Exporter

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‘Nutrition-Education Doesn’t Work’ Says Associated Press Review Of Literature

When governments start spending money, the problem that often happens is they develop a kind of industry that is dependent on the same funds. The industry consists of government bureaucrats who give out the funds and private contractors who receive them, and they develop evaluation methods that are self-serving.

These self-serving evaluation methods provide a basis for perpetuating and expanding the programs that they happen to run and benefit from.

The Associated Press took it upon itself to do a review of the scientific literature examining 57 nutrition education programs and found only four that were showing any real success at changing the way children eat:

”Any person looking at the published literature about these programs would have to conclude that they are generally not working,” said Dr. Tom Baranowski, a pediatrics professor at Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine who studies behavioral nutrition.
Tons of sources should be studied before the process of writing a research paper.

Among the programs that have been disappointing are many near and dear to the produce industry’s heart:

  • Last year a major federal pilot program offering free fruits and vegetables to school children showed fifth graders became less willing to eat them than they had been at the start. Apparently they didn’t like the taste.
  • In Pennsylvania, researchers went so far as to give prizes to school children who ate fruits and vegetables. That worked while the prizes were offered, but when the researchers came back seven months later the kids had reverted to their original eating habits: soda and chips.
  • In studies where children tell researchers they are eating better or exercising more, there is usually no change in blood pressure, body size or cholesterol measures; they want to eat better, they might even think they are, but they’re not.

When it comes to analyzing why there are such difficulties, the article borders on being silly. In a piece focused on the need for research to quantify results, the writer speculates without citing any research that things such as poverty and advertising and a paucity of supermarkets in poor areas are big causes of the problem. But of course, our country was much poorer in the past and didn’t have the same childhood obesity problems, and there is no evidence that childhood health has improved in those nations that have banned snack food advertising aimed at children.

Some “experts” posit eccentric theories about taste buds, and the reporter presents it as if it is accepted scientific fact:

“If the mother is eating Cheetos and white bread, the fetus will be born with those taste buds. If the mother is eating carrots and oatmeal the child will be born with those taste buds,” said Dr. Robert Trevino of the Social and Health Research Center in San Antonio.

That we have more failures than successes in trying to solve such a difficult social problem as childhood obesity is not surprising. If it was easy to solve the problem, we would have solved it already.

What is disturbing is the kind of self-serving reasoning that has entered into the minds of bureaucrats and contractors. Take a look at how an important USDA professional thinks about spending taxpayers’ hard-earned money:

Kate Houston, deputy under secretary of the USDA’s Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, oversees most federal funds, $696 million this year, spent on childhood nutrition education in this country. Funding has steadily increased in recent years, up from $535 million in 2003. Houston insists the programs are successful.

“I think the question here is how are we measuring success and there are certainly many ways in which you can do so and the ways in which we’ve been able to measure have shown success,” she said.

But isn’t the goal of these programs to change the way kids eat?

“Absolutely that’s the goal,” she said.

And they’re successfully reaching that goal?

“We’re finding success in things in which we have been able to measure, which are more related to knowledge and skill. It is more difficult for us to identify success in changing children’s eating patterns.”

When asked about the many studies that don’t show improvement, Houston asked for copies of the research. And she said the USDA doesn’t have the resources to undertake “long term, controlled, medical modeled studies” necessary to determine the impact of its programs.

At least she acknowledges the goal — changing consumption patterns. But how ridiculous is it for her to say that “…the USDA doesn’t have the resources to undertake “long term, controlled, medical modeled studies" necessary to determine the impact of its programs.”

She should be before Congress every week demanding that no program ever be done without a mechanism set up to determine if it is achieving its goal. If there is no more money available, better to do half as many programs and study them for efficacy than to do a bunch of random programs and spend billions and billions over the years with not the foggiest idea of whether the goal is being accomplished.

Some of the contractors have talked themselves into forgetting the goal of changing consumption patterns:

Their teacher, Jenkins, offers fact-filled and engaging nutrition lessons as part of a $7 million USDA program which reaches about 388,000 students a year in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The most recent evaluation of the 8-year-old program was disheartening: no difference in the amount of fruits and vegetables eaten by kids participating in the program and those who weren’t. Teachers who spent more hours on nutrition education had no greater impact than those who didn’t. And parent behavior didn’t change either.

“It’s true, it didn’t change what they actually eat. But the program really made a difference in how kids were feeling about fruits and vegetables. They really had a more positive attitude toward fruits and vegetables,” said Dr. Mike Prelip, a UCLA researcher who headed up the evaluation.

Is it possible that Dr. Prelip thinks the taxpayers care about how children are “feeling” about fruits and vegetables? The children have a more ‘positive attitude’ towards fruit and vegetables? Who is this guy, the Dr. Norman Vincent Peale of produce? It would be nice to hear him say something scientific, such as that he has an ongoing study that he believes will show that thinking positively about produce at age 9 correlates to higher consumption at age 12.

This is a very serious problem for the produce industry. We cannot solely fund ourselves the scope of activities required to change eating habits in America, so we must depend on government, private foundations, etc.

Recently we have started getting some funding and support — but it will dry up like a shallow swimming hole in a long drought if people start to sense that we, as an industry, just want to sell a bunch of produce to government programs.

We have to be, like Caesar’s wife, above suspicion. We have to demand that all these efforts we favor be subjected to the most withering, scientific and exact study that can be done.

If one type of program is not showing to be successful, we change it and try again. We combine with other disciplines and include exercise and behavioral approaches.

The crucial point: every government agency, every congressperson, every private foundation must be convinced, through our actions, that we are a genuine partner in a search for ways to help solve societal problems such as childhood obesity.

Otherwise we will alienate those supporters willing to fund these programs, which will truly be killing the goose that lays the golden egg for this industry.

We mentioned this problem before in our piece, School Nutrition Success Cries for Research, in which we focused on a program that had won a Produce for Better Health Foundation’s National Excellence Award. We lauded the energetic program run by a school nurse in New Hampshire, but we decried the fact that in the absence of research as to its effectiveness, we had no way to use it as a pilot program to raise funds to roll it out across America. We suggested that “…we would like to see PBH add a criteria to its award program. We would like to see a requirement for a research component.”

Equally, when PMA launched its plan to do a cooperation with Scholastic (and we should note PMA was spending its own money, not taking government funds so it was free to do what it will), we also urged as follows:

“Now we have but one request:

Can we please use some of the money to do baseline and follow-up research on children both exposed to the Scholastic program and a control group not exposed to the materials? This way we can actually determine if the program is having an effect on consumption.”

And when we praised the Food Dudes program both here and here, it was because we saw at least an attempt being made to quantify the results.

Interesting enough, one of the best things about the Food Dudes program is that the programs sponsors explain it as a behavioral-based concept:

How can children be influenced to change their eating habits for the better?

The traditional approach has been to inform people through health education campaigns about what they should and should not eat in the hope that they will alter their eating habits accordingly. Unfortunately, the research evidence shows that this approach has very limited success.

In spite of the enormous quantity of information about the health-giving properties of fruit and vegetables that has been issued over recent years, children’s eating habits have remained largely unaltered. Clearly, children’s knowing what they should do does not mean that that is what they will do. What they need is not simply to be given information, but help to change their actual eating behaviour.

In the Associated Press article, some experts said doing more studies of nutrition education is pointless:

Doctors like Tom Robinson, who directs the Center for Healthy Weight at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University, said those studies aren’t needed. The research has already shown they don’t work.

“I think the money could be better spent on programs that are more behaviorally oriented, as opposed to those that are educationally oriented, or studies that just describe the problem over and over again,” he said.

It seems giving the Food Dudes a scientifically monitored trial, with control groups, in a few U.S. schools would be a good place to start.

You can read the whole AP piece here.




ASDA Adopts Nutrition Labeling System

We mentioned some time ago that Hannaford had put together a program to rank the nutritional merit of almost the whole store. Now ASDA, Wal-Mart’s subsidiary in the U.K., has developed a new system, at least initially, for a smaller range of items:

ASDA SET TO INTRODUCE FRONT OF PACK NUTRITIONAL LABELING THAT COMBINES THE BENEFITS OF ‘TRAFFIC LIGHT’ AND GDA SYSTEMS

95% of consumers favor the ASDA system over other supermarkets’ alternatives

ASDA announced today (Thursday 5th July) it will become the first of the big four supermarkets to introduce a new food nutrition labeling system which gives customers the best of what both the ‘traffic light’ and GDA (guideline daily amount) systems have to offer.

The move follows extensive consumer research and a customer trial by the supermarket to determine the style and format of nutritional information its customers want to see.

Over 95 per cent of respondents favored the system that ASDA will now be adopting over other rival versions, and 64 per cent of Tesco customers favored the new ASDA nutrition label over Tesco’s own GDA version.

Key reasons for preferring the ASDA design were that they liked the bright traffic light colors which achieved stand out on pack and that the label was easy to read and understand.

The result is a supermarket labeling system which provides customers with the most detailed, easy-to-understand information available in the retail market today and appeals to both nutritionally aware and less knowledgeable customers alike.

ASDA’s new nutrition label has been welcomed by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and health minister, Dawn Primarolo, and is based on the FSA’s own traffic light labeling system.

It uses the distinct colors green, amber and red to highlight low, medium and high levels of sugar, fat, salt, saturated fats and calories in each product.

In addition, it also includes the precise amount of each nutrient in grams per serving and the percentage of the guideline daily amount (GDA) this represents.

It is specifically designed to be read and easily understood in under two seconds — the average length of time that many busy customers are prepared to spend reading a label — and will enable customers to see at a glance how best to choose foods which will give them a healthy, balanced diet.

The move is bound to cause a fuss with rival supermarkets who have chosen to adopt either the easy-to-understand traffic light labeling system (Sainsbury) or the more complex GDA labeling system (Tesco and Morrisons), as it demonstrates that customers can have the benefits of both in a clear, simple format.

It will also cause consternation among leading big brand companies who have been reluctant to introduce any system which they feel could highlight the sugar and fat content of their products.

Said ASDA’s chief executive, Andy Bond:

“Our new nutritional labeling system is the common sense solution to something that shoppers can find very confusing. It’ll give our customers the best of both worlds — the simplicity and transparency of the traffic light labeling system, alongside the more detailed GDA information that some customers demand. “An overwhelming majority of our shoppers have told us this is the style of labeling they want to see, so that’s exactly what we’re going to give them.”

The new nutrition labels will be displayed prominently on the front of pack of over 1,000 different ASDA own-label food products.

Packaging is already being re-formatted and the first products bearing the new labels will hit the shelves in September with the project due to be completed by the end of the year.

Commenting on ASDA’s new nutritional labeling, health minister Dawn Primarolo said: “We welcome this move by ASDA. It’s great news for consumers who can find nutrition labeling on food confusing.

We know from research that the traffic light color code is quick and easy for people to use when they shop.

We hope that many more retailers adopt the labeling in the future.”& nbsp; ASDA’s new nutritional labeling system is just the latest in a long list of initiatives the supermarket has launched to help promote a healthy, balanced diet.

A major project to completely remove any artificial colors or flavors, hydrogenated fat or flavor enhancers, such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), from its own-label food and soft drink products will be complete by January 2008.

In addition, the supermarket is replacing Aspartame in low calorie products with Sucralose, a sweetener made from sugar that tastes like sugar.

All ASDA’s own label product ranges will also meet or exceed the Food Standard Agency’s salt targets by the end of the year, more than two years ahead of the 2010 deadline, following the removal of 156 tonnes of salt this year alone.

It is always fascinating for an American to read the direct attacks on competitors so common in the U.K. We think of the Brits as so restrained and stoic — stiff upper lip and all that — but in business they go after each other with a venom we Americans would have trouble mustering.

In any case the focus of this initiative is on six critical categories:

  • sandwiches, wraps & baguettes
  • ready meals & prepped salad meals
  • burgers & sausages
  • pies, pasties & quiches
  • breaded meat, fish and poultry
  • pizza

These categories have been identified by the Food Standards Agency and relate to ready meals and products with multiple ingredients. A “prepped salad” might be a Caesar salad in a plastic tray sealed with fork, a bag of Parmesan cheese and croutons…multiple ingredients.

It appears that in the U.K., there is a big, ongoing debate on food labeling systems. One camp promotes the traffic light system — red, yellow and green — and the other promotes a sort of percentage of daily requirements label.

ASDA has created a hybrid that both has the simplicity and the immediacy of the traffic light — What’s green eat freely, amber watch out, red eat sparingly — but also includes low, medium and high for levels of sugar, salt, fat, saturated fat, and calories.

Also right in the labeling is a percentage of the guideline’s daily amount.

The Food Standards Agency has done a bunch of TV spots on the traffic-light labels.

Traditionally, we have shied away from the use of traffic lights because the red setting contradicts the nutritionists’ mantra that there are no “bad foods” — and, of course, the problem is rarely the food, per se; it is the portion, the frequency with which it is eaten, the amount of exercise a person gets, etc.

It will be interesting to see if the sales of red items go down. Maybe they won’t be seen as “bad” but as “indulgent” and sales will go up?




Chilled Food Association Delivers High Standards For British Retailers

Our piece, pundit’s Pulse Of The Industry: Chilled Food Association’s Kaarin Goodburn, brought to our pages a different perspective, from across the pond, on food safety practices in the produce industry.

Kaarin has also been good enough to share a presentation that details the way they see the supply chain for produce. These three slides are key:






In the U.K., because so much of the food safety regimen is retail-driven, the Chilled Food Association members represent a high standard that is required to sell to Tesco, ASDA, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Marks and Spencer, etc. Others operate under legal standards that are not as demanding.

We appreciate Kaarin’s sending along the information. You can access the whole presentation here.




Lots To Learn From Foodservice

The produce industry’s premier foodservice event is coming up fast. Perhaps if you are a retailer or vendor who sells to retailers, you don’t think it is relevant to you. Think again. Today, a simple visit to the new Whole Foods in London, which has foodservice seating for 350, tells us a different story about retail:

Upstairs, the simply-named, eating-in floor of the 80,000 sq ft Whole Foods on High Street Kensington, seats 350 which makes it one of the largest café/restaurants to open in London this year irrespective of the two vast floors of food retail beneath it….

As two painters behind him put the finishing touches to the sign above ‘The Barley’, their pub which naturally only sells organic beers, Lannon explained one of the key differences in Whole Foods business model between the UK and the US. One that, surprisingly perhaps, has nothing at all to do with the organic movement.

“The eating-in aspect of this branch of Whole Foods is much more significant than anything we have ever done in the US because of the relative ease of acquiring a liquor licence here rather than in the US where it is difficult in certain states and impossible in others. We simply could not do anything like this back home,” Lannon explained….

As a result, although the initial publicity concentrated on price comparisons between Whole Foods, M&S, Waitrose and Tesco this new store in fact owes more of its inspiration to the more established London department stores where restaurants and cafes sit side by side with their bountiful food halls. Fortnum & Mason’s five restaurants will seat 600 by the autumn; the Fifth Floor at Harvey Nichols seats 450 but both are dwarfed by what must be the biggest restaurant in town, Harrods, where 28 different eating places can accommodate 1,839 shoppers at any one time.

In these settings, both sides, selling and serving food benefit from their proximity. The retail side benefits from the greater volume, and therefore lower unit costs that comes from buying for the kitchens as well, while the chefs, unlike their counterparts in individual restaurants or even hotels, have the benefit of highly professional in-house buyers as their colleagues. In practical terms it can mean that any fruit or vegetables that may not be aesthetically pleasing enough to sell off the shelf can be handed over at the close of the day for tomorrow’s soups or salads and the butchery department can find a home for the sausages and burgers that are invariably left over when a carcass has been stripped of the fillet, ribeyes and rumps which invariably sell first.

In practice, this is often not so easy as the two departments may simply not get on and there is a finite capacity to the stews, casseroles or chowders, made from the less expensive cuts of meat and fish, that can be sold in the summer. But creating as many as possible of these ‘link throughs’ or ‘link sales’, as they are known in the trade, is the key to this type of business according to Dominic Ford, who created the Fifth Floor at Harvey Nicols and plans to launch two new foodmarkets, Food. Inc in west London later this year and Union Market in Islington in 2008….

On the ground floor, between a large wine department (where not all the wines on sale are organic) and their temperature-controlled cheese room is a small wine bar where one can sample the produce from either department. Far more significant, however, in terms of generating sales and the vital synergy between retail and the kitchens, are the three large banks of counters in the middle from which customers can help themselves to a vast array of prepared food…. Upstairs incorporates one large self-service counter which serves pasta, pizza and salads, separate stations for ice-creams, crepes and waffles and a juice bar. But the more distinguished cooking is set around three separate counters which serve shellfish and seafood, dim sum and sushi and a range of Mediterranean small dishes (although in true American fashion the portion sizes tend to be large).

At each of these counters intelligent design allows their relatively inexperienced chefs to deliver pretty good food from the outset as a lot of the preparatory work is obviously done behind the scenes and the cooked food has only to travel a brief distance between the kitchen range and the customer. Ham croquetas and salt cod fritters arrived piping hot while the grilled halloumi had not yet turned to the rubbery consistency it easily acquires from waiting around too long in the kitchen

Put another way, the line between retail and foodservice is rapidly blurring. If Whole Foods in London is one extreme, the new Tesco Fresh & Easy format in the U.S. , expected to be heavy to private-label prepared foods, is just another type of foodservice. It means that PMA’s foodservice conference can be valuable even if just as an intelligence-gathering trip.

Advance registration ends Friday, July 6, so act now. You can get full information on the event here. Look at the schedule here. Get hotel phone numbers here. And register on line right here.

There is one more special opportunity at PMA’s Foodservice Conference. And if you are flying in for the Conference or can’t make the Conference but are in range to play some golf on Friday July 13, 2007, it would be a fine thing to do.

I could tell you it is an excellent networking event and that would be true. Many a business relationship is built or made stronger out on the links at this golf tournament.

I could tell you that it would be a good time, and that would also be true. Take a look at the photo of Steve Shapiro of Girard’s Salad Dressing at last year’s tournament and tell me he isn’t having a good time.

But this golf tournament is special, and if you play golf and if you can only take one day to do this type of thing, this is the day to do it. Because this is a charity golf tournament to support the Nucci Scholarship for Culinary Innovation.

It is a good cause for a lot of reasons. First, for the industry, we need culinary innovation as much as we need anything if the industry is to advance.

Second, it supports youth, bringing students from the Culinary Institute of America and Johnson & Wales University to this year’s conference.

Third, it supports leadership. Joe was taken from us at his prime, a young man of 40-years-old. Joe never lived to see the launch of the Perishable Pundit, but he would have teased this Pundit no end because we were friends.

It is important that when someone like that is taken from us, we honor their memory, and the best way to honor Joe’s is to come down and play golf.

The Pundit and sister publication, PRODUCE BUSINESS, are sponsors — PRODUCE BUSINESS of the Golfers Lunch and the Pundit of the Fresh Produce Manuals for each of the Nucci Scholarship winners. We wanted to do what we could.

But what will make this golf tournament a fitting tribute to a life filled with innovation for the produce trade is to sell out the golf tournament. There are still places available. Surely we can sell it out.

Bryan Silbermann, President of PMA, and this Pundit stood before countless people, more than the church could hold, as we gave eulogies to Joe’s memory. If only a fraction of those who stood there with us would sign up to play, the tournament would be sold out many times over.

Surely some of those who stood in respect on that day must play golf and surely some could make the time. This would be a fitting gift for a business associate and personal friend who had everything except time.

You can learn about and register for the golf tournament here.




Pundit’s Mailbag — How Would Founding Fathers Feel About Today’s America?

Our piece, Declaration of Independence, brought forth this letter by someone who thinks the founding fathers would be disappointed in the way it has all turned out:

I frequently read your articles, and get insight into the produce industry as a whole. Although I sell melons, I want to keep a pulse on the entire industry, and your newsletter provides it.

I was quite intrigued to see your article on the "Declaration of Independence" today. However, after reading it I felt compelled to write you to offer my opinion.

I feel that the current state on America, would have our Founding Fathers turning in their graves. We as Americans don’t have the Freedoms they initially deliberated over. Our government is NOT run by the people, but by special interest groups. Those that contribute to the campaigns get their interest looked after. Just look at the new Bankruptcy law, written by MBNA (a major contributor to the Bush campaign), that was passed. Look at the Gasoline industry, and the “freedom” we have there. I think the time is approaching where we need a new Independence from the current political structure and its “Big Business” partner.

“Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” — for ALL.

— Haikeem A. Nelson
Business Account Manager
Chiquita Fresh N.A.

We appreciate Haikeem’s kind words, and we feel a soft spot for a melon vendor as the Pundit’s family played a big role in counter-seasonal melons for many years.

Yet we must say that we think Haikeem’s pessimism is unfounded.

That the founding fathers would be “turning in their graves” at the current state of America is almost certainly not true.

It is hard to imagine today what tenuous hold on existence the United States enjoyed at the time of the Declaration of Independence. First we had to win a war against the greatest military power on earth. On June 25, 1776, General Howe appeared in New York harbor, having arrived from Halifax with 130 ships. His brother, Admiral Howe, showed up on July 12, 1776 with 150 additional ships. It was the greatest armada the world had ever seen.

The 32,000 men landed by the British were roughly the same as the population of Philadelphia, then the largest city in the colonies and significantly more than the 22,000 residents of New York.

When the signers of the declaration pledged to each other “our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor” — this was not a figure of speech. And when Benjamin Franklin, upon the signing of the Declaration of Independence, pointed out to his fellow signatories that “we must all hang together, or assuredly we shall hang separately” — he was not making a joke.

This small group of men were committing treason against the King, and they were all prepared to die for their cause. And, indeed, any honest broker would have had to say it was likely they would get the opportunity.

Even if America won the war, the expectation was that we would surely be isolated. As a Republic that had overthrown a King, surely no monarchy would befriend this lonely nation, fearing an example for their own subjects. And from the King of England to the Emperor of Japan, it was a world of inherited monarchies in which prince and potentate ruled with the “divine right” of kings.

If by some miracle we were to defeat the British and make our way in world affairs, surely our own domestic divisions, between north and south among others, would lead to our ruin.

To not think that the founding fathers would look out on this mighty, transcontinental nation, whose Republican government had led to overthrow of all substantive monarchy in the world, is not to realize how unlikely it was to work out this way.

Even on Haikeem’s specific complaints, it is astonishing how familiar our founders would have been with present-day problems of governance. Special interests dominate? That wouldn’t surprise James Madison. In Federalist Number 10 (the Federalist papers were a series of articles arguing in favor of ratification of the United States Constitution), he articulated a unique contribution of the founders to political philosophy.

Up to the American founding, it was assumed that democracy could only be successful in a small population, such as the city-states of ancient Greece. Madison turned that argument on its head. He explained that in a small population, it was easy for the factions to coalesce into a permanent majority by forming an enduring alliance that could be used to oppress the minority. In a large scale Republic, such as the United States of America, there would still be factions, of course, but the large scale and diversity of interests meant that such alliances would be transitory.

And so, prescient as he was, James Madison envisioned our political system with remarkable acuity. We have plenty of what Madison called “factions” — what Haikeem calls “special interests” — but they fluctuate in their alliances.

Look at the recent immigration bill — taken down by a haphazard alliance, including high-tech kingpins looking for more visas and labor unions looking to block guest worker programs.

The new bankruptcy law may have been initially drafted by credit card companies, but it was also hotly debated and deeply opposed by lobbyists for various attorneys among others. Mrs. Pundit is a bankruptcy attorney and worked deeply in the court system. She can assure you that she saw far too many times people maxing out their credit cards at fancy stores and then filing the day after the reach-back period had expired. In the end, as we must do in politics, the interests of different parties were compromised and a bill was passed.

Perhaps our correspondent didn’t like that one, but surely we don’t want to say that any time a law passes we happen to personally disagree that it is a sign of tyranny.

The Pundit confesses to not feeling oppressed by the gasoline industry. To the extent they have pricing power, it is more because of other political decisions — such as environmental rules that make it almost impossible to build new refinery capacity — than because they control the powers of government.

Besides, we all could make a list of laws we don’t like, of things that we could do better. And, as responsible citizens, we hope Pundit readers will always contribute to positive change in our country and the world.

We should not, however, let the best be the enemy of the good. And perfection may be an unreasonable standard to hold up against our society.

This is a country where we can speak our minds, worship the God we choose, pursue any career we are capable of. It is a land of almost infinite numbers of chances for those who have messed up a few times.

Which system of governance is better? Which has produced more happiness for more people? Which has taken in more immigrants?

Maybe the recent immigration debate brought to the fore another lesson: Where do people want to go? We can debate the academics of comparative political systems, but didn’t the recent immigration debate hold up this one truth: we have created a society that, with all its flaws, is so magnetic, so attractive to people all over the world that we have to barricade the gates to keep the numbers of immigrants in the tens of millions?

What other country can say that?

We applaud all who think about making this country a better country and, in that spirit, we thank Haikeem for bringing this subject to our attention.

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