Today the left & right pillars of the NY Times editorial page, Paul Krugman and David Brooks, do an inadvertent Jon Stewart-style routine on our increasingly wacky (U.S.) national obsession with body image. Krugman notes that recent scientific studies show Americans -- once famous as the tallest people in the world -- have now become "...shorter (and fatter) than Western and Northern Europeans. In fact, the U.S. population is currently at the bottom end of the height distribution in advanced industrial countries." Widely viewed as "indicative of how well the human organism thrives in its socioeconomic environment," height in our case turns out to have nothing to do with wealth. Still the richest citizens per capita, Americans are squashing down & out, Krugman believes, because of too much reliance on fast food, forced on us because we work too much -- way more than our European counterparts. Hmm. Meanwhile those wily layabouts, the welfare-state Dutch, now the tallest people in the world, are no doubt doing it all because they can't wait to kick our butts in basketball.
OK, on to Our Mr. Brooks. He reports on the astonishing popularity of businesses that sell sperm & eggs from genetically "superior" donors . Apparently, Americans can't get enough of browsing online (at work no doubt) "...through page after page of donor profiles, comparing weight, noses, personality and what one site calls 'tannability'." What do these shoppers want? Well, the male versions would be "...blue-eyed, blond-haired 6-foot-2 finely sculpted hunks who roast their own coffee."
In his column Krugman predictably concludes that in its pursuit of wealth "...America is a land of harried parents and neglected children, of expensive health care that misses those who need it most..." Brooks -- who has become increasingly snarky as the avatar of his party is increasingly revealed to be a lethally incompetent idiot -- first of all distances himself from the trend & then says it's impossible to stop it. "There's no way people are going to foreswear the joys of creative genetics," he sighs.