How Tiny Tim’s Diet Got Scrooged

      58 Comments on How Tiny Tim’s Diet Got Scrooged

Yesterday afternoon I caught up on emails from readers, which included some disturbing news articles -– like this one, about a boy being taken from his mother and put in foster care because he’s too fat:

An 8-year-old Cleveland boy has just become the poster-child for a sad new nadir in the childhood obesity epidemic. The third grader, who weighs more than 200 pounds, was removed from his mother’s custody because of what officials have deemed medical neglect.

The County said that the child’s weight gain was caused by his environment and that the mother wasn’t following doctor’s orders — which she disputes.
“This child’s problem was so severe that we had to take custody,” Mary Louise Madigan, a spokeswoman for the Department of Children and Family Services said. The agency worked with the mother for more than a year before asking Juvenile Court for custody of the child, she said.

Lawyers for the mother, a substitute elementary school teacher who is also taking vocational school classes, think the county has overreached in this case by arguing that medical conditions the boy is at risk for — but doesn’t yet have — pose an imminent danger to his health.”

So the state is taking the kid away for the sake of his health.  I wonder how separating him from his mother and forcing him to live with strangers will affect his mental health?  And if he’s still fat after spending a year or so with a foster family, will the state officials return him to his mother — and then resign?

Speaking of taking kids away, I also read this article:

Finnish officials have told a family of low-carbohydrate enthusiasts that their children would be taken into care if they failed to heed nutrition advice, provincial paper Iisalmen Sanomat reported Sunday.

Ursula Schwab, a clinical nutrition specialist at the University of East Finland, said at least one family had received such an ultimatum after parents ignored healthcare staff’s warnings about the dangers of an imbalanced diet for children.

Schwab added that she knew of parents who had put toddlers on so-called low-carb diets. “A strict low-carb diet is very fatty, and it suppresses hunger. If you down eggs and bacon for breakfast it will take hours before you can even imagine eating again.”

Well, for Pete’s sake, we can’t have kids downing bacon and eggs for breakfast and then not being hungry again for several hours! How are they supposed to become obese enough to be taken away from their parents for their own good?!

Finally, I read a New York Times puff piece praising the accomplishments of George McGovern -– including, of course, his inspiring leadership while establishing the Dietary Goals for Americans.

Head. Bang. On. Desk.

With those cheery bits of news in mind, I went to bed and had the strangest dream. It began with an aging politician snoring in his bed on Christmas Eve …


Woooooooh! Woooooooooh!

ZZZZZ – !!

“What? What’s that noise? Is somebody there?”

“Yes, Senator McGovern, somebody is there. And I’ve come for you. Woooooooh!

“Hey! Enough with the Wooooooh stuff, okay? I was a bomber pilot in the war. I’m not afraid of ghosts.”

“You will be. Woooooooh!

“Oh yeah? Well, if you’re a ghost, whose ghost are you?”

“Richard Milhous Nix—“


“Geez, calm down, George. I’m not here to hurt you.“

“Well then, what the heck do you want?”

“To deliver a message. Let me make this perfectly clear:  Three more ghosts will enter your room tonight.”

“Ahh, your White House plumbers are back in action again, huh?”

“Not spooks, George.  Ghosts. And you’d better pay attention to what they show you.”

“Fine, I’ll pay attention. Now go away. I have nightmares about you as it is. Didn’t even win my own state, for the love of–”

“Okay, I’m going. You won’t have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore. Woooooooh!

“Three more ghosts … bah, humbug! Just a bad dream, that’s all it was.”


Geooooooorge! Geoooooorge!


“Now what? Who is that?”

“It’s me, George. Teddy Kennedy.”

“Teddy! Great to see you! What are you doing here?”

“I’m the Ghost of Government Past.”

“A ghost? But you’re all wet.”

“I drove here.”

“I see.”

“Come with me, George. We need to visit your past. There, look down. See?”

“Hey! That’s me, conducting my hearings on the Dietary Goals For America! Aw, boy, Teddy, weren’t we a bunch of optimists back then? So sure of ourselves, telling everyone else how to live right.”

“Indeed, Senator. You really put the ‘govern’ in McGovern, George.”

“Yup. We were so full of promise, always trying to do some good.”

“Yes, George, your intentions were good. No matter what else you see tonight, remember that:  your intentions were good.”

“Yeah, yeah, of course.  Huh … ”

“Something wrong, George?”

“I kind of forgot about this part. ‘A senator, unlike a research scientist, doesn’t have the luxury of waiting for every last shred of evidence to come in.’ Did I really say that?”

“Yes, George. But like I said, your intentions were good.”

“Of course.”

“I have to go now. Some of us are getting a game of touch football going. Have you ever tried that with ghosts you can’t actually touch? It’s weird. Goodbye, George.”

“Ted? Ted? Ahhh, I knew it. Back in bed. Just another weird dream. I really should get some sleep…”


“Hiya, George!”

“WHAT THE—Jerry? Jerry Ford?”

“The Ghost of Government Present, at your service!”

“Jerry, why are you here?”

“Well, the previous Ghost of Government Present had to resign, so—”

“No, no. Why are you here, in my bedroom?”

“Oh, right. I need to show you something. Come on, follow me. Down there. Take a look. ”

“Who are these people, Jerry? Why are you showing them to me?”

“That’s the Cratchit family, George. They’re having dinner.”

“Yes, I can see that. But why is the mother crying?”

“Because some government officials are threatening to take away Tiny Tim and send him to a foster home.”

“Which one is Tiny Tim?”

“That one.”

“Wow. Look, Jerry, I feel sorry for parents and all, but maybe they shouldn’t have nicknamed that kid ‘Tiny.’ He’s a blimp.”

“That’s why the government is threatening to take him away, George.”

“They’re taking him away for being fat? What is this, the old Soviet Union?”

“There’s no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, and there never be will be under a Ford Administration!”

“Uh, Jerry–”

“Sorry. But I still don’t see why that line got everyone so upset.”

“Jerry, why don’t the parents just encourage Tiny Tim to lose some weight?”

“They’ve tried, George. They’ve tried over and over. As soon as they realized he had a weight problem, they put him on a strict low-fat diet with plenty of grains. Cereals with skim milk. Sandwiches with lean meats. Pasta, potatoes, rice. Crackers and fruit juice for snacks. No eggs, no cream, no butter. Just like you recommended, remember?”

“Well, if that didn’t work, they should have tried just feeding him less. I mean, come on, Jerry—”

“They tried that too, George. They’ve gone from doctor to doctor, and they always get the same advice: put him on a low-fat, calorie-restricted diet. Poor Tiny Tim has spent half his life feeling hungry, but getting fatter anyway.”

“Bah, humbug.  If they were truly following my advice—”

“They did follow your advice, George. But since Tiny Tim is still fat, the government health experts assume the parents are lying. That’s why they want to take Tiny Tim away.”

“But this can’t be! My intentions were good! Please, Jerry, tell me there’s still some way we can … Jerry? Jerry, where did you go?!”

“I’ve got to go, George. The previous Ghost of Government Present called and told me he needs a big favor of some kind.”

“Jerry, wait, I can’t see the family anymore! What happened to Tiny Tim? Jerry, come back! I promise I’ll do better if you just give me another chance!”

“There you go again.”

“Wha … Ronald Reagan?”

“Yes. Although I’m currently starring as the Ghost of Government Yet To Come.”

“This is a complete nightmare!”

“Well, now, that’s what they said about Bedtime for Bonzo, but I think over the years the critics have come to appreciate—“

“Ronnie, please, I need to know what happened to Tiny Tim. Take me back to the family.”

“Too late, George. You’re in the future now.”

“Then take me to the family now … I mean, here in the future.”

“You sure you want to see that, George?”

“Yes, Ronnie. I must.”

“Okay, come along with me. See? There’s the family, sitting down for dinner.”

“But Tiny Tim’s chair is empty! Did he … did he …”

“Die? No, George. He lost weight, his blood pressure went down, his glucose stabilized, his kidney function returned to normal, and he started concentrating better in school.”

“Then where is he?”

“The government took him away, George.”

“But why?”

“Well, take a good look at the family dinner table, George.”

“Steak, broccoli, butter, some kind of cream-based dessert … wait, where’s the bread, Ronnie? The pasta? The potatoes? They’re eating way too much fat.”

“That’s why the government took Tiny Tim away, George. The Cratchits stopped following your advice and Tiny Tim got better. But the government doesn’t like it when people stop following your advice, so they took Tiny Tim away.”

“But I never wanted any of this to happen, Ronnie! My intentions were—“

“—were good. Yes, I know, George. There you go again, assuming good intentions mean good results. Like I always said, sometimes government is the problem.”

“I refuse to believe this is my fault, Ronnie. It can’t be.”

“Then you need to ask yourself a question: People have been following your advice for 40 years. Are they happier now than they were 40 years ago? Are they leaner than they were 40 years ago? Are they healthier than they were 40 years ago? Are kids concentrating better than they were 40 years ago?”

“Well, no, but—”

“Then George, maybe it’s time you just admit your advice was wrong. I’ve got to go now. I’m expecting Nancy to join me any minute.”

“Ronnie, wait! Don’t go! Ronnie, please, I want to go back! I want to go back!”


“Wha? My own bed … 7:00 a.m. alarm … so it was all just a dream! There’s still time.“


“Excuse me, young man! Up here!”

“Yes, sir?”

“Do you know a family with a boy named Tiny Tim?”

“Yes, sir. They live just down the road.”

“Here, I’m tossing you down a hundred-dollar bill. I want you to go out and buy the biggest, fattest turkey you can find and take it to Tiny Tim’s house.”

“Will do, sir.”

“And some ham. And some bacon. And some eggs and butter. And a nice selection of green vegetables. Can you do that?”

“Of course, sir. Right away, sir. Merry Christmas!”

“Merry Christmas to you, young man. And may God bless us, every one!”


58 thoughts on “How Tiny Tim’s Diet Got Scrooged

  1. Bex

    And today’s nugget of joy…..wonder which way the Food Standards Agency will go……the comments are split between pro and anti, but I really hope someone sees sense on this one and allows the vending machines (after all, they’re common in Europe, and we’re still part of the EU…..just!)

    Here’s the common-sense approach (will probably won’t prevail): anyone who believes raw milk is dangerous should be free not to drink it.

  2. AndreaLynnette

    If I ever start trolling vegan blogs and preaching to the readers, you have my permission to track me down and beat me about the head and shoulders with a large, blunt instrument.

    I have just the instrument for it: a #9 cast iron skillet handed down from my great-grandmother. She once used it to defend herself against a home-invasion, if family legends are to be believed.

    Is there any chance the home invader ended up sitting on the floor with a big lump growing out of his head and some combination of birds and stars orbiting the same head?

  3. Stephen Harris

    Did you hear that Norway is having a butter crisis! Apparently the whole country has gone low carb and as a result they’re running out of butter.

    There’s a marketing opportunity out there for American butter makers.

    We need a new Marshall Plan to get butter into Norway.

  4. Galina L.

    Actually, I am not that upset about the American fear of fat – no shortage of butter, local butcher gives me grass-fed fat for free, almost any low-fat diary product could be altered by adding heavy cream to it. Yes, I feel sorry for people who are unhealthy from eating junk instead of normal food, but people have choices, I made mine. I can’t choose for their children, and wishing for a super-wise government is waiste of time. Life is god already.

  5. The Older Brother

    “We need a new Marshall Plan to get butter into Norway.”

    Norway has already reduced import restrictions by 80% and are removing production caps. Sounds more like they’ve borrowed the Ludwig Erhard playbook — who stopped printing money and abolished wage and price controls (on a Sunday when his Allied overseers weren’t around to interfere) — kicking off the post WWII German “economic miracle.”


    We could use a few similar miracles in this country.

  6. Galina L.

    The more I think about the situation in Finland with LC activists who could loose their children, the more I think those activists probably didn’t get their priorities right. At first I was angry at the their government, however, when officials do something stupid and ill-functioning, it is sort-of to be expected (sure, Finns got it the next level). When parents act in a way, that put their children in a danger, they value their activism activity too much. Anyone could feed a child eggs and bacon as a breakfast food without posturing as a paleo-icon . They know what their government can do. Both sides involved in a war usually loose at list something, if it is a child, don’t go to war. Find a way to exercise your life-style without necessity of building a fort. It is not always possible to choose your government, country, century, (I started my life in a totalitarian country) the first priority for families should be the survival of the family, as opposite to proudly waiving your flag.
    Guys, when you feel like your children get from some outside places some junk, try to relax instead of getting angry, if it doesn’t cause an immediate problem for their health. When you can’t control your anger or irritation, just remind yourself about all unhealthy food you consumed as a child and young adult. Being a child of a zealot of any kind is unhealthy as well.

    I don’t know how vocal the parents were, but for a government to threaten removal of the children with zero proof of actual harm is outrageous.

  7. Nowhereman

    “I don’t know how vocal the parents were, but for a government to threaten removal of the children with zero proof of actual harm is outrageous.”

    See, here’s my problem with the Finnland situation; if they can take away a child on such a flimsy premise, then why oh why aren’t they also threatening to take away children in homes where the child really IS in danger? Like, why aren’t they threatening millions of smokers with taking their children away? Maybe because it’s easier to pick on the one or two familes than a literal army?


    I guess the idea is to make an example of them.

  8. Rip

    What, kids might not feel hungry again for several hours? Did these morons even stop to think about what makes us hungry in the first place…and then realise that the reason why we don’t hungry after eggs and bacon is BECAUSE WE’VE GOTTEN ALL WE NEED FROM THE EGGS AND BACON FOR A FEW HOURS?

    I know, it’s just plain nuts.


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