Free Markets, Free People


Michelle Obama “We can’t just leave it up to the parents”

That’s a quote from Michelle Obama during the signing of the Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act.  It is also a quote out of context.   So let’s be fair – here’s the entire quote:

“But when our kids spend so much of their time each day in school, and when many children get up to half their daily calories from school meals, it’s clear that we as a nation have a responsibility to meet as well,” Mrs. Obama said. “We can’t just leave it up to the parents.  I think that parents have a right to expect that their efforts at home won’t be undone each day in the school cafeteria or in the vending machine in the hallway.  I think that our parents have a right to expect that their kids will be served fresh, healthy food that meets high nutritional standards.”

Unlike it is being characterized in some places, she’s essentially claiming it is the job of government to aid parents in ensuring that children are properly fed at school.

Hate to be a party pooper, but in reality it isn’t the job of any government our founders envisioned.   It is a job that government has assumed because a) it put itself in charge of schools and b) it decided it had to feed children while they are at school.

In fact, as benign as you may consider that, it is just another indication of the creeping reach of government.  Michelle Obama is using the force of law to do what she and the legislators who approved this bill have decided constitutes “good nutrition” regardless of what parents think.  The fact that it may actually be “good nutrition” and a benefit doesn’t change the fact that parents wishes or desires aren’t a part of this at all. 

In fact, what most parents think they have a “right” to is deciding what their children will or won’t do, eat, participate in or undergo.  Somehow government constantly wedges its way into this “right” and attempts to usurp a lot of those decisions.  And it is when it finally establishes that position of power that it begins banning things like bake sales in schools and the like.

I know that most are going to view this law as a “good thing”.   But looking at the following, you tell me what say parents are going to have concerning this program:

The law increases spending on school nutrition programs by $4.5 billion over ten years and encompasses a range of provisions, including offering qualified children breakfast, lunch and dinner at school, as well as meals during the summer. It also includes a pilot program for “organic foods.”

No one wants hungry or malnourished children.  But for the most part, given the other food programs that are available to single mothers and low income families, I would guess the problem is vastly overstated.  This is feel good legislation that lets the do-gooders pat themselves on the back and adds yet another layer of government intrusiveness.  It also assumes more and more responsibility for the children of others while requiring less from the parents.  In essence, and as we all know, there is going to be a certain segment of the population that abrogates their responsibility to feed their children – when they’re perfectly capable of doing it — to take advantage of such a program when in fact they could (and should) shoulder the responsibility themselves (not to mention the bonding benefits of the “family dinner”).  And it thus becomes just another dependency welfare program at that point.

People who agree with this sort of interventionist government program are going to claim the usual – $4.5 billion is but a drop in the budgetary bucket and it is “for the children”. 

Of course it takes many drops to fill a bucket, and no one said creeping tyranny wouldn’t come cloaked is seemingly benign programs.  Personal responsibility, of course, is not one of the virtues this sort of a program encourages.  And that is a virtue that government should be stressing instead of further inserting itself in our lives.

~McQ

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31 Responses to Michelle Obama “We can’t just leave it up to the parents”

  • I said to misef when I heard this yesterday, “That will make McQ’s noggin spin like a top!”
    I knew that, because that was the effect on my noggin.
    IF…IFFFFF….you accept her predicates, this is not irrational.
    On the other hand, if you believe there is NO role for BIG CENTRAL GOVERNMENT in our primary and secondary school systems (and precious little in advanced education), then this is exactly what it seems…the Collective reaching further down into the family to assert control.
    My position: In most school districts in the U.S., having a child in a public school is a form of abuse.

  • Why is this a problem? “when many children get up to half their daily calories from school meals”
    Why? Because government provides those meals!
    Why? Because liberals conspire with the farm lobby. Liberals can trumpet “solving” a problem. The the farm lobby wins a guaranteed market at a guaranteed (i.e. non-market) price for their products.
    I don’t oppose salad bars in school cafeterias. But anyone who has ever worked with produce can tell you they are costly. Produce has a short shelf life and often has to be thrown out if it is not consumed within the day. In other words the waste produced by salad bars is much greater than with prepared meals. (Maybe the farm lobby views this is a feature, not a bug.) Also note, self service lines tend to produce more waste as well. There is no drill sergeant standing at the end of the line repeating the immortal phrase, “Take all you want. Eat all you take.” There are also food safety complications which should be obvious.
    Lastly, the law jumps over the “organic” shark. The USDA can’t even define how the word can be applied. I would be inclined to believe that this is more in the line of purchasing an indulgence, but then at root it’s more likely to be a means for the “organic” farming interests to win a place at the table.
    This program exemplifies what Americans see as a fundamental failing of the federal government. Why is the First Lady involved in this problem? I suspect because it is a problem where she can be seen to do something. You can pass a program and proclaim “mission accomplished”.

    • I suggest you check the history or the school lunch program when assigning the cast of characters for a conspiracy.
      The school lunch program was launched by the Dept. of War after World War I in response to the large number of conscripts who were turned away due to substandard health, mostly attributed to poor diet.
      Sure, the Dept. of War is no more, and the program has been co-opted by virtually every “do-gooder” group.

  • “We Can’t Just Leave It Up To The Parents.”

    This is a great example of either a “Freudian slip” or a ameuter politician.
    Any decent politician would have said …

    “We Have To Help The Parents.”

    … or my personal “chalkboard screeching” line …

    “It’s For The Children”

  • ‘”The law increases spending on school nutrition programs by $4.5 billion over ten years and encompasses a range of provisions, including offering qualified children breakfast, lunch and dinner at school, as well as meals during the summer.”

    And why would this be a problem?  heh – I have to ask why the government is making sure the kids get three squares a day for the kids.  Why is THAT the job of the government?  Let’s step it further,  If they can feed these kids, why is it they’re not feeding the homeless?  The indigent?  The unemployed, the illegal immigrants undocumented workers and their families,  or even the too lazy to work…  Isn’t it wrong that these people “go to bed hungry” in America!

    And I’m suspect of the “go to bed hungry” argument too.  There are times I can guarantee my growing boys, if you’d have asked them at the time they were going to bed, might have claimed they were “hungry”.   If you’re taking your survey result from the kids, and you’re asking any form of that question….a lot are going to tell you they went to be hungry once in a while, whether there was food in the fridge or not (usually produce, you know something you can’t unwrap and pop in the microwave, or didn’t come in a bag, all hot and ready to eat)

    What responsibility do the parents have if the school system is feeding Johnny three meals a day, and during the summer too!  huzzah!
    Why don’t we just turn Johnny over to the government to raise, I mean, we can probably clothe him too while we’re at it, and good Lord, suppose his parents are teaching him to be self reliant or something, and that leaning on the government for all good things is not a good thing.  “We can’t just leave it up to the parents.”, we might end up with a generation of tea-baggers who view government with some distrust and want to keep as many of their dollars as they can instead of funding our wise and benevolent social programs!

    • Given the current levels of obesity, it might be a good thing that some of these people “go to bed hungry” in America!

      • Yes, record numbers of obese children, and record numbers of children going to bed hungry.  No wonder the Dems are working so hard to save us – clearly the ‘rich’ need to be saved from themselves so they stop eating so much, and we can use the money that we took from them in saving them to feed the kids going to bed hungry, and ‘level’ the eating field.    It will be wonderful!  wonderful!
         

    • Funny, but there is a strong positive correlation between obesity and “American poverty” (which anywhere else, including Europe, is considered a middle-class standard of living).
      Odd…
      And, I am being soberly assured by various extremely sincere actors on my TV, 25% of American children face hunger every day.  BULLSPIT! I calmly reply…

      • I was talking to a guy who was raising money for one of the “food for the hungry” groups, and pointed out the obesity of the poor as a reason I direct charity resources in other directions.

        His response was classic goalpost shifting. He said the obesity was because they didn’t understand good nutrition, so a lot of the money went to “education” for repairing that problem.

        In other words, a lot of the money went to indoctrination by well-meaning leftist fools who believe as a matter of faith that organic, low-fat, low-protein, the-closer-to-pure-vegetarian-the-better diets should be adopted by everyone.

        At least that’s one form of indoctrination that gains limited traction.

        • REALLY poor people know how to eat well.  Always have…
          Rice and beans make a complete protein source for humans.  Corn adds to  that, and brings in a lot of good oil (for fat) which we also need.
          But I see a lot of folks with assistance cards who are buying stuff I figure is too expensive for me to buy regularly, and requires little or no real preparation.  Plus beer.
          Ah, well…

          • “But I see a lot of folks with assistance cards who are buying stuff I figure is too expensive for me to buy regularly,”

            Yes, interesting to see the things WIC will pay for here in Texas, no?  I’m constantly amazed, things that I sure as hell was NOT buying during my stint as an unemployed (full disclosure, the wife still had a job)  member of the community.  I did a double take the other day on the $4.00+ gallon of organic milk that was marked WIC approved.

          • Steaks make good trade-goods…
            NTTAWWT…
            I ate on $5.00 a week in my first semester of law school…in the 90s, so I kinda know whereof I speak.

          • I seem t recall that Wm. Buckley who proposed that food stamps be replaced with a basic basket of food: recipients would get regular supplies of such things as dried beans, bulgur wheat, and other nutritious but rather bland food… AND NOTHING ELSE.  They would hardly starve, but their diet might be such that they would do whatever they could to get the hell off of assistance ASAP so they could start enjoying the junk food that we Americans love so much.

  • Fact is that if you want your child to eat a hot meal, or a salad, then school lunches are probably not a bad idea. I don’t expect them to be entirely healthy – kids don’t like to eat tofu salad. No news there. My kid eats at school and they have a salad bar where you have to take 2 items from it. No big deal . Kids throw away food that Mom gives them too. I know this because I did that as a kid. Its up to the parent whether to send a lunch or eat the school lunch, and I am fine with that.
    But dinner as well as breakfast and lunch? Too much. Organic instead of regular? Too much.
    p.s They still serve nachos and pizza, so our cultural heritage of cheese and carbs is still in good hands.

    • ..and don’t deny you wouldn’t want to eat a school lunch pizza square right now. Mmmmm. Salisbury steak? Not so much.

      • Heh.  As a kid my favorite school lunch day was the pizza square + tater tots + chocolate milk.  Of course, I also, ahem, have a weight problem!  But my skinny friends also ate that lunch…

  • The fact that it may actually be “good nutrition” and a benefit doesn’t change the fact that parents wishes or desires aren’t a part of this at all.

    Precisely.

    This is the same group that thinks that they have the right to teach young kids sex ed, despite the wishes of the parent.  This is the same group that believe that they have the right to teach morals and beliefs that are contrary to the wishes of the parents.

    They aren’t there to help parents.  They are there to take the place of parents and the hell with what parents want and think.

     

  • I wouldn’t be surprised if 25% of kids were “hungry” yesterday.  Heck, I was hungry myself at about midnight.  And that’s part of the problem.  “Hunger” and “undernourishment” are two completely different things, and they are measured differently.  Hunger is usually measured by phone surveys (“Have you been hungry in the last 24 hours?”  My answer would be “Yes!”).   Undernourishment is probably measured by either surveys of caloric intake, or by examination of body weight and height against a “healthy” standard.

    The problem arises because hunger is used as a proxy for undernourishment.  Undernourishment is a genuine need for more calories, while hunger is merely the sensation that you need more calories.  But obviously, one can be hungry and over-nourished at the same time.

    The bigger dietary problem among urban kids is likely overnourishment: too many calories.  I suspect undernourishment is very small problem.  Hunger, per se, is not a problem at all.  It’s merely a sensation.

    —Tom Nally, New Orleans

    • But, Tom…  Is it REMOTELY likely that 25% of American kids are hungry because their people cannot afford to feed them OR find programs that do?!?!?!  I mean, NO FOOD IN THE HOUSE???
      Please…
      And isn’t NOLA one of the highest cities for food stamp enrollment per capita…?
      And hasn’t that been true for freaking DECADES?

      • Rags, that’s my point.
        Hunger and undernourishment are two different things, but the former is used as a proxy for the latter.
        Hunger indicates a desire for more calories.  It doesn’t indicate that one is undernourished.  Heck, one can be immensely overnourished and still be hungry.  Be wary of “studies” that focus on hunger without mentioning the more fundamental variable: nourishment.  Hunger is very common (I was hungry about an hour ago).  Genuine undernourishment is uncommon in modern America.
        It doesn’t look to me like you and I disagree.
        —Tom Nally, New Orleans
         

  • Watch for the amount of waste and fraud this four and a half billion dollar program leads to.
    Watch.

  • Somebody eating incorrectly ? Hey, just report them …

    Citizen Concepts announces the launch of PatriotApptm, the world’s first iPhone application that empowers citizens to assist government agencies in creating safer, cleaner, and more efficient communities via social networking and mobile technology.  This app was founded on the belief that citizens can provide the most sophisticated and broad network of eyes and ears necessary to prevent terrorism, crime, environmental negligence, or other malicious behavior.

    This is destined to be renamed “SnitchApptm”

  • I thought libs were all about “keep your laws off my body”.  The stomach isn’t part of the body???

    • I’m reminded how closely this tracks the Nazi nanny state.  People forget…or never knew…that Nazis were rabidly anti-smoking, pro organic food, anti processed foods, and vegetarian.
      That knowledge needs to be spread around a bit, seems to me.

    • “It’s for the Children!!!!”

      Well, the ones we don’t abort (thwack…..ouch!)
      …hang on….(flip, flip, flip, flip)….ah, I understand, wrong terminology…
      I meant, the ones we choose to have.

  • Yes We Can!

  • “I seem t recall that Wm. Buckley who proposed that food stamps be replaced with a basic basket of food: recipients would get regular supplies of such things as dried beans, bulgur wheat, and other nutritious but rather bland food… AND NOTHING ELSE.  They would hardly starve, but their diet might be such that they would do whatever they could to get the hell off of assistance ASAP so they could start enjoying the junk food that we Americans love so much.”
    Now there are companies that specialize in delivering boxes of seasonal veggies to yuppies. Why not have them supply food stamp customers as you mention. Perhaps have a smaller cash card that can be used for “elective” purchases as well.

  • The fact that it may actually be “good nutrition” and a benefit doesn’t change the fact that parents wishes or desires aren’t a part of this at all.

    I beg to differ, having recently participated in a discussion about school lunch on a school-parent Facebook page.  Parents, in large numbers, definitely DO desire that their kids’ nutritional needs be entirely taken care of at school, by the school.  That the decision of what their children eat is being taken out of their hands is, to them, a feature not a bug.

    That being said, I think it’s a move in the wrong direction.  While I appreciate that school children need food to learn, and that some small minority of parents don’t or can’t provide enough nutritious food for this purpose, the solution isn’t to force everyone else to comply with ever-more-restrictive-and-expansive nutritional standards, but for the school to follow up and make sure parents who aren’t providing are aware of existing community resources to help them provide: free/reduced lunch programs, food stamps, food pantries, etc.  Unfortunately that’s never going to happen, because it’s much easier for the school to be food nazis than to actually, you know, talk to parents.  Ugh! I mean who wants to do THAT? That would involve, like, picking up a phone or something, and talking to somebody who might not react by kissing your feet.

    The job of the public schools would be sooooo much easier if it weren’t for those darn kids and their parents!

    • I don’t think we do differ. Parents who want to turn over feeding to the school are taking advantage of a situation, but that doesn’t mean their wishes or desires were considered at all by the government. They may like the outcome, but the outcome wasn’t predicated on their like or dislike of the program.