Free Markets, Free People
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.