Free Markets, Free People

Mona Charen


Nanny goes to the school cafeteria

I get so tired of these stories, but they have to be pointed out because they indicate a disturbing trend.  In this case, it’s just another in a long line of examples of bureaucrats unilaterally deciding to remove choice for everyone based on their arbitrary assessment of what is “good for you”.

The example this time is about some of the Chicago Public Schools, and in particular the Little Village Academy on Chicago’s West Side, have decided not to allow packed lunches from home.  This line in the story just drove me up the wall:

Principal Elsa Carmona said her intention is to protect students from their own unhealthful food choices.

It is like parents don’t even exist in her world.  It is like they should have no say in what their children eat if it doesn’t jibe with Ms. Carmona’s idea of what that should be.  Mona Charen calls it “coercive humanitarianism”.  I think that’s way too kind.  I call it bureaucratic authoritarianism and typical of petty bureaucrats who have the power to impose their will on others with little or no accountability requirements.

Perhaps the biggest point to made about this is parents are again marginalized with these sorts of decisions.  They’re forced to do what the bureaucrat decides they should do.  And it costs those parents who do take their child’s nutrition seriously and who do pack nutritious lunches the option (the freedom) to do so.

Of course, one supposes that part of the reason for imposing this unilateral ban on lunches from home is so the kids will “eat well”, yes?

At Little Village, most students must take the meals served in the cafeteria or go hungry or both. During a recent visit to the school, dozens of students took the lunch but threw most of it in the garbage uneaten. Though CPS has improved the nutritional quality of its meals this year, it also has seen a drop-off in meal participation among students, many of whom say the food tastes bad.

But as with most things, if you really drill down and “follow the money”, some of the bureaucratic insistence becomes a little clearer:

Any school that bans homemade lunches also puts more money in the pockets of the district’s food provider, Chartwells-Thompson. The federal government pays the district for each free or reduced-price lunch taken, and the caterer receives a set fee from the district per lunch.

And they really don’t care if the food goes in the child’s stomach or the trashcan.

Which brings us to this line in the story:

Such discussions over school lunches and healthy eating echo a larger national debate about the role government should play in individual food choices.

Frankly, I see no reason for debate – none of the government’s business.  I don’t need a super-nanny deciding what I can or can’t eat and I darn sure don’t want the government deciding what my children or grandchildren eat.

But … and you knew there was one … when government “pays” for health care, government will feel entitled and empowered to decide such things for individuals because bad decisions may affect your health and that would cost the government more than if you were forced to eat like it decides you should.

Yes there are national implications to this sort of bureaucratic nonsense, and somewhere out there in the bureaucratic/political incubator is a man or woman who will self-justify attempting to impose such a fundamental infringement on your freedom to choose for your own good.  And unfortunately many others will blithely go along.

~McQ


Our politically correct Orwellian national security

First they eliminated the fight against global terrorism and reduced it to collection of “overseas contingency operations”. Terror events are now called “man-made disasters”. We’re no longer confronted with “Islamic extremism”. How do I know this? Because it has been dropped from use as acceptably describing our enemy in the National Security Strategy . So has “jihad” and “Islamic extremism”. We now, apparently, confront “violent extremism”. I would appear that it can just pop up anywhere without any real basis for its being.

Mona Charen reports that the decision has been made to no longer describe rogue nation North Korea as a rogue nation. I have to tell you, if NoKo is a “rogue” nation, there are no rogue nations. NoKo has been a rogue nation since it became a nation. It is a tyrannical kleptocracy – a pirate state – but not “rogue”. Apparently that’s a bit to harsh. And we certainly don’t want to refer to Iran as that.

God forbid we actually call our enemies of the world that which they really are.  That might put them on notice that we’re on to their game and aren’t happy about it.

And there’s really no level to which this foolishness isn’t being extended. Heck even the GITMO inmates apparently need a name change:

The detainees in Guantanamo, too, have had a name change. They will no longer be called “enemy combatants.” The new name hasn’t been chosen yet, though cynics might just use “former clients of Obama Justice Department lawyers.”

Yes political correctness gone mad, but look where it is being applied. At the executive level of the government of the United States. Euphemisms that ignore the specific problem or nation in favor of non-discriminatory (everyone can be a latent “violent extremist” so we don’t have to specifically single out those who are) word salad.

Bottom line: We are fighting Islamic fundamentalist extremists who have had a jihad against us for decades. They are stateless terrorists. They get some of their support from rogue nations.

Why in the world is it so hard to say it like that? Or better yet, what’s the utility in ignoring it?  Why are the specifics of the truth deemed too offensive or antagonistic to state? And what purpose is served by ignoring those specifics in favor of broad categorical words that do very little to define the problem we actually confront?

And, finally, if those words are out of bounds, how does one put a specific strategy together to confront the real security problem facing us vs. some nebulous and useless piece of bureaucratic crap with this “approved” language which ends up doing a one-over-the-world hand-wave and calling itself our “strategy”?

~McQ


Trying To Sell The Big Lie

Mona Charen distills the big lie contained in the version of “health care reform” that the Obama administration is trying to sell:

He also claimed that his plan will 1) extend coverage to all; 2) force insurance companies to cover “at no extra charge” routine check ups and screening tests like mammograms and colonoscopies; 3) place limits on how much people can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses; 4) forbid yearly or lifetime caps on coverage — and 5) spend less than we are currently spending!

I touched on that yesterday in my post about Nancy Pelosi in unicorn land – “There’s a cap on what you pay in in premiums. There’s no cap on what you receive back.

Everyone understands that such thinking is what got us into the mess we’re in now with unchecked government spending piling up huge deficits. The fact that such thinking is still prevalent in the leadership of both the Congress and the Executive branch is what is scaring people more than anything. We know it, but they seem to not realize it yet. And we don’t understand how they can be that clueless.

The majority of the public knows what is being offered is just as unsustainable as Medicare and Social Security. And they recognize that the same entity that has mismanaged those programs is now aiming toward a takeover of the rest of health care. They also know that because what is promised is unsustainable, at some point in the near future new revenue is going to be required to pay for it. Finally, they know that the claim that it “won’t add a dime to the deficit” and “it will mostly be paid for by eliminating waste and abuse” in the present system is a lot of hot air.

In other words, most of the public knows inherently that as presented, this version of reform is all a grand but telling lie. Telling because it underscores the extent to which this Congress and this President are willing to go to pass their agenda. And it has become an issue of trust – or in this case, distrust.

It has also become a test of wills between a petulant president not used to being denied, a Congress run by the extreme left who are determined to pass their agenda while they have a chance and a people who are worried sick about the level of government spending and intrusion.

President Obama’s speech really did nothing to address those rising concerns or to allay those fears. In fact, he most likely increased them. And it was pretty ironic to hear the president lecturing others about lies when in fact he engaged in 45 minute lie.

What is being planned is not and cannot be “deficit neutral”. It will end up costing taxpayers billions if not trillions of dollars. What is being planned will not introduce “competition” or “choice”, but will in fact decrease both. And what is being planned will introduce a governmental bureaucratic nightmare in which privacy concerns will be completely disregarded as the IRS and others trade your information without your consent to ensure you’re not “gaming” the system or failing to follow orders.

As has been said in the past, it is clear that Americans want to see health care reformed. But it should also be clear that what Democrats are offering is not the reform the majority of people want.

A humble public servant dedicated to serving the people would have picked up on that by now. He or she would step back, reassess and, if necessary, start over. He or she would understand that an undertaking this large and complicated can’t be rushed or made to conform to some arbitrary legislative deadline. And, wanting what is best for the country, he or she would take the time necessary to propose, debate and craft legislation that meets the needs of the country and not his or her party.

A party politician would do precisely the opposite – and that’s what we’re seeing now.

There is a path to common sense reform that will, in fact, increase both competition and choice. The problem, of course, is it doesn’t involve much government. I say problem because it seems clear, despite glib assurances otherwise, that any solution this administration and Congress are going to come up with will include government to an extent never before seen – come hell or high water.

More government is not the solution to health care reform. Less government is. And until that is realized by those in power, they will continue to see a push back. They’ll also be called liars for as long as they continue to push the big lie they’re now trying to sell.

~McQ

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