Free Markets, Free People

USDA


Nanny to nix bake sales?

In the seemingly never ending cavalcade of laws at the federal level that more and more deeply intrude on our private lives, it now may become illegal to hold school fundraising bakes sales, according to an AP article, depending on their frequency.

A child nutrition bill on its way to President Barack Obama — and championed by the first lady — gives the government power to limit school bake sales and other fundraisers that health advocates say sometimes replace wholesome meals in the lunchroom.

At the moment, the key seems to be the “frequency” with which the bake sales are held and the ostensible “reason” for this limiting of their frequency is … childhood obesity.  Yes, friends, we’re at war once again, and, as usual when the government commits to one of its social wars, the first casualty is your liberty:

The legislation, part of first lady Michelle Obama’s campaign to stem childhood obesity, provides more meals at school for needy kids, including dinner, and directs the Agriculture Department to write guidelines to make those meals healthier. The legislation would apply to all foods sold in schools during regular class hours, including in the cafeteria line, vending machines and at fundraisers.

It wouldn’t apply to after-hours events or concession stands at sports events.

Well it won’t apply to “after-hours events or concession stands at sports events” yet.  And yes, I mean that.  Implicit in this law is the belief that you cannot manage your family’s nutritional health.  And it is up to the government to manage it for you.  To do so they must treat you and your family like a 4 year old and tell you when enough of something is enough.  If you don’t believe me, read this:

Margo Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest says the bill is aimed at curbing daily or weekly bake sales or pizza fundraisers that become a regular part of kids’ lunchtime routines. She says selling junk food can easily be substituted with nonfood fundraisers.

"These fundraisers are happening all the time," Wootan said. "It’s a pizza sale one day, doughnuts the next… It’s endless. This is really about supporting parental choice. Most parents don’t want their kids to use their lunch money to buy junk food. They expect they’ll use their lunch money to buy a balanced school meal."

“Most parents don’t”? Really? Says who, Ms. Wootan?  Stats?  Polls?  Any conceivable “scientific” way of supporting that assertion?  If kids eat pizza twice a week for fundraising purposes, what business is it of yours?  If parents have a problem with that, they need to solve it, not you or that pseudo scientific busy body organization of yours.

And, of course, since Wootan and the busy bodies can’t make what they deem necessary happen, they lobby government to do it.  And government naturally complies.  

Of course government claims their intent is not to outright ban bake sales – a promise I simply don’t believe:

Public health groups pushed for the language on fundraisers, which encourages the secretary of Agriculture to allow them only if they are infrequent. The language is broad enough that a president’s administration could even ban bake sales, but Secretary Tom Vilsack signaled in a letter to House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Calif., this week that he does not intend to do that. The USDA has a year to write rules that decide how frequent is infrequent.

So there you go – the road to totalitarianism is paved with banal or seemingly trivial paving stones such as this.  They don’t intend to “ban” bake sales – but the law gives them the authority to do so.  They will decide, at least in the interim, how many bake sales a year they’ll allow you to have.  How benevolent.

"This could be a real train wreck for school districts," Lucy Gettman of the National School Boards Association said Friday, a day after the House cleared the bill. "The federal government should not be in the business of regulating this kind of activity at the local level."

Precisely.  But … when you decided it was a good idea to give the federal government control of our schools, you ceded local authority whether you like it or not.  If the USDA decides to ban bake sales and the Department of Education directs the schools to comply, you’re SOL, lady.’

How does that feel?  And isn’t this one of the things that was supposedly part of the message sent on Nov. 2nd – get government out of our lives and off our backs?

Finally, it’s not at all difficult to apply this very same template of creeping totalitarianism to health care anymore, is it?  They’ve taken control of it on a federal level like never before.  Is there anyone who doesn’t believe rules regulating how we take care of ourselves (or else) aren’t in the offing?  If not, then review the emphasis that the government wants to supposedly put on “preventive care” vs. reactive care.  If you don’t understand, it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee.   ObamaCare is the prelude to intrusion at a level you’ve never imagined.  It too will empower the federal government to reach down into your life as never before.  It will make banning bake sales seem trivial by comparison.

Nanny will take care of you – whether you need it or not, whether you want it or not and whether you like it or not.

~McQ


Trying to justify taxing “caloric sweetened beverages”

Or as you know them, soda’s, energy and sports drinks and fruit juices.

The USDA has gotten in the act – all in the name of science and health, of course – and has offered it’s opinion on the matter.  Linked is the report summary.  Here is what they found:

• A tax-induced 20-percent increase in the price of caloric sweetened beverages could reduce net calorie intake from all beverages by 37 calories per day for the average adult. The effects for children were estimated to be larger—an average reduction of 43 calories per day.

• By assuming that 1 pound of body fat has about 3,500 calories, and assuming all else remains equal, the daily calorie reductions would translate into an average reduction of 3.8 pounds over a year for adults and 4.5 pounds over a year for children.

• The weight loss induced by the tax could reduce the overweight prevalence among adults from 66.9 to 62.4 percent and the prevalence of obesity from 33.4 to 30.4 percent. For children, the at-risk-of-overweight prevalence would decline from 32.2 to 27.0 percent and the overweight prevalence would decline from 16.6 to 13.7 percent.

Let me summarize – a 20% tax would reduce consumption of these beverages enough to take “37 calories a day” out of your diet.  That resulting net loss of 37 calories would average 3.8 pounds for year and take the overweight population from 66.9% to 62.7%.

Really?  37 calories a day – the amount of calories you burn getting off your fat behind and walking to the fridge for another soda?  Overweight people normally ingest more calories a day than they burn.  And that caloric intake is usually well over 2,000 calories a day.  37 calories?  That’s a third of a granola bar, for heaven sake.

This is science?

Oh, wait – a couple of qualifiers:

1. A large group of individuals are overweight or obese by only a few pounds, and a small reduction in calorie intake could change their weight classification; and

2. Many overweight and obese Americans consume large amounts of caloric sweetened beverages. For example, 10.6 percent of overweight adults consumed more than 450 calories per day from caloric sweetened beverages— nearly three times the average amount of 152 calories consumed by adults.

And, of course, it is the job of government to help tax these people into a new weight classification?  Well of course it is – Congress just gave themselves the power to make it their business.

Of course this 37 calorie drop a day assumes that a) overweight people won’t change a thing other than dropping the consumption of “caloric sweetened beverages”, b) won’t attempt to fulfill their desire for sugary food with something else or c) won’t grudgingly pay the tax and continue their consumption habits .   The further assumption, of course, is they’ll lose the weight as a result of the negative incentive provided by a 20% tax.

Not only are these people marginal scientists, they seem to know very little about human nature.  On top of that, they certainly don’t seem to understand the political blowback something like this is likely to have. 

But, just the fact that the USDA is dabbling in studies about taxing sugary drinks should tell you all you need to know about the continued intrusive depths to which government now plans to go to regulate everything in your life. 

Freedom means the freedom to succeed and to fail.  It means as long as  you aren’t violating or intruding on someone else’s rights, you can pretty much do whatever you want – to include get fat on sugary drinks.  What it doesn’t mean is some outside agency deciding what is or isn’t good or healthy for you and deciding to tax you into the behavior it deems proper.

But that’s precisely what this “study” is all about.

Freedom is becoming a rare commodity in this land, and we need to understand that and fight against any and all attempted intrusions no matter how trivial or seemingly well intentioned.  Allowing the incremental encroachment of government in all areas of our lives is the sure way to kill freedom and put us well on the road to serfdom.

~McQ

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