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April 11, 2011


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Does this nanny state critique ever reveal itself in regards to gay marriage or is a nanny someone who tells you you can't do things that you don't agree with?

John Singletary

Also, don't school vouchers come from "The Nanny State?"


Nice post, Calvin!

I think you nail part of the problem -- but it's also more complicated than government-is-bad. The culprits here, I think, are a couple of right-wing darlings: (1) local control of schools and (2) agricultural subsidies-plus-the overweening influence of big agriculture on our political system. The solution is, consequently, both more and less government.

We need, first, to cease using the schools as dumping grounds for our farm subsidized surplus products. Nutrition must take priority over agricultural profits. I have no "beef" with you there -- government is a problem in this respect, because it's essentially been captured by a powerful private industry. But we also need to have much heftier federal nutritional standards, to ensure that school meals are top-notch healthy, and don't instead give our kids diabetes. To that end, it would be helpful to bring people like Jamie Oliver in to make the food that local districts are too happy to sell to kids taste better and have greater nutritional value. Yet some local school districts have been resistant to such efforts. Finally, we need the helping hand of government in a larger way: we need to really, really push nutrition against all the countervailing messages kids get from advertising. Personally, I'm for banning soda. But more realistically, the need for a soda, sugar, and junk food tax is pretty plain. Only if we do that, and make kids not crave that crap, and make parents really understand how much harm they are doing their kids when they allow them to eat less than optimally, will we begin to make a dent in our healthcare crisis.

The proper role of government is a complicated thing. Government is capable of doing a very good job -- particularly because the free market is one of the tools it can use; you have to wear ideological blinders to think that government or markets are inherently good or bad. A sense of judgment is required, as well as an assessment of the scope of the problem we are facing.

Hazel Meade

Agriculture subsidies are right-wing? I thought they were part of our blessed New Deal heritage.

Actually, I suspect the unionized kitchen staff is as much behind the ban as the food contracter. If schools are really concerned about children's health, they would kill the hot lunch line and go for a cold sandwich line and a salad bar.

Why does this not happen? Because cold sandwich lines and salad bars require no cooking. Which means you don't need a kitchen, or a kitchen staff, which means that in order to kill the hot lunch line, you have to fire SEIU employees.

And since public sector unions are sacred, and since they have so much local power over the school districts (being allied politically with the teacher's unions), nobody is going to *touch* the hot lunch kitchen. And the result is, that we get a concept of "healthy" eating that relies on hot-food for lunch - a concept they no sensible adult would apply to himself if he or she were dieting.

Oddly enough, some schools are starting to add breakfast an dinner to the school menu, at the behest of the public sector unions. No doubt, the breakfast will include such healthy menu items as pancakes, bacon, scrambled eggs, french toast, and hashbrowns. I bet they throw in a symbolic bin of oatmeal just to claim that it's healthy too.

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