Still More School-Lunch Nonsense

      141 Comments on Still More School-Lunch Nonsense

Back in April, I posted part of an email from a Fat Head fan I happen to have met in person, since he lives nearby:

My six-year-old niece Megan started school yesterday, her first day of school. She was already scared and upset and crying. After lunch, she went into orbit, threw up everywhere because she was so upset, and ultimately had to leave school. My brother, who has been looking desperately for work, had to cancel a “sure thing” job interview to go get her because the school was sending her home. Here’s the word from my dad on what happened:

What prompted the whole issue yesterday was Meagan’s teacher taking her lunch, which she had brought from home, away from her.  David [my brother] had packed yogurt and fresh fruit, which Meagan likes.  Her teacher told her mother that the school has to ensure that the children have a nutritious lunch, so they took Meagan’s yogurt and fruit and insisted she eat a corn dog.  What a brilliant plan from a so-called “educator.”

At the time, a couple of other readers wondered if the story was true.  I understand their doubt … after all, this doesn’t sound like something that should ever happen in a supposedly free country.

Well, we can put any lingering doubts to rest, because it happened again this week in a story that was widely reported.  Here’s part of a newspaper account:

A preschooler at West Hoke Elementary School ate three chicken nuggets for lunch Jan. 30 because the school told her the lunch her mother packed was not nutritious.

The girl’s turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice did not meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, according to the interpretation of the person who was inspecting all lunch boxes in the More at Four classroom that day.

The Division of Child Development and Early Education at the Department of Health and Human Services requires all lunches served in pre-kindergarten programs – including in-home day care centers – to meet USDA guidelines. That means lunches must consist of one serving of meat, one serving of milk, one serving of grain, and two servings of fruit or vegetables, even if the lunches are brought from home. When home-packed lunches do not include all of the required items, child care providers must supplement them with the missing ones.

That’s not a lunch I’d pack for my girls, but of course that’s not the issue here.  The issue is:  why the @#$% is some bozo from the federal government telling a mom in North Carolina what she may and may not pack in her own kid’s lunch?  And why are putting up with it?

The girl’s mother – who said she wishes to remain anonymous to protect her daughter from retaliation – said she received a note from the school stating that students who did not bring a “healthy lunch” would be offered the missing portions, which could result in a fee from the cafeteria, in her case $1.25.

Well, that’s just peachy that the school will “offer” the missing foods.  The only problem is that when government officials make you an “offer,” it’s an offer you can’t refuse.

“Hi, we’re from the government, and we’d like to offer you this approved lunch.”

“No thanks.”

“You don’t understand.  We’re offering it to you.”

“Yeah, I got that.  But I don’t want it.  My kid won’t eat that stuff anyway.”

“Madam, let’s try this again.  We’re offering you this lunch.”

“Uh … no thanks?”

“That will be $1.25.  If you don’t pay, there will be a series of demands and further fines.  If you choose to ignore them, this process will culminate with armed men showing up at your door.  We are the government, after all.  Now, would you like to take us up on our offer?”

WARNING:  HERE COMES THE POLITICAL RANT

One of the great mysteries I’ve yet to solve is the people I’ve met who fully understand how badly our government screwed up the official dietary guidelines, fully understand that the USDA is far more interested in selling particular agricultural products than in promoting health, and yet still believe a big, powerful, intrusive government is necessary to prevent people from engaging in behaviors or making decisions some of us don’t happen to like.  Then, after voting to grant government officials the power to insert themselves into our lives, they are shocked – shocked! – that the USDA would order school kids to pack a lunch that includes foods some of us may not want our kids to eat.

Here’s my question for those people:  What the @#$% did you think was going to happen?!! This kind of nonsense from a government empowered to sticks its nose in everyone’s business is not only unsurprising, it’s utterly predictable.

Yes, yes, I can hear the retorts already … oh, well, sure, but we still the government to regulate our food supply … blah-blah-blah …  government needs to help the stupid people who don’t know any better … blah-blah-blah … if we can just get the USDA to changes its policies … blah-blah-blah  … we just need to get the right people in there  … blah-blah-blah.

I’ve got news for you:  we’ll never get the right people in there.  The right people have no interest in wielding that kind of power over others.

People who’ve never read a single book on libertarianism and yet (stunningly) nonetheless imagine they know what libertarians think like to paint us as starry-eyed dreamers who believe businessmen are all kind-hearted angels … whereas they (not sharing our blissful ignorance) understand that without federal agencies issuing and enforcing a gazillion regulations, big bad business would run roughshod over us all.

That is not what libertarians believe.  The seminal work on free-market economics was The Wealth of Nations, written by Adam Smith in 1776.  Smith actually had a rather low opinion of the merchant class.  In chapter after chapter, he shared his observation that people (including merchants) operate out of their own self-interest, period.  Or if you prefer a more negative connotation, people act out of greed.

What Smith (unlike many contemporaries) also recognized is that government regulators are just self-interested as everyone else.  When governments are granted the power to regulate economic activities, he warned, it’s only a matter of time before the greedy businessmen and the greedy government regulators get together and screw the rest of us for their own benefit.  By stifling freedom and competition, regulators can make their hand-picked producers (and themselves) richer, while making the rest of the population poorer by denying them products that are better or cheaper or both.

Take government’s coercive powers out of the equation and all a merchant can do to you is offer you a product and hope you buy it.  (We’re talking about a genuine offer here, not the kind of “offer” we get from government officials.)  That requires businesses to compete with each other for customers, which in turn leads to better products, better service, lower prices, innovation and higher productivity.  In short, Smith argued that the economic system that produces the most wealth and the highest degree of consumer satisfaction is one based on voluntary exchanges – free markets.  Economic freedom makes the natural greed of the merchant work in our favor.

The attorneys who buy my docketing software can attest to this.  I produced a better, cheaper docketing system for trademark and patent attorneys.  I undercut my competition.  I did this not because I love attorneys, but because I want their money.  The attorneys benefited from my self-interest and “greed.”

Despite what some people will tell you, a market system based on voluntary exchanges does not mean that evil businessmen are allowed to screw people and get away with it.  If a business defrauds you, you didn’t volunteer for that.  If a product turns out to be faulty, you didn’t get what you agreed to buy, which means you didn’t volunteer for that.   If a product kills or maims you, you didn’t volunteer for that.  In any of those situations, the business should be rigorously punished.  That’s the government’s legitimate job – to protect you from violence and fraud.

A free market simply means that if I want to sell you a product or service and you want to buy it, no third party gets to step in and prevent us from making that voluntary exchange.  It also means no one gets to force us to make exchanges we don’t want to make … like, say, being ordered to buy a USDA-approved lunch for our children.

So what does all this economic theory have to do with the USDA and our inability to get the right people running it?  I’m getting to that.  Be patient.

As the great economics writer Thomas Sowell has pointed out many times, government agencies created to regulate a particular industry nearly always end up being run by muckety-mucks from that same industry – who then create policies to benefit the industry as whole or particular segments operating within it.  We just saw that again recently when Obama appointed an executive from Monsanto – one of the worst corporations on the planet — to a high-level post in the USDA.

So why does this always seem to happen?  Why do the foxes always seem to end up guarding the henhouse?  Why can’t we get the right people in those agencies?

It all gets back to people acting in their own self-interest.

Once a government acquires the power to regulate an industry, it also has the ability to rig the game in ways that can be worth millions to particular corporations or segments of that industry.  Being self-interested (and certainly not being stupid), the muckety-mucks from that industry recognize that if they can leverage government’s coercive powers, they can enrich themselves.   Are there competitors we don’t like?  No problem … we just need some health and safety regulations that cripple them.  Is our industry faltering, or just not making as much profit as we’d like?  Simple … we declare what we produce a public necessity and get some generous government subsidies.  In other words, if we can just take away other people’s freedom to engage in voluntary exchanges and make their own decisions, we can do really, really well for ourselves!

To acquire this economic leverage, the muckety-mucks buy political influence through campaign contributions, junkets to exotic places, or offers of lucrative jobs for retiring politicians and regulators.  The politicians and regulators are happy to let themselves be bought – it’s in their self-interest, after all.  In many cases, generous industry donors end up being rewarded by seeing their executives placed in high positions with regulatory agencies.  Those regulators certainly aren’t going to risk pissing off the industry that placed them in their jobs – after all, they’ll probably return to that industry when their government “service” is over.  It’s in their self-interest to play along.

If only some crazed regulator would actually stand up and declare, “I’m issuing this regulation to please the people who bought my influence with their hard-earned dollars,” I might the find practice barely tolerable.  But of course, that’s never what we’re told.  We’re told the gazillion new regulations issued every year are necessary to protect the public.  Riiiiight.

Protecting the public is the nominal excuse for all kinds of ridiculous legislation.  Back when fellow comedian Tim Slagle and I were producing a political comedy show called The Slagle-Naughton Report, one of our bits highlighted a new regulation in Illinois that made it illegal to charge a fee to braid someone’s hair without first attending beauty school and obtaining a license.  The regulation was rammed through at the behest of – you guessed it – beauty-shop owners who didn’t like the competition from cheap hair-braiding salons run by (horrors!) unqualified people — otherwise known as “poor people” and “immigrants.”

Now … can anyone explain to me exactly what threat to public health this regulation was intended to avoid?  (Our bit ended with Slagle announcing, “In a related story, five people were rushed to Northwestern Hospital this week with bad braids.”)  If you don’t like the way your hair was braided, you undo the braids and stop patronizing that shop.  End of story.  But thanks to a bit of influence-buying, the beauty-shop owners got their regulation passed … to protect the public, of course.

Over time, officially-sanctioned coercive power nearly always ends up in the wrong hands.  That’s why we’ll never, ever get the right people running the USDA.   The USDA  is now and always will be largely populated by people from the grain industry.  They will happily subsidize grains with your tax dollars, then happily order all schools, prisons, military bases and every other government institution to serve grains at every meal … an instant, huge, lucrative, reliable market, all created with the stroke of a legislative pen.  The industry is happy, the politicians are happy, and the contributions and post-Washington job offers will keep flowing.

And here’s the real kicker:  Most of these people probably consider themselves good public servants.  As Milton Friedman noted in one of his books, people have an inexhaustible capacity to believe that whatever is good for them personally is also good for the public at large.  Human beings are geniuses at justifying their own behavior.  (I was made even more aware of this after having children.)

You and I can be angry about it, we can bang our heads on our desks about it, we can blog about it, Facebook and Twitter about it, but we will never be able to out-bribe the likes of Monsanto, ConAgra and Archer Daniels Midland.  As long as the federal government has the power to order kids to include particular items in their school lunches, Big Food and Big Agriculture will always end up writing (if indirectly) the rules.

That’s why pizza is still counted as a vegetable.  That’s why if the big dairy producers in your state don’t want you buying raw milk from local farmers, raw milk will be declared a health hazard and banned.  That’s why whole milk is banned in schools, while low-fat chocolate milk sweetened with garbage produced by the Corn Refiners is okay.  And that’s why the parents of school kids are told if they don’t pack a government-approved lunch, they’ll be fined.

We will never change this nonsense by trying to convince the USDA their dietary advice is misguided.  They can’t be convinced.  It’s not in their interest to be convinced.   The only cure is to take away their power — and you will never take away the government’s power by asking it to pretty please do the right thing and only take away the freedoms you personally don’t think other people should have.  You take away government’s power by telling it @#$% off and leave all of us alone unless we’re actually harming someone.

In short, if you support government controlling other people’s choices, you have no right to complain when your choices end up on the verboten list.  Sieg Heil!

Okay, I’m done ranting … for now.

(Note to Rick Perry:  the next time a debate moderator asks you which three federal agencies you’d dissolve, the third item on your list should be the USDA.  Given that absolutely everybody needs to eat, I think it’s extremely unlikely we’d stop producing enough food if the industry were left to free-market forces.)

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141 thoughts on “Still More School-Lunch Nonsense

  1. DJ

    Brilliant rant, Tom… I couldn’t agree more. It absolutely kills me that people complaining about government having too much power in one area are the same people willing to hand total control over in other areas. You can’t pick and choose… either you want the government to butt out or you want them to have total control over everything. The same kind of people that want to be free to smoke marijuana (for example) are the ones doing most of the complaining about “evil corporations” and demanding our government(s) do something about them.

    Exactly. Once you give that power to others, you shouldn’t be surprised if they use it in ways you don’t like.

    Reply
  2. Johnathan

    Very, very nice rant.

    Politicians think we are not virtuous enough to govern ourselves, yet they are exceptions, qualified to rule over others.

    However, in spite of their guns and cages, their true power lies only in our willingness to grant them legitimacy. Your accurate portrayal of the politics of collusion between industry and regulators goes a long way toward undermining this public perception of legitimacy.

    Thanks.

    Reply
  3. Rusty Shackleford

    Excellent rant. One of my hobbies (I have a lot of free time) is trolling leftist/statist blogs and trying to point out the cognitive dissonance of calling for more regulation from the very firms who are being regulated. “Business can’t be trusted to self-regulate!” is the refrain. To which my reply is “Who writes the regulations?” Or calling for higher taxes whilst an administration whose policies you hate is in office (in New Zealand at least). At this point I’m usually politely asked to go live in Somalia with Ayn Rand if I don’t like government. Such is the intellectual level of state loving folk.

    Also, the ad on this page (for me) is one for McDonald’s new Big Mac wrap. You’re not secretly paid for by the fast foo industry are you Tom? ; )

    No, Google places ads here. They sometimes make strange choices.

    Reply
  4. norpan

    It’s equally bad in Sweden. Even though a big part of the population has realized that LCHF is a sensible idea, the official guidelines from Livsmedelsverket (the government agency for food safety) say completely otherwise.

    It even went so far in a televised debate this week that a professor working with child obesity said that it is “child abuse” to serve your children LCHF food.

    He also claimed that it is an “extreme diet” to avoid bread, rice, pasta and potatoes.

    The LCHF side of the debate tried to show them what the diet really is about: Lot’s of healthy food: meat, eggs, fish, vegetables etc. but to no real use.

    I guess that it’s hard to listen if you already made your mind up.

    That’s a useful debate, but it shouldn’t be happening at the government level. The government shouldn’t be telling people what to eat, period.

    Reply
  5. Sarah

    The school lunch incident didn’t surprise me in the least. Parents in the last few decades have handed over a tremendous amount of power over their children to the government. As long as it worked in their benefit, they didn’t care.

    As for the business aspect… I own two small businesses. One highly regulated by the state, the other by the fed. A couple of years ago, the state decided to change our training and licensing regulations. They decided that only two entities were capable of providing training. One of them was a state school and the other, a competing company whose owner just happened to be on the licensing and regulation board. When word of what they had passed hit the “street” there was an uproar within the industry. They were forced to change the training requirements when they realized we’d refuse to comply. Since they lacked the money for enforcement, they attempted to modify the regulations to keep those licensing fees rolling into the general fund. It pushed a lot of companies into the shadows and now I have to compete against companies that are not spending the time and money to comply.

    Some days, it would just be easier to work for someone else. Less stress, less unpaid hours spent complying with stupid government regulations.

    I guess you could start braiding hair for a small fee … no, wait …

    Reply
  6. norpan

    Oh sorry, I forgot to mention that this professor (Claude Marcus) also is on the advisory board for McDonalds and Wasabröd (a big bread company).

    And advocates Gastric Bypass operations for children. Currently he is involved in a project to test GBP on 13-18 year olds!

    Reply
  7. Greg

    Great post. I still can believe the school lunch insanity.  

    And it frustrates me when I hear people railing against big government, but not big corporations. Big groups of people are dangerous, period. Kudos for pointing out the collusion that goes on. I was just reading an article today about how big pharma continues to push the FDA to regulate vitamins and supplements more like drugs. Big pharma (just like big anything) doesn’t like the competition and has the power to do something about it.

    “The right people have no interest in wielding that kind of power over others.” So true. Nassir Ghaemi calls it the inverse law of sanity. And it’s not just government. You’ve probably read about the prevalence of psychopaths on Wall Street and in financial institutions.

    Indeed, but big corporations wield power by leveraging big government. Take away government’s power, and what could a big corporation do to you besides try to persuade you to buy its products?

    Reply
  8. Keith Sanvidge

    I thought they were just giving kids additional food to make up for the deficiencies. I didn’t realize they were actually taking their food away.

    As I was reading this post, my wife just told me that at one of the school’s here they were trying to take away a vegetarian girl’s food because there was no meat. The elementary aged girl called her parents on a teacher’s cellphone. The parents came to the school and threatened to sue so now the administration leave the girl alone.

    I mean what did they think was going to happen? The girl who is vegetarian by choice was suddenly going to scarf down a hot dog and realize the error of her ways?

    That’s why this a freedom issue. I wouldn’t put my kids on a vegetarian diet, but if vegetarian parents choose to do so, they should be left alone.

    Reply
  9. eddie watts

    very good summation there. here in the UK there is the press regulatory commission which is run by…the press.
    not even a joke

    Reply
  10. Andrew

    I don’t disagree with much of your rant but the facts in this case are not what they’ve been claimed to be. This is a subsidized daycare program in NC held in schools. Paid for by the State of NC to aide people with disabilities or low incomes. There was no “Federal Agent”, it was a teacher. It’s already been published elsewhere that the girl was not told to get a new lunch, just milk. She was confused (understandably so) and thought she needed to get a full lunch. I agree the USDA recommendations they follow for the kids are bull (I’d at least skip the grains part).

    For someone so capable of critical examination of other sources and claims, you didn’t bat an eye on repeating this one verbatim. The source is a republican congressman’s office reported in a conservative think-tank’s “newspaper.” Obviously the story’s been twisted from an ideological angle so that the black helicopter & Tea Party contingent can get all indignant.

    The teacher was acting at the behest of a government inspector. The program’s rules state that parents who don’t meet the guidelines will be “offered” the missing foods and then fined to pay for it.

    You’re also forgetting that I’ve been through this one myself. Our school sent a note warning us that when the government inspectors were in town, our kids’ lunches MUST include all the foods specified by the USDA. This isn’t made-up stuff.

    Reply
  11. Kevin

    Can I get an amen? Tom, if you can expand just a bit on your views on foreign policy we might just be able to get you a nomination to run for President. The girls would look cute in the White House!!! Have you ever had a helicopter? I think Chareva would make a great first lady and think of the influence you could have with the first low carb state dinners. Think about it, you could be a real life “Dave” (Kevin Kline’s role in the movie). The first President to emerge from the blogosphere!!!! Crazier things have happened and we see the results of that!!!!
    Think about it, would you?

    I’d never run for office. I’d hate the whole process.

    Reply
  12. DJ

    Brilliant rant, Tom… I couldn’t agree more. It absolutely kills me that people complaining about government having too much power in one area are the same people willing to hand total control over in other areas. You can’t pick and choose… either you want the government to butt out or you want them to have total control over everything. The same kind of people that want to be free to smoke marijuana (for example) are the ones doing most of the complaining about “evil corporations” and demanding our government(s) do something about them.

    Exactly. Once you give that power to others, you shouldn’t be surprised if they use it in ways you don’t like.

    Reply
  13. Johnathan

    Very, very nice rant.

    Politicians think we are not virtuous enough to govern ourselves, yet they are exceptions, qualified to rule over others.

    However, in spite of their guns and cages, their true power lies only in our willingness to grant them legitimacy. Your accurate portrayal of the politics of collusion between industry and regulators goes a long way toward undermining this public perception of legitimacy.

    Thanks.

    Reply
  14. janet

    Tom
    You have lost me now. You dont think this happened in the BushCO era? Silly boy. The entire fed is riddled with corporate buddies that Bush dropped in to damage this country and take our wealth away from the 99% and hand it over to the 1 %. Yoou libertarians think you are alone here ut i am a liberal and proud of it. Take a look at the libertarians you have to vote for? Not prime material and you cannot run a country by the libertarian way. What if wisconsin builds a power plant that sends a plume of crap your direction in whatever “haven” you have planted your sweet girls. Live and let live huh? Bet you would like a little regulation then from the EPA. That is just a simple way to see it so go ahead and deride me for that but i notice you present the same kind of simple comparisons and outcomes. I am much older than you and have been watching much longer. Sorry but the collective evil of the GOP is never mentioned here and the utter shit that comes out of the mouths of their current crop of mutants is the true danger to your girls. You have your issue and it is important but you cant see the forest for the trees young man. If it is entirely the big bad guvmint then get active and change it like am trying to do.

    1. Yes, the fed is corrupt. The fed is a government sanctioned monopoly and would not exist without government’s coercive powers. The country thrived quite nicely for 80 years without a central bank. If you’re worried about the fed (and you should be), then you should be happy that it’s the libertarians who want the fed abolished.

    2. Bush was not a libertarian by any stretch of the imagination. He was a big-government Republican.

    3. Read my post again. You’re one of those who clearly hasn’t read up on what libertarianism actually means yet still imagines you know what we believe. If a power plant sends plumes of poisonous gases my way, IT’S NOT A VOLUNTARY SITUATION and I am being harmed against my will. That means the power plant should be rigorously punished.

    4. Big government cannot be changed to be a Good Big Government. It can only be made smaller.

    Reply
  15. SnowDog

    Well said! One of your more brilliant rants.

    I would only change one thing:

    “You take away government’s power by telling it [to] @#$% off and leave all of us alone unless we’re actually harming someone.” I would say, “You take away government’s power by telling it to @#$% off and leave all of us alone unless we’re actually committing aggression.” Aggression is the act of threatening violence against someone else’s life, liberty, or property, and is the only type of harm that can be defined and applied equally to everyone. Otherwise, the government will tell you that you are harming your children when you feed them a high-fat diet, and then use this to justify mandatory lunch programs.

    There would be that problem of interpretation. By “harm,” I mean committing violence or fraud against an unwilling person.

    Reply
  16. Pat

    “I’ve got news for you: we’ll never get the right people in there. The right people have no interest in wielding that kind of power over others.”
    True everywhere for everything. When I taught community college, the department Chairs in science departments almost always got in by acclamation – which is the polite way of saying they were railroaded into the job. They wanted to teach their discipline,they did not want to be administrators, even when they were very capable at it. This made for very cooperative administration at the department level. Of course the College administration would have liked to see people who wanted to wield power, because then it was easier for administrative directives to be pushed at the departmental level. Instead they had Chairs who argued back at them 😉

    Mike Royko (brilliant, funny Chicago columnist for many years) once wrote that the people who want power are usually exactly the same people who shouldn’t have it, so we should fill seats in Congress with a lottery. Your number comes up, you’re now a legislator for a year. Then you have to go back to real life.

    Reply
  17. Brian

    So… can we assume this is a Tom Naughton endorsement for Ron Paul?

    I’m a big fan of Ron Paul. Unfortunately, he doesn’t stand a chance. There was another libertarian candidate nobody heard about — Gary Johnson, former governor of New Mexico. He wasn’t invited to the debates.

    Reply
  18. Rusty Shackleford

    Excellent rant. One of my hobbies (I have a lot of free time) is trolling leftist/statist blogs and trying to point out the cognitive dissonance of calling for more regulation from the very firms who are being regulated. “Business can’t be trusted to self-regulate!” is the refrain. To which my reply is “Who writes the regulations?” Or calling for higher taxes whilst an administration whose policies you hate is in office (in New Zealand at least). At this point I’m usually politely asked to go live in Somalia with Ayn Rand if I don’t like government. Such is the intellectual level of state loving folk.

    Also, the ad on this page (for me) is one for McDonald’s new Big Mac wrap. You’re not secretly paid for by the fast foo industry are you Tom? ; )

    No, Google places ads here. They sometimes make strange choices.

    Reply
  19. Matt

    You forgot to mention that the missing nutrition was apparently able to be extracted from three chicken nuggets. ? !

    The quality of the diet isn’t the issue for me. Even if the USDA were pushing paleo meals, it’s not their place to tell parents what to put in a kid’s lunch.

    Reply
  20. norpan

    It’s equally bad in Sweden. Even though a big part of the population has realized that LCHF is a sensible idea, the official guidelines from Livsmedelsverket (the government agency for food safety) say completely otherwise.

    It even went so far in a televised debate this week that a professor working with child obesity said that it is “child abuse” to serve your children LCHF food.

    He also claimed that it is an “extreme diet” to avoid bread, rice, pasta and potatoes.

    The LCHF side of the debate tried to show them what the diet really is about: Lot’s of healthy food: meat, eggs, fish, vegetables etc. but to no real use.

    I guess that it’s hard to listen if you already made your mind up.

    That’s a useful debate, but it shouldn’t be happening at the government level. The government shouldn’t be telling people what to eat, period.

    Reply
  21. Sarah

    The school lunch incident didn’t surprise me in the least. Parents in the last few decades have handed over a tremendous amount of power over their children to the government. As long as it worked in their benefit, they didn’t care.

    As for the business aspect… I own two small businesses. One highly regulated by the state, the other by the fed. A couple of years ago, the state decided to change our training and licensing regulations. They decided that only two entities were capable of providing training. One of them was a state school and the other, a competing company whose owner just happened to be on the licensing and regulation board. When word of what they had passed hit the “street” there was an uproar within the industry. They were forced to change the training requirements when they realized we’d refuse to comply. Since they lacked the money for enforcement, they attempted to modify the regulations to keep those licensing fees rolling into the general fund. It pushed a lot of companies into the shadows and now I have to compete against companies that are not spending the time and money to comply.

    Some days, it would just be easier to work for someone else. Less stress, less unpaid hours spent complying with stupid government regulations.

    I guess you could start braiding hair for a small fee … no, wait …

    Reply
  22. norpan

    Oh sorry, I forgot to mention that this professor (Claude Marcus) also is on the advisory board for McDonalds and Wasabröd (a big bread company).

    And advocates Gastric Bypass operations for children. Currently he is involved in a project to test GBP on 13-18 year olds!

    Reply
  23. Greg

    Great post. I still can believe the school lunch insanity.  

    And it frustrates me when I hear people railing against big government, but not big corporations. Big groups of people are dangerous, period. Kudos for pointing out the collusion that goes on. I was just reading an article today about how big pharma continues to push the FDA to regulate vitamins and supplements more like drugs. Big pharma (just like big anything) doesn’t like the competition and has the power to do something about it.

    “The right people have no interest in wielding that kind of power over others.” So true. Nassir Ghaemi calls it the inverse law of sanity. And it’s not just government. You’ve probably read about the prevalence of psychopaths on Wall Street and in financial institutions.

    Indeed, but big corporations wield power by leveraging big government. Take away government’s power, and what could a big corporation do to you besides try to persuade you to buy its products?

    Reply
  24. Keith Sanvidge

    I thought they were just giving kids additional food to make up for the deficiencies. I didn’t realize they were actually taking their food away.

    As I was reading this post, my wife just told me that at one of the school’s here they were trying to take away a vegetarian girl’s food because there was no meat. The elementary aged girl called her parents on a teacher’s cellphone. The parents came to the school and threatened to sue so now the administration leave the girl alone.

    I mean what did they think was going to happen? The girl who is vegetarian by choice was suddenly going to scarf down a hot dog and realize the error of her ways?

    That’s why this a freedom issue. I wouldn’t put my kids on a vegetarian diet, but if vegetarian parents choose to do so, they should be left alone.

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  25. eddie watts

    very good summation there. here in the UK there is the press regulatory commission which is run by…the press.
    not even a joke

    Reply
  26. Brian

    Tom said: “I’m a big fan of Ron Paul. Unfortunately, he doesn’t stand a chance”

    It is that mindset, reinforced by biased mainstream media outlets, which sows the seeds of apathy for so many others. “He has no chance”, “he’s unelectable”, “he’s a fringe candidate”, etc. You’re not being a realist by repeating such things, you’re making it a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    I’m a big fan of your movie and blog, but to dismiss it by saying: “Unfortunately, you don’t stand a chance against the USDA” would be giving up on a potential movement before it starts. Just look at the LCHF changes sweeping Scandinavia. That didn’t happen because people were playing at being “realists” and spouting nonsense about how useless it would be to go up against the big money grain lobby.

    “It does not take a majority to prevail… but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.” – Samuel Adams

    “Let it not be said that no one cared, that no one objected once it’s realized that our liberties and wealth are in jeopardy.” – Ron Paul

    I invite you to turn off the TV and get your news from more reputable sources. Ron actually has a very good chance of becoming the nominee, or at least controlling a brokered convention, despite what FOX/CNN/CBS/ABC/NBC like to tell you. If you want change, and you’re a self-described “big fan of Ron Paul”, it’s the wrong attitude to give up on him before you begin.

    Don’t get me wrong here. I’m rooting for him and I’ll vote for him. But I don’t think he stands a chance for exactly the reason you described: the media won’t treat him as a serious contender.

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  27. Richard

    what, you said
    “I’d never run for office. I’d hate the whole process”

    And thats why we’re stuck with the gov we have because people that are smart enough to make the right choices won’t run.

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  28. Rick

    Tom, I agree with everything you say, but think that sometimes its better to play the game rather than confuse or upset your child. In this case, all that seems to be required is that some raw veggies in a small container and a sealed container of long storage skim milk added to the lunch would meet the requirements. Just tell your child that they are there for decoration and you don’t expect or even encourage them to eat them. Government(and industrial) duplicity cries out for citizen to respond likewise.

    We filled our daughter’s lunch bag with the USDA-approved lunch for her school’s inspection day. We weren’t going to put a four-year-old in the middle of a fight she didn’t start. But I think this mom was taken totally by surprise.

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  29. FrankG

    I also applaud and thank Debbie for doing the right thing at her school! I’d suggest that a child’s meal, prepared for them [lovingly] by a parent, is an important link to home — an “hug” at lunchtime if you like, and not something to be tossed aside or dismissed as sub-standard.

    As for the USDA: it ought to be obvious — and yet seems to go unspoken too often — that their role is to promote and safeguard the interests of US food producers. How is that not seen by absolutely everyone, as a conflict of interest in regard to them setting guidelines for what is healthy to eat?!? I’m not saying that the NIH would be a better agency to do that job but at least there would not be such an obvious conflict of interest.

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  30. Andrew

    I don’t disagree with much of your rant but the facts in this case are not what they’ve been claimed to be. This is a subsidized daycare program in NC held in schools. Paid for by the State of NC to aide people with disabilities or low incomes. There was no “Federal Agent”, it was a teacher. It’s already been published elsewhere that the girl was not told to get a new lunch, just milk. She was confused (understandably so) and thought she needed to get a full lunch. I agree the USDA recommendations they follow for the kids are bull (I’d at least skip the grains part).

    For someone so capable of critical examination of other sources and claims, you didn’t bat an eye on repeating this one verbatim. The source is a republican congressman’s office reported in a conservative think-tank’s “newspaper.” Obviously the story’s been twisted from an ideological angle so that the black helicopter & Tea Party contingent can get all indignant.

    The teacher was acting at the behest of a government inspector. The program’s rules state that parents who don’t meet the guidelines will be “offered” the missing foods and then fined to pay for it.

    You’re also forgetting that I’ve been through this one myself. Our school sent a note warning us that when the government inspectors were in town, our kids’ lunches MUST include all the foods specified by the USDA. This isn’t made-up stuff.

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  31. Firebird

    Regarding Ron Paul, I’m hoping that the young people in this country who believe in him and vote for him will get the courage to run for office. A couple thousand Ron Paul – like legislators are better than one Ron Paul.

    That’s why it’s difficult to find good libertarian candidates. People who don’t like government usually don’t want to be part of it.

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  32. Kevin

    Can I get an amen? Tom, if you can expand just a bit on your views on foreign policy we might just be able to get you a nomination to run for President. The girls would look cute in the White House!!! Have you ever had a helicopter? I think Chareva would make a great first lady and think of the influence you could have with the first low carb state dinners. Think about it, you could be a real life “Dave” (Kevin Kline’s role in the movie). The first President to emerge from the blogosphere!!!! Crazier things have happened and we see the results of that!!!!
    Think about it, would you?

    I’d never run for office. I’d hate the whole process.

    Reply
  33. alex

    Thats fucking outrageous keep your hands off my kids and don’t even look at their food. But I guess thats the price you pay for pawning off your parenting responsibilities to “public education”.

    Why do policies with good intentions always produce such shit results.

    Because the coercive powers granted to government to promote those good intentions up being leveraged by people who operate in their own self-interest, not yours or mine.

    Reply
  34. Wes Shaffer

    It’s scary i’m glad I don’t have kids to have to deal with this nightmare. School lunches are a joke when I was in High school a few years back they turned the soda machines off because that’s not part of a nutritious lunch. I wanted to say well what food group does this $.75 bag of frosted mini donuts your selling belong in.

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  35. janet

    Tom
    You have lost me now. You dont think this happened in the BushCO era? Silly boy. The entire fed is riddled with corporate buddies that Bush dropped in to damage this country and take our wealth away from the 99% and hand it over to the 1 %. Yoou libertarians think you are alone here ut i am a liberal and proud of it. Take a look at the libertarians you have to vote for? Not prime material and you cannot run a country by the libertarian way. What if wisconsin builds a power plant that sends a plume of crap your direction in whatever “haven” you have planted your sweet girls. Live and let live huh? Bet you would like a little regulation then from the EPA. That is just a simple way to see it so go ahead and deride me for that but i notice you present the same kind of simple comparisons and outcomes. I am much older than you and have been watching much longer. Sorry but the collective evil of the GOP is never mentioned here and the utter shit that comes out of the mouths of their current crop of mutants is the true danger to your girls. You have your issue and it is important but you cant see the forest for the trees young man. If it is entirely the big bad guvmint then get active and change it like am trying to do.

    1. Yes, the fed is corrupt. The fed is a government sanctioned monopoly and would not exist without government’s coercive powers. The country thrived quite nicely for 80 years without a central bank. If you’re worried about the fed (and you should be), then you should be happy that it’s the libertarians who want the fed abolished.

    2. Bush was not a libertarian by any stretch of the imagination. He was a big-government Republican.

    3. Read my post again. You’re one of those who clearly hasn’t read up on what libertarianism actually means yet still imagines you know what we believe. If a power plant sends plumes of poisonous gases my way, IT’S NOT A VOLUNTARY SITUATION and I am being harmed against my will. That means the power plant should be rigorously punished.

    4. Big government cannot be changed to be a Good Big Government. It can only be made smaller.

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  36. SnowDog

    Well said! One of your more brilliant rants.

    I would only change one thing:

    “You take away government’s power by telling it [to] @#$% off and leave all of us alone unless we’re actually harming someone.” I would say, “You take away government’s power by telling it to @#$% off and leave all of us alone unless we’re actually committing aggression.” Aggression is the act of threatening violence against someone else’s life, liberty, or property, and is the only type of harm that can be defined and applied equally to everyone. Otherwise, the government will tell you that you are harming your children when you feed them a high-fat diet, and then use this to justify mandatory lunch programs.

    There would be that problem of interpretation. By “harm,” I mean committing violence or fraud against an unwilling person.

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  37. Pat

    “I’ve got news for you: we’ll never get the right people in there. The right people have no interest in wielding that kind of power over others.”
    True everywhere for everything. When I taught community college, the department Chairs in science departments almost always got in by acclamation – which is the polite way of saying they were railroaded into the job. They wanted to teach their discipline,they did not want to be administrators, even when they were very capable at it. This made for very cooperative administration at the department level. Of course the College administration would have liked to see people who wanted to wield power, because then it was easier for administrative directives to be pushed at the departmental level. Instead they had Chairs who argued back at them 😉

    Mike Royko (brilliant, funny Chicago columnist for many years) once wrote that the people who want power are usually exactly the same people who shouldn’t have it, so we should fill seats in Congress with a lottery. Your number comes up, you’re now a legislator for a year. Then you have to go back to real life.

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  38. gallier2

    so we should fill seats in Congress with a lottery.

    What you meant as a joke is in fact a quite serious proposition and historically has even existed. The original democracy, the Athenian democracy was such a system and it worked quite well, 300 years is something no other democracy ever achieved. It was quite resiliant to the influence of the ploutocracy and managed elegantly several of the deficiancies of our systems. Of course, the human rights were different at that time, slaves and women were not part of the agora, but these aspects were not part of the democratic rule at that time.
    There are some thinkers in France who are seriously proposing a political system based on the lottery, a little bit like for jury duty, but for representation in parliament. The main person proposing this is Etienne Chouard, which, in my opinion, was the main artisan of the French no vote for the European Constitution referendum. This guy has , thanks to his Web site and razor sharp analysis, managed to counteract the whole media propaganda about that dispictable treaty.

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  39. Brian

    So… can we assume this is a Tom Naughton endorsement for Ron Paul?

    I’m a big fan of Ron Paul. Unfortunately, he doesn’t stand a chance. There was another libertarian candidate nobody heard about — Gary Johnson, former governor of New Mexico. He wasn’t invited to the debates.

    Reply
  40. Brandon

    Tom, one of your best! And I couldn’t agree more. I am tired of the food gestappo telling me what I will and will not feed my kids. I was not pleased with what the mom sent in the lunch, but a. that is none of my business and b. it was a damn sure better than the processed chicken nuggets fried in franken veggie oil were for that little one. I will disagree, though. It was not a federal thug that did this. It was a local thug. Although, the local thug is certainly influenced by the federal counterpart.

    It was a local thug working at the behest of the USDA.

    Reply

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