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. 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
  2. gallier2

    Ron Paul doesn’t stand a chance, because the establishment will do everything necessary to not let him through. The evidence of vote fraud in Ohio and in Maine recently is really strong, but nobody cares. Of course to see this evidence one has to do the same thing as to get good nutrition advice, don’t watch, read, listen to main stream media, they are part of problem. By going to alternative media you will risk being confronted with a lot of stuff that is also bullshit, but that is not a problem, it’s by design: it’s called disinfo or limited hang out. With some experience, you can learn to see the blind spots and the obvious red herrings. An example to illustrate what I mean. Nexus magazine is an alternate source of information, there are a lot of good and true articles in it (The Oiling of America from Mary Enig was published in it for example http://www.whale.to/a/enig.html), but there is also a lot of woo-woo and esoteric stuff and even outright ridiculous things (Apollo hoax, nazi flying saucers), the purpose of which is to ridicule any story in by association. Guilt and ridicule by association, Mary Enig’s article which is really solid, can be dismissed easily because of that. Most alternative media are of that nature to varying degrees and one must check the background of everything to see who pays the piper.

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  3. J. B. Rainsberger

    Very nice piece. Agreed. Minor edit: “Sieg heil”.

    Open Question: What’s one effective way to tell the USDA to @#$! off that would help these otherwise helpless preschoolers against being force-fed chicken nuggets?

    I have to say, this article justifies two important life decisions: (1) never to move to the US; (2) never to have children. Sadly, (1) doesn’t help us much, as Canada tends to follow the US in disturbingly many policies.

    It would require parents everywhere standing up and saying no, then threatening to toss legislators who allow this to happen out of office. Then the self-interested move for legislators is to listen.

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  4. Debbie

    I have lunch duty every day at a Title I school with the kindergarteners and fifth grade students. It is an unwritten policy that if we see a child with a “substandard” lunch from home, such as a bag of chips and a soda, we are to make the child get in line to get a school lunch. Until a few months ago, I followed that policy. I thought that the “meat” in their school lunch was at least better than chips and soda. But then one day I looked at the little kindergartener eating his Mexican Concha (a shell shaped pastry) and horchata (rice milk), I realized, “Who the heck am I to say what that child should eat?” It’s none of my business. His parent packed that for him to eat. I don’t know their ideas, family culture, or economic situation. Since that day, I do not say anything about a child’s lunch and I told everyone I work with why I don’t say anything anymore. I am happy to say that the people who have lunch duty with me are doing the same thing.

    I applaud your willingness to ignore the rules.

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  5. FrankG

    “People who don’t like government usually don’t want to be part of it.”

    If I understand it correctly: the earliest democracy in Athens used a system where it was a citizen’s duty to serve some time in government (along the same lines as jury duty) so elected representatives were rarely those who wanted to be in power.

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  6. Jesrad

    “Why do the foxes always seem to end up guarding the henhouse?”
    Because the very existence of a position of power will attract people willing to exploit that power MORE than anyone else. The “right people” do not benefit from power BY DEFINITION… The foxes stand so much more to gain from veing appointed guardians of the henhouse, that they’ll stop at nothing to get the position, whereas fighting them and not exploiting the position means a net loss for anyone else.

    Thomas Jefferson once said that “most bad governments are the product of too much government”, but the reality is that ALL bad goernments are the product of the existence of any form of government at all.

    I don’t advocate zero government, but I agree with Jefferson that government’s job is to prevent people from harming each other, and otherwise to leave them alone.

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  7. Melinda P

    Excellent post. I completely agree. I feel like we are paying for the sins of others who have gone before us and made very bad decisions to allow government to get bigger and bigger. And then on top of that, so many people have been indoctrinated with “big government is necessary” ideas – many have been fed “the government should take care of me” entitlement junk. So, while they think they are thinking for themselves, they’re just doing exactly what the people in power want them to do. We are becoming a paralyzed people, more and more dependent on a government who rarely does what is best for its citizens. It frustrates me so much, sometimes I have to completely detach myself for a while, or else I might explode….

    The big-government folks were smart about it. They took away freedom a little sliver at a time.

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  8. deMuralist

    The thought that someone would have the power to overrule myself or my husband in matters concerning my child’s food literally makes me feel sick to my stomach. Luckily my children are past that age, so we dodged a bullet there.

    The soda machines in my son’s High school now only contain “healthy” drinks…water, sports drinks, diet sodas, grape juice, etc. Not sure who decided what went in them. The vending machines are out.

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  9. Don in Arkansas

    Our freedom is directly dependent on how much we are willing to let our government ‘protect’ us. Your statement “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.” is right on target. People who are capable of doing a good job are generally smart enough to stay away from politics.

    And for the most part, we’re left with the control freaks running for office.

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  10. Nina

    Who over the pond is going to sweet talk Michelle? Do you think Jimmy Moore has the honeyed charm to do it? I’d love to hear him interview her on the podcast.

    I thought we, in the UK, were bad, but this is seriously scarey.

    Nina

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  11. Gal @ 60 in 3

    The school has a right to remove harmful things from lunches. For example, if my child showed up to school with a bottle full of prescription pills or a can full of dog food then no one would be arguing that the teacher was doing his or her job by removing this from my child.

    The problem here is in giving the teacher too much leeway and in making the system too complex (which is my problem with government in general). Instead of saying to teachers “remove obviously harmful things from the hands of children”, we tell them “make sure kids follow these nutritional requirements which are difficult to understand and which were written by bureaucrats more concerned with the agricultural industry than with kid health”.

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  12. Jennifer Snow

    It’d be nice if regulators were actually motivated by self-interest, because then you could rationally explain to them why regulations aren’t beneficial and change their minds.

    The truth isn’t that regulators look out for “special interests”, but more that their activities are acephalous, unrelated to reality, and generally random. The corporations that try to get in bed with regulators usually wind up being the worst victims of those regulators in the long run.

    In the short term, government intrusion may seem to benefit one person or group at the expense of others, but in the end, it always winds up hurting everybody at the expense of everybody.

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  13. Harold Aardsma

    In Illinois, Chicago has been given permission to “confiscate” your IL income tax return for any unpaid parking ticket. What is going to happen once we have federal health care? I am a type 2 diabetic, eating HFLC is the only healthy way for me to eat. Is the day coming when the feds will fine me for eating this way and collect the money through tax return if I don’t comply?

    Naw, they’ll just refuse to cover you if you don’t comply.

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  14. Eric

    Fantastic post Tom. I am relativly new to the libertarian points of view as I have always hated policitcs and pretty much just ignored it (I was young….I’m growing up now and am starting to realize things are a huge mess). Your “rant” rang so very true to me with the fundamental “theory” (ie: fact) that everyone acts in their self interest. How true!

    I was wondering if you had any recommended reading on libertarian schools of thought, etc?

    [Anything written by Thomas Sowell is a good start. His book “Basic Economics” should be on every concerned citizen’s reading list. His book “The Vision of the Anointed” is an outstanding overview of the damage caused by well-meaning busybodies.]

    Also, one question that I can not wrap my head around is this: Even if the government was quite small and working properly wouldn’t enormous corporations, like Monsanto, still weild almost total power over huge markets?

    [The only way a corporation in a free market can “control” that market is to please customers, because it’s ultimately the consumers who control markets. True monopolies are rare in a free market. Some so-called monopolies, such as Kodak in the film business, have ended up going belly-up as competitors developed better technology.

    In Monsanto’s case, they enlisted government power through convincing the patent office to allow them to patent life forms — seeds. If some of their seeds blow onto your land and take root, they then sue you for using their seeds without buying them. Those suits are enforced by a complicit government.]

    Even if the government was not telling us what to eat couldn’t Monsanto just subsidies farmers as part of their business model and overly influence public opinion through lavish marketing campaings, etc. If the government was working as we wished…..couldn’t the powerful still control things almost the same way they are today….just through slightly different means?

    [If Monsanto chose to subsidize farmers, that’s their business. I doubt they would, however. Many farmers don’t want Monsanto’s seeds, but have been coerced into using them via the situation I described above.]

    Also, would “protection” from market monopolies be needed? If a handful of companies make up most of the market share wouldn’t they just buy out any smaller companies that were starting to gain reasonable share…..which would end up centralizing control to those few large companies? The smaller companies would almost always sell because the offer would be so good and the owners would not want to turn it down because they are acting in their own self interest.

    [See above. Big companies can buy up small companies, but once they start abusing market share by charging too much or delivering lousy service, competitors move in. IBM was once thought to be so big and so powerful, it would control the computer hardware and software markets forever. Then Bill Gates and Steve Jobs came along.]

    Just a few thoughts I have. I love these posts of yours Tom.

    Eric

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  15. Noah

    I am sorry for the swearing. I am just less articulate than Tom, and probably less gifted. But I am every inch as angry.

    Tom if you publish my comment, which you probably shouldn’t, I just want people to know it was a burst of blazing anger from reading your entry. I am from Denmark. And I am fed up with dishonest rule. You have no idea what is coming your way if you don’t adopt an attitude of near absolute non compliance soon. If you want to know. Look at Denmark and Sweden.

    And to the people who said “Ron Paul”. There is no savior coming! you have been had friends. The responsibility is with you alone. It always was.

    But we love to outsource everything. Nothing more than our personal responsibility.

    Sorry for the language.

    I’ll delete your previous comment since you don’t seem to want it published, but I share your attitude.

    Reply
  16. Lori

    This is why I’m a big fan of the Institute for Justice. They’ve successfully litigated a lot of school choice and burdensome regulation cases (like the hairbraiding you mentioned). If there’s a solution, it’ll probably be through a combination of ignoring the dietary guidelines by people who can, and litigation for people who can’t.

    Indeed. We can’t out-bribe Monsanto, but we can ignore the USDA and threaten our legislators with the loss of their jobs if they don’t stop this nonsense.

    Reply
  17. Janet

    They are saying this device is developed to use for osteoporosis, but how scary is it to imagine the possibilities under a government controlled health system?

    http://www.medpagetoday.com/Endocrinology/Osteoporosis/31218?utm_content=&ut

    “The tiny chip used in the study contains 20 micro-reservoirs that hold individual doses, and each is hermetically sealed to preserve the drug. A dose is released when an electrical signal — which can be pre-programmed or initiated wirelessly — melts the metallic membrane covering the reservoir, releasing the drug.

    Farra said the chip sits on the surface of another device that contains control and communications electronics, and is altogether the size of a USB flash memory stick. It’s implanted in the subcutaneous space of the abdomen, just below the waistline, in a procedure that can be done in a half hour at a clinician’s office under local anesthesia.

    Other implantable devices, such as the buprenorphine pump Probuphine, deliver a continuous dose of drug; in contrast, Farra said, his company’s microchip can instead release a precise dose at a specific time.

    The aim of implantable devices is to improve compliance by making it easier for patients to take medications that require daily dosing — especially those that must be injected.”

    Yes, yes. “Improve compliance”. This kind of delivery is already used to some extent with insulin, and pain medications, but this is a more complex device with many more possibilities. Oh, and don’t forget the pills with chips in them that signal a monitoring station when the gastric chemicals activate the “compliance” message. Lunch monitors got nothing on what is in the works for us!

    Ugh.

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  18. 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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  19. 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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  20. Kevin

    Ron Paul doesn’t have a chance because he zones out when it comes to foreign policy. Government does need to protect us and he loses me there. Otherwise I’m right there with the rest of the Ron Paul fans.

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  21. 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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  22. 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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  23. 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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  24. 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
  25. lantenec

    @ janet

    Maybe I can help you.

    This is the fundamental idea at the base of libertarianism:
    The only proper society is one in which the initiatory use of physical force is banned. No man may initiate the use of physical force against others. No man—or group or society or government—has the right to assume the role of a criminal and initiate the use of physical compulsion against any man. Men have the right to use physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use.

    As you said: “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 %.”

    This is precisely why we need complete separation between gov. and business; because gov. are the “guys with the guns” and anything they do is done by USE OF FORCE. Government and corporations get enmeshed in non laissez faire capitalist societies and business gets power by extension through that kind of relationship with the government.

    Three cheers!

    Reply
  26. 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.

    Reply
  27. 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.

    Reply
  28. David F

    I’m sitting way over here in Australia reading these stories of children’s lunches being taken away at school…i find this is a completely bizarre situation! Does this REALLY happen??

    I guess I should be glad that we don’t have a system here at our government schools where they provide lunches. Our kid’s school does not even have a canteen so all our kid’s food comes from home.

    When I was a kid, our school didn’t serve lunch. You either walked home or brought a lunchbox.

    Reply
  29. gallier2

    Ron Paul doesn’t stand a chance, because the establishment will do everything necessary to not let him through. The evidence of vote fraud in Ohio and in Maine recently is really strong, but nobody cares. Of course to see this evidence one has to do the same thing as to get good nutrition advice, don’t watch, read, listen to main stream media, they are part of problem. By going to alternative media you will risk being confronted with a lot of stuff that is also bullshit, but that is not a problem, it’s by design: it’s called disinfo or limited hang out. With some experience, you can learn to see the blind spots and the obvious red herrings. An example to illustrate what I mean. Nexus magazine is an alternate source of information, there are a lot of good and true articles in it (The Oiling of America from Mary Enig was published in it for example http://www.whale.to/a/enig.html), but there is also a lot of woo-woo and esoteric stuff and even outright ridiculous things (Apollo hoax, nazi flying saucers), the purpose of which is to ridicule any story in by association. Guilt and ridicule by association, Mary Enig’s article which is really solid, can be dismissed easily because of that. Most alternative media are of that nature to varying degrees and one must check the background of everything to see who pays the piper.

    Reply
  30. FrankG

    “People who don’t like government usually don’t want to be part of it.”

    If I understand it correctly: the earliest democracy in Athens used a system where it was a citizen’s duty to serve some time in government (along the same lines as jury duty) so elected representatives were rarely those who wanted to be in power.

    Reply
  31. Melinda P

    Excellent post. I completely agree. I feel like we are paying for the sins of others who have gone before us and made very bad decisions to allow government to get bigger and bigger. And then on top of that, so many people have been indoctrinated with “big government is necessary” ideas – many have been fed “the government should take care of me” entitlement junk. So, while they think they are thinking for themselves, they’re just doing exactly what the people in power want them to do. We are becoming a paralyzed people, more and more dependent on a government who rarely does what is best for its citizens. It frustrates me so much, sometimes I have to completely detach myself for a while, or else I might explode….

    The big-government folks were smart about it. They took away freedom a little sliver at a time.

    Reply
  32. Craig

    “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.”

    You nailed it right there. Politics attracts the same kind of bureaucracy-minded people who run for SGA office in college. When I listen to the Dave Ramsey show people often call to say he should run for president and he always laughs and says he has zero interest. As a small business owner with no desire to enter politics I totally understand where he is coming from.

    He’d be a great president because he’d want to leave people alone. That’s why he would never run. He’d also never get elected, since he constantly hammers away on the need to get out of debt. That doesn’t sit well with people who think government’s job is to give them more goodies, no matter how high the deficit.

    Reply
  33. deMuralist

    The thought that someone would have the power to overrule myself or my husband in matters concerning my child’s food literally makes me feel sick to my stomach. Luckily my children are past that age, so we dodged a bullet there.

    The soda machines in my son’s High school now only contain “healthy” drinks…water, sports drinks, diet sodas, grape juice, etc. Not sure who decided what went in them. The vending machines are out.

    Reply
  34. Don in Arkansas

    Our freedom is directly dependent on how much we are willing to let our government ‘protect’ us. Your statement “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.” is right on target. People who are capable of doing a good job are generally smart enough to stay away from politics.

    And for the most part, we’re left with the control freaks running for office.

    Reply
  35. Gal @ 60 in 3

    The school has a right to remove harmful things from lunches. For example, if my child showed up to school with a bottle full of prescription pills or a can full of dog food then no one would be arguing that the teacher was doing his or her job by removing this from my child.

    The problem here is in giving the teacher too much leeway and in making the system too complex (which is my problem with government in general). Instead of saying to teachers “remove obviously harmful things from the hands of children”, we tell them “make sure kids follow these nutritional requirements which are difficult to understand and which were written by bureaucrats more concerned with the agricultural industry than with kid health”.

    Reply
  36. palo

    One of the arguments against us (libertarians) by the statists is “what about the poor and the needy. Without government who’ll take care of them?”

    When I mention that at least 70% of government social services agencies are made up of salaries and benefits and that government efficiency is below acceptable (I know because I worked within the monster for 30 years) and that it’s less costly to send the needy a check, they always respond “no no no, you cannot do that because they are too stupid to take care of themselves.” That’s the crux of the issue, government control.

    Yee-up. I had to stifle myself from cheering when Professor Eric Oliver said in our Fat Head interview that one of the things that struck him about Super Size Me was the apparent message that poor people are incapable of making their own decisions, so McDonald’s must take responsibility for them.

    Reply
  37. Craig

    “In every generation there are those who want to rule well — but they mean to rule. They promise to be good masters — but they mean to be masters.”

    Daniel Webster

    Reply
  38. labrat

    Couldn’t agree more with your “rant”.

    With regard to lunch. What 4 year old eats that much food? They are worried about obesity and they want to add food to an already abundant lunch? My daughter would cry – falling down tears if I packed her more than 1/2 a sandwich. In first grade she ate 1/2 plain PB sandwich every day. In second grade she ate a small yogurt EVERY day (with rare exceptions). She did get milk with her lunch but she never ever eats school food – she abhors it. If she went to this school, I’d be paying $2.25 a day for her to throw out her food every day. Yeah – that’s brilliant. I worked the cafeteris at my kids elementary school – more food went in the slop bin than in their belly’s. Guess which food got thrown out?

    They are in HS now. What pisses me off is they get a whopping 20 minutes for lunch! That’s barely enough time to get your food if you get it there. My kids don’t eat much at school. They come home and eat and then we eat dinner late.

    The new and improved (ahem) USDA lunches are already prompting a lot of kids to throw much of the food away.

    Reply
  39. Lori

    Re: people who’d be good in government not wanting to be in government, it’s the same in management. Aside from training situations, the best managers at the 20-some places where I’ve worked had no inclination to run around giving orders.

    I’ve worked for some very good managers, including recently at BMI. They were good managers because they hired smart, self-directed people, gave them a project and a deadline, then left them alone.

    Reply
  40. Noah

    I am sorry for the swearing. I am just less articulate than Tom, and probably less gifted. But I am every inch as angry.

    Tom if you publish my comment, which you probably shouldn’t, I just want people to know it was a burst of blazing anger from reading your entry. I am from Denmark. And I am fed up with dishonest rule. You have no idea what is coming your way if you don’t adopt an attitude of near absolute non compliance soon. If you want to know. Look at Denmark and Sweden.

    And to the people who said “Ron Paul”. There is no savior coming! you have been had friends. The responsibility is with you alone. It always was.

    But we love to outsource everything. Nothing more than our personal responsibility.

    Sorry for the language.

    I’ll delete your previous comment since you don’t seem to want it published, but I share your attitude.

    Reply
  41. Janet

    They are saying this device is developed to use for osteoporosis, but how scary is it to imagine the possibilities under a government controlled health system?

    http://www.medpagetoday.com/Endocrinology/Osteoporosis/31218?utm_content=&ut

    “The tiny chip used in the study contains 20 micro-reservoirs that hold individual doses, and each is hermetically sealed to preserve the drug. A dose is released when an electrical signal — which can be pre-programmed or initiated wirelessly — melts the metallic membrane covering the reservoir, releasing the drug.

    Farra said the chip sits on the surface of another device that contains control and communications electronics, and is altogether the size of a USB flash memory stick. It’s implanted in the subcutaneous space of the abdomen, just below the waistline, in a procedure that can be done in a half hour at a clinician’s office under local anesthesia.

    Other implantable devices, such as the buprenorphine pump Probuphine, deliver a continuous dose of drug; in contrast, Farra said, his company’s microchip can instead release a precise dose at a specific time.

    The aim of implantable devices is to improve compliance by making it easier for patients to take medications that require daily dosing — especially those that must be injected.”

    Yes, yes. “Improve compliance”. This kind of delivery is already used to some extent with insulin, and pain medications, but this is a more complex device with many more possibilities. Oh, and don’t forget the pills with chips in them that signal a monitoring station when the gastric chemicals activate the “compliance” message. Lunch monitors got nothing on what is in the works for us!

    Ugh.

    Reply
  42. Kevin

    Ron Paul doesn’t have a chance because he zones out when it comes to foreign policy. Government does need to protect us and he loses me there. Otherwise I’m right there with the rest of the Ron Paul fans.

    Reply
  43. lantenec

    @ janet

    Maybe I can help you.

    This is the fundamental idea at the base of libertarianism:
    The only proper society is one in which the initiatory use of physical force is banned. No man may initiate the use of physical force against others. No man—or group or society or government—has the right to assume the role of a criminal and initiate the use of physical compulsion against any man. Men have the right to use physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use.

    As you said: “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 %.”

    This is precisely why we need complete separation between gov. and business; because gov. are the “guys with the guns” and anything they do is done by USE OF FORCE. Government and corporations get enmeshed in non laissez faire capitalist societies and business gets power by extension through that kind of relationship with the government.

    Three cheers!

    Reply
  44. David F

    I’m sitting way over here in Australia reading these stories of children’s lunches being taken away at school…i find this is a completely bizarre situation! Does this REALLY happen??

    I guess I should be glad that we don’t have a system here at our government schools where they provide lunches. Our kid’s school does not even have a canteen so all our kid’s food comes from home.

    When I was a kid, our school didn’t serve lunch. You either walked home or brought a lunchbox.

    Reply
  45. Craig

    “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.”

    You nailed it right there. Politics attracts the same kind of bureaucracy-minded people who run for SGA office in college. When I listen to the Dave Ramsey show people often call to say he should run for president and he always laughs and says he has zero interest. As a small business owner with no desire to enter politics I totally understand where he is coming from.

    He’d be a great president because he’d want to leave people alone. That’s why he would never run. He’d also never get elected, since he constantly hammers away on the need to get out of debt. That doesn’t sit well with people who think government’s job is to give them more goodies, no matter how high the deficit.

    Reply

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