State-Level Members Of The Anointed: We Demand The Feds Regulate Us! (And Everyone Else, Too.)

I’m not usually surprised when The Anointed make wacky decisions. But I have to admit, their latest move had me doing a bit of head-scratching, at least temporarily. We’ll start with a few quotes from an article in Reason magazine:

A recent rule change regarding school lunches was greeted with relief by some school districts, who had found that federal mandates from the Obama administration led to food waste, less lunches sold, and more kids buying meals from vending machines. Additionally, schools were still allowed to serve sugary flavored milk, but for some reason it had to be the less nutritious nonfat version.

You no doubt recall how well the “more whole grains, lower fat, more fruits and vegetables!” mandates in The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 worked out. Kids were dumping their lunches in the trash. The Anointed replied by telling kids to adjust their taste buds and stop complaining.

The changes approved by the Trump administration are relatively minor—more time to comply with reduced sodium levels, no need for flavored milk to be nonfat, and lower whole-grain requirements for some foods—but they address some of the chief criticisms from public schools across the country.

Not exactly a return to local control, but it’s a start, right? The notion that kids (or adults) need low-sodium diets is of course utter nonsense. So is the belief that milk is better for us if it’s nonfat. And healthywholegrains? Don’t get me started.

But the point is that public schools now have some additional flexibility. You’d think the states would be relieved. What state official could possibly object?

Wait for it …

Some state attorneys general don’t like that. They’re now suing in federal court to make the Obama-era lunch standards permanent. The lawsuit was filed by attorneys general in California, D.C., Illinois, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, and Vermont. The eternal whackjobs at the PETA-esque Center for Science in the Public Interest have filed a separate lawsuit also challenging the changes.

Head. Bang. On Desk.

The suit argues that the recent changes are illegal because Agriculture Department officials didn’t provide scientific justification. This is pretty hilarious, considering the sloppy science that the Obama administration relied on when instituting its “Smarter Lunchrooms” program. Many papers from the lead architect of the initiative have since been retracted, after fellow researchers found inconsistencies, errors, and evidence of fraudulent data.

Yes, of course the federal nutrition mandates were based on sloppy science. That’s not what has me banging my head on my desk. It’s the fact that state attorneys general are suing to demand that the federal government regulate school lunches in their states.

Why the @#$% would any state official want that? If politicians in Minnesota and California and Illinois want low-sodium, low-fat meals served in their schools, then for chrissakes, make it a state law. Why would they want the federal government to tell them what to do?

I think I know the answer, but first, let me share an analogy (which I didn’t originate, but don’t remember who deserves the credit):

Suppose you live in a town with several grocery stores that cater to people with different preferences. The pure-foodies happily shop at Whole Foods and pay higher prices for the high quality. The budget-conscious people buy in bulk at Aldi. The vegetarians shop at Mama’s Meatless Marvels. The meat-lovers shop at Bob’s Big Butchershop.

You know what that kind of decentralized decision-making produces? Peace. Tranquility. Civility. No one is forced to live according to anyone else’s preferences, so people get along.

Now suppose some genius decides all the grocery stores in town should be run by The Central Grocery Committee, which orders all the stores to carry the same foods – with the list of allowable foods being determined by the committee, of course.

Now instead of consumers simply buying what they prefer, they will be locked in eternal battles with each other. The vegetarians demand more shelf space for meatless foods. The meat-lovers want a butcher shop in the store, which the vegetarians vehemently oppose. The food purists want the high-quality stuff to dominate the shelves, while the budget-conscious want cheap foods they can buy in bulk. So everyone with a strong preference becomes obsessed with controlling who sits on the committee.

This, of course, leads to bitter divisions and smear campaigns whenever there’s a vacancy to be filled on the committee. A meat-friendly nominee is accused by vegans of being a child-molester. A vegan nominee is accused by carnivores of beating her children. Friendships are ruined by heated debates about which nominees are Good People or Bad People. No matter who ends up winning a seat on the committee, half the consumers are convinced the Worst Person In The World just acquired the power to determine which foods will available.

The bitterness and acrimony only came about for one reason: decisions were turned over to a central authority, which means every decision is a winners-take-all proposition. No matter what decision the central authority makes, a big chunk of the public is going to be pissed off – always.

The United States was supposed to function like those independent grocery stores. The states were supposed to be more or less independent of each other, with a federal government empowered to enforce the rights spelled out in the Constitution, to adjudicate disputes between states, and to provide a common currency, a common defense, and some common infrastructure.

As Nassim Nicholas Taleb explains in Antifragile, that’s pretty much how Switzerland functions even today. The federal government is quite small, and the provinces make most of their own decisions. If one province adopts a policy that works, the others learn from the success and can adopt a similar policy – or not. Sometimes what works for one province isn’t a good idea for another. If a province adopts a policy that turns out to be a huuuuge mistake, the other provinces learn what not to do – but they’re not harmed in the process.  Meanwhile, the Swiss aren’t at each other’s throats when elections come around, because they’re not voting to decide who gets to make Big Decisions That Apply To Everyone In The Country.

Given how much happier and less combative people are when decisions are decentralized instead of centralized, and given how decentralized decisions are far less likely to become tragic mistakes that affect everyone, why would anyone at the state or local level demand to be regulated by the federal government?

I’m pretty sure I answered my own question earlier:

You know what that kind of decentralized decision-making produces? Peace. Tranquility. Civility. No one is forced to live according to anyone else’s preferences, so people get along.

The Anointed aren’t happy with a society where no one is forced to live according to anyone else’s preferences. In fact, they want a society where everyone is forced to live according their preferences.  They’re the equivalent of vegans who want a Central Grocery Committee to take over a town’s stores and outlaw meat for everyone.  (They’ll settle for mandatory Meatless Mondays for now.)

The attorneys general in New York, California, etc., aren’t worried that their own states won’t force the low-fat, low-sodium, healthywholegrains diet on kids; they’re worried that my state won’t force that diet on kids. They want bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. to decide what kids in Franklin, Tennessee are allowed to eat for lunch. They want The Central Grocery Committee applied to the entire country.

Relaxing the federal mandates (which were based on scientific hogwash anyway) is a small step in the right direction. Ditching them completely and getting the federal government the hell out of the diet business would be a full step in the right direction.

But as long as we have The Anointed in power anywhere, they’ll fight it all the way.

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48 thoughts on “State-Level Members Of The Anointed: We Demand The Feds Regulate Us! (And Everyone Else, Too.)

  1. Tanny O'Haley

    Permission for the federal government to regulate food is not in the enumerated powers of the federal government. A whole lot of stuff the federal government does is not in the enumerated powers listed in the constitution. It is my belief that the federal government regulating school meals is unconstitutional and should go back to the states and the people.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Most of what the federal government does today isn’t constitutional. Washington only acquired these extraordinary powers when sympathetic judges decided it’s okay to suffer from hallucinations when reading the Constitution and interpret it according to what you want to see.

  2. Tom Welsh

    “The Anointed aren’t happy with a society where no one is forced to live according to anyone else’s preferences. In fact, they want a society where everyone is forced to live according their preferences”.

    That reminds me forecefully of H.L. Mencken’s immortal words:

    “Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy”.

  3. Don

    Regarding your final sentence, the annointed will always wind up in power because most normal people don’t want power. I have a hard time getting myself to do what I want, let alone anyone else. Ask my wife. 😄

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      My hope is that someday normal people will insist others don’t have power over them as well. Imagine how much more civil our elections would be if the people running for office had little power over our lives.


    Sorry Tom:
    The fact that you, and actually some of us, are able to think straight does not mean that politicians can. The anointed can think straight and often do (what do you want to bet that they talk the talk but do not walk the walk?)
    A lot of this are just plain old power plays.

  5. Walter

    The payoffs are in. We have the documents that the sugar industry for one knew their product was deadly long ago and kids won’t drink skim milk without sugar actually probably HFCS. Skim milk sells for the same price as whole milk and the cream can be sold at a higher price per ounce.

    Not to mention the medical industries stake in keeping us unhealthy.

  6. Dianne

    Wooo hoooo — great post, Tom, and you’ve hit the nail on the head. The Anointed, whatever their agenda, are never content to simply hold their own beliefs and live by their own beliefs and teach those beliefs to their own kids. They can’t rest until everybody is forced to march to their particular drumbeat, espouse their particular agenda, and teach their kids to do the same, or at least to keep quiet about opposing ideas however reasonable and however well-backed by science. And they want the government to accomplish this for them. But at least we now have the internet to help us fight back — though I suspect that if The Anointed could gain control over that, they would.

  7. Scott Holland

    I believe there may be another factor in play as well.
    The “I’m only following orders” defense.

    Parents complaining to school boards and state legislators about school food?

    “Hey, don’t blame us! We’re just doing what the feds are forcing us to do.”

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Good point. They want to control what kids eat without being held responsible for the decisions.

  8. Walter

    The judge should dismiss on grounds of lack of standing. That is they don’t have a cock in this fight. I was going to say “dog”; but making the legal metaphorically cock fight appealed to my sense of humor, especially since you raise chickens. And the plaintiff are pricks.

  9. Lori Miller

    “The lawsuit was filed by attorneys general in California, D.C., Illinois, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, and Vermont. ”

    Were the attorneys general from Washington, Oregon and Massachusetts sick that day?

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Must’ve been. Or they were touring schools to make sure kids are getting enough whole grains.

  10. Bret

    I’m sure state officials’ lives are easier when they can shift the blame for their citizens’ unhappiness to the feds.

    Regulation is a cancerous monster. It bestows enormous benefits on the corporate interests and subordinate government bodies it purports to control. It’s perfectly rational (and extremely immoral and unethical) for these latter entities to favor regulation. It’s rent seeking behavior.

    Consumer citizens are hopelessly ignorant on this topic. They get disgruntled somehow or another and demand more regulation to make them happy. The actual result is the exact opposite.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Yup. I’m amazed at the number of people who think they care about the little guy while clamoring for more regulations, apparently unaware that regulations always have been and always will be a tool for the big-money interests to squash their smaller competition.

      1. Bret

        Here’s another fine example. Big Tech.

        Zuckerberg now asking the government to treat all political posts on Facebook as campaign ads. That way he does not have to take endless crap from leftist overgrown children constantly pitching TDS fits.

        Facebook is enormous enough that it would suffer no meaningful hit in income from regulation like this. But an upstart competitor would never gain the traction it needed if its members’ posts were being removed/censored/prosecuted. Market kept strict and tight, and Facebook gets even filthier rich.

        Not to mention of course that this is overtly anti-First Amendment, which makes it disgustingly unAmerican no matter who benefits.

  11. Dianne

    Come to think of it, why would we want even the individual states to regulate what goes into school lunches? Why not the counties, the cities, or better still, the school districts. Some states have independent school districts that operate separately from the city or county. Texas, where I live, has ISDs. If each ISD controlled what kids ate for lunch, then when parents weren’t happy with the garbage being served by the school, they’d have someone to talk to directly, someone who might feel he had a real good reason to listen.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Exactly. As Taleb and others have pointed out, the more local the control, the happier people are with the results. The farther upstream the regulation happens, the less influence you have and the less likely the regulator has a clue about your community’s desires and needs.

  12. Don

    Off topic, but the “Notify me of new posts by email” function doesn’t work for me. Is it disabled?

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      No, it’s not disabled. In fact, I get an email notifying me when I’ve put up a new post.

      1. Don

        Strange. I would like to join in the conversation, but I have to wade back through all the comments to do so. Not hard when there are only few, but harder as the amount of comments grow. I’ll double check to make sure my email is correct and I’ve checked the spam file already. Do I need to enter a website? I’ve been leaving that box blank.

  13. Kathy in OK

    I’m probably showing my ignorance here, but if the feds mandate something, don’t they have to at least help pay for it? Or maybe threaten to withhold funds if the mandate isn’t met?

    Could that explain why states want federal nutrition mandates?

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      The mandates apply to schools that receive federal funding, which means all public schools. The strange thing in this case is that mandates have been relaxed a bit, the funding is still there, but these goofball attorneys general want the stricter mandates to apply.

      1. JillOz

        Why do schools have to supply food? Aren’t there local shops or – gasp! Can’t parents give their kids lunch?

        Yes i am aware there are poor kids who need lunch provided but this does not apply to all kids.

        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          We didn’t have federally-funded lunches when I was kid, but somehow we managed to eat.

  14. Robert

    I’m a real life example of the Anointed’s nightmares. I follow a low carb diet. Almost all the lights in my house are good old fashioned incandescent (with some traditional fluorescent mixed in). I own several firearms. I drive a big, comfortable car with a V8 engine. And worst of all, I don’t want the Anointed in government imposing Grand Plans to correct any of these supposed problems that they would see in me.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Low-carb? Incandescent lights? V-8 engine? When the planet becomes uninhabitable because of global warming, we’ll know who to blame. (Give it time, The Anointed will also come up with a theory about how owning guns causes global warming as well.)

      1. Firebird7478

        Well, the liberals that back the Green New Deal think we’ll all be extinct in 12 years so I guess we’ll all find out!

        And I just read that gun violence is down in London but knife violence is up. I’m sure they’ll come up with something to correlate. (I still like Archie Bunker’s response to gun violence: Would it make you feel better if they was pushed out of windows?)

    2. chris c

      I may be a bit more ecological than you, I had a Renault that did over 60 mpg (UK units). Then I had a Nissan with the same engine that did over 57 mpg. My current car is identical except it has a “low emission” engine and is pushed to do 47 mpg. I gather the same is true for trucks, buses and agricultural machinery. How the hell can something that USES MORE FUEL have lower emissions? Only The Anointed could answer that one. Different emissions, maybe.

      Some years back the Government had a push for diesel cars “for the economy”. Now they are back pushing petrol cars and considering banning diesels “for the emissions”. IMO it’s about selling more fuel (hence more taxes) and also replacing cars early (more taxes) not a lot to do with The Environment. Many modern cars last a long time, unlike a few decades ago, which makes them more ecologically sound but less profitable for the Government.

      I still have an incandescent bulb here since we moved in fourteen years ago. Meanwhile some of the fluorescents lasted less than a year. Consider the energy used to manufacture them and ask which is more ecological? Big Picture Thinking does not enter the equation.

  15. Ulfric Douglas

    You have Aldi?
    I feel cheated.
    We have Aldi,
    you have … armerican stuff, Costco or whatever.
    At least your Aldi don’t have tasty frikadellen, ham slices, sliced cheddar and orange juice with bits in.

  16. Don

    I’m sorry to keep posting off topic comments but you have ten years of material here and I see you’ve already journeyed down the road I’m just now discovering.
    I recently came across Richard Nikoley’s theory of excess iron leading to disease and Duck Dodgers’ post on ancient wheat. Your rebuttal popped up at the end. I also discovered Paul Jaminet through your blog. (They all seemed to have slowed down blogging but you keep going. Diet perhaps, lol?) Do you still feel the same about wheat or have your views changed at all? What do you think of the excess iron theory? And if I were to comment on one of your ten year old posts, so as to not be off topic, do you still see them and occasionally reply? And a little flattery— I love that you respond to nearly every comment and keep it clean with a sense of humor. I have children and I appreciate being able to let them read your blog. Richard has lots of thought provoking material but he’d lose a significant portion of his vocabulary if he couldn’t use profanities.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I still think modern wheat is garbage that triggers leaky gut in many people, with all the downstream consequences. I don’t think the research on excess iron is conclusive either way. Yes, I see comments on old posts.

      1. Firebird7478

        I am binge watching Dennis The Menace and Father Knows Best on Hulu. Every meal depicted shows some form of meat, veg, fruit, bread and dessert. I know casting is a subjective thing as looks are important but even the actor’s portraying “Fat” people back then ( and they were called “fat”, “chubby”, “tubby” — all PC inappropriate today) weren’t fat by today’s standards.

        I’d really like to know what the ingredients list would have been for bread back then. I am guessing these shows aired before putting ingredients on the label was mandatory.

        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          Jackie Gleason was called “The Fat Man.” Take a look at pictures of him. You’d barely notice a guy that size walking down the street today.

          1. Firebird7478

            Yep. And Tim Conway was routinely called “fatso” on “McHale’s Navy”, and I’ve seen John Banner (Sgt. Schultz) on other TV programs and it appears that on “Hogan’s Heroes” they had to pad him to make him look fatter than he actually was.

            I happened to be watching an episode of Father Knows Best last night where Bud makes the football team and his coach lays down his training program, which included “No sugar. Plenty of meat, eggs, dairy.” That was it.

            I should record that scene and upload it.

  17. Ulfric Douglas

    Modern wheat products are demonstrably poisonous,
    although absolutely necessary for dog’s own food : the bacon sarnie.
    Once weaned off wheat I can feel the effects whenever I eat it : my theory is simply trace levels of neurotixins survive through the whole processing & baking process.
    I completely cured “restless legs” and other things by cutting out wheat, and I reckon a lot of those problems are neurological poisoning.
    (Will never become mainstream : way too legislative, lets keep on saying “gluten intolerance”)

    1. Walter

      Wheat contains zonulin which loosens the lining of the intestines. So if you want to avoid feces in your blood stream, nix the wheat.

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