2012 September

August 1, 2014

Nanny-State Ignites Taco War

My article as originally published in American Thinker:       

I’ve been highly critical of the ever expanding nanny-state that erodes our freedoms, whether in the form of soda bans, light bulb bans, plastic bag bans or even the new school lunch regulations, signed by President Obama. It’s this latter policy that is to blame for my eight-year-old son coming home from school hungry a few weeks back.

My son is a little picky when it comes to certain foods. He’ll devour steak, seafood and many fruits and vegetables but if you ask him to take a sip of milk or eat something with cheese on it — forget it. He claims that dairy bothers his stomach, but will then go and eat ice cream or a slice of cheese pizza and claim that “that’s different.” The point is, he’s eight, has some quirky eating habits and it’s the job of my wife and I to understand his habits and to make sure he gets the nutrition he needs within the parameters that work for him.

One morning during the first week back at school we looked at the new lunch menu and tacos were being served that day. He loves the school’s tacos and will only eat them because he has always been free to order them the way that he likes — without the cheese.

This time was different though. When he asked for his taco without the cheese he was told by the server that he had no choice but to have the cheese (no, he’s not an exchange student currently studying in Cuba). This was never a problem in years past and he was truly confused as to what to do and ended up eating only on an apple, which explains why he came home “starving” that afternoon.

My wife and I asked him if maybe the tacos were now pre-made with the cheese and told him that if so, there was nothing that could be done about it. Sometimes being picky will limit your choices in life. But this wasn’t the case as the cheese was applied just before serving, as it always had been, according to my son.

My wife put a call in to the principal and it turns out that the culprit was Obama’s new Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act. According to my son’s principal, the problem wasn’t that he wanted his taco without the cheese; the problem was (assuming she fully understands all of the new regulations) that it was, and is, virtually impossible for the food servers to be able keep track of the children who pay for their lunches verses the ones who receive their lunches for free or at reduced rates with a taxpayer subsidy.

The school could face disciplinary action if caught giving non-compliant meals to students who are in the National School Lunch Program. That meddling cheese was needed to meet the dairy requirements contained within the new law. I understand the principal’s concern given another school recently received a $15,000 fine for serving soda during lunch time, which is in violation of federal law. So how much would an illegal cheese-free taco cost the school?

Aside from the obvious government overreach, how is it “healthy” for kids to be forcefully offered food that they either won’t accept or just end up throwing it in the trash? And what about children who are lactose intolerant?

My wife raised a stink about it so the principal said that she would tell the servers that our son is allowed to get his food the way he likes it by giving his name. If more parents complain I can see where it would get too complicated to continue though. But thanks to my wife, the lunch servers now know who my son is and he will get his taco the way he wants it next time.

Does this “special” treatment now make my son a crony diner or will these now be considered black market tacos? In any case, comply-or-starve big government top-down control creates a wasteful, unnatural environment that even a child finds hard to swallow.


Taxing Soda Better Than Banning It?

My article as originally published in American Thinker:     

Nanny Bloomberg’s soda ban has a new critic. A recent article by Slate suggests that the best way to force people to drink healthy would be through the use of a “sin tax” instead of an outright ban on large soda sizes — like we need any more taxes.

Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to ban the sale of 32-ounce sodas has hit up against some serious negative public opinion of late. First there was the Million Big Gulp March, in which a sprinkling of protestors showed up to protect the right to buy supersized beverages. More problematically for the mayor, a New York Times poll found that 60 percent of New Yorkers oppose the ban. The Times’ quote from Queens resident Bob Barocas bluntly summed up the opposition to the ban: “This is like the nanny state going off the wall.”

No one likes to be told what to do. And if the city is banning supersized soda, some fear that it won’t be long before the government will be forcing broccoli down our gullets. Maybe it’s time to revisit a gentler approach to nudging New Yorkers to eat and drink more healthily by taxing sugar, fat, and other foods that help make America the fattest nation on earth. [snip]

A pricing experiment run at a hospital cafeteria in Boston in 2008 provides at least some indication that soda taxes may also help change drinking habits, though taken at face value its results suggest that taxation may have to be aggressive to wean soda drinkers from their beverage of choice. A team of public health researchers convinced the hospital administration to allow them to raise the price of a 20-ounce regular soda by about a third (from $1.30 to $1.75). In the weeks that followed, regular soda consumption dropped by about 26 percent, and was accompanied by a nearly offsetting increase (20 percent) in diet soda consumption. (Unlike the milk study, however, it’s worth noting that the subjects of this study-cafeteria patrons at the Harvard-affiliated hospital-may not be representative of the average American.)

Government desperately needs to go on a tax diet and placing more tax dollars in front of it will only exacerbate its colossal weight problem.

These professors can theorize all the want about whether or not these taxes will affect greater good and “nudge” people’s behavior, but most politicians look at this study much differently than they do. While those that want to force people to be healthy might focus on the 26% reduction in the consumption of regular soda, most politicians would drool over the 74% that would now be paying higher taxes because they didn’t conform to social engineering and change their behavior. Better yet, that 74% would be generating revenue that is 100% higher than prior to the implementation of such a tax.

The last sentence in the Slate article about a soda tax being a win/win gets it only half right and it’s only the government that wins. Politicians care as much about your health as the Chicago Teacher’s Union and some of its teachers care about teaching kids. It’s really just about control and money. Don’t believe me — what do you think would happen if 100% of these new taxpayers suddenly decided to become healthy after government became dependent upon this tax revenue? We would see government sponsored soda ads just as we are now seeing government food-stamp ads (though there has been no shortage of food-stamp recipients).

If politicians really wanted to generate some hefty tax revenue, imagine what a “sin-tax” placed on every word the mainstream media writes could do? We might even be able to solve our massive debt crisis with this tax as it’s obvious that there is zero chance that social engineering such as this would change the mainstream media’s behavior.


Who Caused the Financial Mess?

One of the better explanations I’ve read of what caused the financial meltdown. 

Jim Yardley writes in American Thinker:

For the past three and a half years, we have had to endure the nonstop whining of Barack Obama and his surrogates telling us over and over that he inherited the financial mess that required him to add trillions of dollars to the national debt, to run trillion-dollar-plus deficits for each year that he’s been in office.

Now he is telling us that he needs another four years and trillions more in money borrowed from China to complete the clean-up of the mess he inherited.

Well, for once, he nearly has it right. He inherited not simply a financial mess, but a historic financial disaster. Even the most virulent anti-Obama partisans will admit that Barack Obama didn’t directly create the 2007-2008 financial meltdown.

Read the rest at American Thinker       

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Socialism and Communism Get a Free Pass

Why do socialism and communism get a free pass on atrocities when Nazism doesn’t? 

Walter Williams takes a stab:

Here’s my question: Why are the horrors of Nazism so well-known and widely condemned but not those of socialism and communism? What goes untaught — and possibly is covered up — is that socialist and communist ideas have produced the greatest evil in mankind’s history. You say, “Williams, what in the world are you talking about? Socialists, communists and their fellow travelers, such as the Wall Street occupiers supported by our president, care about the little guy in his struggle for a fair shake! They’re trying to promote social justice.” Let’s look at some of the history of socialism and communism.

I think it’s because the Left has convinced the public that Nazis were on the political Right.

Read the rest at Human Events

 

 


       

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