Richard Carnes: Attack of the Oreo Nazis
Imagine you walk into your favorite bar, and upon ordering your favorite beer, the bartender says, “Sorry, but new studies have shown that beer is bad for you. Here, you can have this cold glass of fat-free, organic milk instead.”
After emptying the cow juice all over his big fat head, you quickly choose a new favorite bar down the road and enjoy the rest of your evening.
Now imagine you are a fifth-grade student in Tucson, Ariz., attending Children’s Success Academy (a public school), and your teacher just inspected your lunch box for what she calls forbidden foods, removing any American cheese, canned fruit, flavored yogurt, white bread, peanut butter (if made with sugar) and, of course, your personal favorite, Oreo cookies.
While you’d love to smoosh a cookie into her patronizing forehead, you realize that you have no choice but to play by the rules, lest you find yourself pulling hall monitor duty until you graduate.
The odds of the first scenario occurring are about the same as Rob Katz reopening Vail Mountain tomorrow morning live on “Good Morning America” with Elvis as the MC.
Scenario two is as real as the snow still sitting up at PHQ. These government-paid lunchbox nannies in Arizona are simply following school policy to confiscate “forbidden foods” straight from the kids’ lunches and offer “healthy alternatives” in their stead, such as fruits and nuts.
And the fruity nuts at the local government level are forcing them to do this.
Last week, in Washington, D.C., U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, who happens to be a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, introduced a “Healthy Choices Act,” which, if passed, would establish programs and regulations aimed at reducing obesity rates using such innovative techniques as slapping nutritional labels on the front of food products (as opposed to the back, I suppose, but what if it’s a round product?), subsidizing businesses that provide fresh fruits and vegetables (who sells the stale stuff?), and collecting BMI measurements (body mass index; aka, lard levels) of all children ages 2 through 18, and counseling those that are overweight or obese (“Hey Chubster, stop eating those Twinkies!”).
Our government can’t regulate Ponzi schemers or track trespassers inside our borders, but now they want to regulate and track how fat our kids may or may not be?
Listen, if the government wants to help teach nutrition to my kids, fine.
If the government wants to suggest alternatives to unhealthy foods, fine.
If they only want to serve or offer healthy foods at school (like chocolate-free milk in Avon, for instance), fine.
But banning, confiscating, forbidding and just downright attempting to control what my kid consumes is not their job, nor their business.
While I’m at it, don’t tell them what to wear, what to say, hear, see, what music to listen to, which sports teams to follow, which sports to play, what to believe (in spite of provable facts), where to walk, run, play, fart, burp, but most of all, don’t tell my kids what to think.
You can help by teaching them how to use established tools to reach their own conclusions about anything and everything. But after that your job is over for the day. They’re much smarter than you give them credit for, and besides, most of that other stuff is my job as a parent anyway.