In Favor Of School Lunch Choice

First Lady Michelle Obama has long campaigned against childhood obesity.  One of her targets has been the food served as public schools.  Earlier this week she argued that students should not be permitted to pick what they eat at school because they will inevitably make bad, unhealthy choices.  Instead, adults should control the menus to ensure that meals involving vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are served.

I think the First Lady has good intentions, and I think her real target is parents, who obviously should be focused on decision-making that affects the health of their children.  Still, I groan whenever I hear someone involved with government saying that personal choice should be eliminated, and a federally mandated menu determined by purported experts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture substituted instead.  Our government now tries to do so much — and yet does so little of it well.  Can’t something like school lunches be left to the decisions of parents and kids, without officious federal busybodies with taxpayer-funded jobs butting in to tell us what to do?

I’m not suggesting that kindergartners or first graders should be deciding what to eat, but at some point we need to allow kids, and parents, make choices.  Many kids already lead such regimented lives where there is nary a spontaneous moment or free decision.  How are kids supposed to learn how to make good decisions if they never, in fact, make any decisions?  Let them decide what to eat, or let parents pack their lunch — which is what happened when I was a kid.  If they make bad decisions and put on weight, their parents can respond and talk to them — which is what should be happening anyway.

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Sense And Sensitivity

President Obama and Mrs. Obama have received some criticism lately for their expensive tastes.  The President has been chided about how many rounds of golf he has played and how many vacations he has taken.  Mrs. Obama has been compared to Marie Antoinette as a result of her current lavish vacation in Spain.  These choices by the President and the First Lady, some argue, suggest that they are out of touch with the difficult circumstances of many Americans.

I don’t begrudge the President and the First Lady a vacation, or vacations.  As I have noted before, I don’t think Americans want a President and First Lady who so scrimp and save that it reflects badly on the country.  Nobody should expect the First Family to eat macaroni and cheese off paper plates every night or stay at an EconoLodge and take a holiday at a water park.

Still, I would encourage the President and Mrs. Obama to use some judgment and common sense.  Millions of people are off work, thousands of homes are going into foreclosure every month, and more than 40 million Americans now are using food stamps. Under such circumstances, a vacation to a posh Spanish resort where rooms cost thousands of dollars and the American taxpayer is footing part of the bill reflects a serious lack of sensitivity and is bound to become a lightning rod for criticism.  Would a slightly less expensive vacation to a nice resort in America have been such a horrible sacrifice?