Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Hungry Kids Act of 2010

What could go wrong?

Whatever the virtues of behavioral economics—I am persuaded that they are many—its application by government officials tends inexorably to involve efforts to force people to do what is good for them.

Or better, to do what the government thinks is good for them.

Those who defended Obamacare tended, with one voice, to say that once people learned what was in their new plans they would easily forget about the fact that they could no longer keep their old plans. In fact, they would be so grateful that they would forget the lies that President Obama told to sell his signature program.

Compared with Obamacare, Michelle Obama’s efforts to combat childhood obesity are barely worth noting. Unless of course they are causing your child to be malnourished. In that case you might notice the downside of having the government force America’s schoolchildren to eat what it thinks they ought to be eating.

Mrs. Obama believes, naturally, that once the children are force-fed fruits and vegetables they will learn to like them. And of course, she believes, because everyone believes it, that fruits and vegetables are far healthier than hamburgers and ham sandwiches and pizzas.

The Daily Mail reports:

In announcing the changes to school lunches in January of 2012, Michelle Obama said that, 'Schools are finding that when they actually offer these healthier options, kids aren’t just willing to try them, they actually like them. That's the thing, that's the surprising thing.

'I've been to so many schools across the country where parents see their kids eating fresh vegetables off the vine, kids they say would never try anything, but that's the beauty of children — they change,' the First Lady said.

To be fair, these changes were not imposed by administrative fiat. They are the product of duly-passed and duly-signed legislation.

The Hill explains:

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, supported by President Obama, requires lunch programs that receive federal dollars to provide healthier meals. The new standards began to go into effect in 2012.

The same Congress that gave us Obamacare gave us the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Guess what, kids, this act is causing children to go hungry… because they do not want to eat the fruits and veggies that Michelle Obama wants them to eat.

Following the law, the Agriculture Department set new standards for school lunches. As a consequence, schools are dropping out of the program.

According to The Daily Mail:

The Agriculture Department set new standards for what types of foods schools can serve students that have been phased in over the last three school years in response to Obama's push for healthier school lunches, and even more changes are coming in 2014.

Already, data from the department shows that a total of 1.1 million children abandoned the National School Lunch program between the 2011 and 2013 school years after Obama went to war over what's on their trays.

And among students whose meals are not subsidized by the government, the number is even higher - totaling 1.6 million.

But, children have decided that they do not have to eat what they do not want to eat. One of the net consequences of this effort to tell children what to eat is that massive amounts of food are thrown away every day in America’s schools.

You know the old saying: people around the world are starving while Americans are throwing away food.

More and more of America’s schoolchildren are refusing to allow Michelle Obama to force them to eat what they do not want to eat. True enough, some children are obese, but why do all children have to be deprived of meat and eggs and butter because some children are eating too many carbs.

It’s nice to believe that the problem is meat and salt, but recent studies of nutrition—dutifully reported on this blog—have shown that eating meat and fatty foods does not cause people to become obese.

Besides, all children are not equal or the same. Isn’t there a difference in the nutritional needs of boys and girls? And don’t children know, viscerally, intuitively, what they need to eat to be properly nourished.

Does the government know better than an individual child what that child needs to eat for lunch?

The Heritage Foundation blog offers this picture of the program in action:

The experience of school districts that have decided to leave the program is illuminating. For example, the superintendent of the Waterford, Wis., school district explained that “students complained about taste, portions are not big enough for athletes and dollars get wasted on fruits and vegetables that students must take but often are thrown away.”

In Township High School District 214, a suburban Chicago district that includes Arlington Heights, Ill., “[a] district spokesperson said the new school lunch guidelines are too restrictive; for example, not allowing kids to buy hard-boiled eggs or certain yogurts. School officials also have noted the new guidelines consider hummus to be too high in fat, and pretzels to be too high in salt; non-fat milk containers larger than 12 ounces could not be sold either.”

Amazingly, this program is being run according to standards that the latest and best research has shown to be wrong. 


Sam L. said...

MO apparently never was told that people being forced to do something have a tendency to reject it, indeed, to hate it if they really don't like it, and especially to hate the person forcing them to do it.

"In announcing the changes to school lunches in January of 2012, Michelle Obama said that, 'Schools are finding that when they actually offer these healthier options, kids aren’t just willing to try them, they actually like them. That's the thing, that's the surprising thing." Yes it would be surprising if that happened...and it didn't.

"Amazingly, this program is being run according to standards that the latest and best research has shown to be wrong." Quel suprise!
(Pardon my sarcasm.)

Anonymous said...

"Schools are finding that when they actually offer these healthier options, kids aren’t just willing to try them, they actually like them. That's the thing, that's the surprising thing... I've been to so many schools across the country where parents see their kids eating fresh vegetables off the vine, kids they say would never try anything, but that's the beauty of children — they change." (Michelle Obama)

Really? My experience is that kids are completely impulsive and will eat whatever tastes good to them. They don't LIKE healthy choices. That's why they are children, and under the care of a guardian.

Maybe Michelle O's statement should be amended to something more accurate: "That's the beauty of children -- they change in whatever way I tell them to do, because they don't have a choice." Fun!

The thing that I love about today's Democratic Party is they are pro-choice when it comes to an individual seeking to intentionally limit population growth, but don't trust living human adult individuals to make most economic decisions themselves. The Leftist adores children and the child-like mind because kids are gullible. They don't know any better. Again, this is why children have guardians. When the Democrats have all these economic policies that limit (or eliminate) choices, we're all supposed to understand it's for our own good. Does anyone honestly believe that the aggregate quality of medical care in the United States is going to improve in the next 20 years? Keep in mind the VA has been around for 83 years. But Obama said yesterday that he's really mad now, so things will be different.

Personally, I like it when the president's (or state governor's) spouse stays out of the public light and does her/his own thing. If they choose to get into the arena, they do so at their peril. I always thought it hilarious that Bill Clinton would get "angry" when people were attacking HillaryCare or Hillary herself. I don't know that Hillary has ever recovered from her nifty idea of putting all of us in a nationalized HMO, back at the time when Democrats were criticizing health insurers for using HMOs to limit care and "kill people." But Hillary is the most brilliant woman ever, so her plan was surely exempt from the laws of nature and economics, and our quality of care would be spared the disciplines of government cost structuring. Give me a break.

People have to change when they don't have choices. And that's the way the Obamatrons like it.


Anonymous said...

I've been increasingly worried about govt regs, laws, and diktats. We have so many, it's impossible to "obey" them.

Perhaps I mentioned before the many CivSVc Seminars on Deportment, Proper Thoughts & Behavior (they have other titles). One second too long looking at a woman; one single word; one misstep ... Zero Tolerance.

I see our Elites growing more controlling, arrogant, hubristic. I should read "Nudge".

Human Nature is untidy. The Founders were well aware, and sought to give it as much scope as possible. They called it "Freedom".

I'm not a partisan or extremist. But when govt says it pays the piper ... whose money is it?

I'm nervous that such talk could get me labeled. I don't think it should.

I've been in mil svc or CivSvc all my working life. Proud to serve my country best I could.

It's changed. -- Rich Lara

Ares Olympus said...

In an ideal world, every action would have all good consequences or all bad consequences, and then you could decide what to do.

In the real world, you make decisions with positive and negative results, and over time you can lean into the good, and away from the bad.

But if you want to judge someone else trying to make a difference, you can point out all the bad as proof the whole idea was bad and should be scraped.

How should critics be listened to I wonder? My best thought is whether you can identify the motives of the critic. If the critic's purpose is to express contempt and try to shame someone else from doing anything at all, then their expressing something more about themselves than the world.

Forcing kids to take fruit they don't want to eat may not be a good plan, but in the olden days kids respected their elders, and listened to such advice. Conservatives used to believe kids should listen to their elders, but only certain kids of elders who believe the right things, like being premarket for cheap subsidized cola machines in the schools.

But now we need kids who are grumpy and rebellious like their elders, who need to resist change for the sake of resisting change, because this is how you feel powerful.

Kids can learn many lessons from their elders. Luckily Conservatives are a dying party, unsure who they are except against an unjust world that has abused them.

Or maybe we're all hypocrites? Who knows?

Baloo said...

Not just a nanny state, but a _crazy_ nanny state. This is reblogged and quibcagged here:
A Spoonful of Fructose

Anonymous said...

Central planning doesn't work. It doesn't effectively respond to change, and over time the bureaucracy ossifies and it can't respond to change, or won't. It doesn't matter who is in power... the leviathan continues to grow in size and becomes less responsive. Politicians make promises they can’t possibly deliver on. Government employee unions become a voting bloc to ensure government services are a permanent jobs program.

Like Common Core, the USDA school food efforts are another experiment in central planning. Central planning is the root of all the "solutions" brilliant people come up with for the rest of us. It's such a good idea that everyone has to do it. It replaces the necessity of idiot parents who ostensibly should not be breeding in the first place. If they are Tea Party people, they should be sterilized, because studies show that political persuasions are genetically correlated. And stupid people are fat. And people who like cats have tendencies best not discussed here.

This is not the First Lady’s eureka moment. Food experts curry to her need for relevance (whether she chose the obesity issue or her handlers/advisors said it was good optics). She's already made it abundantly clear that she finds life in the White House like "prison." But her cause polls well, and Redbook readers think she's an amazing woman. That satisfies her qualifications.

Like all central planning, her nutritional program is a tidy formula: one size fits all. What if alternative choices are prohibited? Am I cynical to question the motives or reasoning of those who claim they have it all figured out? What will change their mind? It’s human nature to defend one's position at all cost. In the case of bureaucracies, contradictory evidence is often suppressed, marginalized or destroyed. Vendors to school cafeterias will do whatever they're told so they can keep making a buck. They won't resist. Again, it's human nature. There's nothing cynical about it. This is how the game works.

Few people are thinking about these things. People like Elizabeth Warren want to squeeze all the risk out of life and "stand up for the little guy." Fair enough. But she always wants her programs funded by other people (the "rich"), and she wants to eliminate choices to make these laws/regulations foolproof. In this, I see her as a beneficent bully -- using the raw power of government as a vehicle for her utopian ideals. A mad scientist, of sorts. When the experiments don't work, she'll say we need more of them. That's the answer to every failure: more intervention is necessary to make the central plan work. We didn't try hard enough.

How is food different? How does Michelle Obama know what is best for American children? Recent nutritional-health studies have cast great doubt on the USDA Food Pyramid. Are they wrong? How do we know? Is the science "settled?"

The government is not as competent as it claims to be, yet it remains the perennial, bipartisan solution for so many because it is easy. Despite failure time and again, it expands, and encroaches into more of our lives, supposedly for our own good. What I have contempt for are political leaders, NGOs, non-profits and bureaucrats who think they have whatever super-duper public solution all figured out, and that we're idiots for not massively subsidizing it. We skeptical citizens are cavemen and troglodytes for opposing all their great ideas that can only be brought to life through the public treasury.

I don't care if these food advocates are Demoblicans or Republicrats. Take prudent steps to keep food safe, and give people the freedom to choose. I realize this isn’t comfortable for everyone. There are lots of people out there who don't want to choose, and find freedom frightening and confusing. I'm sure there are people out there still bitching about the break-up of Ma Bell. Consider the alternative.


Dennis said...

Rich Lara,

I am with you. Some of central government's control biggest critics are those of us who have the most experience with it. It is called civil service, service emphasized, for a reason. The job is to provide services that make it possible for this country's citizens to succeed and prosper. It Is NOT to control what they do or how they live their lives. If they do well we do well. If they don't succeed then my very existence is at risk because they are the foundation of the country that innovate, create and establish the means to make this country work.
The Constitution was meant to limit government, not the other way around. One of the prime functions of government is to "provide for the common defense." No where does it state to provide for the general welfare or to make citizens beholding to the government. It is the retired military and civil servant that recognizes the limitations of what government should be that is true to the job.
Sadly, many believe that all government workers are the same which I believe can come to hurt those who are or were CS. When the people finally reach a point of wanting to change to how government relates to its citizens they are going to go for the people who most impeded their chance to succeed an prosper.
The sad part here is the number of people who believe that change is good just because it is change. To challenge change that is destructive of our freedoms, et al is to understand life from a global concept. Those concepts that cannot withstand challenges are probably not ultimately good for the nation as a whole. No idea should be above challenges nor should those who see the larger ramification be of any less value to the discussion.
I am always interested in the people who so willy nilly write of those who would be in opposition. Opposition is what keeps this a free country. I may not agree with your ideas, but I will defend your right to espouse them is not just a trite idea. When we fail to recognize this we are in danger of having our own ideas being infringed upon.
I suspect that the Left, and those who think they are smarter than other people, have gotten so used to the idea that they are the solution that they can no longer present a well reasoned argumentation for their position so we get the STFU and I am just so above the fray that I cannot be bothered. The pretension to arrogance is the mind set of a fool.
When one starts think ill of one's fellow man one is in danger of becoming the very thing they say they say they are not or abhor. No person of good will should think they are better than any other person no matter their present status for one day we might find a true diamond in the rough.

Buttercup said...

Ares: Yes, conservatives believe children should listen to their elders. Last time I checked, though, my children's elders did not go by the names Michele Obama and the Federal Government.

But, if you want to raise automatons to the state, you're welcome to it.

Unknown said...

"...why do all children have to be deprived of meat and eggs and butter because some children are eating too many carbs?"

Because MO was lobbied by the leftist "ethical vegans".

Remember those ads around Christmas of the poor abused pets?
The HSUS took in $200 million in 2012. How much did they spend on animal shelters? $2 million. How much did they put in their retirement account? $17 million. And the rest after paying for the ads? It was spent on lawyers and lobbyists.