Stop Bellyaching and Embrace our Communism

Most newspapers/blogs ran congratulatory stories on how poor children’s school lunches have been made healthier thanks to the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010″.  Daily Caller ran an article (link) which referenced another article by the Harlan Daily (link) that showed not everyone is happy with the changes.  In the rural Kentucky county of Harlan (it’s okay, I had to look it up too) parents were apparently shouting at the school board “Kids can’t learn when they’re hungry!” during a school board meeting and complained that the milk was skim or 1%.  I’m sure the food wasn’t tasty, but In this particular case, if they were really hungry, they would be eating the food.  Think about what happens in places like India or Africa.  More importantly, if the parents felt that bad about the food choices the federal government decided their child should have, they could have used their food stamp/EBT to buy a loaf of white bread and peanut butter, and a box of Parmalat whole milk in a brown bag lunch for their kids.  The larger picture, though is the big problem: like a cat that thinks it’s a dog, America is a socialist country that thinks it’s capitalist.  And just like a cat makes a strange dog, America makes a really strange form of socialism.  I was talking to a Russian.  The Russian said, “you know, the US is [a] more communist country than Russia is these days”.  The spouse of someone married to a Chinese woman agreed, “The US is certainly more communist than China.”  As has been written by numerous other people elsewhere, these entitlement programs create dependency, corruption, and inefficiency, and the programs have an agenda different from their ostensible goal.  For example Truman created the National School Lunch Act to raise food prices and find a place for surplus agricultural goods (source).  The purpose of the “Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act” appears to be to make food choices for the parents whom the government apparently thinks are too stupid to make the choices for themselves.  Earlier I was explaining  what the Department of Agriculture did, to a recent immigrant to the US.  I explained half of the $123 billion per year department creates policies which make food more expensive.  The other half hands out subsidies to people who are too poor to pay the artificially high prices.  While the USDA does other things, like food safety inspection (I estimate < 5% of budget based upon appropriations), and inexplicably, the US Forestry Service, the majority (as in > 60% of employees) are working towards creating policies to pay farmers not to grow crops on their land, distribute food stamps, set a minimum price on the cost of milk, and the National School Lunch Program.  The problem with these programs, centrally managed, is the calories that are appropriate for a kid in the suburbs are not necessarily appropriate for a kid who helps out on a farm.  A parent, not some bureaucrat in Washington consulting with a nutritionist about the calories required for an average kid, should be who decides what their children should eat.  It shouldn’t be a marketing representative for some beef remnant factory, a pork industry lobbyist, or some vegetarian activist group, either.  Another big problem with subsidy programs is corruption.  My mother’s uncle Edmond was a wildcatter who discovered and developed a large oil field.  He often went hungry as a child and gave money to the local Catholic school in Greenville for free lunches for the kids, so they wouldn’t have to be hungry.  One day, he decided to go check on how the kids were doing at lunch.  He found several adults, including the mayor, who were eating his lunches.  That was the end of Edmond’s free lunch program.  There is also the case of Tino De Angelis (link).  You would think after reading all of this that I would be completely against subsidies and entitlements.  I am not.  For various reasons, food subsidy programs for children make sense, if they are structured properly, don’t encourage parents to outsource parenting, and are not too paternalistic.  The Guardian (the Obama’s favorite English newspaper besides the Sun, no dobut) has an article (source) which shows that in France, the state pays for half, and the rest is paid on a sliding scale.  In Sweden, primary school lunches are paid for all students, and some secondary schools charge parents.  Of course, that would be too sensible, and too difficult to change.  Instead, let’s embrace our communist tendencies and salute tovarich Lenin.  I certainly did.  Image  The author and the great American patriot Vladmir Ulyanov.