Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

A Case in Point

with 4 comments

So, my regime is going along fine–I really can edit to music, and this morning I had Paganini’s Violin Concerto for Orchestra Number 1 and Number 2. 

They’re together on a single CD, and I haven’t listened to it very often. But it’s very nice indeed.

In the meantime, I’ ve been looking over something else.  JD sent me an e-mail about it a few days ago, and one of my sisters in law has been posting about it on FB, but I’d actually been watching the issue for a while.

To explain:  Congress has now mandated a whole new slew of rules for cafeterias in public schools, including how many calories (850, I think) can be included in a school lunch, what proportion of that lunch must be vegetables and other “healthy” foods (like whole wheat bread over white).

And agency regulations now forbid schools from selling the usual cookies and cupcakes at school bake sales.

Now, granted, these rules only apply to schools that get federal money for their cafeteria programs.  But these days, almost all schools get federal money for their cafeteria programs. 

So, at the start of the school year, almost every public school in the country was forced to reconfigure its cafeteria offerings to fit the new regulations.

Almost anybody with half a brain in his head–and not brainwashed by Scientific Management–could figure out what happened next, but let’s go over it anyway.

The first of the trouble came from the midwestern farm states.  850 calories may seem like a not–it’s probably more than I eat for lunch–but in the farm states there are farms.  And the rise of agribusiness notwithstanding, there are family farms, on which the children of the house work.

What happens in these families is that the kids get up at four in the morning, run around doing manual-labor-intensive chores like feeding animals and milking cows, for two or three hours before they leave for school. 

Then they go to school and do a full day’s academic work.  Then a  lot of them stay late for athletic practices.

And half these kids are adolescent males, so their bodies are already in metabolic overload.

850 calories isn’t going to cut it.  A male adolescent doing all this physical work can easily burn up 5000 calories or more a day. 

At the beginning of the year, some of the guys tried it.  A couple of them passed out at practice.  The bureaucracy still refused to budge. So the kids stopped buying lunch at school, significantly decreasing the income the school can count on from the cafeteria and endangering free lunch programs for poor kids because the money is drying up.

The next trouble–and the trouble these people should have anticipated–occurred in inner city schools with large populations of poor kids on free lunch programs.

For these kids, the problem wasn’t the number of calories, but the taste of the food, which was generally agreed to be awful. 

Awful or not, the kids are not allowed to refuse the “healthy choices.”  So they take the whole wheat roll and the vegetables, and then they just throw them out.

And most of these kids cannot bring food from home as a substitute.  That’s why they’re in the free lunch/subsidized lunch program. 

So when these kids go back to class after lunch, they’re hungry.  They’re sometimes very, very hungry.

The theory is that eventually, they’ll get so hungry they’ll eat the stuff anyway–but it’s been almost two months now, and that isn’t happening yet.

In more affluent areas, the kids are voting with their feet–bringing their lunches from home–and launching Facebook and Twitter campaigns to boycott the school cafeterias until they return to providing decent food.

The whole campaign smacks of Scientific Management at its most arrogant.  There is the complaint by “experts,” for instance, that the problem with McDonald’s and other fast foot, and also most “unhealthy choices,” is that they’re “highly palatable.”

Do you know what that means.

It means they taste good. 

Scientific Management must always translate plain English into something more “expert” sounding, because if it doesn’t, you’ll know what it means.

But the entire “obesity epidemic” is a Scientific Management project.

Yes, people are getting fatter–but people all over the world are getting fatter, and so, oddly enough, are lots of the animals. 

Nobody knows why, no matter what they say or how authoritative they sound when they say it. 

Nor are we really sure that this is a substantive problem.  We have so ingrained in ourselves the idea that obesity is an “epidemic” that is causing numerous health problems that will cost our medical system gazillions of dollars that we don’t stop to question any of the assertions.

A couple of months ago, nearly every news outlet in the US reported on a report by, I think, the OMB that said that obesity would cost us lots of money in the future.

The problem with that?

That wasn’t what the report said.  In fact, it said the opposite–that obesity would not have much of an impact at all on health care costs going forward.

There were a few corrections stuck on back pages and in minor media, but I’ve never seen a major media correction and newscasters and journalists continue to sight this study as if they still believed the misreporting was true.

They probably do.  One of the main symptoms of the Scientific Management culture is that its acolytes must believe any dogma it proposes with the tenacity of religious fanatics.

After all, they are religious fanatics.

Scientific Management just gives them the opportunity to proclaim religious dogma at the same time they congratulate themselves on how rational they are, and how they accept science instead of falling for all that religious mumbo jumbo the Sheeple indulge in.

In the end, the “obesity epidemic” is two things.

First, it is an occasion when the Scientific Management people can extend the reach of coercive bureaucracy into an extremely intimate and individual part of our lives–after all, it’s going to cost us all this money! we’re all going to die!

Right to privacy?  Here’s a fundamental principle of the right to privacy–the government shouldn’t even be able to ASK what I or my children weigh, never mind trying to regulate what we eat.

But the other thing this is is the foundation of the entire Scientific Management movement.

It is the drive to impose “educated upper middle class” everything on the rest of  the country, whether they like it or not.

It is an issue of class, not of science, and not of medicine. 

And it makes people really angry, as it should.

Let’s try this again.

When people hear Democrats call for more regulation, they don’t think of the banks.

They think of this.

When people vote in favor of candidates who want to reduce regulation, they don’t think of the banks.

They think of this.

So maybe they’re not clinging to God and guns, or voting against their best interests when they vote Republican.

Maybe they’re voting against this.

Maybe, if you understood this, you could find a way to get them to vote for you.

I have to correct papers.

I’m in a very bad mood.

Written by janeh

October 11th, 2012 at 10:06 am

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses to 'A Case in Point'

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  1. I was with you right up until “maybe if you understood this”–“you,” presumably, being some core group of the Democratic Party. I think they understand “that” quite well. It’s hard to miss.

    But look up the numbers of “non-defense government employees” and check their voting patterns. Add in the contractors who are effectively supplemental government employees. Think of those 30 people Wannabe U had to hire to respond to a single government regulation, and multiply them by 2,000 cooleges and universities. The food police alone are vastly more people than will be hired to regulate the financial industry, but the financial industry regulation will be stressed, the same way they’ll talk about “policemen and firefighters” in the expansion of government rather than social workers and Title IX lawyers.

    A political party will do (or say) a great many things to get votes–but it can’t give up what it’s there for. The management of everyday life isn’t some oversight: it’s the point.


    11 Oct 12 at 4:22 pm

  2. I sent that to Jane as an example of unintended consequences. Also as legislation at the wrong level. Surely control of school lunches should be at the state level rather than the federal level (assuming it should be done at all).

    But I’m getting tired of the argument that seems to go:

    We are morally obliged to see that everyone gets good medical care.

    This requires a national health insurance scheme.

    If people do X, then the cost of the insurance will be too high.

    Therefore, we should regulate X.

    Where X is something like eating fast food, drinking sugary drinks, smoking, not exercising etc.

    Given the intrusions into personal life that are being proposed in order to keep down the cost of health care, I’m inclined to suggest giving up national health care schemes!


    11 Oct 12 at 4:58 pm

  3. Hear! Hear! Don’t forget seatbelt and helmet laws, too–which “we” have to have for exactly the same reason.
    Oddly, no one seems to propose reducing costs by reducing paperwork or increasing competition. Somehow the costs of things the government subsidizes but doesn’t own–like post-secondary education and health care in the US–have a very different cost curve than cars, clothes or computers.


    11 Oct 12 at 6:59 pm

  4. Apropos of a lot of stuff, including the above, if only tangentially.

    Is this a sign that there is, perhaps, a god after all, and that the Apocalypse has been delayed just a tiny tad?


    Just in case, all gods be praised.


    13 Oct 12 at 8:52 pm

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