Saturday, December 11, 2010

The New Governent Cookie Monster

Update 12/13/10: 
This was signed into law by President Obama today saying, "Had I not been able to get this bill passed, I would be sleeping on the couch." The first lady, presumably the one who would have been assigning sleeping arrangements, applauded bi-partisan support for the bill which she said would insure that "no child should go to school hungry." I would add, "unless they want a cookie..." 

For those of you who believe your federal government has lost its focus on what's really important these days (or just its mind), the proof may just have finally presented itself. 

At a time when Congress cannot seem to agree on a budget months after the current fiscal year has begun, nor decided on what tax rate you are going to pay next year; they have found time to decide what home-made treats can be sold at school bake sales. No, I'm not kidding about this. Senate Bill S3307 (The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act) has cleared both Senate and House votes, and awaits only the president's signature to become the law of the land. Among other things, it will allow the Secretary of Agriculture and the USDA to limit the number of bake sales held at schools and the type of foods sold at those events. 

At a time of concern over the amount of money being spent by a government already drowning in debt, it will also provide an additional $4.5 billion in funding over the next ten years for free meal programs in and out of school, and nutritional education programs for food service providers at these institutions of learning. (I was tempted to say Government Indoctrination Centers, but my tin foil hat slipped off as I was typing and I managed to forebear.) 

Setting aside the contradictory evidence that the sale of sugary treats at school events is the root cause of childhood obesity in this country, one has to wonder why enlightened administrators and educators in this country are not the best judges of calorie and fund generating activities in their respective schools than a faceless federal bureaucrat who has probably never seen the place. 

It likewise seems curious that these college-educated instructors should not be able to agree that the issue is little more than a simple math problem to determine that the number of calories burned in activity subtracted from the number of calories ingested has more to do with producing the result shown on a bathroom scale than what's on the table at a bake sale. 

Can government be so fat-headed that they believe that yet another law or an additional program will somehow produce a different result in this equation? Can common sense where diet and exercise are concerned in fact be legislated? (Not that I'm looking to open that can of worms ...) And will such rigid control of bake sales actually produce the desired result? Can the cake or pie addict not self-medicate at the local grocery store or restaurant? Can the pizza junkie not only order his drug of choice by phone or online, but have it delivered? Can those suffering withdrawal symptoms from a serious doughnut or cookie habit not stop at the local Krispy Kreme or Duncan Donuts to still the tremors? 

Perhaps more importantly, doesn't the Secretary of Agriculture and USDA have better things to do than monitor fund raising events designed to replace money that government can no longer provide for school activities? Don't school administrators, already in short supply and buried under a mountain of government compliance paperwork, not have better things to do than fill out more of it? 

Doesn't Congress have more important subjects to concern itself with than stepping on the personal initiative (and self-esteem) of students attempting to show some school spirit andsupplement funding for a school band or football team? 

The whole thing would be laughable if it were not so tragic. Fat cat politicians who are normally more concerned with participating in pounding down heart stopping, calorie crushing lunches and rubber chicken fund raising dinners believe that they are the best judges of food intake in this country. Bureaucrats normally more focused with the expansion of their own bloated budgets than with tightening their belts are supposed to micro-manage the fund-raising and diet activities of students that are under their control eight hours a day, five days a week, nine months out of the year. 

I used to believe that 'The Cookie Monster' was an irreplaceable bright blue Muppet created by Jim Henson who first made his appearance in 1969. It now appears however that even this lovable "Sesame Street" fixture is capable of falling prey to the a government takeover. Do not expect Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to be nearly as cute and cuddly, nor to be using the all too familiar line, "Me want cookie" however. It seems far more likely that his government imposed script will be adapted from that of the "Seinfeld" character the Soup Nazi, "No cookie for you".