War on Flab update: Massachusetts outlaws bake sales


The state of Massachusetts has voted to ban bake sales at public schools.  UPI relays that “Effective Aug. 1, no food other than school-provided meals will be allowed to be sold at schools, the Boston Herald reported Monday.” 

The Food Police aren’t going to stop there, either.  Next on the target list is “the sale of treats at after-school events, including banquets, door-to-door candy sales, and football games.”  Banning candy will certainly make door-to-door candy sales more challenging.

The American public education system is positively swimming in money, with among the highest per-student spending on Earth – only Switzerland spends more.  Nevertheless, the school system perpetually claims it’s broke, obliging parents and their kids to raise money with the sort of good old-fashioned bake sale that just got regulated out of existence.  Not everyone in Massachusetts supports this decision:

The state Departments of Public Health and Education says the move is to battle obesity in children but parents say it will hurt fundraising for athletic equipment, band trips and other features of school life.

“If you want to make a quick $250, you hold a bake sale,” said Sandy Malec, vice president of the Horace Mann Elementary School parent-teacher organization.

Middleborough School Committeeman Brian Giovanoni said his school board will discuss the mandate Thursday.

“My concern is we’re regulating what people can eat, and I have a problem with that. I respect the state for what they’re trying to do, but I think they’ve gone off the deep end. I don’t want someone telling me how to do my job as a parent. … Is the commonwealth of Massachusetts saying our parents are bad parents?” he said.

 The state government replied with a lovely word salad:

“We’re not trying to get into anyone’s lunch box,” Dr. Lauren Smith, the DPH’s medical director, told the Herald. “We know that schools need those clubs and resources. We want them to be sure and have them, but to do them a different way. We have some incredibly innovative, talented folks in schools who are already doing some impressive things, who serve as incontrovertible evidence that, yes, you can do this, and be successful at it.”

I’m sure the kids are looking forward to the incredibly innovative and impressive ways they’ll be made to forget about those bake sales.  Was the occasional sale of cookies to fund trips for the school band really the major contributing factor to childhood obesity?  Or was this just a high-profile way for legislators and bureaucrats to be seen Doing Something About the Problem, en route to the eventual solution parents aren’t quite ready to accept just yet – i.e. “getting into everyone’s lunch box?”

As it happens, a non-profit group called RTI International just released “a new forecast on America’s obesity crisis,” which USA Today tells us “has health experts fearing a dramatic jump in health care costs if nothing is done to bring the epidemic under control.”  Some highlights:

The new projection, released here Monday, warns that 42% of Americans may end up obese by 2030, and 11% could be severely obese, adding billions of dollars to health care costs.

[…] As of 2010, about 36% of adults were obese, which is roughly 30 pounds over a healthy weight, and 6% were severely obese, which is 100 or more pounds over a healthy weight.

“The obesity problem is likely to get much worse without a major public health intervention,” says Eric Finkelstein, a health economist with Duke University Global Health Institute and lead researcher on the new study.

[…] Extra weight takes a huge toll on health, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, many types of cancer, sleep apnea and other debilitating and chronic illnesses.

“Obesity is one of the biggest contributors for why healthcare spending has been going up over the past 20 years,” says Kenneth Thorpe, a professor of health policy at Emory University in Atlanta.

This information was presented to a CDC conference wittily entitled “Weight of the Nation.”

What might the “major public health intervention” in our future look like?  If ObamaCare is upheld by the Supreme Court, the government will have effectively limitless power to ban anything, or more importantly compel citizens to do anything it finds necessary for promoting public health.  As medicine becomes increasingly socialized, the Health Police will present themselves as the only thing keeping a mass of flabby hands from reaching into the wallets of the fit and trim. 

The cost of “subsidizing” the unhealthy will be viewed from a standpoint we are strictly forbidden to assume when discussing the State’s favored welfare recipients.  The Health Police will also tastefully avoid discussion of the immense tax revenue government harvests from tobacco sales.

So what’s producing this inflated number of Inflated-Americans? 

Finkelstein says the estimates assume that things have gotten about as bad as they can get in the USA, in terms of an environment that promotes obesity. The country “is already saturated” with fast-food restaurants, cheap junk food and electronic technologies that render people sedentary at home and work, he says. “We don’t expect the environment to get much worse than it is now, or at least we hope it doesn’t.”

Aha!  Well, we can always tax the special sauce right out of that junk food, which is so awful Finkelstein mentioned it twice.  A few new “sin taxes” will put cash in Uncle Sam’s pocket, and price those chicken-fried McLardBurgers right out of Middle America’s puffy hands.

But what about the only other factor Finkelstein – who is, let us recall, the “lead researcher” on this major new study – offered to USA Today?  What sort of “intervention” will the government stage, to fix our “sedentary lifestyles?”  I doubt a new public awareness campaign is going to make much of a difference.  We’ve had those forever.  And aren’t other groups of activists always complaining about the “unrealistic body image” issues our culture imposes upon the overweight, particularly children?

This might be a good opportunity to buy stock in fitness clubs and health food stores, before the next “individual mandate” marches the formerly free people of America onto treadmills and elliptical machines.  The logic of the State’s collective ownership of our flesh and bones can lead nowhere else.  There are many eminently logical reasons to force our plump populace to get into shape.  The only argument against it became a “far right-wing extremist position” in 2009.  

When the Supreme Court heard arguments for ObamaCare, Justice Scalia observed that the logic of the individual mandate could easily be used to compel the purchase of broccoli.  I just hope the mandatory broccoli tastes as good as the optional broccoli did.