“All forms of tampering with human beings, getting at them, shaping them against their will to your own pattern, all thought control and conditioning is, therefore, a denial of that in men which makes them men and their values ultimate.” — Isaiah Berlin
“We must create out of the younger generation a generation of Communists. We must turn children, who can be shaped like wax, into real, good Communists. … We must remove the children from the crude influence of their families. We must take them over and, to speak frankly, nationalize them. From the first days of their lives they will be under the healthy influence of Communist children’s nurseries and schools. There they will grow up to be real Communists.” —Communist Party Education Congress
“Any power must be an enemy of mankind which enslaves the individual by power and by force, whether it arises under the Fascist or the Communist flag. All that is valuable in human society depends upon the opportunity for development accorded to the individual.”—Albert Einstein
“Man exists for his own sake and not to add a laborer to the State.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
Last year, I was surprised to read about Chicago Public Schools banning students from bringing lunches and snacks from home. The rationale was typical. “Educators” were alarmed that when students had a choice, their choice didn’t include broccoli and whole wheat pizza with goat cheese and tofu, and like good little tyrants, substituted their judgement for that of the parents and their children. Now in a school where the kids MUST eat what the school provides, the opportunities for graft and corruption become endless, so it wasn’t entirely surprising that this is “the Chicago Way”. In an era when the First Lady has made it her mission to cajole and browbeat various restaurant chains into removing french fries from children’s menus, and lecturing every one else how to eat, while enjoying a burger and fries, it was inevitable that other localities would ignore the disconnect of a society that doesn’t want any government in their bedrooms and see nothing wrong with putting that same government in your kids’ lunch boxes.
Which is why the only part about this story that is surprising is why parents let it happen in the first place. The only bright spot in this story is that this wasn’t an act of federal overreach. The bad part is that states should know better. In an era of unfunded mandates and huge state budget deficits for many of the states, a smart person might ask themself “Does it make sense to usurp parental authority, and hire new state employees to be nosy busybodies?” In truth, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was funded by some sort of federal grant, but the principle remains the same: The state has absolutely no business assuming my duties as a parent, regardless of their motive. This is not the intervention necessary to prevent an immediate imminent harm; this is deciding for the parent what their child will eat. And while I’ve read some arguments that attempt to make this kind of base encroachment on parental authority akin to the same thing as an immediate imminent harm, you may now color me unimpressed, because if it is all about fostering healthy habits and taking care of one’s body, then there is no reason to market sex and contraceptives to older children, who may be physically mature enough for sex, but who are still children who don’t need to be encouraged to engage in risky behavior which is only made marginally less risky if they are “responsible”, and who are often not prepared for the emotional effects that sexual activity can have on them either.
The nannyism that pervades certain parts of government today is an affront to humanity. The only possible compelling reason the state would have to substitute its judgment for your own, such as in this example, is that you are either too stupid to do it correctly yourself, or that you simply cannot be trusted to make the right decisions. Neither option is flattering, and both would lead to subsequent queries about why we are allowed to do so many other things without such flagrant interference. This only underscores the real reason for such intrusion: power (and the wealth to be made in exercising it). For quite sometime now, government has been engaged in the act of saving us from ourselves, not out of any altruistic motive, but because its natural inclination is towards tyrannies, large and small, and it was long ago revealed that intrusion on individual sovereignty was much easier to sell if it was packaged as something “good” for us. Whether it has been a damnation of safety nazi laws and regulations, or benignly offering a pecuniary incentive to do something government’s way until it becomes a habit, or until it has built up a bureaucracy with the motive and determination to defend its financial turf, the beast keeps growing, just like the dependence on government that it was intended to foster. It isn’t an accident, and it is now accelerating.