Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Why is Washington responsible for school lunches?

Today, Michelle Obama took the reigns of the "Let's Move" campaign, described by the New York Times as "a sweeping initiative . . . aimed at revamping the way American children eat and play - reshaping school lunches, playgrounds and even medical checkups - with the goal of eliminating childhood obesity within a generation."  (Link to story here.)  

First Ladies have always had their causes from Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" campaign to Hillary Clinton's failed attempt at socializing medicine in America to Laura Bush's promotion of literacy.  I have no particular problem with Mrs. Obama taking on childhood obesity.  And, frankly, I have no problem with nutritious lunches at school or exercise-promoting playgrounds.  I don't even have a problem with the First Lady using her status to encourage change in habits.

I do have a problem with this campaign coming from Washington, D.C.  It grates on me.  It grates on me because the role of the federal government has expanded so far into the daily lives of Americans that it is taking on the task of determining what to feed our children at school, bypassing state governments entirely and usurping the role of local school boards.

In an ideal world, or even in a country operating as this country's founders envisioned, most power would remain with the people; some would be given to local government entities - like cities, counties, or school boards; a smaller share would go to the states; and very little would be given to the federal government.  Why?  Because the closer the government is to the people, the more responsive the government is to the wants and needs of the people.  If I have a problem with my children's school lunches, or their playgrounds, etc., I should be able to take it up with a neighbor, a school board member who lives nearby and is elected to serve the school district.  Does anyone think that somebody in Washington would be more responsive to me than my neighbor?

Ours is no ideal world.  Everything has been (or is being) federalized.  Washington has its sticky fingers everywhere.  America has lost its way.  The distribution of power is upside-down and "Let's Move" is symptomatic.  

Nothing personal Mrs. Obama.  I hope that your campaign meets its goal.  I just wish the power to do something about the problem was closer to my home than yours.

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