A week and a half ago, I watched an episode of Stossel on Fox Business Channel (the March 31 episode). John went to the Students For Liberty conference in D.C. to speak to college students from around the country who identify themselves as Libertarians. Here’s a link to Stossel’s page on it. The show also has a page on Hulu but this episode won’t be available for a week or two.
His guest for that episode was David Boaz from the Cato Institute. My favorite part of the episode, just over halfway through, was when he talked about the Hillaries and the Huckabees. His argument was that the Democrats and Republicans are really not too different from each other. The Democrats (the “Hillaries”) think you’re too stupid to even know how to burp your own child. They need to provide a class to teach you how to do that because you’re too stupid to read a book. They have to ban Happy Meals in San Fransisco because you don’t have enough discipline over your kids to not be suckered into overfeeding them fast food. They think they should run your life. In contrast, the Huckabees think that God should run your life. You shouldn’t be able to control what you drink or smoke or who you marry if it goes against what the Bible tells them. Libertarians are the only significant political party that thinks that you know how to run your own life better than Washington does.
It’s an argument I’ve made before on this blog. Republicans want you to do whatever you want with your money but they want to limit what you can do with your body. Democrats will let you do anything you want with your body but want to limit what you can do with your money. (Their ideal situation is to let you smoke marijuana but tax it so they can spend the money.) But your income is a product of what you do with your body and your mind. It is an extension of yourself. Controlling my behavior and controlling my money are the same thing. I make a living so I can do things I want to do. Regulate how I can make a living or what I can do, and either way you’re interfering with my ability to pursue my happiness. That’s why I’m a Libertarian.
A radio personality on SIRIUS, Andrew Wilkow, took up a similar topic a few days later, saying that Washington is full of people who are perfectly fine with dictating behavior until it’s a behavior they want to do that is in jeopardy, and then suddently there’s a massive enfringement on their fundamental liberties. Some don’t want gays to be married, but heaven forbid you make them register to buy a deadly weapon and wait a few days to get it. Others want you to be able to smoke marijuana whenever you want, but heaven forbid our children be able to buy a soda from a school vending machine.
I wanted to write about that episode for a week now, but was too busy and needed something else to add to bring it together. Then today I saw this article about a school in Chicago that does not let students bring their own meals from home. It seems parents don’t pack lunches as healthy as the ones the school provides. Never mind that fact that a) the kids don’t eat the healthy lunches because they taste horrible, and b) the school gets more money if it forces students to buy school lunches. You don’t know how to parent your own kids — the nanny state (literally!) will take over from here.
(FYI: The new season of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution starts tomorrow, and if it’s anything like last season, it will be an education about just how hard it is to put healthy food in schools that schools can afford and kids will actually eat. You can put all kinds of healthy food in front of kids but if it’s not tasty, kids just throw it away, like they did in the story above.)
When I was a kid, I ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Fritos for lunch. So did all my friends. The reason most of us aren’t obese even to this day is that we were allowed to play tag during recess. These days you can’t even do that in some schools, lest someone fall down and scrape a knee or, even worse, someone’s feelings get hurt when they aren’t fast enough to outrun another student. Government controls your kids behavior (for their own good) by limiting how they can play, then they get fat, and then they have to control their diet because, gosh darn it, for some reason kids are getting fat these days.
This brings me to Michelle Obama and her program to change the way children eat. I’m fine with the goal, but it’s the sheer arrogance that offends me. She’s saying that we have to get restaurants to change menus, schools to change menus, and educate parents because they’re too stupid to know how to keep their kids from getting fat. What spurred this mission of hers on? Her daughters were getting chunky when they were kids and she didn’t realize it until a doctor told her they needed to lose weight. What did she do about it then? She exerted some parental control, changed the way she did things, and now her kids are fine. Funny how she didn’t need a government program or some bureaucrat telling her she couldn’t give her kids a lunch to bring to school. She worked it all out on her own. But she’s on a mission because there’s no way that the unwashed masses could do what she did.
I’ll finish by reminding people that when you allow legislators to enfringe on your neighbor’s liberties because you think they should do something differently, you should worry about them doing the same back to you when they’re in the majority. Politics is littered with people who drink too much (Ted Kennedy), smoke too much (John Boehner), cheat on their spouses (too many to list), and do illegal drugs (all of our last three presidents). And yet so many Americans seem to have no problem letting these horribly imperfect people tell you how you should live your life and raise your kids, as if they actually know better. News flash: if you think politicians and bureaucrats actually know how to raise your children better than you do, they probably do; and if that’s the case, it says a whole lot more about you than it does about them.