Americans don’t like to be told what to do. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the mindset of a teenager, that age bracket most known for the rebellious spirit that often accompanies puberty. But while teen rebellion usually settles down once the hormones do, the truth is that this country was founded on a rebellious spirit. Rebellion led the first pilgrims to seek out better opportunities across the ocean, and it led their descendants to declare independence from the strong arm of Great Britain. That rebellious spirit may not be as strong in today’s America, but there is still plenty of it left.
And that’s why Michelle Obama’s school lunch initiative was doomed to fail from the beginning. The federal government is going to sweep in and tell teenagers what they have to eat? Okay. Good luck with that. The arrogance and naivety behind such a movement betrays the fact that Sasha and Malia were raised in a pampered environment that bears little resemblance to real America. And it misses the fact that Americans, even all these years after the Revolution, still don’t like being told what to do.
The latest story against the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act comes out of upstate New York, where schools are starting to realize just how much food is going to waste. “We throw away a ton of food,” said Ella Mae Fenlong, the director of Canton Central School Food Service. “If we cut up 20 pounds of cucumbers, we guess that 17 pounds get thrown away.”
Her concerns are echoed by other New York school districts that have seen their school lunch participation rates decline while purchase costs grow or remain the same. And their experiences match those of schools across the country, where more food is winding up in the dumpsters than in the bellies of the students.
And it’s a shame, for more than one reason. The truth is that we have a serious issue with obesity in this country, and Michelle Obama is right on target when she points at children as the most logical starting point. But by turning it into a political issue, using it to give the federal government a bigger stake in local education, and by attempting to force kids into a healthier style of eating, she may have single-handedly pushed the obesity fight back two decades.
Americans don’t need the federal government to mandate healthier lifestyle choices. It’s contrary to the spirit of freedom, and it rankles those Americans who want to see Washington’s influence shrink away from the states. We are descended from the men who stood up to British rule, fought against ethnic cleansing and power-mad dictatorships, and transformed a nation from humble beginnings into the most powerful force on Earth in record time. And the president’s wife is going to tell our children what they have to eat?
Sorry, but any student of history could have seen this failure coming from a mile away. That it even made it this far, though, is a sign that we are slowly losing our country to the evils of liberalism.