Job creation, federal government style

The editors of The Philadelphia Inquirer are displeased that Congress blocked new rules proposed by the Department of Agriculture to regulate school lunches.

The Obama administration wanted to mandate more fruits, green vegetables, and whole grains. The guidelines would have limited sodium and starchy foods such as french fries. Frozen pizza, a regular school-lunch item, would no longer be routinely counted as a vegetable.

The editors — and this was specifically an editorial, not a news story¹ — complained that the Congress’ action did not show concern for children’s health “at a time when childhood obesity has become a national crisis.”

Now, it is a good idea for school lunches to have more fruits, green vegetables and whole grain among the foods being served. I have absolutely no problem with the nutritional ideas in the regulations.

But what, I have to ask, is the federal Department of Agriculture doing in this in the first place? Shouldn’t school policy be set by the local, normally elected, school boards?

Why, we wonder, can’t the federal government get spending under control? Well, part of the reason is that the federal government is far too involved in doing things which aren’t any of its business. The proposed school lunch regulations seem innocuous enough, but they mean that there were federal employees, being paid with taxpayer dollars, spending time writing regulations — and, doubtlessly, crafting ways to enforce those regulations — on matters which simply should not be part of their purview in the first place. They would, with nothing but the best of intentions, craft regulations telling local school districts what they must serve in their cafeterias, and coming up with all sorts of compliance paperwork, that would have to be filled out by local schools, and sent back to Washington for review by the bureaucrats. With tens of thousands of public school districts in this country, I guess that they’d certainly be creating jobs, as it would take several employees in the Department of Agriculture to review the compliance forms, and maybe, just maybe, if they can pile the federal regulations higher and deeper, create new jobs at all of those school districts, as yet another employee would have to be on the books, filling out all of that federal paperwork, to insure that regulations which should never have been crafted in the first place are being obeyed.
› – The Philadelphia Inquirer, Wednesday, 23 November 2011, p. A-18.

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