This isn’t really surprising

This story made a brief trip through the blogosphere, hitting several conservative websites. This one’s from Karen:

Feds Fined Utah High School $15K for Selling Soda During Lunch

May 18, 2012 | By

A Utah high school will have to take money from its budget to pay a $15,000 fine to the federal government for leaving a soda vending machine turned on during lunch. Davis High routinely turned off the lunchroom machine during the lunch hour, but forgot to turn off a machine in the library. Somehow the food police got wind of it and the school was punished. What’s ridiculous is that the kids are free to buy soda before lunch, and drink it with lunch, they just can’t buy it during lunch. Thanks to the feds school has lost every cent raised through vending machine sales this year.

More at the link, including Karen’s sources. Hot Air had the story, too.

Here’s the news story:


Davis High School pays big fine for vending machine violations


Reported by: Barbara Smith

Salt Lake City, ABC 4 News) – The vending machines are unplugged at a Utah high school after a violation of federal lunch rules. Davis High School was fined $15-thousand dollars for selling carbonated beverages during the lunch hour.

Vending machines in the hallways at Davis High School normally sell carbonated beverages and candy, but to receive federal nutrition funding, they can’t sell it during lunch. Students say it doesn’t make sense.

“Everyone goes out to lunch anyways and drinks them so it’s pretty dumb.”

District officials say the policy can be confusing too. Chris Williams, the Davis School District Spokesperson, says there are definite rules about how, and when carbonated beverages can be sold. “It is challenging when you can buy a Coke before lunch, and consume it during lunch, but you can’t buy a coke during lunch.”

It’s not just soda sales that are a problem; candy can be too, depending on what kind it is. Davis High School’s Principal, Dee Burton, says Snicker Bars are considered nutritional and legal, but other candy is not. “We are not allowed to sell anything that is carbonated or any candy that sticks to your teeth”

More at the link. But because the students overflow the cafeteria, and eat out in the halls, federal inspectors have determined that the entire school is to be classified as a cafeteria.

Your Editor sees this problem somewhat differently. Note that the story indicated that Davis High School was subjected to federal regulation because it “receive(s) federal nutrition funding.” This is the kind of thing that happens when local schools take federal dollars.

But, let’s be honest about things and ask why states and localities and schools take federal dollars. Most of these government units have balanced budget requirements, while the federal government does not, and they need federal grant money to be able to spend more than they take in in taxes. Schools, states and cities are actually passing on their budget deficits to Uncle Sam, and will continue to do so as long as the federal government lets them. On the other hand, schools, states and cities have a real problem raising their taxes high enough to cover all of their expenses because the federal tax bite is so large; they don’t have room to tax the citizens more.

The entire situation is ridiculous. Money is fungible, and the various employees and contractors and vendors don’t particularly care from where the dollars they are paid come; it all spends the same. But because Davis High — as just one example — can’t tax enough to pay for all of its expenses, and Uncle Sam gives the school grants for things, that creates the role of a federal inspector to see to it that the federal dollars are spent in compliance with the regulations attached to federal funds. While money is fungible, the regulations are not free; they come with a cost. It isn’t just the cost of the fine that Davis High received, but the cost of having a federal inspector in the first place. The federal money spent on grants to local school districts is less than 100% efficiently spent because some of it must be set aside to pay for the inspectors. Additional funds are lost to overhead at both the federal and local levels, because the schools have to have personnel filling out grant requests and federal compliance documentation, while the feds have personnel reviewing the documentation to make sure that the paperwork is all in line.

If federal taxes were not so high, and the local taxing authorities were expected to raise all of the revenues for their schools — as was the case just a couple of generations ago — Davis High, and thousands of other school districts, there would be no money wasted on federal compliance paperwork, and there would be no federal inspectors, and the school districts would be setting their own regulations, as approved by local, elected school boards. At least in theory, the money spent by the local school districts would be more efficiently spent; the shuffling of compliance paperwork does not contribute to educating students.

For conservatives, this is a battle which should be fought, but which has been almost completely ignored. Every politician promises to combat “waste, fraud and abuse,” but since waste, fraud and abuse aren’t separate line items, they get hard to find. Well, this is waste! Even if the federal budget were balanced, the idea that we send federal dollars to state and local governments for their use means an additional layer of government must be paid for, additional overhead must be supported, additional Gaia-killing paperwork must be filled out, and none of that contributes in any way to achieving whatever goal a particular government program is attempting to achieve.

And this is a top-down problem. No city or school board can afford to not try to get federal grants, and to support their budgets entirely on their own, because that puts them and their citizens at a taxing disadvantage. Their citizens are still being taxed by the federal government, to pay for things like school nutrition programs, so if their local school board decides to do things properly, without federal grants, their citizens would be paying for federal grants to other schools without getting any benefit for their own schools. Reform would have to come from the federal level, where a libertarian or TEA Party leadership would have to tell cities and states and school districts, “OK, we will be ending all of these things in two fiscal years; you have that long to prepare to do all of these things on your own. We will be cutting federal taxes to enable you to have the room to raise local taxes if that is what you need to do.”

11 Comments

  1. $15 large for selling soda pop, wow!

    What’s the penalty for peddling phony birth certificates? Or, for non-extent shovel-ready jobs? How much is it going to cost Eric Holder to kill a few more Border Patrol agents?

    And, what’s the fine for selling Chevy Re-Volts? Is Obama’s brand of snake oil still being offered on a sliding scale?

  2. This is just another way the federal government has of exerting its influence far past what the Founding Fathers had in mind. The more money we take from them, in whatever fashion they offer it, the more control we cede to Washington.

  3. Just to point it out, the High School is in UTAH, a state that Barack Obama will carry when Hell freezes over and Pluto is too hot for any living thing to survive.

    That’s like pointing out Barack Obama’s EPA has placed a massive bulls eye on the great state of Texas, working to shut down electric generating plants here (among other things), and working to kill the US oil industry (which has made numerous Texans wealthy and countless more middle class). Again, Texas will go Obama when Hell freezes over (literally) and when Mercury is too frigid for any life to exist.

    Does anyone honestly believe the Obama administration would levy such a hefty, stupid fine on a Los Angeles school, or a Detroit school, or a DC school? No! Because Obama is not about to let his base have a reason to hate him! (Too late for that, as his splintered base will hate him for anything he does, like America’s black Churches and the evil, abominable homosexual “marriage” great sin that Obama committed.)

  4. John Hitchcock says:
    May 21, 2012 at 11:09

    Just to point it out, the High School is in UTAH, a state that Barack Obama will carry when Hell freezes over and Pluto is too hot for any living thing to survive.

    That’s like pointing out Barack Obama’s EPA has placed a massive bulls eye on the great state of Texas, working to shut down electric generating plants here (among other things), and working to kill the US oil industry (which has made numerous Texans wealthy and countless more middle class). … Does anyone honestly believe the Obama administration would levy such a hefty, stupid fine on a Los Angeles school, or a Detroit school, or a DC school?”

    As you say, “No.” He’s an outright ideological antagonist to our tradition of liberty, and he seeks to undermine it at every turn: in order to to “reshape America” along collectivist – or as he might say more cooperative and interdependent – lines more to his liking.

    An important part of that process as everyone here already knows, is to subvert as much as possible any economic activity that tends to increase the moral and material independence of the individual relative to the bureaucratic class, which as progressives see it, represents the interests of the “collective”.

    This goal is so well known and so widely disseminated in the writing of leftists themselves, that they don’t even bother trying to deny that which can be substantiated through countless and explicit examples of their announced views. These would be views on everything from the rationale for e”progressive taxation” to inheritance taxes, to the Social Security program; which they view as a “social insurance” device intended to inculcate in the individual a sense of collective investment, and hence, social solidarity, as part of its fundamental aim.

    And speaking of aim, the left makes no bones about taking specific aim at those “Yahoos”, out in the hinterlands, as part of a program to break their reactionary social and political power. Whether the “Yahoos” will wake up to what people like Obama and Daniel Lazare really have in mind for them or not, remains to be seen.

    Obama’s radical political and values alien-ness may indeed wake some in the American middle up. But that 25 to 40 percent of the population enthusiastic about becoming members of a explicitly emerging client class, will remain a problem even if Obama is defeated. They will it appears, do anything to avoid the “pain” of self-responsibility. And getting them to relax their frenzied voting booth grip on the lives of the more competent or self-sufficient, is going to be a problem for some time to come even under the best of circumstances.

  5. There are unintended consequences in that which you propose, one being the damage to poor school districts which, by their circumstances, would not be able to make up for federal funding by paying lower federal taxes and higher property taxes, like you suggest.

    I would also point out that your arguments against federal funding with regulations attached is based mainly on ideological grounds, with no quantitative information provided.

    Finally the rule to ban the sales of soda at lunch time has some merit based on having healthier diets for our children. Sodas are loaded with sugar, which is undesirable considering the increasing obesity and diabetes occurring in our population. One in four Americans are diabetic, and one in three are obese. This is not cool!

    Is there something wrong with our national and local governments being part of the influence on our children to eat nutritious meals devoid of large quantities of sugars? Is there something wrong with our national and local governments being part of the influence on our children to exercise? With our families being as broken as they have become, I am open to governmental involvement. I understand that the beverage industry lobby will be opposed. Who cares?

  6. Mr Hitchcock wrote:

    Just to point it out, the High School is in UTAH, a state that Barack Obama will carry when Hell freezes over and Pluto is too hot for any living thing to survive. . . .

    Does anyone honestly believe the Obama administration would levy such a hefty, stupid fine on a Los Angeles school, or a Detroit school, or a DC school? No! Because Obama is not about to let his base have a reason to hate him! (Too late for that, as his splintered base will hate him for anything he does, like America’s black Churches and the evil, abominable homosexual “marriage” great sin that Obama committed.)

    This argument assumes that the fine was a Presidential decision, which I doubt it was; a decision like this one is simply to small to make it to the presidential level, and really shouldn’t have even gotten up to a cabinet secretary. Perhaps the Aide to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Carrying Out Michelle Obama’s Directives? :)

  7. As expected, Wagonwheel defends federal control of everything!

    There are unintended consequences in that which you propose, one being the damage to poor school districts which, by their circumstances, would not be able to make up for federal funding by paying lower federal taxes and higher property taxes, like you suggest.

    It worked for the vast majority of our history. But even if you argue that some poor districts are too poor for this, the next level of assitance should be the state, not the federal government.

    I would also point out that your arguments against federal funding with regulations attached is based mainly on ideological grounds, with no quantitative information provided.

    You have all of the quantitative information you need: the inspector which found the violation and the federal bureaucracy which assessed the penalty are not free; they come with associated costs.

    Finally the rule to ban the sales of soda at lunch time has some merit based on having healthier diets for our children. Sodas are loaded with sugar, which is undesirable considering the increasing obesity and diabetes occurring in our population. One in four Americans are diabetic, and one in three are obese. This is not cool!

    This is just another “it’s for our own good” arguments. This should not be the role of the federal government! It is the role of parents to decide what to feed, or not feed, their children. Instead, we have the federal government assuming the role of in loco parentis. Perhaps liberals think that’s a good thing?

    Is there something wrong with our national and local governments being part of the influence on our children to eat nutritious meals devoid of large quantities of sugars? Is there something wrong with our national and local governments being part of the influence on our children to exercise? With our families being as broken as they have become, I am open to governmental involvement. I understand that the beverage industry lobby will be opposed. Who cares?

    If our families are as broken as they have become, part of that is due to the ridiculous concept that the government is there to take care of people. It should not be the role of government, an institution with police power, to take over the responsibilities of parents!

    If you are “open to government involvement” in this, then wouldn’t you have to say that the government has the power to require you to buy broccoli, as in Associate Justice Antonin Scalia’s famous question to the outmatched Solicitor General trying to defend ObumbleCare?

  8. And speaking of health, here is the latest obnoxious insult out of the spokesman for our extreme right:

    “Rush Limbaugh was back with another hit out on Michelle Obama’s weight, days after criticizing her eating ribs while on vacation. This time, his comment was even more incendiary. “The point is, if you’ree going to do this, if you are going to tell everyone to eat twigs and berries and gravel and all this other stuff, you had better look like an Ethiopian.”"

    I find little difference between this Limbaugh behavior and that of several daily bloggers on this blog, ignored by the blog owner who discarded the old and initiated the new, in order to have a more civil discourse. Well Mr Editor, this wish has not materialized, has it?

    Regarding your counter my earlier comment which claimed that our governments have a role to play wrt stipulating minimal nutritional and exercise guidelines for our school children, I stand by my original statement and disregard yours, which is the same old same old libertarian approach which is much more ideological than practical, especially in times like these in which the state and local governments are severely strapped, all because of Wall Street excesses and crimes.

    We neglect our children at our own peril and that of our entire nation. Who is more precious than they?

  9. WW wrote:

    Regarding your counter my earlier comment which claimed that our governments have a role to play wrt stipulating minimal nutritional and exercise guidelines for our school children, I stand by my original statement and disregard yours, which is the same old same old libertarian approach which is much more ideological than practical, especially in times like these in which the state and local governments are severely strapped, all because of Wall Street excesses and crimes.

    We neglect our children at our own peril and that of our entire nation. Who is more precious than they?

    Would you sacrifice freedom? That, you see, is what is being sacrificed for the government to act in loco parentis. You like Michelle Obama’s campaign against obesity, so naturally you approve of government interference in people’s daily lives, but if the government can interfere this way, why couldn’t the 46th President — we already know that the 45th President eats meat — if it turns out that he’s a vegetarian, try to enforce vegetarianism on the country? If the government can dictate healthy choices, then surely the government has the power to determine which choices are healthy ones, and those decisions will be taken by men with biases.

    We have, in world history, plenty of examples of the State determining what is good for people and ordering their lives . . . and dissenters were sent to the GULag or “re-education” camps and the like, assuming that they weren’t simply shot. Many, many people justified such things, as being in the people’s own better interests, just as you are here.

  10. And this is what the TEA Party was fighting against in 2010, fighting against a government which thinks it knows better than the individual, fighting against a government which wants to herd us all into living our lives the way that the government says we should.

    Government should exist to keep people from trampling on the rights of other people; you want government to exist to require people to behave as part of the crowd.

  11. I find little difference between this Limbaugh behavior and that of several daily bloggers on this blog, ignored by the blog owner who discarded the old and initiated the new, in order to have a more civil discourse. Well Mr Editor, this wish has not materialized, has it?

    PAP (Passive-Aggressive Perry) is right — there’s little difference between Limbaugh and himself. And, why has PAP ignored the Editor’s request for more civility on this blog?? That is a great question!

    There’s actually no difference between PAP and Michelle Obama — both are hypocrites of the highest order. Remember — to PAP, words are more important than actual actions. It doesn’t matter if Mrs. Obama lives as she preaches; just as it didn’t matter that Al Gore lived as he preached.

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