As much as I would love an easy slam dunk over goverment paternalism, I cannot take on this issue in such a simplified manner. And here's why. For better or for worse, the state has been involved in the education of our children for more than a century. When it comes to deeply entrenched government programs like this one, oftentimes the best we can do is to selectively appeal to libertarian principles. A wholesale libertarian argument in this arena would be futile and clumsy at best. A nice analogue is the libertarian argument about income tax. Certainly, it would be nice to pay no income tax. (I'm always painfully reminded around this time of year that the federal government indeed does take our money and use it for a year, giving us only a small portion back once they're done.) But no matter how enticing it is, the libertarian pipe dream of an income-tax free world is far from beingacheived . Simply put, we have too much legislative, political, and moral history to go up against. That said, lets move into the school lunch debate.

I think it's unfortunate that school lunch has gotten to point it has. The simple fact is we are now taking fistfuls of taxpayer money to feed students subsidized meals that are on the same nutritional level as a McDonald's value meal. Even with our legislative reforms we have not managed to clean up school lunch. According to an April 6 article in the New York Times, our current "health conscious" approach is simply not working.

"Currently, sale of the other foods is permitted in school if they contain at least 5 percent of the recommended daily allowance of protein and certain vitamins and minerals. This standard applies regardless of the product's level of calories, fat, added sugars or sodium. Under that approach, French fries, ice cream, candy bars, cookies, chips, snack cakes and doughnuts are allowed. Seltzer, jelly beans, chewing gum, lollipops, cotton candy and breath mints are not."

Obviously, the government is not doing a good job keeping our children healthy. In loco parentis is maybe a dead letter. And this where libertarianism is useful– if you are unhappy with the system, simply pack a lunch for your child. As for the current bill, it is hard to say what the outcome will be. To be sure, it is never easy for a libertarian to be sanguine about more federal oversight of any program. But from a pragmatic libertarian's point of view, if they are already spending our money, they should at least get it right.*

Daniel Corbett

* It is often argued that the obesity epidemic in America contributes significantly to shared health care costs.

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