by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
In the latest installment of his “Happy Warrior” column for National Review, Mark Steyn ponders the broader implications of a recent federal government standard that American middle-school students should have their lunchtime calorie intake lowered from 785 to 700.
The first lady was on hand for the launch of the new federally mandated lunch limits. The stench of failure and risibility has not yet attached to this initiative as it has to so many other Obama-era bureaucratic excesses. But, through September, returning schoolchildren complained about their new, insufficient lunches. Teachers and parents who took up their cause did so in statist terms, beseeching the commisars to raise the mandated calorie limits. Very few did so on first-principle grounds — which is to say the argument that a system in which a centralized bureaucracy attempts to impose a uniform menu on a nation of 300 million people is nuts, and cannot survive. In theory, education is the responsibility of local school districts in sovereign states. Yet somehow a bureaucrat in the Department of Agriculture wound up with a monopoly on what your kids eat.
Where do you go to vote out the Commissar of School Lunches? Even if Romney wins in November, I doubt this will be anybody’s big priority. Statists well understand that you don’t need a president-for-life if you’ve got a bureaucracy-for-life. Sometimes your team has to take a time-out for a couple of years, but, even when they do, all the departments and agencies and bureaus are still in place, hyper-regulating away. I mean, how often does the party of small government actually abolish anything?
And if Obama wins, you’ll get the National Calorie Limits approach to government supersized: A vast regulatory octopus entwining itself around every aspect of the citizen’s life. America is already hideously over-bureaucratized and pushing against the limits. It’s not a small, homogenous Scandinavian nation of a few million. It’s a vast sprawling broke behemoth for which the concentration of power at the center will prove fatal.
Imagine what he would have written if he were the “Unhappy Warrior.”