Commentary by Bob McTeer

Source: Forbes

We’ve come a long way—unfortunately—since our founding fathers wrote our constitution and tried to sort out the proper role of government from what should be left to the people. The recent spending bill, lauded rightly for the bi-partisan effort that went into its passage, must have left them spinning in their graves.

I refer, of course, to the great battle over what the federal government should mandate for school lunches. Seriously.

The outcome was billed as a defeat for the First Lady—who had vowed to fight to the bitter end—and her allies who supported whole and multi-grain bread for school lunches, especially in pasta and tortillas. There was also a side issue involving appropriate salt content and even provisions regarding green-house emissions from farm animals—from both ends, I believe.

I don’t doubt that whole grain bread is more nutritious than the white bread I grew up on. Less salt is probably better as well, although salt tastes awfully good. What gets me is the idea—common these days—that, if something is a good idea, it’s a good idea to pass it into law.

Wages should be higher; pass a law. Work weeks should be shorter, pass a law. A federal law at that. Regarding school lunches, what about parents getting together with the principal? Or, maybe even the local school board?

If it has come to Congress deliberating over school lunches, think of all else that has now become a matter of law rather than individual choice—individual liberty. Pretty soon, Congress will be telling us what light bulbs we may use or how much water we use to flush the toilet. Oh, wait, that has already happened.

We have a huge problem when folks want to turn their opinions into laws and assume that those who oppose them are just not enlightened. They know better. Better let the smart people make the decisions.

When I first heard of the great whole-grain debate, I assumed that the opposition was standing on principle. We don’t need a federal law on the content of school lunches. But, actually, it was a debate on detail. What year certain provisions would be phased in. That sort of thing.

I’m afraid that’s become a pattern as well. At first the fight is over principles, but once the centralizers win their point the opposition just drag their feet a bit on implementation. The forces of liberty are in retreat.