Thursday, October 08, 2009

O Brave New World...

Please, God, spare me from well-meaning liberals. Protect me from those who want to take from all to help my kids. Spare me the cries of "it's for the children." Because that way lies madness. That way lies stories like
In a locally unprecedented move, the School District of Philadelphia will hold principals accountable for the number of students eating breakfast in their schools.

Breakfast participation will be part of the report card that rates principals each year, along with categories such as attendance and math and reading performance.

All 165,000 students in Philadelphia public schools, regardless of income, are eligible for free breakfasts. But just 54,000 ate breakfast last year, district figures show.


"Making principals accountable for breakfast is critical," said Jim Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center, a Washington nonprofit that works to eradicate hunger. "School breakfast is so important that it makes sense to hold people in the system responsible."

This is insane. How long until the principals are made accountable for the increase in weight among the kids (who WILL be encouraged to eat at school, regardless of whether they've eaten already at home)? How long after that until mandatory physical activities are instituted after the academic days ends? How long after that until the school day includes both breakfast and dinner (because some of those kids won't have hot meals to go home to)? How long after that until going home to sleep is discouraged? (Try to tell me that we won't have some well-meaning busybody saying "some of these kids don't have good blankets, or warm apartments, or their own bedrooms." Just don't expect me to believe it.)

This is part and parcel of the creeping (well, it used to be creeping - it appears to be galloping now) cradle-to-grave nanny state. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and we're on that road right now like, well, a bat out of hell.

This is not, I think, an original observation, and I may have made it before, and I don't have any idea where I might have first heard it, but this is a problem of utopianism. So many of the issues that we, as a country, face right now are the result of people who believe, really, truly believe, in the perfectability of the human condition. And the driving mindset is the delusional belief that if we could just, somehow, someway, pass the right laws, institute the right government programs, then everything would be perfect. The nonsensical belief that we can do away with violence, hunger, disease, thirst, war, accidents, illiteracy, animal attacks, dandruff, undercooked burritos, global warming, hemorrhoids and the heartbreak of psoriasis if only we could institute the right government programs. There are no inherent problems with humanity that lead to problems, at least none that can't be legislated away, and with enough of the right kind of laws, humanity can achieve perfection, where everyone is smart and educated, has equal wealth and no disputes with his neighbors, a Lake Wobegone world where everyone's above average.

It's public policy from the John Lennon ("imagine all the people living life in peace") school, and it requires government policies from the Vladimir Lenin school. Because you can't perfect human behavior in a free society. (You can't perfect it in a totalitarian society, either, but there are always going to be some who believe that, if they only had a little more control, if the could only institute a few more restrictions, they could make everything perfect.)

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