Food Policy

National School Lunch Program Embarrassment Continues

The USDA has managed to make school lunches stink even more. So why does the government continue to double down on the program?

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School Lunch
George Eastman House / Foter

School lunches still stink. But now unprecedented numbers of students are refusing to eat them.

Last month I noted that a GAO report had found that last school year's disastrous rollout of the updated USDA National School Lunch Program helped drive 1.6 million paying students from the lunch rolls. The new rules led some schools to abandon the program, as I reported in 2012. What's more, the new rules, championed by First Lady Michelle Obama, have also resulted in unprecedented mountains of food waste.

As I also noted last month, the federal government has decided that these abject failures are evidence of a need to double down on the school lunch program. Why scrap a failing program when you can expand it instead?

The expansion, which will impact more than 20,000 school across the country, reports the Washington Post, "will provide free breakfast and lunch to all students in schools where at least 40 percent of the children are low-income."

That change is intended "to increase participation in the free meals program and to relieve the paperwork burden on schools," reports the Post.

Apparently there's no federal paperwork requirement related to the even greater mountain of food waste caused by the policy change.

Kids are protesting with their mouths. They're opting out of school lunches and throwing away food they don't want to eat. But they're also fighting back with their minds.

Student protests over the school lunches have played out on social media now for more than two school-calendar years. While early 2012 saw students at one high school create the well-known "We are Hungry" video, recent protests have centered around Twitter—and targeted Mrs. Obama by name.

A clever recent Twitchy expose compiled student ire over school lunches. The report shows one student lashing out at Mrs. Obama over the "crusty ass broccoli" their school served. Another student tweeted that they would "never forgive Michelle Obama for this school lunch."

These problems with the National School Lunch Program have been so bad that even the mainstream media has been forced to take note.

The Los Angeles Times blasted the National School Lunch Program earlier this week in a pointed editorial.

"The program, pushed by the Obama administration and passed by Congress, is afflicted by rigid, overreaching regulations that defy common sense," wrote the Times editors.

"[F]ruits and vegetables rank as the least popular items, so requiring schools to offer one of each for each student practically guarantees that an enormous amount of fruits and vegetables will go to waste.

"Even worse are the rules about what kinds of produce must be offered and in what form," writes the Times. "They make it nearly impossible, for example, to hide the vegetables in soups or lasagna, where they might be more palatable to students."

The National School Lunch Program wastes money. It wastes food. Parents, students, advocates, and the government all know this. Solving the problem means—at the least—shrinking the program dramatically. The government's efforts to pad school lunch enrollment numbers by expanding the program should be seen as what it is: a cynical attempt to avoid admitting failure. There's nothing palatable about that.

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  1. Teach the kids to cook for themselves.

    Granted, the unionized kitchen staff will have a shit fit.

    1. What a coincidence. All of the kids at my school do cook their own lunches. Hell, they decide what the meals will contain and help shop for the ingredients.

      The kitchen staff isn’t unionized though.

      1. NEM, if you keep doing that, they’re going to be self-sufficent and capable at a young age. If that happens, how are they ever going to learn to look to the God-State for the proper guidance?

      2. The older kids can learn how to put the spare tire on the principal’s car. One class puts the spare on in the morning; another takes the spare off and puts the original tire back on in the afternoon. Grading is done on a basis of how safe a job they do — if the principal’s tire falls off, they fail.

        Practical skills for students!

        1. I don’t get it. How does that teach diversity?

          1. Different tires.

            1. White-walls.

              1. Different load ranges too.

          2. The instructions are in Spanish.

        2. And they can be taught about incentives – a larger allowance would give me more incentive to ensure these bolts were on tight . . .

    2. This is actually not a bad idea.

      Combine home-ec with the school lunch program, and put the older kids in charge of training the younger kids. With some adult supervision.

      So the seniors who have done it a few years will ensure that the quality isn’t too shitty, and in the meantime the younger kids learn some useful skills.

      Do this in those 40% poverty schools, and you’re giving them all the basic kitchen staff skills they need to work in the restaurant business. Not to discipline, teamwork, etc.

      And the ones that don’t get jobs in the food industry, at least they learn how to cook for themselves, so they aren’t reliant on frozen pizza and ho-hos.

    3. I dont know if I would go that far. But definitely need to improve these school lunches they still seam to be lacking in the proper calories and mixture of food.

  2. I was always a fan of the chicken wheel. True fact it tastes exactly the same as the ones you get in the military.

    1. When I was in school chicken had feet.

      1. Geez grandpa, I bet your tv had vacuum tubes in it too.

        1. One big one (the screen) and a whole bunch of little ones.

          1. It literally took an act of Congress (Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005) to make my wife get rid of the little 1975 black and white RCA she watched the morning weather on in the bedroom.

        2. Yep. Many a late evening was spent down at the Rexall Drug store with the tube tester looking for which peanut tube the lightning zapped.

  3. Now there is a dude that clelarly knows what time it is.

    http://www.GotsDatAnon.tk

  4. “The program, pushed by the Obama administration and passed by Congress, is afflicted by rigid, overreaching regulations that defy common sense,” wrote the Times editors.

    Welcome to our world, anonymous L A Times editorialist. Now cast your weary eye upon the vast panoply of government programs, and despair.

    1. The regulations defy more than common sense, they defy science.
      Adolescent obesity rates tripled (5% to 15%) from 1965 to 1996 while their total food consumption decreased. Fat consumption decreased by 7%. Saturated fat consumption decreased by 3%. Carbohydrate consumption increased by 8%.
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10868993

      1. “they defy science.”

        I know right, I hate when the government vaguely cites stats to demonstrate causation, when there is only weak correlation.

        1. How deep do you want to get into dietary science and endocrinology in a libertarian website’s comments section? Obese 9 month olds? Insulin and leptin? Proopiomelanocortin neurins? Pair fed mice? Fat Zucker rats? Pavlov’s dogs? (No kidding.)

          1. I’m thinking the most simple answer was that children back then had more muscle mass and were more likely to ride their bikes or walk to school.

            I know when I was a kid, my legs were huge, they must have burned like 400 calories a piece per day at rest, not to mention the miles I would ride to friends houses or to school every day.

            1. You’re thinking that appetite and activity are independent variables. They aren’t. Your mom ever send you outside to work up an appetite?

              Experiments on obese people, dogs, rats and mice all show exercise is shockingly ineffective for fat loss. Fat Zucker rats, when forced to eat and exercise like the regular Zucker rats in the next cage, will show shrunken muscles and organs rather than lose fat.

              Besides, changes in exercise are certainly not to blame for the big increases in obesity in 6 to 9 month old babies.

      2. Did their obesity rate AS MEASURED BY A CONSISTANT SET OF STANDARDS rise that much? Seriously? Because when i see stats like that, over that long a period, my immediate suspicion is that 1965 and 1996 are talking about two different measurements.

        1. The standards were consistently set through the study period for this study.

      3. What did their activity level do?

        1. I don’t remember this study addressing that, but we already know that weight gains precede declines in activity in both obese children and obese adults.

  5. Way OT: making vaginas. I know. I’m so immature.

    http://news.discovery.com/huma…..140410.htm

    1. Great! Now maybe Shriek will get to touch one.

      1. Now I can eat one well-done instead of raw. And with extra ketchup.

  6. School lunches will always suck. The requirement that they be cheap, healthy (according to the government), mass producible, mostly non allergenic, and inoffensive to many different dietary restrictions makes it a challenge to make something that fits all those requirements and is good. Oh and the lowest common denominator of kid, the kind who would happily live off McNuggets and cheese pizza, essentially gets to exercise a veto on anything straying outside those kind of boundaries.

    Why, it’s almost like centrally engineered, top down direction is an incredibly supoptimal way of organizing a marketplace. I wonder if this applies to any other areas of society?

    1. Yep. And not the feds have any business at all in this realm but if they were going to butt in wouldn’t it have been so much simpler to just say lunches can’t exceed 400 to 600 calories depending on grade range? That would be a pretty easy target to hit with a great deal of flexibility.

      1. You know, supposedly there was a time when many children walked home, by themselves, where their mother prepared lunch for them. Other kids would leave the school grounds and walk, by themselves, to local businesses to purchase lunch. Some of these businesses weren’t even regulated.

        Obviously that madness had to be stopped.

        1. Yeah, I grew up in that time. We were poor. I didn’t know milk came in a form other than powdered. Yet somehow my folks always figured out a way to provide lunches for my sister and I.

          1. We read this in 4th grade

            There’s a part where all the kids walk down the street to the corner deli at lunch, and eat meatball subs and reubens and such, before they hear the bell ring and head back to class.

            All us kids thought that was really cool, and wondered why we couldn’t do that here. The teacher was very careful to explain to us how dangerous and irresponsible that is because things are much more dangerous now blah blah blah.

            This country has gone really soft.

            1. I grew up in a pretty rough neighborhood. Inner city, lot’s of traffic. I would get up early on Saturday mornings, jump on my bike (no helmet) and be gone until dinner. Somehow I didn’t die. Crazy.

              1. No, that isn’t crazy. What’s crazy is the assumption that today is more dangerous….which happens to be provably false.

                1. That’s a myth that drives me crazy, too. Would I rather my daughter wander alone in the streets of Oakland today or the streets of London two hundred years ago? Easy choice.

                  But people today seem to think the 19th century was singing governesses and dancing penguins.

                  1. I love me some dancing penguin with hollandaise mmmmmm

            2. It would all be a lot easier if the progressives were all stacked in landfills. Mmmmmm…….happy thoughts.

    2. Tut tut. It’s not that the government-approved nutrigruel is unpalatable to the children, it’s that our messaging is insufficient.

  7. The LA Times just doesn’t get it. I’d like to see them ram a one size fits all solution down peoples throats and see how they do. Being a petty tyrant is difficult enough without the media playing monday morning quarterback. Leave Michelle alone. *runs away crying.

  8. The problem with school lunch programs is not the composition of the lunch, it is not objectionable that the sponsor of a program would ask that the program have certain elements, and healthy lunches are a good idea for children. The problem is the existence of a program which takes money from A and B to give to C’s children.

    No one wants to see children go hungry. Most districts have organizations like Parent Teacher Organizations which could raise money for free or discounted school lunches voluntarily. Other districts could raise it from charities, or perhaps they could even have a box on tax returns such as the ‘do you want to donate three dollars of your return to ___’ reserved for a school lunch program, or sell license plates in the name of such a program and pay for it.

    1. Healthy lunches are great in theory, provided you have a realistic idea of what’s healthy. In reality, the diet-heart party line against sat fats makes them quite unhealthy, replacing whole milk with flavored skim milk–essentially sugar water, demonizing meats, etc. Kids end up getting hungry and craving more junk food which they buy from vending machines or bring from home.

      So it’s rather like saying there’s nothing wrong with socialism if the right people are in charge to make the proper top down decisions.

      1. Let’s see, I get about 20 servings of chili from 40$ of ingredients when I make it. That’s 2$ a serving. If I was making it for kids, I’d use less meat and more beans, so probably could get it down to 1.50 or so a serving.

        Add in a spinach salad and a piece of fresh made bread, with iced tea or water to drink, and I bet I could produce 500 nourishing and nasty lunches for around 5 dollars per lunch.

        1. That sounds like great stuff, but the fact is kids need more fat and protein than adults and while I think spinach salad is awesome and healthy a lot of kids aren’t so into it, so it would probably go to waste. You can try and convince kids how awesome it is, and they have certainly been trying to do so for a long time. But other than Popeye, it’s pretty much been a failure.

          1. I have to agree with Snark that few kids in my experience would even try a spinach salad. If you want children to eat healthy foods you would have a better chance with fruits.

            1. If you want children to eat healthy foods you would have a better chance with fruits

              A piece of fruit is certainly better than a candy bar, but it certainly isn’t an ideal snack in my opinion. Fruit tends to provide a quick rush of energy, with a letdown soon to follow. It’s great to have a banana while you cook dinner, but I favor foods that satiate more.

              1. As far as fruits go, I like bananas for their potassium, but in general actual fruits aren’t bad for satiation. It’s taking twenty apples and turning it into a glass of juice that’s bad news.

                Vit C is necessary, of course, but much more necessary in a high carb/sugar diet it seems.

                1. I think the bigger problem is that snacking has gotten so out of control in general, especially with kids, as people constantly spike their blood glucose with crap.

                  1. See I think snacking is more a byproduct of not eating filling and nutritious meals. An effect, rather than a cause.

                    1. I agree, but it has become normal for people to think that one has to eat every two hours, because of this surfeit of protein and fat, just like people think they have to carry a water bottle with them or die of thirst. With children, the lack of SFAs especially causes more constant hunger as it is so much more energy dense and satiating, but especially detrimental as it is so important for things like brain development.

                    2. “See I think snacking is more a byproduct of not eating filling and nutritious meals.”

                      You also think a bunch of other colossally stupid shit.

                      Please stop sharing it.

                    3. See I think snacking is more a byproduct of not eating filling and nutritious meals. An effect, rather than a cause.

                      If you load your system with sugary and starchy stuff at meals, it can set it up so your fat system won’t hold you between meals, which drives you to sugary, starchy snacks…
                      Virginian and Snark are describing the two cycles of a two cycle reciprocation.

                    4. See I think snacking is more a byproduct of not eating filling and nutritious meals. An effect, rather than a cause.

                      If you load your system with sugary and starchy stuff at meals, it can set it up so your fat system won’t hold you between meals, which drives you to sugary, starchy snacks…
                      Virginian and Snark are describing the two cycles of a two cycle reciprocation.

                    5. Huh. Squirrels. Flying Squirrels!

            2. Just give them a big dish of Tater Tots and none of them will complain. Just hide the broccoli inside.

          2. Yeah but why aren’t they into it? Because they get constantly fed sugar, and carby foods that are essentially sugar. Every taste is acquired. My parents didn’t give me the fruit baby foods, they gave me jar after jar of spinach.

            I work with kids, and I know it’s difficult to swim against the tide with them. But the results are worth it. Sometimes it means being a bit of an asshole. If I’m doing snack, you will try what I cook. If you don’t like it, that’s fine, but you will try a bite. And no, I will not get cookies from the closet for you. When the choice is “eat this, or wait until dinner” you’d be surprised what kids will eat.

            1. Well if you let them sorta drench the salad with a healthy fat dressing, say dairy-based like Ranch (pretty sure kids love Ranch) made from full fat buttermilk (maybe even get in some probiotics there) or an oil-based Thousand Island type dressing made from olive oil (which isn’t so cheap) then you got something healthy going on, even if it’s just crap lettuce instead of spinach or rukola (with hopefully some tomatoes at least thrown in).

              Then there’s less tide to swim against.

              Or you can get more clever and make things like breaded cauliflower like I do for my son (fried in a healthy sat fat, typically ghee), he snarfs that stuff up. I don’t stress too much about my kid eating veggies so much as try to get him to avoid bread and sugar and eat enough healthy SFAs.

              But a lot of parents these days are really clueless about what healthy food actually is, so they think it’s normal for their kid to be hungry all the time.

              1. Oh I thought the dressing went without saying. Spinach salad with bleu cheese and bacon. Yum yum.

                The cauliflower sounds good though, I might give that a shot. What do you pair it with?

                they think it’s normal for their kid to be hungry all the time.

                But they gave him oatmeal and toast with orange juice for breakfast. Why is he hungry again?

                1. The cauliflower sounds good though, I might give that a shot. What do you pair it with?

                  Often that will be my kid’s entire dinner, heh. Cooked cauliflower is rather like potatoes, so pair it with pretty much anything you would taters. You have to steam or boil it first then egg/breadcrumbs fry, so it’s some work to have to cook it twice.

            2. When the choice is “eat this, or wait until dinner” you’d be surprised what kids will eat.

              …he said in the comments section of an article talking about how much food kids throw away rather than eat.

              1. I was in school less than a decade ago. Usually what kids on free lunch do is pick through what they like, toss the rest, and then hit the vending machine. Or they bring something with them, or cadge from friends, or wait until after school. There’s also a thriving gray market.

                Seniors could leave for lunch Friday, so every Thursday this one guy in my class would take orders, and his parents would cook all morning at their Chinese restaurant. They’d load them up and bring them over right as lunch started, and you could pick up your order in the commons.

                1. Somehow I think this would not be allowed these days.

                  1. He graduated with me, so I doubt anyone is doing it now. They probably wouldn’t allow it though. All that unbridled, unregulated, uncontrolled capitalism is antisocial behavior.

            3. “Yeah but why aren’t they into it? Because they get constantly fed sugar, and carby foods that are essentially sugar. ”

              No, it’s because their senses, including taste, are still developing, and their taste buds are different.

              You obviously know very very little about a subject you seem to enjoy talking about a lot.

              1. Why so mad bro?

                1. Why so mad bro?

                  If you were him you’d be mad too.

              2. No, it’s because their senses, including taste, are still developing, and their taste buds are different.

                it is amazing how adaptable taste buds become when your choices are eating what is on the plate or not eating at all. And often enough, kids will find out that the food they did not originally want is not nearly as bad as they thought.

                1. This has been my experience too. I see so many parents who act like their kids are going to die if they don’t eat for two hours. They’ll beg and plead and bribe and then “OK, will you eat this cookie?”

                  But if you put some reasonably decent vegetables and other not poisonous stuff in front of them and say “you’re free to eat that or wait and see what you get at the next meal,” their tolerance for healthy food goes way up.

            4. They aren’t into spinach for the same reason they’re not into beer: aversion to bitterness. Attraction to sweets is part of it, but this other side of the coin has to be accounted for too, as well as the fact that sweetness counteracts bitterness. In fact even as adults a large proportion of the sweeteners we consume goes into counteracting bitterness.

              Ever notice that kids are crazy for cheese? It’s not sweet, but it’s not very bitter, either. Kids will also go for so much of sour stuff that they’ll vomit from it. So it’s not like sweet is all they’re after.

        2. And this is why each school and its PTO should be doing this. If you lived in the school district you could put this idea forward and a good chance of it being discussed and accepted, but in a federal system you would get a form letter back if you did.

          1. “And this is why each school and its PTO should be doing this.”

            Sorry, but that’s just not realistic. Most schools that aren’t in affluent areas don’t even have PTOs, or have such minimal participation they may as well not.

            The fact is that there are just some communities where the parents either can’t or won’t participate in these systems, and some parents even make their kids bring home the free lunch so that they can have it for themselves. A PTO composed of those people is not going to be very helpful.

            The Districts in these areas also tend to not really be the kinds of Districts who “discuss and accept” “ideas” from the parents in the District. They’re generally too busy putting out fires, sometimes literally.

            The school lunch program is a hellacious mess partly because it’s made itself necessary, and some private solution will almost certainly have to be developed and effectively implemented BEFORE discussion of doing away with the school lunch program can even really start.

            1. But why should anyone go to the PTOs at this point? There’s no chance of influencing anything that happens in the school since all decisions are made at the federal level.

        3. If I was making it for kids, I’d use less meat and more beans, so probably could get it down to 1.50 or so a serving.

          I assume you mean more than zero.

          1. I’m too poor to scorn beans in my chili.

          2. I will admit putting beans in chili, but *only* black beans, I haven’t completely lost my moral compass.

            1. I like pintos and kidney beans, and I like them in my chili.

              For too long my people have been shunned, despised, trampled on. No longer. It ends now.

              My name is Virginian, and I like beans in chili.

              1. These people with their no beans thing are crazy.

                Beans have been a staple of Tex-Mex (and New Mexican – the ‘native cuisine of my region) since that shit has existed.

                If its just meat and chiles then its chili con carne – and even *that* comes in the ‘red’ and ‘green’ versions.

              2. You are welcome to like beans WITH you chili.

                If you cook a dish of meat and chili sauce with beans in it you can certainly like that as well.

                But it is not chili.

                1. Oh boy! Looks like we found the new deep dish v thin crust!

                  *saunters out of room whistling happily*

        4. You’d have to hide the veggies in the chili. But a number of kids won’t even eat the chili.

          1. Then they’ll be hungry. I mean, I think of the main issues with parents today, in general, is that they’re far too deferential to the wishes of their children. I’m not talking about teenagers, or even kids aged 10-13. I’m talking about watching parents attempt to wheedle their six or seven year old instead of acting as a parent. Children that young cannot reason, as a general rule. It really does come down to “because I said so” quit a bit of the time.

            1. Cap’n Crunch or nothing.

          2. I don’t know about that. My introduction to chili came through the school lunch programs, a whole lotta moons ago. It was among the better lunch days, usually accompanied by a grilled cheese sandwich that damn near any kid will eat.

        5. “Add in a spinach salad……”

          Yeah, this is for school kids. i am seeing those giant plastic trash cans filled with used napkins and spinach salad.

          1. Well that’s where the propaganda comes in.

        6. spinach sucks…signed Olive Oyl

        7. You sound as intelligent as Michelle Obama.

    2. So we give poor people food stamps why? So we can turn around and make lunch for their kids? Here’s a novel concept, get a job (just kidding, that’s insane of me to suggest), no take your food stamps and buy food and make lunch for your kid every day. Too much?

      1. In VA, a single mom (yay you go girl, you don’t need a man!) with two kids gets over 900 dollars a month in food stamps. Somehow, this isn’t enough to feed three people.

        1. holy shit! My wife and I don’t spend that much in a month.

          My biggest issue with EBT remains the prepared foods that can be bought with it. Goddammit, no. If my tax money is feeding you, you’re are going to buy things that require some effort in order to make.

          1. biggest issue with EBT remains the prepared foods that can be bought with it

            I veer back and forth wildly on that. One day I’m all Milton Friedman and “If we have to have welfare, it should be vouchers or EBT to allow the market to operate as well as possible.” Then other days I’m all “Fuck that. Give out rice and beans and flour to anyone who wants it, and nothing else.”

            Mainly it depends on if I was standing behind an EBTian in the grocery store line.

            1. I watched a guy buy a hundred pound sack of crawfish one day with the Texas Lone Star debit card. He, his wife, and children were well dressed. The wife wore a lot of gold (looking) jewelry and they drove a late model Ford SUV.

              When they were leaving the fish house I held the door for him and he said thanks.

              I asked for what ? Holding the door or buying your crawfish ?

              Obviously that still bothers me. I don’t buy crawfish like that because they are too expensive. I make do with the cheaper shrimp and blue crab (some of the shrimp and all of the crab I catch myself) for a similar dining experience.

            2. In San Francisco, and I assume all of California, EBT cards work at McDonald’s, Burger King, etc.

              1. Here in NY, only in special circumstances are the EBT cards active for prepared foods and restaurants, like homeless or rent a room with no kitchen.

              2. Not so. I don’t know how things work in SF, but in general only EBT cash works at fast-food places. EBT food stamps (excuse me, I guess we’re calling it CALFRESH now. UGH.) can’t be used to purchase hot food (in can, maddeningly, be used for untoasted Subway sandwiches and items like take-n-bake pizzas… also Yum Yum donuts and the like). I work for a county welfare office in California and I get first-hand exposure to this bullshit. I am aware of some counties running programs for homeless folks that allow them to buy hot food since they have no way to cook on the street.

                I also feel I should mention that the $900/mo for a family of 3 is mildly unbelievable (not saying it isn’t true, just hard to swallow). Here in California, the maximum food stamp allotment for a family of three with zero countable income is $497… but that’s not to mention the maximum cash grant of $638 that they’re likely pocketing as well (while not reporting the money they’re earning under the table).

                1. It looks like it’s a somewhat restricted program:

                  The California Restaurant Meals Program allows eligible homeless, disabled, and/or elderly (ages 60 and above) CalFresh benefit recipients to use their CalFresh benefits to purchase hot, prepared food from participating restaurants.

                  The following California counties participate in the Restaurant Meals Program:

                  Alameda County
                  Los Angeles County
                  Sacramento County
                  San Diego County
                  San Francisco County
                  San Luis Obispo County
                  Santa Clara County

        2. In VA, a single mom (yay you go girl, you don’t need a man!) with two kids gets over 900 dollars a month in food stamps. Somehow, this isn’t enough to feed three people.

          That’s about what we spend these days for my wife, my 16-year-old and me. We eat very well, too! I just pulled a rack and a half of pork back ribs off the kettle grill. They aren’t quite as tender as usual. The wind gusts kept goosing the coals and driving the temperature up toward 300?F.

      2. They do, that’s why their kids throw out the school lunch.

    3. Agreed. I have been thinking so much lately about the idea of a crowdsourcing method of “taxation” for the “social contract” line items of gubmint budgets. All voluntary. The State would then be promoting the general welfare, but the coercion factor in non-enumerated powers – at least – would be gone. The redistributive agencies would then have to appeal to the people for donations. If they were corrupt or inefficient or inept, good luck getting the support needed for their cause.

    4. I think the “problem” is that even the poorest kids aren’t hungry. The lunches would get thrown away no matter how good they are, because the kids don’t need them.

  9. Meanwhile, down at the Social Justice desk,

    Most of the coverage of Piketty’s book has focused on his diagnosis, but the most interesting part is the cure. He proposes a global tax on capital?by which he means real assets such as land, natural resources, houses, office buildings, factories, machines, software, and patents, as well as pieces of paper, such as stocks and bonds, that represent a financial interest in those assets. In his terminology, capital is essentially the same as wealth. So taxing capital is taking a chunk of rich people’s money. His tax would start small but rise to as high as 5 percent to 10 percent annually for fortunes in the billions. The proceeds in Piketty’s view should not fund an expansion of government: “The state’s great leap forward has already taken place: there will be no second leap?not like the first one, in any event,” he writes.

    Have no fear, that vast confiscation of wealth will not be used to expand the scope and power of government. Because government bureaucrats are wise, and will only use that loot for good.

    1. ” In his terminology, capital is essentially the same as wealth. So taxing capital is taking a chunk of rich people’s money.”

      If the stupid motherfucker is going to rationalize theft, he should at least use logi……oh never mind. Someone please push that evil moron down the stairs.

    2. “The state’s great leap forward has already taken place: there will be no second leap?not like the first one, in any event,” he writes.

      Somebody believes in magic. Pure folly.

  10. SoCons Urge GOP to Not Choose Vegas for 2016 Convention

    “Some of the heaviest hitters on the religious right are pressuring GOP leaders to cross off Las Vegas as a potential host city for its 2016 convention, warning that putting the next convention in Sin City will harm the party’s image and drive away supporters.

    ‘The GOP is supposedly interested in reaching out to conservatives and evangelicals. Maybe that’s just a front, but if they really mean it this is not the way to do it,’ Dobson said Tuesday. ‘Even though Vegas has tried to shore itself up and call itself family-friendly, it’s still a metaphor for decadence. There’s still 64 pages of escort services in the yellow pages. ? You can’t have it both ways.'”

    http://www.dallasnews.com/news…..-vegas.ece

    1. Screw the Sin City angle. If socons want to torpedo a Vegas convention, just put together a price list compared to elsewhere. That goddam place is expensive. I’m surprised there isn’t a credit card reader to buy toilet paper by the square.

    2. “…will harm the party’s image…”

      Is that possible anymore?

    3. Adelson’s got to get his hundred million back somehow.

  11. Still, Piketty’s global tax has features that make it worth pondering as a thought experiment if nothing else. For one thing, it gets the incentives right. If a global tax on capital were imposed, owners of valuable assets such as empty lots might be more likely to put them to good use, or sell them to someone who could, to cover the tax bill. (American writer Henry George had the same idea in the 19th century with his famous single tax on land, designed to reward development but not speculation.) For another, a wealth tax captures resources that other taxes miss. The income tax doesn’t cover unrealized capital gains, which represent the bulk of the wealth of people such as Gates, Warren Buffett, and Carlos Slim. Stanford University economist Ronald McKinnon wrote a 2012 Wall Street Journal op-ed called “The Conservative Case for a Wealth Tax.” (He now says his tax would be lower than Piketty’s, and flat, not rising with wealth.)

    We’re doomed.

    “Fucking rich people! Off with their heads, blargle blargle!”

    Is there an undercurrent of envy in the campaign against extremes of wealth? No doubt, and that’s unfortunate. The correct case for a global tax on capital is positive, not negative. It’s about rejuvenation.

    This apparently is just a not-so-subtle version of the broken windows fallacy. “We’ll just take everybody’s money and dump it on the ground and distribute it equally, and then stand back and watch as we all get rich. RICH, I tell you!”

    1. American writer Henry George had the same idea in the 19th century with his famous single tax on land, designed to reward development but not speculation.

      Just for the record, land speculation only exists because of the State declaring that it is the holder of all unused land, and that it shall distribute the land to its cronies and supporters.

    2. Who needs a global tax? There’s a town in New York (Bethlehem) doing the same thing. That town is going to lose all it’s greenspace that isn’t town-owned because the property assessment jumped sometimes as high as 50%. But notice how the members of the town board didn’t see any increase in assessments…

  12. Make Your Reservations Now for SoCon Anti-Porn Conference

    “Morality in Media, the nation’s leading anti-pornography organization, is bringing together the best researchers and speakers to provide the very best event to address the pandemic of harm from pornography.

    The event will take place on Friday, May 16 and Saturday, May 17, 2014. The purpose is not just to inform but to motivate and to build a large coalition to win the war on pornography.

    Brain surgeon Dr. Donald Hilton will address addiction to pornography and explain how this addiction is similar to the addiction to cocaine. Pediatrics professor Dr. Sharon Cooper will outline the overwhelming and often life-long problems that children acquire from viewing adult pornography. Professor Dr. Gail Dines, leading international activist against sexual exploitation will tell of the devastation that pornography is causing in the development of the sexual template of our nation’s youth. Dr. Mary Anne Layden will outline the peer-reviewed research on the harms of pornography related to health and relationship of adults. Dr. Laura Lederer will tell how pornography consumption is leading to a dramatic increase in prostitution and sex trafficking.”

    http://pornharms.com/attention-major-summit/

    1. Sexual template ?

    2. Uhm, how do you *know* this is a SoCon only thing?

      From what I’ve seen, huge swathes of the left are also anti-porn.

    3. “Pediatrics professor Dr. Sharon Cooper will outline the overwhelming and often life-long problems that children acquire from viewing adult pornography.”

      As opposed to non-adult porno ?

  13. John Paul Stevens Suggests Amendment the Second Amendment

    “As a result of the rulings in Heller and McDonald, the Second Amendment, which was adopted to protect the states from federal interference with their power to ensure that their militias were ‘well regulated,’ has given federal judges the ultimate power to determine the validity of state regulations of both civilian and militia-related uses of arms. That anomalous result can be avoided by adding five words to the text of the Second Amendment to make it unambiguously conform to the original intent of its draftsmen. As so amended, it would read: ‘A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the Militia shall not be infringed.'”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/…..ml?hpid=z9

    Think about how perverse and absurd this would be. The Bill of Rights serves to protect us from government powers, but this would mean that the 2nd only allows people to keep and bear arms as part of a government organization. It would be like saying people have the right of free speech when serving in the government.

    1. Hail to the King.

    2. “? the people are confirmed by the next article in their right to keep and bear their private arms”
      Philadelphia Federal Gazette
      June 18, 1789, Pg. 2, Col. 2
      Article on the Bill of Rights

      “Firearms stand next in importance to the constitution itself. They are the American people’s liberty teeth and keystone under independence ? from the hour the Pilgrims landed to the present day, events, occurences and tendencies prove that to ensure peace security and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable ? the very atmosphere of firearms anywhere restrains evil interference ? they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good.”
      George Washington

      1. That Washington quote is exactly why Stevens and all the other gun-grabbing pieces of shit hate the second amendment so much.

        1. Of course my big problem with the Washington quote is he appears to imply that the colonists at Jamestown took 13 (1620 – 1607 = 13) years discover the need for firearms!

    3. As long Stevens wants to add words, why not one more?

      right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the unorganized Militia shall not be infringed.

      1. As long Stevens wants to add words, why not one more?

        Oh peace train sounding louder
        Glide on the peace train
        Come on now peace train
        Yes, peace train holy roller

    4. this would mean that the 2nd only allows people to keep and bear arms as part of a government organization

      Well, yeah. Without the 2A authorizing the government to keep and bear arms, how would we ever have a military?

    5. I have a better idea.

      Amendment 28:

      Any elected official, employee or agent of any governmental organization within these United States who infringes the civil rights of any person shall be subject to civil penalties and criminal prosecution for Usurpation.

      In addition to any other penalties, Conviction upon a charge of Usurpation shall forever render such convict ineligible to hold any elected office or employment at public expense, and any act of Usurpation which results in loss of life shall incur the death penalty.

      Clemency for any conviction of usurpation shall not be within the power of the government to grant, but the trial jury in a trial on a charge of usurpation shall have the power to commute a death sentence to life imprisonment or exile.

      1. Exile shall be considered expatriation under the tax code.

      2. May I suggest adding a minor clause that says no living politician (or at least one still in office) can have any public building, road, or other structure named after them?

    6. Yeah, did he stop to consider there was a reason they didn’t word it that way? Of course he’s aware of the intent of the founders and the 2nd. Anyone who does a cursory examination of the commentary of them about the 2nd knows that it was for citizens to be able to keep arms to restrain the government. Just man up and say you hate the idea of people being able to resist the state and want to send out the goons to make sure it happens.

  14. Sort of on topic:
    Now, the rich are going to have to find a new label to signal their ‘specialness’; WALMART

    1. Cont’d
      is going to peddle worthless self-indulgnece to the poor:
      “Wal-Mart has announced plans to carry the Wild Oats brand of organic groceries and promises to reduce customer cost by at least 25%.”
      http://www.sfgate.com/default/…..397335.php

      Yep, in the US we not only feed the poor, we ask them whether they’d like red or white with that!

      1. Meh, they are responding to market incentives.

        1. Agreed, I’m just amused that the ‘organic’ scam has as great a following as it does.
          BTW, whoever pushed that in WALMART is gonna get a bonus; it seems it hit all the national TV news outlets. Free ink!

  15. Today, in revisionist history:

    The chief justice confused a lot of people in 2012 when he was the only conservative on the court to join the four liberal justices in voting to uphold Obamacare. In his syndicated column, Pat Buchanan accused him of employing “tortured reasoning” in the service of being “seen among the cognitive elite” (apparently an insult in Buchanan’s mind). The National Review charged that Roberts had “done violence” to the U.S. Constitution. In contrast, Linda Greenhouse, a former New York Times Supreme Court correspondent and a leading voice of the liberal cognitive elite, praised Roberts for demonstrating “evolution” as a jurist. Greenhouse, who now teaches at Yale Law School, described in positive terms Roberts’s refusal to ally himself with what she called “the breathtaking radicalism of the other four conservative justices.”

    1. Like the breathtaking radicalism of those find dastardly justices who dared to ignore the will of the people, as expressed through their elected representatives, and strike down section 4 of DOMA? A law that was passed by BOTH HOUSES of Congress?

      Oh. That was different.

  16. It turned out that both sides read too much into Roberts’s performance in the case. He exercised canny statesmanship to avoid a clash over Obama’s signature legislation?the sort of showdown that could have stirred a backlash against the court. Roberts accomplished this with subtle lawyering. He said Congress lacked authority under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause to impose the law’s insurance mandate but then rescued the law by declaring it passed muster as a form of taxation. Roberts’s quirky definition of the mandate as a tax likely won’t have lasting jurisprudential impact. His narrow reading of the Commerce Clause, on the other hand, could well resurface in other cases as a potent tool to undercut regulatory statutes. What many saw as a conservative defeat thus in the long run might be the opposite.

    Cowardly deference to mass hysteria is noble statesmanship.

    Also:

    FUCK YOU, AND THE CHARACTER LIMITS YOU RODE IN ON, SKWERLZ.

  17. Teh PATRIARCHY abides.

    Sally got better grades than Doug, but he got into Yale and she didn’t. Heather had higher SAT scores than Peter, but he’s the one who’s going to Duke. And can you believe that Georgetown accepted Mark over Cathy, even though she was class president and he didn’t seem to do much of anything?

    Welcome to springtime in a leafy American suburb, if you happen to live with an 18-year-old girl. For the past few weeks, as colleges announced their admission decisions, I’ve been listening to my daughter and her friends decry the process. Girls have to meet a higher standard, they say. It’s no fair.

    Alas, they’re essentially right. Girls outshine boys in almost every aspect of American secondary education. But instead of rewarding them for that, our colleges effectively discriminate against them.

    1. She does know that women make up 56% of college students right?

      I mean, if they are “discriminating” against women, they’re not really doing a great job of it.

      1. The discrimination comes into play when college admissions prioritize a well rounded class over well rounded students. So it might be slightly easier for a man just because there’s less competition for his part in making the class more “diverse”. Not that I sympathize with that article. It’s their own philosophy biting them in the ass.

        1. Well honestly I’ve often felt that the whole “well rounded thing” is silly. Particularly the emphasis on “community service” that so many institutions place so high in their admissions policies. I think it should be about grades and test scores, not about who can spend a thousand hours feeding the homeless or write the best essay about leftist cause du jour.

          This bit particularly annoyed:

          accepted Mark over Cathy, even though she was class president and he didn’t seem to do much of anything

          See, Mark probably just sits in his room programming or writing or playing music. What a loser. Cathy is the class president. She does very important things.

      2. How many of them are studying real subjects, though? I’m sure that women greatly outnumber men in unemployability majors.

        -jcr

      3. Yale has 51% men, but Duke is 51% women and Georgetown is 56% women. It took me 2 minutes to figure that out. But they don’t want to mention actual numbers. It could be that better qualified women are being turned down, but if they were to say that colleges and universities should admit the most qualified students regardless of gender, it never occurs to them that it might lead to an even higher percentage of women on campuses.

    2. Aren’t there now more women in college than men? Wonder how they square that?

      1. “Square with reality”?

        They self righteously make up facts for the good of the cause. Truth is nothing, Advantage is everything.

    3. They should work on being less bossy.

    4. Girls outshine boys in almost every aspect of American secondary education.

      Other than those silly standardized test scores in math and science, which aren’t really important in the real world and is the fault of the patriarchy anyway.

    5. Live by “diversity”, die by diversity. Sorry, but for how many years was being a white male the worst thing a college applicant could with maybe Asian as the lone exception? The pendulum has now swung and a person likely behind the original swing is now confused why it is moving the other way.

    6. Is there any evidence of this bias towards boys besides the butt hurt of some girls who didn’t make the cut?

      It’s ridiculous. Colleges have specific programs to advantage girls over boys, they admit more girls than boys, but the grievance culture is so strong that they still hallucinate that the cards are stacked against them.

  18. Back when I was in high school, we snuck out to McDonalds.

    -jcr

    1. Which had a sign saying, “Over 1000 served.”

      1. My memory’s fuzzy, but I think it said “dozens and dozens served”.

        -jcr

        1. Heh, much better than my own response, sir.

  19. And I thought the lunch was bad when I was in high school…. We had it much better.

    Although when I was in middle school our school district experimented with giving us our milk in plastic bags. You were supposed to stab your straw into it and start drinking. Somehow they didn’t anticipate kids quickly turning these into milk cannons… that experiment only lasted a year.

  20. I’m really surprised Michelle Obama’s plans aren’t working out right. She has such a wealth of experience in so many areas. Why shouldn’t she re-write the laws of food and taste?

  21. “As I also noted last month, the federal government has decided that these abject failures are evidence of a need to double down on …”

    Absolutely everything they do.

    1. I haven’t looked at the Google Ngrams on it, but it seems in the past decade and a half or so, due to the popularity of casino blackjack, the more appropriate “double up” has been replaced by the less appropriate phrase “double down”. Language makes no sense sometimes.

      Doubling down means doubling your bet in return for a promise to go no farther than the next card. Doubling up is just doubling your bet or anything else, period, or doubling over (which can sometimes add to the metaphor appropriately).

  22. Common Core applied to school lunches.

  23. I am still astounded that there are vending machines in grade schools. Somehow, everyone I went to school with managed to avoid starvation with just a lunch.

    And why the hell can’t they put vegetables in soup and count those? That makes zero sense, nutritionally.

  24. School Lunch = ObamaCare for Kids

  25. This Robert Heinlein quote comes to mind:

    “There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him.”

    Robert Heinlein

  26. Man, I miss the days when pizza counted as a vegetable.

  27. Michelle 0bmao Would prefer to have children put into national service if they are caught throwing away her precious a la carte vegetables.

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