Earlier this week, First Lady Michelle Obama took to the pages of The New York Times to denounce "anti-science" Republicans (are there any other kind?) who want to let recipients of WIC buy potatoes via the program. "The House of Representatives is considering a bill to override science by mandating that white potatoes be included on the list of foods that women can purchase using WIC dollars." What bastards!
She also had harsh words for other House members (Republicans, I'm guessing) who "want to make it optional, not mandatory, for schools to serve fruits and vegetables to our kids. They also want to allow more sodium and fewer whole grains than recommended into school lunches." Sons of bitches!
In a piece for Time, I suggest that the First Lady's attitude should disturb all of us for various reasons. Including this one:
"As parents, we always put our children's interests first," she writes. "We wake up every morning and go to bed every night worrying about their well-being and their futures."
If she really believes that, then why not treat poor people with the same respect we treat middle- and upper-middle class folks? If we're going to supplement their incomes, why not give them a cash payment and let them figure out how to make the best use of it?
Similarly, if we can't trust our schools to figure out how best to fill their students' stomachs, why the hell are we forcing our children to attend such institutions in the first place? When is the last time you heard kids who attend schools of choice—whether private, religious, or public charters (which enroll disproportionately high numbers of low-income students)—even mention food?
Mrs. Obama's op-ed is predicated upon the notion that the nutrition and programs she champions have reduced obesity in Americans. I note that there's scant evidence for that, especially given the fact that obesity rates stopped rising somewhere between six and 10 years before her husband was elected president.
My Reason colleague Elizabeth Nolan Brown has been all over this story like Cheez Whiz on a Steak-umm.