Whew! You can’t believe the comfort I have knowing that Slick Willie is still in charge of raising my children. What a relief! That takes a lot of pressure off of me — maybe now I can finish writing that novel.
In case you haven’t heard, former president (and self-proclaimed "former fat kid") Bill Clinton brokered an agreement with leaders of the soda industry, which would have them pull their soda product line from elementary and middle schools — an already miniscule amount of their overall profits — and limiting high school choices to diet sodas, fruit juice, and sports drinks.
"Huzzah!" erupts the crowd of health nuts. "Childhood obesity will forever be banished from the land! Big government triumphs again!" So why am I less than impressed? Because it’s another pointless, feel good move politicians are so famous for.
If the reason for pushing sugary sodas out of school is truly to fight obesity, then the schools are stopping short. A calorie is a calorie, and many fruit juices and sport drinks have as many if not more calories than soda. The net calorie reduction total is zero. Argue all you want that juice is at least more nutritious calories, that has nothing to do with weight loss — and the officials are the ones who said the "goal of the nationwide ban is to combat childhood obesity", not me.
And what other effects does the ban have on public schools? According to the Maui News, their public high schools — which had previously adopted a soda ban — are reporting a severe drop in revenue for student programs which were funded by profits from vending machines. These geniuses have effectively cut programs that would get students out from in front of the Playstation and engaging in activites that might help burn some of those extra calories consumed.
But why did the revenues drop? Why wouldn’t the students opt for the more healthy choices such as bottled water when they’re thirsty? Because school administrators quickly discovered that students were — hold on to your hats — bringing their own drinks to school from home. In a similar ban, a high school in Austin, Texas banned candy and sweets from their vending machines. It was later reported that the sugar prohibition bred it’s share of bootleggers, and enterprising students were making upwards of $200 a week on the candy black market. And just like Prohibition, the school leaders soon admitted their error in judgment and again made candy available for sale. So without lunch bag checkpoints and cafeteria police, the schools may as well take their taste of the ill-gotten "sugar monies" which benefit the entire student body.
In high schools, where the overwhelmingly huge amount of school sold soda is purchased, it sends the wrong message. These kids are buying the soft drinks with presumably their own money, and taking away their choices as a consumer will only lead to even more contempt for authority figures and erosion of their rights. And we all know how well teenagers react to telling them the can’t have something — especially when it’s something they can purchase in, oh, ten gazillion other places. Look for some plucky upstart company to begin marketing ice coolers shaped to fit perfectly in lockers.
It’s interesting that some of the same people that are outside the White House with their pitchforks and torches, demanding justice for the violation of their civil liberties, also seem to have no problem with the government invading our privacy and dictating what we can and cannot put into our bodies. Why they can’t see the hypocrisy in that stance boggles the mind.
We need to ditch the empty gestures and focus on real solutions. How about coming up with an efficient model for school funding so districts don’t have the need to cut physical education and sports? Or, here’s a radical thought, how about parents pay attention to their kid’s health and nutrition and make sure they get proper exercise? And if they don’t? Well, that’s why it’s called "survival of the fittest".