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Jewish World Review Jan. 21, 2005 / 11 Shevat, 5765

Michael Long

Mike Long
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Consumer Reports

Busybody | Like schools don't have enough to do. Here comes Texas State Senator Leticia Van de Putte, whose district includes San Antonio, Bexar County, and your refrigerator. Sen. Van de Putte has proposed that Texas schools include a measure of how fat your kids are on every report card.

Did we all just go to sleep and wake up in StupidLand? Sen. Van de Putte's idea is so wrong on so many levels you have to wonder if she has stopped thinking about what government can and should do, and is now just completely hung up on being some cowboy-booted nanny.

Join me now as we revisit the most basic tenets of civics, a dusty old discipline once actually taught in school, and considered boring because it was so obvious. Let's start with the practical: Government can do only a limited number of things. The more things it tries to do, the fewer resources it has to devote to each of them. That means the more things it does, the fewer things it does well.

Is monitoring kids' weight really the best use of government resources? Is it worth enough to take away funding from some other program to pay for it? Or is it worth enough that we should raise taxes to pay for it?

Or is the Fat Kid Dilemma something that parents can deal with themselves, employing that modern miracle, the bathroom scale? Or maybe they can count on noticing that Junior's pants don't button like they used to. Or maybe his weight is just fine.

What's worse is the ding-dong assumption behind the senator's plan: parents are too lazy, disinterested or stupid to be aware of their children's weight, but will immediately jump into the hard work of getting kids to exercise and watch what they eat-if only someone will inform them of the problem.

Typical liberal "eat yer peas" idea: don't think past the first step, just do something. Don't think about whether it needs doing, or whether government ought to be doing it, or if you even have the right to butt in. Just get your body busy.

Aren't you tired of busybodies like Senator Leticia Van de Putte (D-Strangers' Kitchens) who, under the ubiquitous banner of The Children's Sake, sit around thinking of ways to insinuate outside authority into the family?

Surely, if Senator Van de Putte (D-Weight Watchers headquarters) really cared about the children, she wouldn't stop at simply informing us of our inferior parenting skills. She would send someone to the house with a scale to weigh the kids every month! After all, if we dim-bulb parents get the fat-kid news only twice a semester, the job of slimming down our big-boned progeny will be that much harder. I say, give us a head start!

If Senator Van de Putte (D-Big and Tall section of JC Penney) really cared about the children, she would demand penalties on parents who let their kids swell up like John Goodman with a gravy IV. How about the Texas government impose fines and jail time on parents who care so little for their kids? We do it to child abusers-and isn't this child abuse? I'm sure if Senator Van de Putte (D-Nanny State) gives it some thought, she will thank me for this natural completion of her idea. If she isn't already scribbling it down in the form of another bill.

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And what about overweight parents? I could stand to lose some weight myself-maybe Sen. Van de Putte (D-Set of "The Biggest Loser") could come by the house and check out my pantry. I'm sure she'd find something in there I'm not smart enough to toss.

I've seen a photo or two of the good senator and, like me; she is in no position to be lecturing anybody about weight problems. As a pharmacist, and as someone long involved in efforts against diabetes, she surely knows that obesity is sometimes caused by something other than lazy parents. Sometimes disease is the cause. So what if she sends home a few diabetic kids with the big red OVERWEIGHT sticker on their report cards? The senator's intentions are good.

Or maybe Sen. Van de Putte (D-All Up In Your Business) will someday realize that what I eat, and what my children eat, is none of her business. First a pharmacist, now a senator, now the universal parent. Is there no limit to her mighty wisdom? Perhaps-but let us hope there is a limit to her influence.

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JWR contributor Michael Long is a a director of the White House Writers Group. Comment by clicking here.


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© 2004, Michael Long