Coercive Humanitarians

by Mona Charen

Here they go again. A Chicago school has banned brown bag lunches. All students must eat the cafeteria food (“Und You Vill Like It!”) on the grounds that it’s more nutritious.

Like any good mother, I hate to see kids eating chips and candy for lunch. But what the liberal coercive humanitarians can never see is that their intrusiveness further diminishes parental responsibility. We want to encourage parents to do the right thing for their kids, not remove the responsibility from their hands and thereby implicitly encourage carelessness.

Besides, this tyrannical decree imposes intolerable restrictions of the freedom of all parents, including those who would pack more nutritious and tasty lunches for their kids (at less cost too). Besides, sometimes parents permit junk food under limited circumstances. Here’s my column on San Francisco’s attempt to ban happy meals last year. 

These kinds of behavioral matters do have public health implications. The correct response is delicate social pressure, not government force.