I like George Will. Don’t always agree with him, and find a couple of his positions maddening, but I think he’s very logical and very smart and presents his arguments very effectively and, here’s the really important thing, presents his arguments honestly.
Most of the time.
But then there’s the Will column that we ran in today’s paper, “Fed up with cupcake cops,” Oh, most of his points are fair and honest. But when he presents his case against the cupcake cops, he leaves out a significant fact, and in so doing makes it nearly impossible for those who haven’t thought much about the topic to see the very rational basis for anti-cupcake policies in public schools.
Here’s his case:
Washington’s response to the menace of school bake sales illustrates progressivism’s ratchet: The federal government subsidizes school lunches, so it must control the lunches’ contents, which validates regulation of what it calls “competitive foods,” such as vending machine snacks. Hence the need to close the bake sale loophole, through which sugary cupcakes might sneak: Foods sold at fundraising bake sales must, with some exceptions, conform to federal standards.
Now reread that final sentence with the addition of the crucial words that he left out: Foods sold at fundraising bake sales sold on public school property during the school day must, with some exceptions, conform to federal standards.
I’d rather the federal government weren’t involved in this; it’s a job better left to states. But the principle behind it is a thoroughly sound one, that has nothing to do with government overreach but rather with government restraint. That principle is this: Do no harm.
The anti-cupcake rule says that the public schools may not sell or allow to be sold substances that harm children, while those children are required to be at school. It says that parents should be able to trust that the schools will not undermine their attempts to teach and impose smart dietary restrictions on their children.
What’s often overlooked in the criticism of the cupcake ban is that parents are free to stuff their kids’ lunch bags with all the cupcakes and doughnuts and other high-sugar, high-fat foods they want. The schools simply can’t provide those unhealthy foods. Or facilitate in their being sold to students.