Saturday, May 4, 2013

ZenTiger Food For Thought

An apple a day and a glass of milk builds a strong body
There's discussion about discussing if it is a good idea to feed kids in schools. On one hand, there seems to be credible evidence some kids go to school hungry (wouldn't mind having this validated and quantified though) and the easiest way therefore to fix this is to supply some kai (food). On the other hand, others will say this is the responsibility of the parents and this gives them the easy way out to be even lesser parents.

The problem with leaving this up to such types of parents is that they are clearly failing, for whatever reason. The problem with leaving it up to the government is that they will waste lots of money in their relentless pursuit of using resources in the most inefficient way possible whilst all the time talking about efficiency.

Many also point to this being a problem with race. Specifically the Maori race. This makes it easy to play the race card. (Anti-Race Card Kit available here). However, when people speak of Maori being disproportionately represented in these kinds of statistics, they may be talking about Maori culture.

There is a cultural misalignment between Maori and Western cultures, and the negative aspects of Maori culture stand out more to Western minds due to this different perspective. New Zealand is interesting in terms of noting how hard Maori work to preserve their culture by pushing to synthesize it with our Western value system. On a superficial level, it's working (Kia ora, bro) but on a deeper level, it's going to end in tears if the push for Maori privilege in governance gets written into our constitution and we move away from the great western standard of "one law for all, one vote for each". But that's another post.

The food issue, which is really a symptom of a much bigger issue isn't going to be fixed by government action, nor by government inaction. The kids will still be hungry. So given that we live in a largely socialist society, then I accept the government is going to spend lots of tax payer money trying to fix this issue, and spend even more on the social fallout from not being able to fix this issue. There are roughly three ways of fixing it that the government can take:

1. Punish parents for sending hungry kids to school
2. Pay parents more money and hope they spend it on food (tax rebates or handouts)
3. Have schools provide food (free or subsidized)

The first means more government intervention into families, and requires an army of social workers. If this doesn't scare you, then you are reading the wrong blog. Go read the Green Blog and wait for the glorious revolution where after a whole pile of bloodshed, you will be living in a well balanced ecologically sustainable paradise where corporate executives are on minimum wage, just like everyone else.

The second option is very expensive, and handouts are stupid in this case (if not most cases). Taking less tax isn't so stupid, but again, not likely to achieve the desired result in this case.

So by default, that leaves me supporting the third option. We can talk about the details and mechanisms and menus and limits and how universal it should be, but if the government is going to spend my money on this anyway, this is the option I'd take.

3 comment(s):

the conservative said...

Zen, of those three, I would choose number one, but even that’s not the answer. All three essentially mean the government becomes the mummy and daddy. And I think number three is the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff when the real problem is at the top; namely a breakdown in the family, no fathers, welfare dependency, and no personal responsibility, etc. Cure those problems and there would be no food problems. In my day, even the poorest of families did a better job of raising their kids than what we have now.

ZenTiger said...

I agree with your opinion on causes (and there may be other causes too) and was going to go into it in the post, but decided I'd leave it to "the government cannot solve the root causes" because of the nature of our government, our political parties, and the liberal/progressive commitment to their progressive policies in spite of the collateral.

Although with number one, if the government were to do anything meaningful (think of their low track record on truancy) then we'd see an army of social workers. Remember, this is the government we are talking about, not how a conservative might respond to fixing such problems.

Chris Sullivan said...

I agree with having the schools provide food is probably the best option, and one supported by the NZ Catholic Bishops.

There is an excellent opportunity here for subsidiarity - for the state to partner with community and faith groups to provide the food which would be better than the state trying to do it all itself.

God Bless

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