Writing on the Double Yellow Line

Militant moderate, unwilling to concede any longer the terms of debate to the strident ideologues on the fringe. If you are a Democrat or a Republican, you're an ideologue. If you're a "moderate" who votes a nearly straight party-ticket, you're still an ideologue, but you at least have the decency to be ashamed of your ideology. ...and you're lying in the meantime.

Location: Illinois, United States

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Portrait of the US as an Old Europe

A Portrait of the US as an Old Europe
©2012 Ross Williams

Let’s review. What have I been saying our fate would be if we continued to march to the beat of the neosoc drum?

Our fate would be to go the way of Europe. Not the Europe that emerged from under the skirts of the Iron Curtain, but the Europe that the Western Allies had saved from the fate of idiot socialism imposed by Russian fiat. This idiot socialism imposed by fiat fell flat on its ass 72 years after it hoisted itself up by its own dogeared polemics because it refused to understand that progress comes from a prosperous middle class, and a prosperous middle class comes from obscenely-wealthy industrialists hiring them to make the things they sell to the middle class workers of other obscenely-wealthy industrialists.

Socialism of all varieties abhors wealth outside of politics – it’s too hard to control, and what happens if a Russian version of John Paul Getty were to get Big Ideas® and parlay his wealth into alternative politics? Socialism can’t compete; it is built on the premise of state-monopoly of both power and money. Individuals with power and money tend to abuse them. Governments never do ... except when they do ... which is always.

Instead, the Europe that was saved from the fate of incompetent economics where 2+2=whatever-the-dictator-wishes-it-to-be adopted their own idiot socialism imposed by popular assent. In the rest of Europe [including, strangely, West Germany but largely excluding Switzerland], 2+2=whatever-the-majority-says-it-is.

The difference was negligible as it turns out.

What happened to the Soviet Union 72 years after the Bolshevik Revolution was disintegration of the national government, fracture into regional fiefdoms along historic boundaries that had been presumed to be erased by unification, and – had it not been for NATO standing guard over the smoldering ruins to prevent outsiders from looting the remains – there would have been foreign incursion and territorial claim-laying as well. As it was, there was plenty of domestic looting to go around.

Additionally, there was massive unemployment, currency was largely useless for several years, many criminal gangs sprang up to exhort and extort for private gain, and if it weren’t for the black market there’d have been no market at all.

This grand experiment in applied economic ineptitude commenced in 1917 and ended in 1989, symbolically with the fall of the Berlin Wall. That was the world-wide clarion call that the Central Government was no longer willing or able to control what happened. Control is the primary function of government; without control the government is ... not exactly impotent, because it still has vast amounts of power ... incontinent, because it can’t control the power that it has. Not to mention, it usually ends up pissing off the majority of its erstwhile citizens. So incontinent it is.

The one saving grace of idiot socialism arrived at by popular will versus imposed by dictatorial fiat is that the majority has the capability of looking at the results of the past, recognizing the historical patterns being played out in the typical socialist eschatology, and to vote in those who had been predicting rack and ruin all along. Don’t laugh – France had a conservative government for a number of years, and Spain does now as well. Greece voted Papandreou out of office and replaced him with the party that agreed to Germany’s financial terms.

Of course, the downside to all that is that people have gnat-like attention spans. France booted its conservative government because of some silly sex scandal and put in the Socialist [with his own sex scandal] whose first act was to reimpose the 75% tax bracket on high earners that had been discontinued as a millstone around French industry. Many high earners to whom that tax rate applies have notified the French post office of a change of address to Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and other European nations who don’t eat their own rich. Included among this list is the head of Louis Vuitton, a premier French clothing and accessory designer, who was informed that he can’t move to Belgium, because Belgium has no fashion. “Too bad” was as close to a literal translation of his response as there is. The rich can always take care of themselves, Monsieur Hollande. The only question you need to ask yourself is whether you want the Louis Vuitton company to be employing the French, or the dowdy Belgians. Is a 75% tax you can’t collect because the money jumped the border really worth it?

Spain’s conservative government is frantically trying to cut government expense, and raising taxes on those who are still employed – which isn’t many. Spaniards in Madrid are rioting over the cuts in government service, while the increase in taxes is annoying the only productive region left in Spain: Catalan. Catalonians are now demanding independence – beats moving to Belgium, I guess; the rich can still take care of themselves.

Greeks are also rioting once again over the austerity program they signed up for in order to get German cash to keep them from dissolving into a puddle of their own Molotov cocktails. They’ve got all that German money now, so they should be able to go back to their government jobs where they rubber-stamp each other’s rubber-stamped paperwork in and endless circle jerk of ink while they wait until the age of 50 to retire on a full pension. Germany paid for all that, didn’t they? Well, Germany paid for everything but Greek Soccer sponsorships; the Greek brothels are paying for those. Greece has no other wealth worth mentioning; they ate them already.

The most ironic thing about this new round of Greek rioting is that the rioters threw rocks and bottles at police for interfering with their “peaceful” riot.

Italy is still trying to sort out its own governmental profligacy, Portugal isn’t doing much better than Spain, and Ireland is almost as bad off as Greece. These nations all went popularly socialist in the first few years after WWII. Let’s say 1948 as a tip of the hat to George Orwell. European governments spent money they didn’t have on things that were politically expedient for the sake of buying votes – free education, free health, free jobs, free vacations, free retirement – until no one will loan them any more money to pamper themselves with this freedom. 72 years from 1948 puts them at default, collapse, fracture and foreign intrusion in 2020 – which hopefully describes our hindsight on their plight. They would seem to be right on schedule.

Meanwhile, closer to home, the welfare umbrella in the US went over $1Trillion dollars per year for fiscal 2012 – a cool 30% increase from 2009, the last Bush budget. This doesn’t include Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security or the huge sucking-sound of Obamacare. Money we don’t have for items that are politically expedient – free food, free housing, free education, free health, free retirement. Can’t buy votes without spending someone’s money. In this case, the “someone” is China.

We started our own foray into voter-approved socialism – in earnest – with LBJ’s “Great Society” [sic] nonsense. Technically we started with Hoover at the outset of the Great Depression and went nuts under FDR, but we lucked out with WWII being held mostly in other peoples’ front yards, and we had a generation-long episode as the only industrial nation left on the planet; we made money hand over fist. It was only when the rest of the world developed their own industry [you’re welcome], or REdeveloped it as the case may be [you’re also welcome], and we actually had to compete with their industry, newer and more efficient than our own, that our socialisms started to matter. It mattered because we learned, repeatedly, that we can’t compete in most things.

Japan and South Korea makes better cars than we do. Everybody makes better televisions – easy to do since we don’t make any, and haven’t since the early 70s. Everybody makes better steel than we do. Most places which make computers are better at it than we are, down to the software that runs them. Thank god for the monopoly that is Microsoft and its unfairly competitive bundling, otherwise we’d be shut out entirely. The list of things we make better than everyone else includes wars and litigation, and not much else.

72 years from 1965, when LBJ started his elected term, puts us at default, collapse, fracture and foreign intrusion in 2037. That’s 25 years from now.

We have one full generation to pay attention to what happens to nations which spend money they don’t have on political expedience. If the Soviet collapse was too long ago and too far away for you to consider relevant, then keep your eyes on Europe over the next decade. They will either collapse into a pile of fiscal ruin, or they will vote out those who promise them everything borrowed money can buy – as long as it lasts.

Failing that, and failing would be a good side to place your bets if the collectively deluded masses do what they’ve historically done [hint: watch Greece and Madrid this week], I plan to be elsewhere.

A Good Five-Cent Gear

This Country Needs a Good Five-Cent Gear
©2012 Ross Williams

It’s turning colder. There was frost on the kennel the other day, didn’t quite make it to the ground. It’s time to turn on the heater in the SUV.

This, though, is an ordeal.

We have a 2004 Ford Explorer to haul kids, and groceries, and fencing and feed, and do the long-haul to Michigan with Christmas presents. In all respects but one, this is the best vehicle I’ve ever owned. That one respect is the “climate control” unit.

Four years ago it started clicking whenever the temperature setting was changed. It would eventually stop once the new setting was reached, but it would take quite a while to get there, clicking the whole way. It has taken progressively longer to change temperature; so far this autumn it’s gone for two weeks trying to reset itself to hot ... it’s still not there. In the afternoon it’s not a problem – yet. In the morning it’s a bother.

Shortly after the climate control unit started its clicking I had the Explorer in at the mechanics for some other thing and asked him if he could look at that too while he was at it. What’s it doing, he asked. I told him. He grew suddenly concerned, “Oh-h-h,” he moaned. Uh oh, I thought.

We went to the car, turned the key, changed the temperature setting ... click, click, click, click, click. “Oh-h-h,” he moaned again.

A few days later when I came back to collect my car he explained to me what was wrong, why he couldn’t do anything about it [he tried – it was unreachable], and what I’d need to do about it. I’d need to take it to a dealer if I wanted it fixed.

The situation is that the climate control unit in several models of Ford vehicle does not know what temperature they are set at when the car is started; it has to figure that out for itself. It figures that out by turning itself all the way cold, and then all the way hot, and then back to where it had been originally. It does this by means of gears inside the unit. The only way it doesn’t do this is if the temperature setting is already all the way cold or all the way hot.

The basic problem with this is that the gears used by Ford [or its climate control manufacturer] are made of nylon, and they wear out relatively quickly. The gears are cheap, about two cents apiece. But the specific problem is that these cheap and easily worn-out gears are located in a $950 repair location. That was the estimate I was given by the Ford dealer – who charged me $250 to tell me what my local mechanic told me for free, that I’d need new gears in this internal motor that controls the climate control temperature setting.

The reason it costs so much to replace two-cent gears is because the entire dashboard has to be taken out of the vehicle, several other things in the center console have to be disassembled to get at this motor, the motor has to be taken apart, the two-cent gears replaced, the motor put back together, the center console reassembled, and the dashboard put back in.

The itemized repair bill would look like:
Labor: $949.98
Parts: $  0.02
Total: $950.00

I did some scrounging on the interweb shortly after I got the Explorer back from the dealer – Auffenberg Ford in O’Fallon IL, notorious for bill-padding and other overcharging – and I learned that if you were ambitious you could, yourself, make this repair in your driveway without disassembling the entire interior. It required tools that many people have [or might borrow] such as magnetic socket drivers and dental mirrors, plus a sharp knife.

The knife is for cutting a hole in the center console exactly so far from the floorboard and exactly so far from the firewall, and exactly so big in dimension. This is the surgical incision, and all tools, hands and elbows need to fit into this space. Once this hole is made, you need to use the magnetic drivers to remove the bolts holding the motor together [magnetic so you don’t accidentally drop the bolts inside the console and never find them again], then lift back the top, use the mirror to find the nylon gears with chewed-off teeth that made all that clicking, remove them, replace them with new gears, put the top of the motor back in place, and bolt the thing down ... using the magnetic drivers so you don’t lose the bolts inside the console never to be seen again.

What you do with the hole you cut into the plastic center console housing is up to you. One online description of this process [complete with diagrams and photos] suggested finding some scrap pieces of plastic to epoxy to the inside of the hole, making a shelf for the piece of plastic you’d just cut out of the console to rest against as you epoxied it back in place.

Or you could leave it a hole.

The online mechanical solutions to this two-cent trifle masquerading as a $950 ordeal recommended going with metal gears as the replacement part[*]. Several even had links to online suppliers of such things. A metal gear might cost as much as $0.45.

...forty-five cents if you were buying one such gear. If you were going to buy 10,000 gears, the cost per gear was a nickel.

The websites with the metal gears also had the comparable nylon gears. A single nylon gear would cost $0.25; if you bought 10,000 at a time, they were tuppence per.

Ford [or its climate control temperature setting motor manufacturer] was buying 10,000 gears at a time when they were building the climate control motors for my 2004 Explorer, and all the other vehicles using that same part. Why they did not splurge and go with the five-cent gear, the big-boy gear, instead of the cheap Hasbro-quality nylon gear, is beyond me. But I’m sure it’s got to do with some accountant in the head bean-counting cubicle cutting expenses on a single part by 60% so the vice-president above him could get a $2,000,000 bonus.

The accountant needed to do some different math. A 60% cost reduction from a five-cent gear to a two-cent gear doesn’t look so good when you realize it’s only saving three cents at a time; it takes forever to accumulate that two million dollar bonus. With that three cents you can restate the cost increase to 150% for the part [the same three cents going in reverse], then justify charging twenty-five cents more per unit, thus converting three cents into two full bits, an 800% return on investment, when the manufacturer sold the motor to Ford.

Then Ford could justify charging $0.50 more per vehicle, doubling their own cost increase on the part, and converting the three cent difference between cheap nylon and solid metal gears into an almost 1700% return on manufacturing process cost. At this rate, the bonus is accumulated much quicker, and for a better reason.

And Ford customers wouldn’t have to risk freezing in the winter or broiling in the summer as their alternative to spending nearly a thousand dollars to replace an executive perk not worth the two cents it was built on.

* - In the interest of disclosure, however, most online repair recipes suggested buying a whole new “blend door actuator motor” for around $40; it saves a few steps, not to mention knuckles.  But it doesn’t highlight as well the perversity of putting a two-cent, easy-to-fail component in such a pocket-picking repair location.

A Post-Mortem

A Post-Mortem
©2012 Ross Williams

I don’t watch politics as it occurs. Too much like work, and it’s depressing besides. The only thing that happens is that I have reaffirmed to me that I am virtually alone in my political sensibilities, that getting an actual politician to convey my sentiments, more than accidentally and longer than it takes to caveat it for the purpose of not alienating his all-important “base”, is never going to happen.
Since when is the “base” more important than doing the right thing for the right reason, where the thing to be right is identical to the thing listed in the Constitution, and the reason to be right is confined to “because that’s all we’re allowed to do”.

I’ve long ago given up the fantasy that my contemporaries are going to wise up to the fact that I – nearly alone – am right and they are all one degree or another of wrong. Wrong in substance, wrong in style, wrong in reasoning [especially wrong in reasoning]. I don’t know of anyone who is always wrong, in fact some people are quite often right. But they are not always right. Only I am.

Being always right is not the same thing as thinking I know everything. I don’t; far from it, despite what many many people have told me. But when I don’t know something I have the ability that most people lack; I am capable of saying – without shame or embarrassment – “I don’t know”. Saying “I don’t know” is, quite often, the only available way of being right. It is frequently the only thing that comes out of my mouth for long stretches of time, which annoys my wife to no end.

Being always right is also not the same thing as getting my way, which confuses many others. I get my way almost never. I understand how something works, explain that something to someone else complaining long and bitterly [and irrationally] about it, and the next thing I find is that I’m accused of being the guy who made the thing work the way it works – I designed it just to annoy everyone else.

Incorrect; it may [and typically does] annoy me just as much, only I understand how it works and why it works that way. Explanation is not apologism. It is, instead, explanation, which is why there are two separate words for the two different things. This “you’re just bossing your way around” occurs quite frequently at work, where I have become, in the last decade and despite my wishes, older than the average data analyst working for the war-making people, and among the guys that knows where more of the bodies are buried than the younger bucks do. I hate to break it to them, but the stupidities that I painstakingly explain to them predated my involvement, and have often evolved straight from grease pencils-on-glass without even the courtesy of changing the grease.

When it comes to politics, I don’t know many things – and proudly say so [not here in my essays; my essays are for saying what I do know]. I also never, ever, ever get my way – all politicians are either Democrats or Republicans, and I am neither. Even those who claim to be of the label that I often use for myself, just to give me a label in our label-intensive world, are either Democrats or Republicans. But they are Democrats or Republicans who are innately ashamed of their party’s ideology [which is at least progress, of a sort] and have the integrity to begin to separate themselves from that ideology.

They never complete the task, though. Ron Paul is not a Libertarian – sorry, Paulies, but learn what libertarianism is before you use the term. I find it insulting to be linked with a social conservative, small-government Republican with an anarcho-pacifist streak a mile wide. The libertarian comb-over is not becoming on him. Or you-all, for that matter.

Because I can’t get no satisfaction in politics unfolding before my eyes, I skipped the debate between the socialist National Savior and his job-exporting challenger. Instead, I read what others said about it, and who those others were. I get far more satisfaction out of this exercise.

Liberals were all weepy the next morning because Barry Hussein didn’t plow up Mitt the Mormon with his “47% gaffe”.

What gaffe? He was right. 47% of Americans do not, in fact, pay federal income tax. Partly because they are retired and their social security [and other pensions] don’t exceed their exemptions; partly because they are employed for such low wages that their total income also does not exceed their allowable exemptions; and partly because they are unemployed and don’t make an income to tax.

He was also correct in saying that [most] of this non-tax-paying near-half is largely responsible for the federal entitlements that are handed out left and right. Those who are retired and get Social Security are getting ... Social Security, which is the preeminent entitlement program. They are also nearly invariably on Medicare, another entitlement. Those who work but don’t earn enough to exceed their exemptions are very likely to be receiving one or more entitlements under the wide and disparate “welfare” umbrella, to include food stamps, housing assistance, Medicaid, and child care tax credits, to name just four. And when they are unemployed, they are almost certainly receiving a federal entitlement of one kind or another.

What is wrong about saying this?

Oh, right, it’s not that the guy mentioned our democracy’s dirty little socialist secret, it’s that he claimed he wasn’t particularly interested in seeking their approval to be president. If I were in his shoes, I wouldn’t seek their approval either. What a monumental waste of time. Yeah, there’s a portion of them that are politically conservative and who see the inherent fallacy of robbing Peter to pay Paul even though they are Paul [albeit a different Paul than the pseudo-libertarian Paul mentioned above]. The fallacy is that everyone seeks to be Paul and Peter is left to suck his thumb. Unless he amscrays which, since Peter is rich, he has the ability to do.

Peter has used this mode of self-preservation for thousands of years whenever a government became more confiscatory than Peter could stomach. And suddenly we see why a certain job-exporter running to replace the National Savior exported those jobs to begin with: it cost too much to leave them here.

But that brings up the nugget of the tax break for exporting jobs that the bed-wetting liberals accused the Socialist-in-Chief of letting slip. The tax break is not part of the IRS rules, no; it is gotten instead from eliminating the IRS as the taxing authority and replacing it with the taxing authority of the government who runs the nation you moved the jobs into. Only an idiot industrialist would move his manufacturing plant to a nation with an effective tax rate for that industry higher in net than the US. And, since no nation has a higher statutory corporate tax rate than the US, it’s fairly easy to see why net taxes would also tend be lower elsewhere.

This was not always the case, by the way ... but that was back a few generations when US television manufacturers actually made TVs in the US instead of Mexico.

Our idiot socialist National Savior may very well be re-elected; if and when he is, he will continue his socialist panderings to the culture of Pauls he is cultivating in the pockets of Peter. And that will simply hasten the departure of more and more Peters – and the jobs they carry in their wake – now in its second generation.

Of course, if the job-exporting challenger is elected instead – and the odds-makers are considering it more likely after Barry Hussein phoned in his debate performance the other night – he will continue the socialist panderings to the culture of Pauls we have cultivated in the pockets of Peter. Peter will continue fleeing the sinking ship of state – carrying jobs with him ... but maybe not as fast. And when he says he’d eliminate Obamacare – I don’t doubt him. But he’d replace it with something that duplicates the function. The last time our federal government tried doing something fiscally responsible – by means-testing a portion of the Medicare program, under Bush I – AARP had a screaming fit and the whole thing was undone.

Obamacare was fiscally IRresponsible, people still hate it enough to get rid of it, but government power is government power, and Romney is no less power hungry than Obama – he is running for US President, for godsake! Obamacare is power; he’ll get rid of it but replace it with something that leaves him with just as much power in his job-exporting mitts.

For the only sure thing is that no matter which party wins, the same self-destructive, Constitutionally-prohibited policies will be maintained; the only difference over the last generation has been the speed by which new ones are added. Republicans merely double the speed of the last Democrat administration; Democrats triple.

Neither one of them wants to hear that buying votes through social programs is not allowed to our government. Once again, I’m right and they aren’t. The historians will tell my great-great-grand children – and theirs – all about it.

Chalk Dust – Oct 4 2012

Chalk Dust – Oct 4 2012
©2012 Ross Williams

Headline: FL School Considers Trash-Cams

Article Synopsis: In response to the Obama Administration’s USDA mandate to provide healthier school lunches consisting entirely of food children won’t eat, school districts are livid at spending money on food that goes directly from tray to trash, and schools in Lake County FL are willing to spend more money on video cameras installed in the trash cans to watch whole, uneaten food being pitched. Parents object to this spying even if they also think that the USDA’s rules are high-handed and authoritarian.

Just Call it ‘Composting’: The school board is complaining of losing $75,000 of produce since the USDA mandate rolled out ... between last school year and this. In just about a month and a half of school year, that makes a cool half million dollars down the drain. Multiplied by the number of public school districts in the country, we’re looking at billions of dollars of waste annually or, if you’re a Democrat supporting Obama, another policy victory.

One critic of the school’s ham-fisted attempt to prove to the USDA how idiotic their rule is fears that taping vegetables being thrown away will lead to taping the children doing the throwing, and then legal repercussions being leveled against the parents ... such as throwing parents in jail for a child’s truancy ... which happened in California last week.

Another critic of both the USDA rule and the district’s response to it ironically suggested that children get taken away between the ages of 3 and 5 to be raised to proper indoctrinated enlightenment by the powers that be.

Conclusion: Don’t give them any ideas; it takes a village, you know. The “village” is Washington DC.

Headline: NJ School Plans Strike to Protest Obama’s Food Rules

Article Synopsis: A high school in Parsippany NJ is cobbling together a student boycott of all cafeteria food – snacks, drinks and meals – to protest the meagerness of the portions allowed to public school students under the Obama Administration’s new USDA rules on school lunches. The administrative change to nutrition standards is called, ironically, Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. School kids’ most common complaint, beyond the fresh vegetables that they immediately pitch, is that there isn’t enough to eat.

Won’t You Sponsor a Child Today: The USDA guidelines mandate a maximum of one and a half ounces of protein for a lunch, regardless of whether that protein comes from grain or meat, because someone in the USDA knows so little about nutrition that he believes they are interchangeable. And judging by how teenagers eat – all teenagers – one and a half ounces of meat is only two bites or more if a parent cuts it up for the child; for a growing boy it doesn’t even constitute an hors d’oeuvre. As a result, the thousand-student school is going to an All Brown-Bag policy – voluntarily.

They have considerable sympathy, if not support, from both the school and the school’s food vendor, who reports how the food portions are gotten: by cutting normal-sized portions in half ... or smaller. The school board acknowledges that school-provided lunches are no longer filling, and the student organizers of the boycott complain that it now also costs more to be underfed.

Conclusion: Commercials are still being run advertising that it only costs twenty-seven cents a day to feed a child all the food he needs – and not just for lunch, for the whole day. Of course, these are based on the cost of living in third world countries. Something tells me, though, that Obama’s school celery sticks cost considerably more than that, even considering the cost of living disparity. How about we make some commercials for the third world nation of Joisey?

Headline: Kansas School Has Viral Video Over Starvation Menu

Article Synopsis: A high school in a small town in Kansas has put together a YouTube response to the USDA’s implementation of the inaptly-named Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Children are seen passing out from hunger at their desks, and others are shown burning copies of USDA regulations which, if my familiarity with government documentation is any indication, probably constituted an illegal open fire. The video also contains a song entitled “We Are Hungry”, lyrics written by a teacher and set to a currently popular song of some sort. A Kansas Congressman – whose august body gave USDA the authority to starve school children in the first damned place – is drafting a repeal of the starvation diet.

When Life Imitates ‘Glee’: It would seem that the “hunger-free kids act” seeks to keep kids hunger-free by starving them to death. A dead child is not hungry ... by definition. A Pyrrhic victory is a victory nonetheless, and in the zero-sum game of politics, Pyrrhic victories are about as easy as they come, especially when re-election is needed.

They’re certainly easier to attain than implementing a policy [wise or otherwise] whose results can only be seen after a generation ... which is how we got into the mess school “nutrition” is in now. School cafeterias served lukewarm, overcooked gruel for decades, interspersing it with high-fat, high-salt processed food swill, topping it all off with desserts of gooey, packy “cake” indistinguishable from wet cement with too much sugar to set, and gelatin that didn’t meet the minimum flavor specifications for the agar culture in biology lab.

Kids who refused to be so uncool as to brown-bag it so they could get what they wanted – or at least what their parents bought for them – instead made do with the snack line [in my day] or the vending machines [in my older children’s day]. The vending machines with their snack cakes and candy bars and sugary carbonated beverages provided a generation of youth a constant supply of the empty calories we love to demonize.

At least the snack line in my school had bagged popcorn – which is a whole grain – and granola bars – which is as well ... even if both contain the wrong kind of plant oils, monosaturated for hypertension. About the worst thing they sold was Nutty Bars high in peanut butter and covered in smeary chocolate; that and chocolate milk [two cartons] was often my lunch.

It took over a generation to get to where we are; who honestly believes it can be undone by a single law implemented by a single authoritarian bureaucracy under a single social-fascist peabrain? ...besides the aforementioned peabrain, his ditzy wife, his bureaucrats, and the ninnies who voted them into office, that is? Please keep in mind that among the ninny voters are those whose brainstorm it was in the first place to convert school cafeterias into banks of machines vending soft drinks and crème-filled Doodle-O’s ... for the revenue!

Conclusion: How hard does this really have to be? If the federal government is going to insist on using its nonexistent authority to demand education for all, and to dictate the terms and conditions of it, then use that authority to get rid of the vending machines and make lunch more than 25 minutes long – that’s all my kids get. I’m not so naïve as to assume they’re unique. An hour-fifteen seems about right. And sending the cafeteria staff to cooking school wouldn’t hurt either. Cuz here’s a hint: opening a 5-gallon can of water-logged green beans and dumping it in a warming tray isn’t cooking.

Also, knowing something about kids would be a real good idea, as well. They don’t like vegetables, and schools have neither the patience, the space, nor the loyyering to make them sit there until they eat their lima beans. The average child won’t eat vegetables unless they are severely disguised: pasta sauce, veggie-fries. Yes, you have to use carb-heavy pasta, or deep-fry the carrot and celery sticks ... that’s the trade-off. At least it’s vegetables.

Any decent junk-food salsa is nothing but tomatoes, onions, cilantro, peppers ... with variables known as avocado, pinto beans, and rice. Vegetables galore, whole grains and non-meat protein, and even when conveyed by a tortilla chip, that’s just another whole grain, even if lightly fried in vegetable oil.

Fruit is gotten in pies – pastry is the trade-off. “Fresh” fruit is overrated. And pumpkin pie has a week’s worth of vitamin A in just a small slice.

The alternative for most children is ... pitching healthy food straight into the trash without so much as a nibble, cafeteria boycotts and viral parody videos portraying out-of-touch government weenies as being out of touch, profligate with our tax money, and quasi-genocidal to boot.