#WTF? Puerto Rico to fine parents of fat kids.

The latest affront to free parenting is Puerto Rico’s plan (under consideration) to fine parents up to 800 dollars for having a fat kid.  That’s right, the islands legislature is considering a bill that could force parents to pay a huge fine if their child does not meet the state’s standard for obesity.  Which begs the question, which standard?

From the AP report:

“If approved, public school teachers would flag potential obesity cases and refer them to a counselor or social worker, depending on the severity of the case. Health Department officials would then meet with the parents and determine whether the obesity is a result of bad eating habits or a medical condition. They also would create a diet-and-exercise program combined with monthly visits to ensure it’s being followed.

After six months, officials would evaluate the child again, with parents possibly facing between $500 and $800 in fines if the situation does not improve within another six months to a year.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control defines childhood obesity as having a body mass index or above the 95th percentile for children of the same age and sex.”

So there it is.  The Body Mass Index or BMI.  There is only one problem.  The BMI isn’t actually the best calculator of actual weight and as a result many people are labeled fat when they are not.  In simple terms the BMI is nonsense.  With nearly 400 thousand students in the Puerto Rico education system, what could possibly go wrong?

Let me change subjects for a moment and talk about how government uses children to manage adult behavior by shame and pressure.  Some states, Puerto Rico included have banned  smoking in cars with children.  PR took it one step further by banning parents from smoking inside their own home if children live there.  The entire idea here is not to protect children from the inflated dangers of second hand smoke, but to control their parents who smoke.

Consider this: children have been killed by air bags and seat belts, mandated by government.  They have been killed by cars and car exhaust (both regulated by government) both in and out of cars.  They have been killed on city streets (regulated by government) while not even riding in a car; yet no child in human history has ever died from second hand smoke while riding in cars or not.  So which one gets banned?  The government mandated and regulated activities that kill children or the personal choice of parents?

All of these intrusions are connected and one inevitably leads to the next.

Now back to the regulating fat kids.  The very idea that a teacher has a right to call out a child on their weight is both absurd and offensive to common sense.  It will harm the child by having the child singled out and humiliated. Then at great cost to the taxpayers councilors and health department personnel (who will have to be hired to fill the newly created need) will then evaluate each decision.

What happens if the professionals find no children are in need of additional support?  Well, they (the new employees) lose their jobs because their very reason to exist is to treat child obesity.  So who is willing to be they won’t find thousands of children in need of help?  Only a fool would make that bet.

So as these people from government whose only intention is to ‘help’ go into family homes and dictate the kinds of food people can buy for their children, how do you think this will effect the eating habits of the parents?  After all, why would they buy two sets of meals; one for the child and one for themselves?

Result, the government begins to regulate the diet of adults and influence the market place by increasing sales of items people don’t really want.  Parents begin facing 800 dollar fines, which like nearly every other fine in government history will only go up over time.  Soon parents will face arrest and loss of their children who will be sent to foster homes where they can be abused (and often are).

In other words a crappy solution for a problem that does not belong to government in the first place.  And before my critics rage about he cost of childhood obesity I remind them it only costs you money, because you support a system where you pay for everyone’s personal choices.  The solution to that, is to can the system and let everyone pay for their own problems.

One final thought on this.  Have you heard that Puerto Rico’s total debt is in excess of 150 billion dollars and not the official 73 billion?  How exactly will Puerto Rico pay for the medical and social services infrastructure needed to conduct this wild experiment in cultural Marxism?  What happens when these fines are applied to families that are already destitute due to the disastrous economy and wildly out of control taxation in the Commonwealth?

There are many fundamental differences in principle (not just opinion) between the Conservative and Libertarian view point and the liberal/progressive/Marxist viewpoint that pervades government in Puerto Rico.  Chief among those is the idea of individual Liberty, choice and responsibility.

These beliefs diverge on ideas like private property rights, economic freedom and parental rights.  In a Marxist state like North Korea and the old Soviet Union, children do not belong to the parents; they are wards of the state.  In the west, Europe and the Americas; governments have been slowly but steadily moving towards the Marxist view of parent child relationships and rights.

Hillary Clinton summed it up best when she said, ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’  In other words, the entire community is the parent and thus the government of the community holds principal and final authority.  In another version of Marxism, the parents are responsible as the state dictates (or arbitrarily decides) but have less and less authority to implement what the state actually claims is the goal.

The conservative Libertarian view is that children are wards of their parents, not the state and the states involvement in family must be limited to only extreme matters where the child has actually be seriously harmed or is in imminent threat of such harm.  Under the conservative Libertarian view point the state would never have authority to ban smoking in cars with kids, require mandatory education or even require seat belts in automobiles.

Would there be losses under this system?  Yes.  But the serious conservative/libertarian understands that there is no perfect world, nor perfect solution and that losses will always be a part of the human condition.  We also understand that once government begins to move in to protect children, the losses caused by that intervention, quickly and clearly exceed the original harm or threat of harm; that was the justification for doing so in the first place.

There are more words I would like to use to offer my opinion on this matter, but most of those are considered inappropriate for polite conversation.  Suffice it to say that children belong to their parents and the state needs to butt out.


About worleyf

Semi-retired Media Relations guy, former radio and TV reporter and legislative aide. Middle of the road Libertarian (as if that actually existed) who reviews current news items and stories, and offers an alternative point of view.
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3 Responses to #WTF? Puerto Rico to fine parents of fat kids.

  1. Pingback: Junk-Food Tax Will Feed Puerto Rico's Black Market

  2. Pingback: Junk-Food Tax Will Feed Puerto Rico’s Black Market - NewsJockey

  3. Pingback: Un impuesto a la comida chatarra no salvará a Puerto Rico

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