Originally Posted by BRussell
So what is the deeper issue here? That we are too health/nutrition-oriented in our culture? Or that schools have become increasingly authoritarian?
They have become increasingly authoritarian and strangely have done it under the stewardship of the "Free Love" generation. They have become so because as we keep digging in further and further into problems that seem incapable of being legislated away, you have dig more and more into the psyche and behaviors of the persons causing such "problems."
Thus we pass a law to limit the sale of unhealthy foods and people buy them on the way to school, or bring them from home. An underground market develops for "Skittles."
Everyone becomes a criminal because they refuse to live their life according to the dictates of the institution.
Originally Posted by BRussell
One of the things that Americans in Germany often comment on is how strange it is to see all the Germans waiting for the little green walk light to come on before they cross the street. Even if there clearly aren't any cars to be seen, if that light is red, they'll wait there until it changes. In the US, I've never seen Americans standing in front of a car-less street waiting for the walk light. They ignore the light and cross.
I think there's a sociological term for that - "looseness" maybe. The US is a loose culture. People engage in a wider range of behaviors, to put it nicely.
I think it goes well beyond that and more to the founding principles that each society is organized under. America is a nation of lawbreakers who in most instances fled authority to come here. Our Declaration is the only document I have read that has an institutional self-destruction mechanism built in. Consent comes from the governed. If the government fails to realize this, you have the right to destroy the government and start over.
People engage in a wider range of behaviors, to put it nicely. There's more crime, there's more inappropriate behavior, there's more destructive behavior.
There is also the greatest experiment in history regarding the melding of disparate cultures, ethnicities and philosophies being banged against each other.
So, if you're concerned about US culture, what do you do? The research on health marketing is very clear - it doesn't work. You can't get people to stop using drugs with ads. You can't get people to wear seat belts with billboards. It's just too loose of a culture. But what does work is the strong arm of the law. Make a regulation that all cars have airbags and you won't have to hope people buy a car with airbags - they will whether they like it or not. Make a rule that people can't smoke indoors, and they won't. Give people a $100 ticket if they're not wearing a seatbelt, and they'll wear one.
Clearly you don't know my dad. He carries a doctor's note claiming he can't wear a seatbelt and occasionally, just pays the ticket.(I honestly have no idea why)
I would disagree that Americans won't change. However the difference is likely that they won't change simply because a good public service message tells them the government or some well-wishers would prefer something be done a certain way. They do change when there is credible information available that points to a better way.
So take the candy ban for example. Certainly most candy is calorie dense and in comparison to others foods, not particularly efficient in terms of nutritional content. However can we honestly prove it "harms" the student to have one or two of them a week? No we can't and when you pull out something like BMI which makes the entire basketball team "obese" due to having more muscle content, it just makes it worse.
So people ignore it. They are the governed, the consent should come from them, they don't give it so the government and associated laws should change.
It's a depressing situation. You'd hope that parents would feed their kids well without making zero-tolerance rules against candy. But the simple fact is, they don't. Telling people that it's a good idea just isn't enough in US culture. It doesn't work, because the culture is too loose. It's considered nosy meddling. So people are left with two alternatives: 1) don't care, let people engage in whatever self-destructive behaviors they want, or 2) pass ridiculously stringent laws to change behavior. What you see in the US is wavering back and forth between these two extremes
There is a middle-ground you can help them but not entirely put right the effects of the destructive behaviors. I advocate for this middle ground often. We can treat the drug addiction instead of criminalizing it for example. However that doesn't mean we have to give back the home, car, or other items that were lost to the addiction. Most welfare reform has concerned jobs versus just cash benefits. Can someone get pregnant and be unemployed at a very young age? Sure and the government can provide assured work to insure there is no hunger. It can provide the public forum for the birds of a feather to link up and arrange to help each other with child care needs. They do not have to pay them to stay home or pay them to watch their own children.
The difference between and hand out and a hand up can be found. The hand up in this instance was the school deciding to forgo revenue from bad food sources. The hand out was the rejection of the school to believe that people can provide and choose for themselves. They choose to infantlize and criminalize them to insure compliance.