Regulators Ban Mom’s Banana Bread

by Chidem Kurdas

Last week, New York City’s  Panel for Educational Policy approved a new rule for school bake sales. Home-made treats are no-no, but pre-approved packaged products, the ones that are also in school vending machines, are fine.

The bake sale ban is supposed to reduce childhood obesity. An education bureaucrat explained that homemade goods can’t be allowed because it’s impossible to know their portion size and content.  You may add raisins to your banana bread and slice it thin, while I add walnuts and cut it thick.

Hence banana bread, cupcakes and anything else baked at home have been banished; but kids are free to gorge on Kellogg’s Frosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tarts, which come in portion-controlled packages and have known ingredients—in fact a long list of ingredients from high fructose corn syrup to yellow dye #6.

This is a vivid little example of how regulation in general functions and the impact it has in many areas of social life. Continue reading

New York may be among the least lonely places on earth

by Sandy Ikeda

Or so reports an article in the December 1st, 2008 New York Magazine (with the headline, “The Loneliness Myth”) called “Alone together” that my wife, Jenny (aka JW in previous hat-tips), just showed me.  In Manhattan, half of all apartments have only one occupant, 57% of whom are female.  In Brooklyn (29.5%) and Queens (26.1%) the percentages are considerably lower.

Yet the picture of cities—and New York in particular—that has been emerging from the work of social scientists is that the people living in them are actually less lonely. Rather than driving people apart, large population centers pull them together, and as a rule tend to possess greater community virtues than smaller ones. This, even though cities are consistently, overwhelmingly, places where people are more likely to live on their own. Continue reading