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

Rothbard on sprawl and discrimination

by Sandy Ikeda

Over at Market Urbanism they’re discussing Murray Rothbard’s analysis in For a New Liberty (1973) of how local public-school financing created incentives (1) for urban populations to move to the suburbs and (2) for suburbs to discriminate against low-income (re black) families via zoning and building regulations.

So add public schools to the list of other, sprawl-encouraging factors in the US such as federal subsidies for roads and infrastructure and, of course, the decades-long policy of promoting single- over multi-family housing. Oh, and let’s not forget the indirect but lasting impact of the Great Depression on the demise of downtowns (something Jane Jacobs argues in her last book).

This story from last year documents the continuing appeal of suburban and “micropolitan” lifestyles to most Americans.