Monday, July 5, 2010

Whose Life is It?

On Monday the Chronicle opined on a recent report that found two-thirds of Texas children flunked a physical fitness test. The editorial, which is subtitled "It's our duty to get Texas kids more fit," concluded:
The state of Texas has an interest in changing this picture, no less than it does in improving student performances on standardized academic tests. Failure to meet physical fitness standards has lifetime consequences every bit as serious as flunking algebra.
Physical fitness shouldn't be treated as an elective that can be modified or even eliminated at state lawmakers' whim. Let's get exercised enough to change this, Texas. 
The paper doesn't tell us why the fitness of Texas children is a proper concern of state legislators or what interest the state has in this issue. Apparently, we are supposed to swallow the bait with no explanation.

I assume that, if pressed, the paper would argue that childhood obesity ultimately costs taxpayers more in health care costs. Therefore, the state has an interest in promoting fitness because it will save us money in the long run. But this begs the question: Should government even be in the health care business? And the answer to that question is an emphatic NO.

The Chronicle implicitly regards children as property of the state, whose fitness is a proper concern of lawmakers. This of course, is nothing new. Through public education, vaccination requirements, and myriad other laws the state has long asserted its ownership of children within Texas.

And this ownership isn't limited to children. Anyone living in the state is subject to an abundance of regulations and controls premised on the belief that the state may dictate how we live our lives. From occupational licensing to taxation, from land-use regulations to protecting the environment, the state has steadily assumed greater and greater control over our property and our lives. Increasingly, we may live--not as we choose--but as the state deems appropriate. Increasingly, we may live--not by right--but with the permission of government officials. This isn't what the Founding Fathers had in mind.

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