Thursday, June 07, 2007

Guilty displeasures 

An 80-something woman from whom we rented a studio in the early 1990s asked once if I was Armenian. "I remember my dad saying to me at breakfast to clean my plate. 'Don't forget the starving Armenians,' he'd tell me." Throughout time we have guilted kids into eating more than they wanted.

Phil Miller has a new, bizarre twist.

I noticed a sign hanging in the lunch room of PowerKid, the Eldest's school recently. It was a version of the tried and true warning from mom "You better clean your plate because there's a child starving in Africa." But this one went a bit further on the guilt-o-meter:

When YOU throw away YOUR food, a child somewhere is dying because he doesn't have enough food.

Phil goes through possible reasons why kids are starving in Africa without any of the reasons being due to the PowerKid's actions. Let me suggest a simpler explanation: tranasctions costs. The cost of picking up hundreds of kids' half-eaten sandwiches or left-behind green beans, packing and shipping them to Africa, and distributing them to starving children is simply too high. It destroys wealth far more than letting kids toss the food away and put an extra dime in the mission basket at church. Plus, your child is eating less which, given concerns of youth obesity, should be considered a good thing.