Does Capitalism Have to Promote Child Abuse?

If we're such a "family values"-friendly nation, why are we so willing to let our kids be abused for the sake of making money?

According to the allegations in the Penn State scandal, a pedophile was allowed to brutally assault/molest numerous young boys because no one dared to upset the very lucrative apple cart that is college sports. And, as commentator Frank DeFord speculated on NPR today, perhaps there was also some reluctance to sully our noble national pastime of oversized brutes battering each other in pursuit of a pigskin.

And now comes word that Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee have torpedoed the USDA's attempts to reduce the amount of pizza, french fries and salt that our kids consume at school. Why? Because the frozen pizza companies, the salt industry and potato growers asked them to. Really. It's that simple.

The USDA wasn't looking to ban any of these foods, but rather to increase the ratio of non-starchy vegetables and whole grains. This would be a step in the right direction, instead of using our resources to make our kids sicker and fatter. But such a shift would also make a dent in some very lucrative government contracts. So, no go.

There's more going on here than simple greed, though. Because the politicians who do the food industry's bidding are showing as much contempt for the expert opinion of nutritionists as they do towards the science of climate change. As Tom Philpott notes over at Mother Jones, the evidence that we need to feed our kids less of this stuff is solid: "Eat Your Greens, or Your Gut Gets It."

But who needs experts, anyway? Not the GOP. Their ideal nominee should evidently be a blowhard ignoramus with a moral compass that's shiftier than the San Andreas fault line, and at least as deeply cracked.

Take Herman Cain (please.) When the pizza mogul/motivational speaker/alleged serial groper was asked if he could define a man by the kind of pizza he prefers, he declared that "A manly man don't want it piled high with vegetables! He would call that a sissy pizza."

And so goes the ongoing conservative war against vegetables, served up with a side of machismo. We can't let the First Lady instill a love of broccoli in our kids! And isn't Obamacare just a sneaky plot to open the door for legislation that would crucify Americans who reject cruciferous vegetables?

I guess those retired war generals over at Mission Readiness didn't get the memo about the sissifying powers of vegetables. Why are these military experts up in arms over the USDA's caving in to Big Food? Maybe because "Obesity is the leading medical disqualifier for military service, and children get up to 40% of their daily calories during the school day?"

As Amy Dawson Taggart, Mission Readiness's director, noted "This new effort to undermine school nutrition regulations raises national security concerns."

It should also raise questions about what kind of culture turns a blind eye to kids being brutalized and turns our children into vessels for commodity crop crap because it protects the revenues of some high powered institutions and politicians. What warped brand of capitalism have we created that permits our kids to be treated as collateral damage?