I would like to start by saying thank you to Mr.  Niles for his “Letter to the Editor” style article. Its nice to see that there are some new people taking interest in the website. Its also nice to know that there are others concerned with the direction society is going.

However, I’d like the opportunity to respond to some of Mr. Niles comments, and perhaps stimulate additional conversation.

So, let me tackle these one item at a time.

First, the idea that high school students be required to take health & nutrition classes “a semester a year”.  While I agree that a health & nutrition class might be a good idea, I think four or five semesters-worth might be a bit extreme.  Students just don’t have that much time in their school schedules.  As it is, more and more mandated classes and graduation requirements have been added to the school environment, this would just add one more thing to cram into the already overloaded landscape.

As I said, it WOULD be a good idea, but with all of those new requirements, courses like physical education, health, home economics and personal finance were first on the chopping block.

Mr. Niles next point was related to the concept of competition.  I assume he is referring to the “we’re all winners in our own way” mentality that has overran our society, and on that level, I agree.  Yet, at the same time, on another level, our culture is overly obsessed with competition and winning.  Especially when it comes to high school, college, and professional sports.

Mr. Niles said, “this will cost money– yeah, it will.”  It never ceases to amaze me how someone can so willingly promise my money– your money– our money– to a bunch of fat, lazy, financially inept slobs and inmates.  All in the hope of POSSIBLY improving society.

While I am certainly not opposed to trying new strategies, I’m not entirely sure the proposed steps are the way to go.

Having said that, I would like to almost backtrack on my statement, by also saying that schools and prisons are probably two things it IS okay for the government to spend money on.  Perhaps we should use existing tax revenues to pay for such programs rather than some of the more useless things the government spends money on.

There is an old expression that I have heard quoted many times, “you can’t legislate morality”.  While good health and financial responsibility are not ‘moral’ issues, I think the same theory can apply here.

We can force people to sit through as many nutrition classes as we want, and people will still stuff their faces with ding-dongs and ho-ho’s.  High school students can sleep through four or five personal finance classes, and they’ll still run up $10,000 in debt right after they graduate.  And I’m not sure a convict with a GED is any less likely to commit another crime.

As a true believer in “free will”, I have always believed that each of us should be allowed to choose whether we’re going to be healthy or not.  We should all be allowed to choose whether we’re going to be financially responsible or not.

In a way, those of us who ARE responsible should just sit back with a smug, satisfied smile– after all, it’s less competition for us.

I’d like to restate that I agree with Mr. Niles, our society does have problems, and I think he did an excellent job at pointing out several of them.  I suppose they are problems that have no easy or perfect solutions, if so, they wouldn’t be problems, would they?