Mainstream mouth-breathing heart-bleeders just love it when Republicans say things that sound heartless. Republican Jack Kingston recently offered up another sacrificial victim for leftist effigy when he said that low-income students should pay a tiny fee for “free lunches” in school or at least “sweep the cafeteria floor.”
Huffington Post, of course, immediately jumped on the tear-stained soapbox to deride Kingston’s “out of touch” heartlessness. Commenters joined in the Christmas-themed chorus, saying Kingston was a “Scrooge” or that his “heart was four sizes too small.” Kingston’s proposal certainly doesn’t fill my heart with warm fuzzy feelings. The picture it paints is one of a poor dirty-faced urchin in a tattered second-hand jacket pushing a broom between lunch tables while rich kids mock him and drop their trash on the floor with guffaws.
But if we can halt the tailspin of our active imaginations for ten seconds, we might be able to see that it is good to teach children (all children) the value of things and the virtues of labor. The major problem with Kingston’s proposal is that it doesn’t strike at the heart of the problem: the government shouldn’t be in the charity business at all.
Maybe that makes me even more heartless that Kingston. But I am not recommending the removal of charity. Not by any means. It’s just that government charity is the cruelest, most inefficient, most ineffective, most dignity-robbing, debilitating force in the lives of most poor people. And I want to see a return to private charity and self-sufficiency.
Don’t you think it shames poor students that they have to be on the free lunch program at all? It might actually shame them less if they had to pay for it. And the free lunch and breakfast programs, as Kingston pointed out, are rife with payment errors. The civil government overspends on charity by millions.
I would like to see schools and programs opened up by churches and private charities that fill the void the civil government just cannot fill. Let’s offer better schooling and better lunches. Then teach children how to support themselves. The government-sponsored, taxpayer-funded free school, free lunch program is designed to create submissive dependents who believe that the civil government is their benevolent provider and parent. Kingston’s proposal won’t fix this, but I for one believe his thinking (and probably his too-small heart) is pointed in vaguely the right direction.