ebenezer would be proud

Jack Kingston, the Republican representative from Georgia’s first district and esteemed member of the Republican theme team, has apparently decided that, if he wants to be a viable candidate for the United States Senate, he’s got to get himself some press coverage. Since he’s not a novice, we have to assume that targeting the children’s lunches is not an accident. According to Daniel Molloy, writing for the Atlanta Journal Constitution Kingston said:

let them sweep
(credit: LetTheChildrenPlay.net)

“On the Agriculture Committee we have jurisdiction over the school lunch. The school lunch program has a 16 percent error rate. The school lunch program is very expensive. Of course it looks good compared to the school breakfast program that has a 25 percent error rate.

“But one of the things I’ve talked to the Secretary of Agriculture about: ‘Why don’t you, you know, have the kids pay a dime, pay a nickel to instill in them that there is, in fact, no such thing as a free lunch. Or maybe sweep the floor in the cafeteria.’

“And yes, I understand that would be an administrative problem and I understand that it would probably lose you money, but think what we would gain as a society in getting people — getting the myth out of their head that there is such thing as a free lunch.”

Where to start? First of all, sending dollars to schools to buy food for lunch is actually a subsidy for the agriculture industry. That’s why the dollars are doled out by the Department of Agriculture. Surely the aspiring Senator knows that dollars are not edible.

Secondly, communal kitchens, especially for a captive “market,” are much more efficient in terms of energy and time. Not to mention that sharing a meal is itself a socializing experience, as our commemoration of the Last Supper has attested for over two thousand years.

But, what we have to remember about the Cons is that it’s never about what they claim it’s about. Indeed, what it’s always about is self-interest and Kingston’s nattering is no exception. In addition to wanting attention from the press, he knows better than to pick on voters, so he’s targeting the children of poor people, maybe even recent immigrants whose children are entitled to schooling according to a SCOTUS ruling (Plyler v. Doe), who are less likely to vote.

The mention of error rates is telling because what Kingston is doing is taking a preemptive stance against the proposed solution to the error rates — i.e. that, instead of relying on applications and documentation from individual families to validate their neediness, whole schools should be included in the feeding program according to data collected by the U.S. census, district by district. That would not only streamline the administration of the feeding programs, but remove the segregation that occurs when the poor are singled out. Which is not to say Kingston’s opposition is evidence of support for separate or unequal treatment, but that it is consistent with the Cons’ preference for a stratified society in which obedience is rewarded and autonomy penalized.

That, after all, is the purpose of the “no free lunch” mantra. People either do what they are told or they don’t eat. And, while that seems to conflict with the conditions governing the no-nothings in the one percent, it really doesn’t, because doing nothing is what their status demands.

If I remember correctly, the last time jack Kingston got covered in the national press was when he objected rather vociferously to the revised schedule of the House keeping him in Washington five days a week. The Republican majority seems to have taken care of that. Perhaps that’s what he aims to bring to the Senate, as well. Less work and more leisure to pontificate about who should eat and when.

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Image: from Let The Children Play (unknown photographer, click here to attribute or for take down).

Monica Smith

Monica Smith writes Hannah's Blog. Born in Germany, she came to the United States as a child, living first in California, then after an interval in Chile, in New York. Married to a retired professor at the University of Florida, where she lived for 17 years, she moved to St. Simons Island, Georgia, in 1993 and now divides her time between Georgia and New Hampshire. (New Hampshire, she says, is always interesting during a presidential election.) She and her husband have three children and five grandchildren. Ms. Smith says she "learned long ago that I am not a good team player when I got hired at the Library of Congress, fresh out of college with a degree in political science and proficiency in four foreign languages, to 'edit' library cards and informed my supervisor that if she was going to insist I punch the clock exactly on time, my productivity was going to fall from being the highest to being the same as everyone else's. The supervisor opted to assign me to another building where there was no time-clock. After I had the first of our three children, I decided a paycheck wasn't worth the hassle."