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in which i make a For The Children(tm) plea

John Hawkins writes about free school lunches:

First off, there is no need for a school lunch program in the United States of America. Nobody starves to death in this country, not even the homeless. So whether these kids get free food at school or not, they are going to be able to ultimately get enough eat one way or another.

.....Even if you don't want to get rid of the school lunch and breakfast program, we should at least make the kids work to earn the food. Let the older kids spend some time beating out erasers, sweeping the hallways, or doing something else to pay for their food. Even the little kids could at least -- I don't know -- make macaroni pictures dedicated to the US taxpayers who are paying for the free pizza they're getting at lunch. Let them learn that there is no "free lunch" or "free breakfast" for that matter and that you should have to work for everything you get. Even that would be preferable to putting these kids on the dole and teaching them that the world owes them free food...

I'm about to serve myself up to the wolves here.

Have you ever been poor? Near poor? Have you ever had to scrape around between the cushions of the couch hoping you could find enough change to buy a half gallon of milk? Have you ever had to cash in the bonds your kids got from relatives when they were born so you could go food shopping or get school supplies?

I have. And I know that free school lunches are a saving grace. Yes, I understand the lunch isn't really free, that someone's taxes were going towards my kids' sandwiches. What comes around goes around. Years later I am far from poor and I know that part of my taxes are going towards another kid's free lunch and I don't mind.

This is not a matter of uncaring parents or people not wanting to work for what they get. Some people really, honestly need that food for their kids. Sometimes the only thing in their refrigerator is what little they have to make a decent dinner and breakfast for their kids - a free lunch is a blessing. It's not about nutrition - it's about putting some food in the empty stomach of a poor child.

What got me more than John's ideas were some comments:

1. I went to a boarding school, and my parents had to pay for my lunches. Day pupils at the school had to buy their own lunches. Nobody got a state-funded lunch.

2. It makes parents responsible for their kids' nutrition, and that's exactly the way it should be.

3. It induces an element of competition where you compare lunch-boxes and food, and that's a good thing because it encourages kids to succeed economically.



Obviously if this person went to a boarding school, they don't know poor from piss poor. And "inducing an element of competition?" Are you kidding? What kind of encouragement does a kid get from "Oh, I see you have a peanut butter sandwich for the fifth day in a row. Can't you afford anything else?"

The families that qualify for free food at school probably get assistance already in the form of welfare, food stamps, etc. In other words, their food dilemma is already taken care of. If there was a reasonable argument that the meals the students are getting causes a sharp increase in academic performance I would consider the program valid. Here's my cold conservative solution.

1) Stop trading wic vouchers for cigarettes, beer and microwave food.
2) Go to bed before Leno ends so you can get up early and make breakfast and a healthy brown bag lunch. If you follow step 1 you can afford to do this.
3) Take the extra 30 minutes a day I saved you by not watching Leno and learn a little bit about general nutrition. Surprisingly enough, healthy food is much cheaper than most microwave meals/snacks.
4) Write thank-you cards to all of the taxpayers for the food we already provide you. Make a point to have child get an education so he will not be dependent on charity.

A common misconception about poor people is that there is only one class of poor. Welcome to the working poor class. People who are deemed to make too much money to be eligible for food stamps and welfar, but make too little money to have anything but the basic necessities in their fridge.

Not all poor people are neglectful parents. Not everyone who would apply for a free lunch program at school is jobless or homeless or drinking and smoking on a street corner while their kids are at school.

Well fed kids are better educated kids, on the premise that a hungry kid cannot think or concentrate. Feed the kids, feed the future. Sure, that's broad and simplistic, but it's coming from a person whose kids were not hungry during the day because they got a discounted lunch; it's coming from a person who did not choose to be poor and was greatly appreciative of the help she got while climbing out of poverty.

As is always the case when I am writing about something that has pissed me off to the point of turning my stomach, I probably haven't been very eloquent in making my point.

But I think you get it nonetheless.

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference in which i make a For The Children(tm) plea:

» Yeah, what she said! from Bloggie Broad
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» Scenes From the Class Struggle from Interrobang?!
Michele's got a post up about free school lunches which you ought to read. Comments too. There really are all different kinds of poor. I've... [Read More]

» Take THAT! from An Unsealed Room
Michele very adroitly kicks John Hawkins' privileged right-wing tushy for his opposition to free and subsidized breakfast and lunch programs in public schools. In John's Oliver Twistian world, he'd have the "older kids spend some time beating out erase... [Read More]

» I'm Not A Fan Of School Breakfast & Lunch Programs from Right Wing News
Now President Bush, being a "compassionate conservative" -- as if conservatism needs a modifier -- would NEVER go for what [Read More]

» Stuck In The Middle from camedwards.com
It all started with a post by John Hawkins at Right Wing News. First off, there is no need for a school lunch program in the United States of America. Nobody starves to death in this country, not even the... [Read More]

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Welcome to the Cul-de-Sac, my weekly Adventure in Blogging. I had a fantastic time putting together this week's edition; despite the pall cast by the anniversary of the September 11th attacks, bloggers were out in full force and shining. I... [Read More]

» The Cul-de-Sac for Monday, September 15th from suburban blight
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» Feed your own damned kids! from insignificant thoughts
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» TANSTAAFL from The Waterglass
There's a bit of a dust-up about free school lunch programs in the blogosphere, so before you weigh in, check out the following links. There's a bit of reading to do, but it's worth it, because it's fascinating on several... [Read More]

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Comments

Last Christmas, one of my colleagues in grad school had to make her kids sell some of their Xmas presents so she could buy food and make the rent.

Amen, sister. We once had a year so bad we were going to the food bank instead of the grocery store. Too bad these folks can't have just the littlest taste of what that's like, both in utter humiliation and desperate need. Perspective is a wonderful thing.

I think you made your point very well Michele. The excerpts you quoted are absolutely appalling. These people should be ashamed of themselves. I don't know how much school lunches cost these days, but I am quite sure that the cost of providing free school lunches is such a tiny proportion of taxpayer's money it's a moot point. What is wrong with these people that they would literally take food from children's mouths in order to reduce their taxes by what, $10, $15 dollars?

Oh, and news flash: people are not allowed to buy cigarettes and beer with WIC vouchers. At least they aren't in California.

And one more thing...I have waited in line in the grocery store while people redeem their WIC vouchers. The rules are VERY strict--even down to what brand of milk a person can buy. These programs are DESIGNED to save taxpayer dollars (have to buy the store brand of milk instead of a brand name) while encouraging good nutrition. I'll admit I've gotten impatient in the grocery store line while the checker consults the WIC book for questionable items, but I'm glad that these safeguards are in place to prevent people from buying beer and cigarettes. Sure, there are dishonest stores who will redeem the WIC vouchers for these items, but I believe that to be the exception rather than the rule.

I think I have the distinction in being one of every part of the rich/poor class out there at one time or another. I've been to private school, and have been on Welfare/foodstamps. I've been on the school lunch program, and there are times I've recalled having to share a single scrambled egg with my sister (my little brother had not yet been born) as our meal for the day.

I believe that a free school lunch program, completely under the authority of States or counties (having nothing to do with the federal government), has a place. Though I do believe that such programs should be run effeciency and not given such huge growth in funds year after year, they shouldn't be disbanded.

Having said that, the article John links too and comments on is such utter bullshit. Making kids that pay, pay more, just so you can offer the others a second meal is nothing but mini-Marxism, punishing one set of kids and rewarding the others for being poor.

Waste and fraud are rampant in the the school lunch programs. Administrators actually tell parents to state their income lower then what it is so the school can get more aid, so thew bueracrats can drive nicer cars and take better vacations. There is more then enough money already there to pay for all of this without raising taxes or forcing kids to pay more for food if somebody actually looked around.

I used to get free lunches when I was in elementary school. My mother worked three jobs to support my brother and I after my dad fled the scene. Sure, my mother probably could have packed us a bag lunch. But the money she saved on food for lunches meant that she could pay her electric bill on time. It irks me to no end when people who have no clue about what it is to be poor try to talk shit about a program that saves so many families.

There's two sides to the story. Starving one day ain't so bad. I wouldn't want to do it again, though.

Regardless of wether or not people rich "Understand" what its like to have it hard, some of you should show some more goddamn gratitude, as it was them who helped feed you and help your parents pay their bills.

The attitude I'm getting here is that your entitled to their wallets, and that is fucking bullshit. Grow up

John's criticisms remind me of conservative attacks on the Earned Income Tax Credit as a "hand-out." Why do we give people the EITC? As an alternative to welfare, because we know that people who work at the very bottom may not be making enough to always make ends meet, and it's better that they work than stay on welfare. Who championed this socialist concept?

Milton Friedman.

The school lunches are an issue where conservatives set themselves up to be depicted as Grinches on the cover of Time and Newsweek. They've got to be more pragmatic. Conservatism should be about smaller, better government. If it's about "no government," conservatives will lose the ears of far, far too many people.

"Regardless of wether or not people rich "Understand" what its like to have it hard, some of you should show some more goddamn gratitude, as it was them who helped feed you and help your parents pay their bills."

It's a circular argument. Try shutting your mouth and thinking about it for a millisecond.

Oh. my. fucking. god.
Michele, you know my situation, it sucks. My kids get free lunches and thank fucking god they do. This summer, was the hardest summer I have ever had raising them. No job, no income, waiting on paperwork to be filed, doctors, etc etc. I struggled to feed them. I went to food pantrys, scraped change, sold shit. I sold my entire cd collection for $112 dollars so I could buy food to feed them. I thank the gov everyday for free lunches. It helps to save the food that we do have for dinners and weekends. Food stamps don't go far at all. I don't feel as though I'm entitled to get every gov handout there is. I'm greatful for what I do get. I get $22.10 a week in child support. Do you know what that buys? 2 gallons of milk, some hamburger, a couple loaves of bread and a box of cereal with a coupon. And before anyone says shit about my site and how I pay for it, the domain was a gift for the 1 year and my host only charges me a small fee which I pay from my ebay sales which also pay my bills. If I could work, I would. When I did, I gave back. I invite anyone who wants to see what it's like to feed a family on $260 a month in FS and the child support, to come on down, spend a month with me and you'll be singing a whole new tune.

In a recent discussion with a friend of mine, I remarked that the single mother in the apartment next to me had been evicted for not paying her rent, and that I was concerned about her little boy (for several reasons) and now felt doubly concerned for him since what was she spending her welfare money on instead of rent? My friend very kindly pointed me to a government website showing what welfare pays one person with a child in Canada. Folks, the amount of welfare she would have been getting wasn't even quite enough to pay the rent, let alone buy food as well. And I wasn't living in a high-class place (in fact, I decided to move the day someone urinated in the elevator). I don't know what welfare pays in the States, but here in Canada, free school lunches would be a godsend to some families...and that's even if they ate only healthy food and lived in a scuzzy one-bedroom. Paying for a phone and electricity seems nearly impossible, at least here in Vancouver (welfare rates are the same no matter where you live).

Personally, I would rather see my tax dollars feeding hungry children than being spent on the military, for example. I'm not saying Canada doesn't need a military, but if I could choose where my tax dollars go, hungry kids would get it first. I've gone hungry before (as an adult; my parents fed me, thanks), and I was infinitely grateful for food banks and the generosity of friends. Hunger makes one pragmatic, and very focused...or perhaps I should say desperate. To this day, if I feel broke I start to become ravenous, through association.

Feed the hungry children. It doesn't matter what the parents spend the money on; it's not the child's fault! Feed them so that they have a chance at a better life down the road, because they can look past their basic need to survive.

long time reader here, but first time commenter...

I work full time (40+hours per week), pay my taxes, raise 3 kids, and yes, I receive food stamps.
I even make more than minimum wage.
I don't receive child support, or alimony.
it pisses me off that someone who doesn't know me or my situation would imply that I'm lazy or looking for a free ride/handout...neither of which is true!
come live my life for a week John, I guarantee your views on life would change drastically.

I have to echo those who commented on WIC vouchers. I worked in a grocery store and I've seen them. They specifically say on the voucher what you can and cannot get with them. You can't buy cigarettes with a WIC voucher.

I don't believe anyone here has said that they are entitled to anyone's wallet. I think the issue people are having is when someone who has never walked in their shoes supposedly knows what it is like to walk in their shoes. When someone goes into a forum, for example, that article, and says on the topic of free school lunches and the poor "I went to boarding school", it's safe to assume that this person has probably only wanted for material things in life and not over necessities like food or a roof over their head or power and heat. When I personally read something like that, I feel both insulted and like rolling my eyes and laughing my rear end off at the commentor's ignorance. Like some other people, I was once at a point in my life where I had to choose between eating and having my electricity disconnected.

Free lunches saved my life growing up and I am not ashamed of that. Thank you for speaking up, Michele.

I received free lunches when I was a kid and sometimes it was basically the only meal I got. (I can remember a few times that dinner was macaroni and powdered milk, no cheese) I didn't have to, but I worked in the lunchroom handing out stuff, cleaning trays and whatever else needed to be done in order to give something back for what I was getting. I needed the meal, but did not want it to be totally "given" to me. Free lunches are one of the better things that are being done to help. At least you know where it is going.

Civilization has to keep up certain standards. One is we don't let children starve here in our country; at least not by policy.

I've never minded the safety net. But the metaphor is apt: It's only a net, not a permanent place of residence. It catches you when you fall. Then you get up and try again. Very few Americans will mind paying for someone who has stumbled, and particularly for children of those who're going through a rough time.

Laissez-faire is for people who've never seen shantytowns in person.

Dear Dan and Kat:

You are the people for who the free lunch program was meant for. All others...you know our feeling about them. Don't consider it or say that a "free lunch" is a hand-out, though. With all the taxes you have or will be paying, it will more than make it up. We are dishing out $87 million/yr. someplace half way around the world, for probably the next five years. We can't eat oil, per se.

Wait a minute!

Clearly kids eating is good. Clearly if you are poor and on foodstamps, which I was as a child, any extra benefit like the free lunch is a good thing to you. At the time when I ate the school's free lunch I was ashamed of it. I'll bet my mom was glad that it existed.

But she wasn't, and those of you who support now are not, thinking clearly.

Poor and once poor mothers, you are paying for your child's lunch by indirectly pointing a gun at me and making me pay for it. This isn't an emergency, it's chronic and you've done it for years. You keep coming back each year to take it from me without my permission.

Hey, it's no big deal. If I were poor and a parent I would do the same. If times were bad enough I'd steal bread from the bakery and think of Les Miserables.

Feeding your kids comes first and that's the way it is.

But don't get righteous and don't take your participation in legalized theft for granted. You don't deserve it, but you took it anyway. I would too.

I'd be ashamed, many of you don't seem to be.

When I read your posts aloud they sound belligerent to my ears. Damn those rich people in their boarding schools -- we deserve a little of what they've got.

I trust that you are responsible and that you do try hard for your kids. I know my mom did for me when times were very very hard. But have some respect for me. I'm rich, and once a day, I help feed your kids. Don't hate me for it, ok?

"This isn't an emergency, it's chronic and you've done it for years. You keep coming back each year to take it from me without my permission."

That statement is just chock full of assumptions. You know, you should market that crystal ball you're peering into. You could make a fortune.

Arbiter:

Ok, true, while generally true (look at average use of food stamps, lunch money, etc) it isn't universally true.

so,.. it IS an emergency, and still your taking my money without my permission.

The rest of my post stands. Go correct those in this thread who assume a right to my life, my time, and the money I've made with them.

Scrappleface has the next handout.

Wow! I have't seen such hubris in a long, long time. I wonder where this guy lives to be so disconnected with reality. I live in Washington, DC. On a military base. My wife and I make about 95K according to the military, although I have no idea where about half of it goes (I certainly never see it). I have 1 son and am about to adopt a 6 year old girl. By any stretch of the imagination, I'm fully capable of seeing their need met on our household income. The people who live right off the base aren't so lucky. Most make slightly above minumum wage and have three or more jobs in the household. They still don't have enough to get by. I think (personnaly) that all public school lunches should be free. Forget the means tests, just feed them. Of course I also think we should be spending at least twice as much on our schools than we are.

Andy

Hey Michele -- I have to say that, more than anything else, I tip my hat to the extraordinary restraint you showed in a very well reasoned response to a disgusting post. You're a better man than I.

I'm searching for words after reading those of John Hawkins. He's a parody of himself.

Wait a Minute, (and others here who feel that school lunch and breakfast programs are somehow 'wrong') I have questions for you...Did you vote in your last local/state/federal election? If you did, then you agreed to the policies proposed by the officials you voted for.

If you didn't vote, your voice is merely a fart in a tornado because you refused to do anything about what you obviously feel is an injustice.

Perhaps your feeling of shame at getting free food in school made you the person you are today.

Maybe it instilled in you a drive to never eat from someone else's plate ever again. If so, good for you. Don't you think that maybe someone else could be similarly inspired?

Would you rather that children who for WHATEVER REASON need to get at least one good meal a day do not get it? Would you rather that they instead become a discipline problem n the classroom making it harder for teachers to teach YOUR kids? Would you rather that the parents of these kids rob you at gunpoint or knife point? It may be more satisfying that way I know, but much more likely to ruin your suit than just paying your taxes, the ones you agreed to pay by voting for the officials in charge--remember.

Should these kids instead be allowed to go through school half asleep due to lack of caloric intake, fail miserably, become a welfare burden that you wind up paying for their entire lives or should they just be given a freaking chance to maybe learn enough so that doesn't happen.

No one wants to be the guy who raises taxes. Hurts re-election chances that way. But in the city I grew up in, we had an extra one cent sales tax just for the education budget.

We also had a retired doctor for a biology teacher, a former chemist from Dow running our chemistry department, a French national teaching language arts for six grade levels, up to four years worth, a Military Historian from the Citadel teaching our JROTC program, and no less than 28 PhD's in our teaching staff.

Not one kid in my entire school paid more than seventy-five cents for lunch or fifteen cents for breakfast, and for MORE THAN HALF it was free.

Not one class in twenty years graduated more than one hundred and ten students. Yet we had acedemic honors consistantly at the state and national level.

We had no less than a dozen national merit scholars per class in just the four years I attended.

Our sports teams were in the playoffs in almost every high school level sport for nearly fifteen years, our science fair winners went on to do things such as make the MRI more refined, teach at Ivy League schools, design hardware and software for NASA, or simply graduate with honors at some of the most elite schools in the country.

Many, not some, of these kids were so Alabama dirt poor that the only good meals they got were at school.

I think as a successful person who has obviosly made a mark on the world you should recognize a good investment when you see it rather than deride it as theft.

You had 28 PhD's in a teaching staff that graduated 100 students?

Yup. We taught four classes at high school level, three in middle school, and K-5 in grammar school. The 28 PhD's were in the high school and middle school levels. We had additional PhD's in the administrations of all three levels (four schools, two grammar schools that got merged in middle school) of school. I didn't bother to mention them because I was specifically talking about teachers. Sorry for the confusion.

Anthony, is it hubris to want to decide what to do with my money? Do you consider it to not be my money? I know I'm lucky -- do we have a right to steal from lucky people? I'm charitable, but I don't like it that folks assume my charity. I've apparently no right to my own life, a good portion of which I've transformed into cash (with alot of effot and luck!). I'll raise you: let's you and I pay FOUR times as much for schooling. But would I force other people to do so? Horrid fascist thought, that.

ATOZ, yes I voted but that hardly means that everything the government does has my consent or is morally right. The classic argument of the "consent of the governed" holds, but there are different amounts of consent. As a coward and a realist, I'm not happy to let you vote away my cash but I'll pay. If it's consent, it's an ugly sort.

Charismatic leaders convince the mob to take what belongs to me. Thugs ask me if they have my consent. Sure, you do. Again, I'm a coward and a realist.

-----

At the end of the day I'm ecstatic about being an American. I'm proud of our system. With it's flaws, it's still the best in the world. I'm not horrified by school lunches. I am horrified by people who get angry when I point out that you can't have a right to something that requires someone else's labor to fulfill.

Consider that charity and welfare are two different things. Americans are the most charitable creatures in the world. Consider that enforcing people's charity lessens their chance to excercise it on their own. When problems are simply solved by our wise leaders we don't personally read, react and step up to the challenge, as we almost always do.

You who I argue against here are in favor of using a big ugly tool (democracy, taxes, enforced charity) to solve a simple program (did everyone in my community get enough to eat?). You see lunches funded through force today and assume that without that force the children would go hungry. As if it were the force, not the great American tendencies towards wealth and charity that halted starvation here in the first place. As if the children, prior to a modern school lunch program, all starved.

Scrapple face is silly but the point is true. The kids need shoes too. I got mine (along with my coat, jeans and once a kick-ass Chewbacca tshirt) from a box outside some place where people brought stuff for kids like me. If it weren't for the universal school shoe programs today, kids would be barefoot. Let's all get indignant about those fat cats complaining about paying for those little kids shoes.

I've been poor, I've eaten from trash. I know I'm lucky now. My good luck, compounded by effort, doesn't mean that you should get huffy when I point out that what's mine is mine. Don't assume because I assert that something is mine that I'm going to be miserly with it.

On this thread it's as if property rights were the enemy of kindness. They aren't. It's as if the government is the only tool to solve problems with the downtrodden. You know it isn't.

So what's the big deal with you and my wallet?

You're kneejerking too far in the other direction. I haven't seen on commenter make the sort of statements you're attributing to them. I think it's a Saturday night, there's nothing on cable and you're bored.

So, it comes down to your wallet. I think the idea here is that school meals keep kids awake. Awake kids learn more. Educated kids accomplish more. More accomplishments means more commerce. More commerce means more investing, more production, more employment, more money from taxes due to a LOWER tax rate ( at least if conservatives are right ), better schools, less people who need the free meals.

The idea here is that by investing in the system, and by supervising your investment, you are making YOUR OWN WALLET FATTER in the long run.

Christ on a crutch, you yourself benefited from the system. I benefited from a superior system because at the local level, my community realized that investment would pay off.

I am all for smaller governmet. I want taxes to be as low as possible to encourage the growth of our economy at all levels. But I also recogonize that we will ALWAYS have the poor among us. Some are just too lazy, too dumb, too crazy, too whatever for them to ever pull themselves out.

And, yes, I think it is the responibility of the individual to do that very thing. But to see the affect that one small microcosm of 12,000 people had simply by feeding thier kids better makes me believe that the investment is worth the effort.

What is yours is yours, yes. And mine, mine. However, since we both choose to live in this society that made it possible for us to get "ours" in the first place, our place in it dictates that we in turn support it when it needs us. I know military families who are on food stamps for crissakes, and they have proven thier love of our society far more than most others have by volunteering to take a bullet for it.

If you want to change how things are done in our society, VOTE. If you feel that voting your mind is an act of cowardice, or that your choices are limited by the field or the process, get more active--post bills, volunteer for a candidate you believe in, or get off your own ass and run. All governments are limited to the will of the governed. All it takes is for you to decide if you are pissed off enough to change what you don't like. Cowardice in our society is not tolerated. Get involved or don't. Just don't piss about it.

Michele, I would like to apologize for taking over your comments. I just can't stand to see someone who has used the system for his own good turn around and denigrate it.

Arbiter, Which statements? I'm probably extrapolating from statements to their logical (to me!) conclusions. Point out where I've leapt and I'll draw explicit inferences for you.

ATOZ, Glad you've got some lipservice for property. Not glad that you see democracy as the only tool for change and support of the downtrodden. Don't forget charity, innovation, job creation, etc.

By calling myself a coward (and don't forget realist) I'm saying that I'm not crazy enough to resist directly against the mob that comes and takes my stuff each year. I'm with you -- participate in the system (which is to say, resist but indirectly so) to make it better. I do. Wrong of you to say that arguing with bright minds on the internet is "pissing".

It is not all about the wallet, it's about freedom. The wallet is a nice side effect. Without freedom it all falls. You can vote your way to socialism or facism and argue that we are all consenting. If we get there, we all are.

And please please please using the word "investing" when you mean "some bureaucrat spending my money in a manner designed to buy votes." More boring than cable is political mangling of the English language. Investment implys capital spent to purchase ownership to generate an ROI. If the prospectus reads "we'll take your money and give it to someone who might create wealth and you might benefit from it" then I'm not buying that crap investment. I am, however, charitable. I like "giving". Forcing me to give and getting indignant about it is sad.

Of course, all issues seem ridiculous out of context. Bastard won't pay for school lunches (of course I would and do but my point is you take it for granted). But bastard also has to pay for any number of other entitlements to other indignant people who take it for granted as well. And the more I give the more you take for granted. Next year the lunch had better be better and I better pay. Thus we ratchet towards socialism. From each according to the ability to each according to their need. Eventually I'll leave, or be disincented to create value, and the # of folks you can get indignant at lessens.

Fair people, there is an infinite number of wrongs in the world, in this nation even. Each wrong equal or worse to a kid going without lunch. There will always be a lucky minority who escapes most of these wrongs. Without careful consideration and deep virtue, the majority may always be willing to vote away some of the luck from the lucky to help the unlucky. This doesn't work. Worse, it's wrong. It doesn't work because it, over time, changes the lucky from generous and admired to burdened and reviled. It doesn't work because having a safety net changes behavior, as welfare shows us. It is wrong because it isn't ours to take, even if a majority of us agree it's right. A million desperate parents can be as wrong as one.

Hopefully we'll all stop grabbing for eachother's riches, trust in whatever faith we have in deities, people or whatever, and live our lives without banding together to steal from the lucky ones. As if voting were some sort of baptism that removed the sin.

ATOZ,

Why can't you stand people who "used the system" to criticize it? As if our minds magically shut off when we, as children, particpate in something.

It's beyond fallacious. Maybe I benefited from affirmative action. Hard to tell, they don't go out and tell you "you weren't better than the other guy but you are pretty darn black". Can I now only have one opinion about that scheme?

Maybe my very life is predicated upon a heinous act, maybe my mother didn't choose to get pregnant. Must I now endorse the method of conception?

Maybe I was a bitch when I first started dating but now I'm a saint. Can I have no opinion on the war between the sexes?

Maybe you think it is hypocrisy but maybe if I was always rich you'd say I didn't understand.

I wouldn't care if you had been born with the proverbial spoon or if you won it all in the lottery, the point is that one this ONE issue, it is worthwhile as a society for all taxpayers to feed kids in school.

The reason we have a public school system in the first place is so that we can, dare I say it, indoctrinate our youth with a common knowledge base in civics, history, language, science, mathmatics, etc. With that basis, these children should go on to be productive members of our uniquely American society. Hopefully, this also means that these children will become staunch supporters of the capitalist system that shows them they need to work for what they get, as it did for both you and me.

I think that on most things we would agree, you seem to be a staunch conservative who believes in the old fashioned value earn-your-keep. I think bringing other issues such as affirmative action etc. however is streching the argument.

AND yes, this is investing, you are buying your future. Even if you don't have kids, you will need something someday from one of these kids. I don't think that "democracy as the only tool for change and support of the downtrodden" because that is patently untrue. WE as a society can only "vote your way to socialism or facism and argue that we are all consenting" if strong and civic minded American's allow it to happen. Which we won't. I am not forcing you to give anything to anyone. You are perfectly welcome to take your case to court when you don't pay your taxes. Again, VOTING is the answer.

And finally, the most controversial thing I am likely to say tonight--a million parents of a million hungry kids will eventually kill someone, rob someone, hell, maybe even eat someone if kept hungry long enough. People as a universal rule deserve the governnment they have. If that government can't or won't help them--they will and have countless times in the past, replace, recall, repeal, reject, and revolt.

Kids don't choose to be born to a poor family. The deserve to eat. I had climbed out of the poor spot I was in where I had food stamps before my son was in school, but I completely support the free lunch (and free breakfast) program. Kids deserve decent meals so that they can have one less thing to worry about, and have a full tummy so they can learn.

Next these people are going to say that kids don't deserve and education on the taxpayer's dime either. sigh

I'm all for the goodness. I'm not for you dropping context and painting me, the benefactor, out of the picture while my money makes your life more convenient. I'm not for you getting indignant, as some have, when folks like me point out the fact that it is not, in fact, free.

Robert said it best when he said "There aint no such thing as a free lunch".

Stop saying free. You mean subsidized,... by me.

I'm happy to subsidize all sorts of things. I'm not happy to be taken for granted.

I doubt that I will soon agree with ATOZ about the proper role of democracy. Voting is not the only or most effective way to address social issues.

Does the single mom have a job, or not? Why? Was that job created primarily through voting or primarily through some financier's avarice that empowered (i.e. ACTUAL investment) some biologist's ingenuity that created the drug that created the factory that created the job where she works?

Yes democracy has had a positive effect on our freedom. But don't loose sight of the fact that we don't vote on most things. Most things can be handled person-to-person or person-to-business and so on. If it "took a villiage" to decide on every damn thing the result would be a stultifying set of laws where all was prescribed and little was innovated. It's that messy market where we all innovate where most of the magic happens. The democracy is just there to create and protect that free environment. It isn't there to solve every social ill -- in fact it cannot.

Arguing that school lunches are the ONE thing we can all force each other to pay for doesn't make sense to me as there are so many equally dire social faults to be addressed and patched.

Better to let moms and dads know they won't be able to count on that, so they can plan accordingly. Then they may have the pleasure of their own self reliance or the sweet humility of accepting charity rather than the indignant entitlement you can find above in this thread.

Better to let charitable folks like me know about the need, and respond accordingly so that we may have the pleasure of our own virtuous charity rather than the dull and impersonal hope that all that money we pay is well spent by beauraucrats, or rather than having to spend even more time "particpating in democracy" chasing all our own money down. As if I have an infinite potential to participate in democracy. For if I weren't having to fight the remedial fights I would be liberated to fight for other, more refined values.

First things first, feed your kids. If you need help, try to get it nobly. If you have to resort to banding together to force luckier people to help feed your kids, know that you are violating a fundental right of those "feeders".

Sure, it's no big deal, as just one of the mob, your impact on the mobbed is small. We are strong, we can help carry. We want to!

But if you keep it up and keep ratcheting your so called needs up (remember the kids need shoes to, without shoes they just don't concentrate in class, and it's hard to afford the shoes, and I'm still rich over here, and you outnumber me, so pass the "leave no child's feet behind" law, and then figure out what's next that you can be indignant about and force me to pay for) you will be Europe. I don't know, if the U.S.A. were to become more socialist or sufficiently fascist, where the Brain Drain would drain to but drain it would. Everyone has their limit. The luckiest among us, the most able, are also the most mobile. The thought of America slipping further into Socialism scares me and is the motivator (not boring cable) for me continuing to post here tonight. Count the number of people defending property in this thread. Then count the number who presuppose a right to the labor of others.

Yikes.

Wait a minute. I posted here about being on welfare and getting the free lunches. I worked always until this past december when I became disabled. I have always worked. I am a single mom who has always worked. I paid my taxes the same as you, gave money away to charity, I helped build houses for habitat for humanity, I gave back when I was able and working and my life was good. 10 years I have raised them without help of welfare or free lunch and then I couldn't work. I can barely walk. I lived off of my income tax return from february until july, scraping by. Once the money was gone and no help came for my disability, I had to get help somehow. I am not entitled but I am glad that it is there. It is not just your money feeding my kids, it is MY money too. I am not stealing it from you to feed my kids, I am borrowing it for a day when I can repay it. Hopefully, that day will come soon. You say we keep coming back to it and taking it over and over. I am not, I struggled and didn't want to take it. I did not want to go on welfare or free lunches. It is hard, humiliating, degrading. But I have no choice.
You talk about letting you know of our need so you can respond accordingly and not feel ripped off. Well, then, here you go. I am unable to work. I need surgery to repair severe back and nerve damage. Will you help me? Probably not.
You talk of a higher power or deity that you believe in, remember, there but for the grace of god go I. I could be you. You could be me. Suddenly after working and taking care of your own, you are faced with the inability to do so and no help from the childs father/mother. You are facing a wheelchair, a life of severe pain and drugs to keep you comfortable. After years of working hard and paying in. Would you ask for help? Would you struggle with the idea of asking? Would you lie awake at night and worry what you will feed them? Would you sell everything you own to to take care of them? Would you walk to pawn shops even though you have been told to stay off your feet because you could damage yourself more, to sell things to feed them and pay the bills?
This is a hard existance Wait a minute. I wish it on no one.

I want to respond specifically to the comments of Nick & "Wait a Minute".

First, I think that the best case for school lunch programs is that we all have a stake in a functioning democracy. Democratic society is NOT a given state of affairs ... it can and will disintegrate if it is not cultivated. We all benefit from having an electorate that is sufficiently educated to make good judgements at the polls. For that reason alone, I want children from poor families to be able to pay attention to the class rather than to their empty stomachs. Malnutrition isn't just a passing experience ... its effects are permanent.

Second, re: YOUR money in YOUR wallets, well ... I too am no fan of the welfare culture that exists in some places in the US. I hold an MBA from a top business school, I started out in a working poor family eating eggs for lunch every day for years as my main protein source and worked my way up to being COO of a high tech startup that went public. And I am well enough trained in economics to know that some of what you call "Your" money is due to externalities in an imperfect marketplace. That is, you have not paid the full price for much of what you benefit from ... some portion of that money in your wallets isn't there by any skill or effort on your part per se. So while I generally am sympathetic to your opposition to a culture of entitlements, be careful not to press that issue too far, for you are ultimately not on completely solid ground.

Sign me, a 52 yr old mother, wife, MBA & semi-retired executive who now teaches at one of our military academies, where support for cadets from all walks of life translates into a military leadership that is the envy of the world. One of my best students, who will be an incredible officer, is here rather than on his native streets of south-central LA dealing drugs, precisely because of programs like the school lunches that helped his working poor mother raise him right. As a CITIZEN and TAX PAYER, I'm really glad his talents will go to benefit us all, because I assure you he would be a formidable drug gang leader if that had been his path.

No man is an island, except for Wait A Minute, it appears, whose "Mine, Mine, Mine" cries would rival that of a two year old.

I'm sure he can't see the irony in such an isolationist life perspective. I wonder if he grows all his own food, raises cattle, makes his own clothes, has built his house from timber cut from his property and nails he mined from the ground.

Or perhaps he knew that these things would be done for him because the cost of goods and services are built into the price. When you buy a new shirt, the price includes a lot of other things that you probably don't need to think about.

The price of a strong, well-educated, future for our country INCLUDES the well-being of our children. OUR children, collectively, because personally I'd like to see America better off after I've died, and it will take a lot more than either of my two kids to do it.

But Wait A Minute might not be thinking about the future. Or he might be cherry-picking line items, comfortable paying for this thing here (state-funded football stadiums, maybe, or well-paved roads, or land for national parks) but not this other ("free" lunch programs) that don't immediately or directly help him.

Weird. Two different RKBs making roughly the same point.

As a libertarian, I am opposed to taxation as a matter of principle.

As a human being, I would pay for things like school lunches anyway.

As a reasonably intelligent human being, I can tell that Wait A Minute is not thinking things through clearly, because: A) As RKB#1 noted, he himself is the beneficiary of things that are the result of other people's pockets being picked every day, and doesn't seem too concerned about that, and B) Poor people pay taxes too, in the forms of sales taxes and the numerous government fees we all run into (auto registration, etc.)

So, W-A-M, if it will make you feel better, just assume that the sales and other nonincome taxes paid by poor families cover the costs of school lunch programs, and the programs are therefore self-liquidating. OK?

As for people like John Hawkins and Dean Esmay, I wish we could transport them back in time to Victorian England, and leave them there. They'd be right at home, since both assume that poverty is the result of moral inadequacy or stain. It's the secular equivalent of cheap grace: Poor people are poor because they are moral reprobates; you are not poor, therefore you must be a moral leader.

Oh, Michele, you nailed it. I don't want opinions on school lunches from anyone who's never taken a calculator to the grocery store.

Amen, michele. It's not exactly rocket science that hungry children don't learn...short term investment pays off in long term educated taxpayers. Surely that's a conservative value...hand up instead of hand out and all that.

And what Phil said. My tax dollars will go to school lunch programs and the Victorian values crowd can pay for whatever the hell they consider a moral obligation of society.

And in 18 words, Ilyka puts the game away.

hey Wait a Minute. you state that you were ashamed to be on the free lunch program. you should be glad that you got a lunch. I am one of those moms of whom you are speaking of in derisive tones. My child gets a free lunch. without it he would go hungry. I am damn glad that it exists and if you feel that it is taking money out of your wallet then that's your problem. I know how it feels to dig under the sofa cushions for loose change hoping to find enough to buy milk and maybe a loaf of bread. you try getting by on a monthly allotment of food stamps equal to what you probably earn in a week. you'd be singing a different tune real quick. you try raising a child with no child support. you trade lives with any of us for one day. I'd love to know how it is to live a life of plenty if only for one day.

What ever happened to “compassionate conservatism”?

Oh, yeah, that was just a phrase used during an election campaign, not an actual philosophy.

Look, we'd all rather not pay a dime in taxes. "Mine, mine mine, it's my &%$#! wallet." But we also like roads. We like bridges. They get us to work so we can make more moolah. We like that when bad men attack us we have specially trained and equipped people to deal with them.

And some of us like for kids ... anyone's kids ... to not go hungry. You know, we don't see it as the government's place to punish an innocent and helpless child for what we judge as their parent's failures.

All of these things cost money. Your tax dollars. If you want to whine about money spent to study shellfish in Nebraska, go for it. If you want to whine about money spent to make sure poor children are being properly fed at least once a day, then expect lots of blowback and little benefit (other than traffic to your site).

If it is now the position of those on the right that children don't deserve their tax dollars for “free lunch,” well, that's the kind of position that will bleed you out in no time ... not make any constructive change. Imagine any politician seriously putting forth this proposal as a part of their election campaign.

Can you say “Democratic landslide”?

Michele, you are so getting your righty card pulled for this one.

Me, I am definitely bookmarking this post. The next time any of you complain that "lefties call us mean and heartless", you're coming right back here.

Well, no one's siding with the rich person. At least we can remain calm for there will be nothing surprising happening here.

For those of you who say "walk in my shoes" -- I have. As an adult I've dumpster dived for food, clothes, etc. Not because I was being ironic, not because I was on drugs, but because I experienced a combination of bad luck and my own bad planning. I've walked there. I haven't decided to have kids yet, so I certainly haven't experienced that amazing burden which would compound my desperation. But I've been low, that is for certain.

Even if I hadn't, would that make my logic unsound? Do you have an opinion on arming pilots? Are you a pilot? Do you have an opinion on supporting our men and women fighting overseas? Have you served your country? Some of you have done these things, some haven't. We all have opinions about them. Part of the human experience is empathy with others whose experiences we don't precisely share. Because you percieve a lack of empathy from me (incorrectly, imho) you are arguing that I can have no valid opinion. You are wrong.

My writing style isn't great -- I can see how harsh I sound. But I'm surprised that it is so bad that my point isn't getting across at all. The point is that you want to ignore my rights completely. To my recollection only ATOZ offers me any right and what he offers is meager: vote and get politically active and try to turn the tide of envy. Sure! And I'll do that here to, with as much success. Most others in this thread dismiss my rights altogether. If I don't like payin' it's just my problem. Too bad sucker, we've got your cash. I think this is an honest sentiment and I appreciate it. I prefer the macho muggers to the sneaky theives.

Others in this thread stretch for the "worst accountant of the year" award by making arguments that it all balances out. I'm told to stop complaining and trust them with the books. Yeah, uh, they pay retail taxes (so do I) and other taxes (so do I) and uh, you don't realize that they pay their own way. Yeah, your money doesn't figure in here.

Did I see you hanging out with Ken Lay?

RKB makes an argument for nobility, reminding me about the duties of citizens. I expect I agree about the goal. But be careful RKB, your noble call has been used before to justify brutal encroachments upon humanity. How do you define how much I owe? Are you going to make an arbitrary list or do you have some principle I can go by to know when you are going to stop calling on me to sacrafice. Hey, when the chips are down, I'll give more than my fair share. I have, and I will continue to. I doubt I'll ever give as much as some will. Certainly in this era many of the fine cadets you teach will beggar my sacrifice, and yours too.

There is so much envy and class hatred on this thread, it saddens me. I feel like you imagine rich folk swimming in their gold coins like Scrooge McDuck. My wealth is invested in companies that give some of you jobs, sitting in banks providing some of you with loans to better yourselves with or to provide credit so you have some precious liquidity (of course with credit, use wisely like alcohol, debt kills).

You accuse me of saying "mine mine mine" but you are saying the same thing. Can we at least agree that we are both tearing at the same bone and that we can be more civil about it? No one in this thread has offered any olive branches toward me, no one recognizes that my rights matter. The provider for the lunch be dammned.

Globally this is common. Welfare recipients of all kinds hate their benefactors. You'd like me to just shut up and pay (By encouraging me to cast my vote against the thousands ATOZ is technically excepted, although by now he or she might actually like me to shut up anyway :-) )

I know you'll come around. You aren't victims, you are humans with brilliant potential. You aren't coming around to day but I think this will stay with you and someday you'll think through it. It has to.

"envy and class hatred"

sigh You're just not listening.

"The point is that you want to ignore my rights completely. To my recollection only ATOZ offers me any right and what he offers is meager: vote and get politically active and try to turn the tide of envy."

Every collective budget any body passes ... local, state, or fed ... ignores your rights to a “line item veto.” Because you have no such right. If you want our armed forces to continue getting funding, you have to accept the Nebraska shellfish study tacked onto the appropriations bill by Senator Porkbarrel. Until Senator Porkbarrel is voted out of office, by those who get politically active.

Same deal with school lunch. You want roads? Local police? Lunch is in the same budget.

No one is denying your rights, because when it comes to approving the funding of any specific government program, as an individual, you have no rights.

Other than to vote. And speak out as you have. But don't kid us that your rights have been violated. That only happens to victims. If you're a victim of appropriations with which you disagree, guess what ... so is every other human in this country.

i think my only problem with the program is this:
free breakfast/lunch/whatever for everyone is a bad idea. yes, those in need are benefitted, but picture this. A set of lazy middle class parents don't care to feed their child, and send him to school for a free breakfast. multiply that a few hundred thousand times and that's a lot of money spent on free breakfast for those kids whose parents can easily afford the cost of food. granted, those parents are indirectly still paying for the food with their tax dollars, but to some extent, aren't some less well off people also paying for the laziness of those parents?
i'm all for a program to help those in need, and that is why i think the free breakfast program should be offered to those who get the free lunch or reduced cost lunch program, those who need it, not those who abuse it out of convenience.
to accomplish this, it does involve a charitable action by the people with more money. these people should realize that it is a worthwhile venture to feed hungry children. those that benefit from such a program should be thankful, and not demanding of it, but rather working to better themselves and future generations. yeah its idealistic, but its not so far out of reach.
i just hate the idea of being forced to pay tax dollars to give people who do not need assistance a free ride. i want my tax dollars going to those in need, that way those people can get more of that money and better themselves.

finally, i heard some comment about someone wanting more money for these programs and not for the military. let me remind you that not long ago, numerous enlisted personnel lived off of food stamps. they were in the same boat, but due to an increase in military funding those same people are now being paid what they deserve, or closer to it and can lead better lives.
also, the "you haven't walked a mile in my shoes" goes both ways people. the reason why we can argue is that human beings have the ability to project, to hypothesize on another's situation, so while i can't know every little detail about your life, i can still make an educated guess, and that's the same reason why you can disagree with me, pointing out aspects of my life that affect my opinion.

I will say here and now that I have never had to use the free lunch system ~ but I am glad that it is there because without it some kids would not have the chance to grow up and gripe about other welfare receipants. Its a much different arena to be single and go dumpster diving than have a child or two that relies on you to bring home the bacon. In some instances, yes the programs are abused BUT in most cases the need is legit. Why should a child suffer because the parents are not able or willing to provide? I have seen Fathers who were sole breadwinners in the family walk away and leave their families in shambles and without food or a means to get to a grocery store much less get to a job. I have known many women who work two to three jobs to make ends meet ~ often going hungry themselves so their children are provided for. I have seen these same women go without new cloths for years because their kids needed it more. I have also seen Mothers take their vouchers and exchange them for drugs ~ but that is situations that need to be reported and their children removed. So, if your going to gripe about the "free" system, check out the reciepents and see if they really deserve it or if they are just abusing the system. If its someone who deserves it, fine, great and dandy ~ but if its someone who is abusing it then lets put a stop to it...but don't sit on your throne and judge everyone and everything by the way it looks ~ who knows, by you taking a closer look you just might be amazed at the tenacity and devotion some of these moms and dads have. You have asked, do they have job ~ or why don't they get a job. Do you realize that some people who are on welfare are not physically able to work? You shouldn't judge a book by its cover, and you shouldn't lump all welfare receipants as theives. (and yes, I know my spelling is terrible but thats why I normally use spell check.)

I can assure you, W-A-M, that I don't envy you. I'm well enough off that I don't need to envy people. Especially you. But I'm not here to compare balance sheets or cash flow statements, and I'm not impressed by yours, whatever they say.

In any case, you seem to have this stupid idea that you're all give and no take. Do you pay the full costs of the products you buy? Of course you don't. The things you buy are made cheaper by subsidies for transportation via road, rail and water, by not making truckers bear the full costs of the gasoline or diesel they buy, by property tax breaks given to the large retailers, and so on up the line. Everyone benefits far more than they give, and what's more, the richer you are, the more you benefit, because you have more property and interests to protect, and you don't have to pay the full cost of that, either.

Second, unless your name is God, there is someone up the line paying even more taxes than you are, and complaining about you, and I bet you're just as ungrateful to them as you imagine those mean, selfish poor people are to you. So remember to make your fucking macaroni picture tonight.

There's a huge point that people seem to have missed in all this. They will be raising the prices of those who pay for lunch to cover this. Fine, the money has to come from somewhere. BUT, they are hoping that more people will apply to be on the free program because of this increase in the lunch price.

Sorry, but that doesn't cut it. You take my money to pay for student lunches, that's fine. But if someone can pay for their own kid to have lunch, why do you feel the need to encourage them to take more of my money to help these people who used to be able to pay for it on their own.

Are we really helping the poor with this? Or, as others have pointed out, are we just trying to get more money into the buerocracy.

Please note, I am not against helping people who need it feed their kids. I am against making more people need help.

The steamroller's really rolling over here today, heh.

What I find interesting is the means of argument being used. If WAM ever received a free school lunch, he's biting the hand that feeds him by contesting a program he once benefitted from. If he never needed a free school lunch in his life, he doesn't know enough to have an opinion and should shut up. Because he disagrees with you.

The idea that people would freely give as much or more than they do now as a porportion of taxes, but resent their gifts being taken, that concern is completely overlooked. All anyone can perceive is that so-and-so is greedy and wants all the children to starve. That's not what's being said, though; what's being said is that charity and assistance should be given, not taken. There's all kinds of reasons for an idea like that: it feels good to the giver; the worthiest cases (people down on their luck) get more help than the unworthiest cases (the welfare cheats, people claiming disability who could work, homes where there are no children); a community takes more direct responsibility for the conditions of its citizens than it does now, where the response to a bad situation tends to be "Why, look at that! Someone oughtta do somethin' about that! Someone oughtta make a law!Can't the government take care of that so I don't have to think about it?"; recipients know who their benefactors are, rather than thinking some amorphous government agency is their benefactor. These aren't avaricial reasons I've listed.

To get a little more avaricial, no one likes to have 'charitable donations' taken from them with the rationales of 'You should be happy, because this is an investment,' or 'Oh, pretend it's going to the military and shut up,' or even 'We're doing this for your own good.' When you were a kid, if you were like me, there was nothing that pissed you off more than being condescended to, or told that 'we know you don't understand, but this is for your own good,' in lieu of an explanation. What that was, was dismissal, because as a child you need someone else making some decisions for you. We're adults now, and 'put up or shut up, open your wallet' isn't really a reasonable debating tactic any more. The concerns are valid, whether you think they're nice concerns or not.

I also wonder why it is that the talk on every other blog seems to be, "Why are Americans so fat?" How do we reconcile the extremes, particularly the fact that the, um, heavier extreme is so prevalent? Are people really starving? Many people? Really?

Now, personally, I think children are the first class of people who should be protected, and helped when their family hits hard times. No matter who is or isn't a deadbeat, or uneducated, or ill, or alcoholic, or laid-off in a bad economy, it's not the fault of some second-grader in the elementary school down the street that his stomach is rumbling. I'd feed ten poor kids every morning at my door before I'd see one go hungry. But if the United Way calls me for a donation tomorrow, I know exactly what I'll say: "I gave at the office. And gave, and gave, and gave some more." Because I don't know where the money goes any more other than a lot of administrators' pockets in a lot of inefficient and ineffectual government programs, and because any attempt to get that concern voiced results in the immediate label of 'greedy rich person', I limit any assistance I give to people I see and things I do. A lot of people see no need to do that either.

The fact that to even participate on this side of the debate without being shouted down requires that I enumerate how charitable I am, really, not greedy at all, kind of stinks too, when I think about it.

Real compassion is being able to fully provide for your kids' needs. Being uncompassionate is bringing kids into the world that you can't pay for. Sorry. This is America, and guess what? There is no such thing as a free breakfast. Someone, somewhere down the line is paying for it.

My suggestion: to all those who are so concerned about the nation's starving kids, which by the way, the only ones who are, are doing so because they've been brought into this world by LAME-ASS LOSERS who shouldn't have had kids in the first place!!! Anyway, my suggestion: instead of reaching into my wallet to pay for your sense of compassion, why not volunteer time and money to some charity? STOP RELYING ON GOVT TO TAKE CARE OF YOU. THE SAME GOVT THAT IS ABLE TO DOLE OUT CHARITY WILL SOME DAY TAKE WHAT IS RIGHTFULLY YOURS AND IN BOTH INSTANCES THE RATIONALE WILL BE THE SAME: it's for your own good.

I grew up poor. Very poor. My mom got $20 a week in child support. But she worked hard every day. I didn't get free lunch. Somehow I survived.

Now, as an adult, I am still quite poor. I work 60+ hour weeks. I can barely afford rent. I have some butter and some ketchup in my fridge right now. My car is not insured nor registered.

and yet...I agree with WAM.

I, thank god, don't have kids. I wasn't stupid enough to have them and not been able to provide for them. That is the risk you take when you bring a life into this world. Why should I, with my very meager existance, take yet MORE money out of my pocket to pay for YOUR kids? Because one day they will grow up and contribute to society? That is no guarantee and you know it. I would rather they were productive citizens, but just because they benefit from government subsidies doesn't mean they will turn out to be stellar people. Do all rich people turn out wonderfully? No. And I dare say people who are used to getting things handed to them aren't very productive after all.

Should kids be fed? Of course they should. should people have kids if they can't afford them? No way in hell. I have a dog and I am poor. Does that entitle me to dog food stamps and free obediance classes? After all, I don't want him terrorizing the neighborhood or knocking over your trashcans for food if he is hungry.

All WAM is saying (and correct me if I'm wrong) is that your lunches are not FREE, they are SUBSIDIZED, and you should be grateful for it instead of bitching when not everyone in the world gives their hard earned money over with a smile. You are acting like it's some right you have to other people's money and if we don't like it, we are conservative ogres. Well let me tell you I'm not a conservative, nor an ogre, but I dislike taking money out of my check that I need for food to pay for your kids.