Who’s Looking Out for the Rich Kids?

wage comparisonBy now everyone’s heard about the modest proposal to sort out the free lunch kids and make them pay…

WASHINGTON — Last weekend, U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston told a crowd in Jackson County he would like poor children to pay a nominal fee for school lunches or perform janitorial work in exchange for their meals, according to a video posted by the Huffington Post…
‘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.’

Kingston’s spokesman said the congressman was just concerned about teaching our children a work ethic. But let me ask a simple question no one else thought of– How many 10-year-old kids are self-supporting? Doesn’t the lunch money come from parents? So aren’t we singling out the kids with poor parents?

If we judged the rich the way we judge the poor, we’d be having a national panic right now about youth crazed with Affluenza marauding drunkenly on our highways.

You have to have great faith in the redeeming power of money if you think rich kids are all getting good home training. The Republican Party is fond of ‘faith’, they never say in what, maybe an Invisible Hand holding a wad of cash.

Like many other statements that get mocked, the Congressman’s words contain a needle of truth rolled into a haystack of ignorance. Yes, it’s a good thing to teach our children to earn their way. And rich kids probably need this lesson more than their classmates whose parents work 3 jobs to pay the rent.

Kids are acutely sensitive to status, and who is ‘special’. The best thing we can do is to play down the economic differences in the classroom and the cafeteria, and as much as possible make the school a place where all the kids are given an equal chance to achieve their best. Having some push brooms while others sit and eat is not a great idea.

But having all the kids participate in cleaning up their space could be a good lesson in teamwork and consideration.

This does not in any way excuse the crazy suggestion that maintenance workers can be replaced by kids doing a few chores. That’s more than a little insulting to essential workers whose presence- if they walked off the job- would be missed a lot sooner than a congressman on leave.

Free school lunches are good for education because hungry children can’t learn. It’s a commonsense investment in equal opportunity. School should be a place where each child has a fair chance to excel, whether their parents drive a BMW or take the bus. Have mercy, Congressman, they’re only little kids. Let them have a little time before the free market sorts them out.

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