Let’s get Johnny fed in a responsible way

Someone struck a nerve recently by observing:

1. School food programs are good since hunger makes learning difficult.

2. School food programs now exceed the school day and school year.

3. School food programs are fraught with waste.

4. There is a danger to learned dependency that carries unintended consequences to the family and individual spirit.

I bet the proponent of those ideas never anticipated the reaction these truths would generate. Apparently it is the fourth point to which some take exception.

First, Jesus did not say – take the other guy’s stuff, redistribute it to the poor and follow me. Biblically speaking, God will judge individuals by what each has done with the gifts he entrusted to each.

Second, the rhetoric in some of the responses sure sounded personal. Where is NIOT?

Third, I reject the argument that poor people are so defective they cannot be expected to demonstrate any better personal responsibility. With the exception of invalids, my own experience is that we are all shrewd economists, knowing how to work if and when we have to.

For several years I worked with the most incorrigible of welfare recipients through a program designed to move them from welfare to work. I made it a point to ask each one what they would do if their welfare ended tomorrow. Without fail, they always gave the same answer “I’d get a job.”

Of course, it was tough to get these natural economists to see the need to get a job. My program encouraged job training and employment through various incentives, but try as I might, these folks knew instantly the inherent folly of employment compared to welfare. A paycheck after a 40-50 hour work week could not compete with the cash welfare, the free housing, the free medical and food stamps, doled out through other programs just for existing and breeding. The pain of getting out was too scary for the many that truly wanted out of the system.

I did not blame these folks for not working. Their understanding of economics was remarkable. They were making rational, economic decisions in the same system that now gives some parents the choice of spending their money on smokes, chips and the slots rather than buying a lunch ticket for little Johnny.