“...It was a kid, smiling, at the lunch table – he had a quesadilIa, some carrots, a half an apple, a carton of milk. I thought it was a great picture... It wasn’t lobster tail and chocolate mousse. It was a simple meal designed to address a basic problem. There is absolutely nothing wrong with providing free food for a hungry kid. Not one single thing...” — Steve Miller (Thumbs up, Sat., 10/22)
I’m glad the American tax-payer could spare nearly $27 Billion dollars to bring a smile to the Herald and News’ outlook.
But, Miller’s smiley face and a happy heart come at an enormous expense. The question any good editorial journalist ought to be asking is, “Is the federal government the most efficient machine to accomplish the task?”
Can charities provide for those needs, instead? What about neighborhoods, families and friends? Has the local church’s function been usurped by government?
Klamath County will be in trouble when people start believing (like Miller) that the waste and inefficiency of the government is a necessary evil. Or worse they mindlessly close their eyes and dream sweet dreams.
I’m a generous soul, so I’ll give Miller two points... First, he is right, “It was a simple meal.” Second, “there is absolutely nothing wrong with providing free food to a hungry kid.”
So then, does this argument win the day? Thumbs up, bottoms up?
Does the story change if we ask whether or not the child in the picture was really hungry? Hmmm...
Or, are these “happy heart” programs really providing a helping hand? What about the long-term results? Hmmm...
In a recent Los Angeles Times article, Is the National School Lunch Program to blame (in part) for the rise of childhood obesity? – their answer appears to obliterate the bliss generated by our local media’s ignorance:
“The latest report was published online this week by the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. It concludes that girls who participate in the National School Lunch Program gain weight at a faster clip than other girls from low-income families who do not get the subsidized lunches (and sometimes breakfasts) at school.
“According to background information in the study, about 36% of kids ages 6 to 11 are overweight and 20% are obese. That can lead to lifelong problems, including an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and many kinds of cancer. For girls, extra weight can also mean earlier onset of puberty, which also increases the risk of depression, eating disorders, breast cancer and other health problems.”
Don’t chronic health issues make you feel all warm and fuzzy?
The other facet of this “simple meal” comes from the weakness of it’s description. It is extremely simple, therefore, it can’t cost much. A quesadilla means a flour tortilla and a slice of cheese (27¢ retail cost). Plus, a half an apple and a sliced carrot (maybe, 28¢ retail), with a small carton of milk (40¢ retail). The entire meal is somewhere less than a dollar, or about the price of 4 cigarettes.
But, don’t mistake its low retail cost for what the Federal government spends.
Remember, it all starts with lawyers and legislation, not moms and kids at the kitchen counter. I dare you to keep the naive image of a smiling child in the midst of caring hands after reading the legislation and amendments (starting on page 11).
Additionally, they’ve got a big organization. Apparently, this is needed to ensure that the carrot gets sliced just right. (No un-licensed moms allowed.) An Org Chart starts here, and this doesn’t even include the State Health Authority, or County Health department employees. This chart shows only the highest levels of the Federal government’s Health and Human Services Department. Yet, somewhere along the line, a nutritionist designed this healthy snack; a compliance officer will ensure it gets delivered; lawyers will defend against liability issues; web-developers, authors, technical writers and administrators will manage the public relations angle (they’re trying to keep the naive blissful) and accountants, CPA’s and MBA’s will manage the financial resources. This is big business, and the kids are last in line.
George Washington said, “Government is not reason. It is not eloquence. Government is force; like fire it is a dangerous servant -- and a fearful master.” Government is not caring, or generous. Those are human traits. Governments simply take from the masses and give to a select few, while embellishing its own and wasting the rest.
If you want to invite the neighborhood kids over for a snack, then do it with the love, care and generosity that only people can exhibit. Don’t mistake an economic transaction from your paycheck to the Federal government as anything but an economic transaction.