Thursday, May 25

What’s So Funny ‘Bout Free Lunches


“What do you think about the Washington state proposed legislation providing free lunches for every child in the public school system?” I asked our houseguests after dinner one evening.

“It didn’t pass because taxpayers should not provide lunches to students that can afford to pay? How would this system distinguish between needy and not needy kids? Education already costs too much. No need to add more expense to an already bloated system.” responded Lawrence, a father, grandfather, and retired teacher in the Washington state education system.

We talked about other state and government programs in cost/benefit terms until a question was posed regarding the purpose of our taxes and what they are intended to fund. While we all agreed that defense, clean air, water, utilities, and economic stability are essential, we argued about how to provide them. Lawrence was locked into the concept of big government waste and misdirected democratic party priorities.

I expressed concern that the republican political platform fashioned in 2016 and reaffirmed in 2020 wants to roll back legislation beneficial to people by gutting implementation and enforcement of necessary regulations. By eliminating funding (i.e., “waste”) for regulatory agencies, the laws, restrictions, guidelines, requirements proscribed by legislation cannot be achieved, and blame for the resulting disasters can be put on the ineffective agency and/or current democratic party representative. It’s the favorite “catch-22” tactic of the political far right. Another tactic is to cut taxes and continue to borrow while criticizing the federal government for not keeping wildfires, floods, hurricanes, tornados, illegal immigrants, budget deficits, high costs of energy, and groceries, contained. To add insult to injury, the republican House majority is now deciding not to pay bills, approximately 25% of which were racked up during Trump's administration.  Their defense of this position is the old and bogus republican solution that beats up the poor and vulnerable while reducing taxes on the 1%, but only when this political party is in the majority. The current republican led Congress is taking this critical moment to cause the Biden administration to fail, thereby helping them to win in 2024. Do they really care about us? No. Power is their only motivation. 

Most of us adult Americans recognize that you get what you pay for. Expecting guaranteed prosperity and safety without increased taxes is never going to happen. However, some still believe that eliminating social safety net programs will reduce government spending enough to create a middle-class lifestyle for the deserving. This begs the question about American core cultural beliefs...

“Should the benefit of a free lunch in public schools be only for the deserving whether rich, poor, middle class, or for all children without exception?” Put this way, we all thought taxpayer money should try to ensure that no child goes hungry in America.

Two Views

Finally, we discussed what we would want our tax monies to pay for. Health and safety topped our list. In our benevolent fantasy government, no child would go hungry or be shot to death on our streets, schools, churches, or public events. No one mentioned protecting the populous from transgenders, critical race theory, libraries, teachers, voting machines, liberals, and whatever else the right-wing culture warriors drum up to mask their unpopular “kitchen table” economic positions.

We talked for quite a while about immigration and what can be done to address the rise in undocumented migrants. My opinion is that the alarming numbers of asylum seekers and migrants trying to enter the USA are indeed a persistent problem, much like global warming. In fact, some of the increases in refugee asylum demand on our southern border may be attributed to the effects of global warming and the damage it causes in failed or floundering nations.  For decades illegal immigration has been on Congress’ agenda, and though many actions have been taken over the years, including adding barriers on the southern border, the issue persists. Some problems do not have solutions, and people have to be satisfied with finding ways to cope with the issue vs. eliminating the difficulties. It is a fact that many immigrants contribute as well as benefit from living and working in America. Maybe that’s as good as it gets. Perhaps we would get better results if we expended money and energy on improving the countries ruled by gangs and corrupt governments. Fewer people would flee? We were not hopeful about this strategy.

Elvis Costello & The Attractions - What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love and Understanding

Time to take a break from hashing over these issues. I wondered if our kitchen table discussion was one of the millions taking place tonight; and if more than a few of us have been left with the thought that life is hard and there are no free lunches.