September 16, 2003

Let them eat cake

If being conservative means being this ridiculous, count me out. Michele has apparently been relieved of her VRWC membership, and isn't the least bit sorry.

For the record, I believe that the government's duties should be confined to: the upkeep of the roads, the defense of the country (which yes, often means giving the enemy, whoever he might be, an ass-kicking on his own soil if necessary), and to provide for the weak and helpless in order that they may become strong and productive. I have always been told I was a conservative because I didn't think any of these measures could be forced to include paying for a bad artist's bad art, or Penile Implants for Hermaphrodite Wannabes, or what-have-you. I didn't think that the very idea of providing a piece of meat, a slice of fruit, and a roll to some poor kid was the slippery slope to Communist Doom. But what do I know. Let's just keep on paying for that War on (Some) Drugs, try not to pay any attention to that gun-control regulation quietly breeding under the fridge, and keep the budget to name every footpath and birdcage in West Virginia after Senator Robert ("Grand Wizard") Byrd full! That's not a waste of money -- that has entertainment value. And you can get a good deal at the auction on BMWs snatched up by the RICO act. In the meantime, I hear the uranium mines need small workers; hey, single ma, we've found a way to make your kid pay for those lunches!

Posted by Andrea Harris at September 16, 2003 07:49 PM

This is, I think, the most sensible thing posted on this subject all day.

Expect lots of trollage.

Posted by: CGHill at September 16, 2003 at 08:44 PM

That sounds pretty moderately right of centre to me...congratulations on not being part of the VWWC...Vast WingnutWing Conspiracy...which appears to have surfaced from the skinny edge of the Right Wing over school lunches. Yes, no school lunches will make America safe, vanquish terrorism, take care of the debt, and hey! there'll be enough left over to fund maybe 3 or 4 extra agricultural pork barrels.

Posted by: Jane Finch at September 16, 2003 at 09:09 PM

Problem is, a lot of people missed the heart of this particular issue. New York, in an effort to pump the numbers of free meals to get more federal funds, is planning to offer free breakfast to all kids, irrespective of financial need. The money to pay for it comes from increasing the lunch price for low-income kids by 50%.

No matter how one feels about the need for school lunches, I don't think one can justify providing free meals for rich kids by charging poor kids more.

Posted by: Ken Summers at September 17, 2003 at 12:42 AM

People seem to be missing the point here. The problem isn't really the small number of people who have fallen on hard times and need a hand for a limited period of time. It's the propensity of government to use the existence of a few needy to expand its power to as many people as possible, with the implicit argument that EVERYONE needs government because we're all incompetent. As usual, two truths are in conflict: 1) some people need help and 2)government is most dangerous when it claims to be helping people. There really is no conflict. The conclusion is that we must carefully limit and vigilantly watch government. And that's not because of people who really need and can benefit from help, but because of the larger number of people who will use the safety net as a hammock if given half a chance.

Posted by: Robert Speirs at September 17, 2003 at 03:06 PM

Te audire no possum. Musa sapientum gratuitum fixa est in aure.

Posted by: dipnut at September 17, 2003 at 03:58 PM

My Latin is rusty, Dipnut, but I'll give it a shot:

I hear no possums. Free mouse brains are in my ears.

I don't get it.

Posted by: Ken Summers at September 18, 2003 at 09:04 AM


"I can't hear you. There's a free banana in my ear."

It's adapted from Andrea's next-to-previous post. I assumed sapientum is the word for "banana". That doesn't make any sense, I know. But "wise" is no part of the concept, especially in that conjugation. My dictionary gives no Latin for "banana".

Also, I don't know what the hell Musa is doing in there. It translates to "Muse". ("Mouse" is mus, muris...)

At least, gratuit is the correct stem for "free of charge".

Based on Kim's correction (earlier post comments), I guess I should have written:

"Te audire non possum est. Musa fixa in aure sapientum gratuitum est."


I personally will buy a year's free lunch for any middle-school student who can straighten this out.

Posted by: dipnut at September 18, 2003 at 01:23 PM

I still like possums ;-)

Posted by: Ken Summers at September 18, 2003 at 05:12 PM

I'm all in favor of breakfast and lunch programs because the amount of waste and nonsense is outweighed by the relative good done for those that need it, and it's damn hard to always know who they are. A couple of bucks per day per kid is no big deal in the grand scheme of things. Of course, on NPR this morning there was some San Francisco school district out to right the world that has begin serving sushi as a low fat alternative -- but I digress.

At the same time, I can appreciate the principled argument that this is just another example of what seems like a good idea having unintended consequences, primarily the implicit discouragement of people to take care of their children. Please understand, I am not accusing poor people of wanting to be poor or slandering welfare mothers or anything like that. It is legitimate to ask whether it is better for families to carry the brunt of taking care of their own or whether it is better for the government to take care of everyone. The appalling state of many schools today is a direct result of the breakdown of the family in many communities.

I have daughters in 8th grade and 1st grade. Last night I attended a two hour session at the middle school meeting all my older daughters teachers. What surprised me was that less than half of the kids' parents took advantage of this opportunity, and the parents that were there generally had the better performing students. My 1st grade daughter isn't nearly as good a reader at her age that the older daughter was, and yet, she is head and shoulders above all the other kids in her class. From this, and other admittedly anecdotal evidence, I am convinced that nothing affects a kids success in school more than how much the parents put into it. The societal breakdowns we see all around us that are reflected most obviously in our secondary schools are a direct result of the breakdown of the traditional family. I understand that there are other pressures and "root" causes all over, but I don't see how anyone can argue that what is going on today with the nanny state becoming ever more intrusive and domineering is better than what we had 44 years ago (i.e., when I was born) with respect to raising children.

Now, that's not the argument that others in the "VRWC" made, but I think that's where they are coming from. As I said at the top, I'd still vote for free breakfasts and lunches for kids because kids didn't make the holes they find themselves in and they generally cannot bootstrap themselves out of the environments they generally find themselves in. But the slippery slope remains. If this is ok, then its easy to extend the concept to the nanny statism all around us.


Posted by: charles austin at September 18, 2003 at 06:24 PM

Not proper latin, but Linnaean taxonomical latin. Musa sapientum's a kind of banana.

Posted by: Ed Flinn at September 18, 2003 at 07:53 PM

Nil illegtima decendus carborundum

Posted by: Toryhere at September 19, 2003 at 01:40 AM

Thanks, Ed! There's only one problem:

"Te audire non possum est. Musa sapientum gratuitum fixa in aure est."

Posted by: dipnut at September 19, 2003 at 01:45 PM

I've always been amused that some of the people who rant and rave about wanting the right to keep more of the money they earn also want to keep some folks from buying stuff with their hard-earned money that they want to use behind closed doors and not be a bother to any fellow citizens.

In other words, "We'll let them have more of their own money, but we can throw them in jail if we don't like what they're spending it on."


Posted by: Dark Avenger at September 20, 2003 at 02:57 AM