While Wall Street takes hundreds of billions in taxpayer money with a permanent bailout guarantee and the Pentagon can not account for a trillion dollars and remains inauditable, the reactionaries have a new target for their outrage over government dependency – poor children who need food.
Writing for The Federalist, Daniel Payne suggests that we should all agree to “Bring Back The Welfare Stigma.” Payne believes that a federal program to remove restrictions on the National School Lunch Program is a bad idea because by being open to everyone, not just those in need, the program may remove the stigma from children who are taking a free lunch. By removing that stigma, poor children might not feel bad about receiving benefits from a public program which apparently is something to be lamented.
According to Payne, the shame and humiliation a poor child might feel from taking a free lunch is something to actually be encourage not eliminated.
Not to tread too heavily on too many sensitive progressive ideals, but there should be a stigma surrounding government dependency; that’s not to say we should adopt a campaign of aggressive public shaming for anyone who goes on the dole, only that we shouldn’t create an atmosphere—especially amongst children—in which “free lunch” is a no-big-deal kind of thing…
Those who have truly fallen on hard times deserve our genuine sympathy, and we should not snarl at them for turning to as easy and accessible a source of relief as government welfare. Yet we should also avoid making needy people feel comfortable being dependent upon the government. To do so is would not be merely bad public policy—it would be disingenuous and harmful to poor people, who more than anything need the mental and emotional drive to be free from government dependence.
Poor children just need the “mental and emotional drive” to stop being poor? Apparently being a poor child means you did something wrong and need to be properly motivated to stop being a bad person. Are these children, as Ronald Reagan once said about the homeless, poor by choice?
Maybe it should not be surprising this argument came from a federalist. Federalism in America, after all, was the principal argument for allowing slavery and opposing civil rights laws. Federalists see the dependency on the federal government as a greater evil than dependence on any private tyrannies. So maybe these children should only get food if they agree to a certain amount of indentured servitude or be sold into slavery? Then it’s not feeding poor children on the dole but asset owners maintaining their property in hopes of a return on investment – a federalist solution if ever there was one.
Photo from The Federalist.