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From Think Progress - Rep. Jack Kingston R-GA
Rep Jack Kingston: . . . one of the things I’m talking to the Secretary of Agriculture about: why don’t you have the kids pay a dime, pay a nickle, to instill in them that there is, in fact, no such thing as a free lunch. Or maybe sweep the floor in the cafeteria. And yes, I understand that that would be an administrative problem and I understand that it would probably lose you money — but think what we’d gain as a society in getting the myth out of their head that there is such thing as a free lunch.
. . .Since paperwork is often an obstacle to access, communities like Boston and Dallas have opted to simply provide free meals to all students, regardless of economic need. But other schools have gone in the opposite direction, including a Dickerson, Texas, middle school that threw away the lunch of a student whose account was 30 cents short.
Kingston’s plan would potentially discourage participation in the program — some kids do not have the five to ten cents for their meals and singling them out as janitors would broadcast to other students which families are the poorest. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 18.9 million students receive free lunches and another 2.6 million receive reduced fee lunches. Last year, Kingston voted for a bill that would have kicked 280,000 low-income out of the program.
This idea has come up before - here's then-GOP Candidate Newt Gingrich, running in the Presidential Primary for Election 2012:
"You say to somebody, you shouldn't go to work before you're what, 14, 16 years of age, fine. You're totally poor. You're in a school that is failing with a teacher that is failing. I've tried for years to have a very simple model," he said. "Most of these schools ought to get rid of the unionized janitors, have one master janitor and pay local students to take care of the school. The kids would actually do work, they would have cash, they would have pride in the schools, they'd begin the process of rising."
Yeah, that went over like a lead balloon, and so did Kingston's cruel remark, so he backpeddled on CNN:
“This was a discussion about the work ethic in America and I think all kids of all socioeconomic brackets could prosper and learn a lot by having some sort of chores,” Kingston said Friday on CNN’s “New Day.”
The Republican lawmaker added that he never said “poor kids” ...
. . . “This wasn’t anything in a back room. This wasn’t a policy statement. This was a discussion,” Kingston said, slamming Democrats who he said planted a tracker to film his comments and then fundraise off of them.
“How are we going to change the status quo if we can’t have discussions about sensitive issues, or quasi-sensitive issues, without all the hyperbole that we always get trapped into in modern America,” the congressman said.
And he was still backpeddling (but strangely also doubling down)in this interview, which the caller, Roman Coley Davis,posted on Facebook.
RD: . . . I understand that words are often twisted in political races. However, you explicitly and plainly stated that poor kids should have to pick up a broom (and thereby, be ridiculed, and face even more stigma), simply because they’re not from a wealthy family…in order to eat!”
REP. JK: “ALL kids should be made to learn hard work.”
RD: “That’s not what you said, Sir.”
REP. JK: “Yes, it is.”
RD: “No, Sir. With all due respect, I can provide you with the public transcript of your statement, which plainly illustrates that you did NOT, in fact, say ‘all kids should learn hard work’.”
REP. JK: “I passed by a ball field after a little league game and saw trash everywhere. I thought to myself ‘How great would it be if after just a simple ball game, these kids were made to pick up after everyone…to show them that working is important’. If we continue to give these poor kids charity, then we are robbing them of their work ethic.”
Here’s the truth: What’s shocking about Jack Kingston’s statement isn’t that he said it, but that it’s not out of place with the GOP of 2013. Yes, individual Republicans may have an anti-poverty agenda, and there are conservative thinkers who want the party to do more for low-income people. But for too many Republicans, behind closed-doors and otherwise, the poor aren’t people with interests worth respecting—they’re targets for moralizing and disdain.
~ Jamelle Bouie on Daily Beast
Maybe we should make them work for the schools on the weekend and even provide free labor for local mega churches.
That might help them gain an understanding of the true message of modern christianity.
~ Honestead on Atlanta Journal Constitution
Republicans really need to notice the calendar. Wanting kids to work for their lunch sounds so Charles Dickens and Scrooge. And seriously, does he have kids? A first grader doing janitorial work? Imagine how clean the bathrooms would not be. Kingston's heart is four sizes too small.
~ NWGAL on Atlanta Journal Constitution
Just in time for the birthday of baby Jesus, they are cutting food stamps and unemployment benefits. It’s all for the benefit of the poor.
. . . The true enemies of Christmas – and of Christian hope, as articulated in this season by Pope Francis – are those who pretend to befriend the poor by taking bread from their children’s mouths. Both the mean old Grinch and Ebenezer Scrooge were saved from villainy before their stories ended. Our modern political misers, clothed in self-righteousness, have no such prospect of redemption.
~ Joe Conason on National Memo
Schoolkids should clean the cafeteria, because there's no free lunch (unless you happen to be a member of Congress) http://t.co/LgFew9zj0d
— Henry Decker (@HenryADecker) December 20, 2013
Seriously? This is the guy who called me a "glorified secretary". http://t.co/2eKtPIRpKm via @HuffPostPol
— Valerie Plame Wilson (@ValeriePlame) December 20, 2013
Rep. Jack Kingston: "Yes, it'd be an administrative hassle to make poor kids work before eating, but isn't it worth it to shame the poor?"
— Top Conservative Cat (@TeaPartyCat) December 19, 2013