You can’t think about public policy for the needy in the South without coming across several related Bible verses. 2 Thessalonians 3:10 says “For even when we were with you, this is what we commanded you: that if any would not work, neither should he eat.”
But, we should also consider Psalm 82:2-4 “How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.”
Look, no one thinks of themselves as wicked and I am not calling anyone wicked. However, some good people in politics and policy will do some somewhat devious things to win the battle and hopefully the war.
Everyone hates seeing hungry people and particularly hungry children. Reasonable folks fairly state that those people got themselves into their circumstances with questionable life choices and personal responsibility. It burns a taxpayer up to get into an old truck to leave a shift at a plant after standing 12 hours in steel-toed shoes then past grown fathers standing on the corner—guys who are too proud or crazy to do manual labor, pick crops or flip burgers.
The radio in that old pickup is blasting far Right talk radio in that worker’s ear. “Your tax dollars provided those assistance checks, food stamps and free school lunches…you are sweating over a drill press while that bum plays video games all day in government assisted housing and sips malt liquor that was purchased with money intended for hungry kids.” Dam, I am writing this stuff too easily…have I been watching Fox News.
We live in a free society; this isn’t North Korea or China. Dictating better living isn’t legal. So, children are born into struggling situations but Jesus wouldn’t want us to let them starve because their parents made bad choices.
The Farm Bill is the law that directs USDA programs and therefore seriously impacts the South. Back when members of congress talked across the aisle, the farm bill supported commodity programs (which helped farm families) and provide food assistance programs (which helped farm families by creating additional markets.) Today, the far Right wanted to end most food assistance to force needy people to work and stop having kids they can’t afford. Social media was a buzzed this week with the story of a seedy woman with 15 kids who upset that the government wasn’t doing more to help her. Say what? I watch the news video about this family but paused it to say a little pray for those kids.
The school lunch/breakfast program ensures that needy kids have two meals a day five days a week during the school year. Without those meals, the hospitals would be packed with malnourished kids and that cost would be astronomical. Of course, hungry kids can’t focus on classwork so the labor force would be untrained and looking for ways to make fast money. Fast money leads to prison at a cost of $35,000 a year.
U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston is the best House Republican from the Georgia but as a Senate candidate even Jack started tripping. Kingston has represented chocolate city Savannah for 20 years, he was worked in chocolate city D.C. for the same 20 years and he has served during that time on the House Ag Committee and/or the Appropriations Sub-Committee on Agriculture. Jack is UDSA food programs like the back of his hand.
If Kingston really said that needy kids should work at the school to pay off their free lunch, he was saying that to get Senate primary votes. He knows that would never happen nor would he want that to happen. So, poor people, people who grew up poor (Black, White and Brown) and those of us with compassion for the poor make up a bloc of voters who some in the GOP are simple writing off.
I watched the GOP Senate primary like a hawk and waited to see how much campaign would be done in the Black community. Karen Handel had a wealth of supporters in the ATL and Jack has always shown the flag in every community in his district. I never heard these two candidates making overtures to the Black community because there are few primary voters there. For the record, I am a moderate Dem who voted in the GOP primary because that was where the action was.
Surprisingly, former Dollar General executive David Perdue was the only GOP senate candidate that my Black GOP friends said reached out to the non GOP Black community; he supposedly met with 32 Black pastors in the Albany area. I like that right there.
I told those same GOP friends that they can mark my word: the school lunch comment by Kingston would drive out thousands of occasional voters—it’s a hornet’s nest. Voters sometimes vote for candidates and sometimes vote against candidates. Remember, the confederate flag drama drove some people to vote against then Governor Roy Barnes….hell, some of them didn’t know David Perdue’s cousin Sonny at the time.
People who live off checks provide to assist kids are seedy. Blue Dog Democrats supported Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich’s welfare reform that included work or training requirements. As Justice Clarence grandfather taught him, public assistance makes people weak and dependent.
However, Democrat blood will boil when the T.V. ads run next fall featuring kids mopping schools as their friends laugh. I think control of the U.S. Senate for the last two years of Obama presidency hang on that school lunch comment. Oh, it’s going to be on and popping when child nutrition supporter Michelle Obama and Orpah see that YouTube video. School lunch programs also teach kids about healthy food choice and that education leads to better eating as adults.