The always dependable Jim Geraghty delivers a slap upside the head of the electorate today -- not that those who need to hear it will be reading it -- but I suppose it's possible that somewhere deep in the frozen souls of Obama's 47%, there still beats a heart that resonates with this bracing message: You’re Not Supposed to Want Government Assistance Unless You Truly Need It!
[H]elp from the government is only supposed to be used when it’s needed, and one of the ways we can ensure that the resources are there to help everyone who needs them is to discourage people from using public assistance unless it’s clearly needed.
You’re not supposed to want to be on food stamps, and you’re not supposed to use them if you don’t need them. When you’re on them, you’re expected to make an effort to reach a point where you don’t need them anymore.
You’re not supposed to collect unemployment if you’re healthy and capable of working in a job — even if that job is one you don’t like.
You should attempt to move out of public housing as soon as you are able.
The role of the government in this country is not to pay for your utility bill, or your cell-phone bill, or to hand out “stimulus checks” in exchange for your personal financial information. If you are so poorly informed as to believe that the government’s role is to do such things, some people may not be so sympathetic when you are the victim of some unscrupulous scam.
We need to be reminded that part of the social contract for those getting on public assistance is getting off it as soon as possible. Unfortunately, we have a government that works counter to this goal. We have federal agencies that measure success by the number of people enrolled in assistance programs.
Last year my wife and I tried to dump Badgercare -- our state's medical assistance program for low-income families -- after my employer enrolled me in an HSA. Badgercare (which we had solely for our kids) cost us a very small amount each month. Nothing we couldn't handle. When we told Badgercare that we no longer needed their services, they seemed reluctant to let us go. They re-upped the kids, but this time said it wouldn't cost us anything! This was a head-scratcher. I had more income this past year, but the state was now preparing to give us for free something we paid for the previous year?
My only conclusion was that they simply wanted us on the rolls. We let them have their fun, but the next time they asked for tax records (which we'd already sent, but they said they really didn't look at what we sent and could I send it all again) we just declined. The only way we could get off the rolls was failure to provide the proper forms, I guess.
The obvious solution for government drones desirous of retaining their dependents is to stop requiring that a certain level of need be met.
The Madison, Wisconsin school district has recently added free after-school supper, which I assume accompanies free lunch and free breakfast programs. Yes, this is federally-funded. And it's perfectly pitched so that opponents of the program can be said to want children to starve.
It appears, however, that the free supper program has more to do with nutrition than helping families with needs. At least, that's how officials praise it.
The menu for the Madison School District's new dinner program included turkey sandwiches, fruit cups, broccoli and chocolate milk.
It's healthier food than the soda, sugary candy, snacks and fast food some students will eat before going to evening activities or homes with working parents who prepare later meals, after-school program director Kelly Zagrodnik said.
"A lot of our kids are busy," Zagrodnik said. "(The dinner program) helps them do an activity and not run to McDonald's."
. . .
District officials say the dinner program will improve student nutrition, encourage more participation in after-school academic programs and eventually lead to community dinners that will welcome more parents into the schools.
"What's kind of unique about it is these are creative ways to help districts close the achievement gap," food services director Steve Youngbauer said.
Remember: schools are better at feeding your kids than your are. For heaven's sake! You might pack a bag lunch! Or take your kids to (gasp!) McDonald's!
And here's a parent afflicted with Stockholm Syndrome who thinks the program is wonderful.
Jack Eich, the father of a Falk third-grader who participated in the program Wednesday, said he and his wife get home from work around 5:30 p.m. and don't usually prepare dinner until about 7 p.m. The after-school dinner program provides a healthier, more filling alternative than the snacks their daughter requests before gymnastics class.
"It's well thought out," Eich said.
It is, in fact, perfectly thought out, compared to what appears like parental thoughtlessness. Call me heartless, but part of being parents involves feeding your offspring. (Here's a hint in case you haven't figured it out: children are those smaller versions of yourself that spread toys, dirty clothes, and homework around your house.)
But, I hear you cry, this is a two-income family, and they still have trouble feeding their children! Obviously they're in desperate need!
Well, we don't actually know that. Neither does the Madison School District. Because there are absolutely no income requirements for qualifying for the program.
Unlike the lunch program, eligibility for a free dinner is based on whether the school qualifies for the program based on school poverty rates, rather than the income level of an individual student. So any student participating in an eligible after-school program can eat the dinner meal for free.
In the blinkered view of government officials, this program is a success.
To reuse the overused metaphor, this is (as Joe Biden would say -- literally) calling in all the cattle to feed at government trough. No livestock left unfed. And if being referred to as "livestock" gives someone pause -- good. It should.