The Free Lunch Slide into Socialism

New York City's Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina recently announced the new "Free School Lunch for All" for the big Apple's public schools. This means that the entire public-school population, some 1.1 million students, will now be provided with free lunches irrespective of family income.

Prior to this, approximately 75 percent of the city's students were getting free lunches. Under this "Free Lunch for All" program, an additional 200,000 students will now be eligible. This will save the just included families about $300 a year as the cost of a school lunch is $1.75.

To the precious few in New York City who worry about the cost of public education, officials say not to fret. This added expenditure won't adversely affect the school's budget. It's "cost free" to the city as the tab will be paid out of state and federal funds. That's me and you. 

Incidentally, NYC is not breaking new ground here. Cities including Boston, Dallas, Chicago, and Detroit are already offer free lunches in all in their respective public school.

It is not surprising to learn that urban public schools can find novel ways to squander taxpayer money. That's in their DNA. What you might find interesting is the rationale groups like Community Food Advocates use for justifying these free school lunch programs. It's about shame and equity.

As articulated by NYC's left-wing mayor, Bill de Blasio, and Chancellor Farina, well-off youngsters need a free lunch in order to keep poor kids from becoming social outcasts. According to that view, kids receiving free lunches will feel shamed if they see others doing the unmentionable -- that is, actually paying for their food. And as Ms. Farina put it in a recent press conference, "This is about equity. We're erasing all the terrible history of the school food program -- not just in New York City, but nationally -- that has divided children by income."

ou don't have to sit and ponder what kind of message this is sending to the school kids. Among other things, it is surely feeding the expectation that things should be free to them, all provided from some abstract entity known as "The Government. As Naomi S. Riley of the Independent Women's Forum correctly writes

'Free School Lunch for All' could in fact represent an entirely new approach to inequity. Maybe middle-class families should receive food stamps so that poor families don't feel stigmatized. Perhaps we should send 1% to eat at soup kitchens, so people in desperate straits won't feel bad about their situations. Or maybe we should offer public housing to the rich, so no one who is forced to use it will get self-conscious. The left says it wants a safety net, but if everyone falls into it, then the safety net is properly called socialism.

The urban public schools are the exclusive domain of Democrats. In viewing the situation, you can be forgiven if you think the primary purpose of these schools is something other than learning per se. Maybe it is to provide jobs for "community" members; maybe it is a costly form of babysitting and warehousing center for juveniles; maybe it is for general social services. Whatever it is, academics seems a low priority judging from the performance of big city schools.  

Here's an example of what I mean. In 2012, Barack Obama's Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, tried to get New York City to push more kids into the free school-breakfast program. That in-and-of itself was a worthy effort. The problem, however, was that to get the free breakfast, students would have to arrive at a set time before class. This was not happening. So what was Mr. Duncan's solution? Attempt some discipline? Perish the thought. Rather, Secretary Duncan wanted the children fed in class. If you know any teachers, ask them what they think this would do to the ability of kids to learn. 

What is breathtaking about this cockamamie suggestion is that it came from the highest-ranking education official in the country, a man who is ostensibly charged with enhancing the academic performances in the public schools, especially the failed urban schools. (Noticed, I said 'failed,' not 'failing.') Fortunately, Michael Bloomberg was mayor at the time and not Comrade de Blasio, and he had enough sense to squelch that idea.

The "Free School Lunch for All" is a microcosm of the left's agenda, and by left, I include liberals, progressives, the Democrat Party establishment, and now the anarchists. When it comes to politics, Democrats, when not wrecking cultural norms and our national cohesion, invariably work to make ever more people dependent on government. Although it does not work, the party's habitual recipe for economic expansion is ever more government spending and creating government jobs of one sort or another. 

There's another characteristic of what the leftist coalition is all about. It lowers the standard of everything it sets its sight on. Academic standards have been lowered from grammar school throughout college; college entrance exams are made easier; qualifications for free school lunches are eliminated; affirmative action has lowered the standards for admittance into colleges and hiring for civil service jobs; citizenship is cheapened due not just to a tolerance for illegal aliens, but also for protection of them in sanctuary cities; and voter registration laws are flouted and attacked as racist. The list could go on and on.

The leftist agenda will continue on unabated in areas when Democrats are in firm control, like the big cities and states like New York and wacky California. Fortunately, the prospects for the left to foster its suffocating agenda on the rest of the country has greatly diminished with the defeat of Hillary Clinton and the wisdom of the non-coastal states. 

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