Thursday, April 25, 2013

You Might Be A Republican If... You Think First Graders Should Scrub Toilets If They Wants To Eat Lunch


My friend-- and favorite chef-- Michael Voltaggio, got his start cooking at the elegant, world-famous Greenbrier Hotel in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Though both Huntington, which sits in the middle of Appalachia, where Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia meet on the other side of the state, and White Sulphur Springs in Greenbrier County are in Nick Rahall's 3rd congressional district, the area is by no means progressive or Democratic, although it certainly used to be. Greenbrier County is now represented in the West Virginia House of Delegates by a reactionary Republican, Ray Canterbury, who astounded even other Republicans this week. And all he did was make a speech completely consistent with the most basic and fundamental Republican/conservative philosophy, namely that the rich earned their money and they shouldn't have to pay for the well-being of poor people and their children.

Like the U.S., India has passed laws to prevent children working in coal mines. But in India tens of thousands of children, in the 12-15 age group, still do, often in atrociously unsafe conditions. Delegate Canterbury wasn't advocating-- at least not in that speech-- to repeal child labor laws... but then again, he was advocating making first graders clean toilets if they don't want to starve. It all started with a bill to combat childhood hunger in West Virginia.
Some Republican lawmakers said the free-meals-in-schools program would send a bad message to kids about personal responsibility, while Democrats argued there's a moral imperative to feed hungry students.

Delegate Canterbury hasn't missed many meals
Delegate Ray Canterbury, R-Greenbrier, predicted the program could set up children for failure, "destroying their work ethic" and "showing them there's an easy way." Canterbury suggested that students "work for their lunches" by mowing lawns and taking out trash at schools.

Delegate Meshea Poore, D-Kanawha, said Republicans were trying to mislead people about the bill.

"I'm offended anybody in this body would dare say a child has to work for their meals," Poore said. "I can't believe someone would say a first-grader, a second-grader... a fifth-grader has to labor before they eat. This isn't an entitlement bill."

...The bill would make free breakfasts and lunches available to every student in public schools, pre-kindergarten through the 12th-grade. West Virginia would become the first state in the nation to enact such a program... The bill would establish nonprofit foundations that would raise money to help pay for the free meals. Now, only low-income children get free and discounted lunches and breakfasts at school.

"Kids can't learn if they're hungry," said House Majority Leader Brent Boggs, D-Braxton.

...Delegate Michael Folk, R-Berkeley, said churches and food pantries already have programs that feed poor people, and schools already provide free meals to students.

"There's already a safety net on the government level: It's called free and reduced lunch," Folk said. "It's not whether we think we should feed children; it's about whether we think the government should be the sole provider of food."
The bill passed 89-9. So only 9 Republicans had the courage of their reactionary, Darwinish/Dickensian convictions. I wonder why Republicans didn't ask that the first graders from poor families work for their textbooks too. Canterbury: "I think it would be a good idea if perhaps we had the kids work for their lunches: trash to be taken out, hallways to be swept, lawns to be mowed, make them earn it. If they miss a lunch or they miss a meal they might not, in that class that afternoon, learn to add, they may not learn to diagram a sentence, but they'll learn a more important lesson." I guess he had been inspired by Newt Gingrich's remarks about how poor children should clean school toilets and work as janitors if they want to be educated. I wonder how all this fits in with that Republican rebranding thing RNC Chairman Reince Priebus is supposed to be working on.

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