A 'human interest' article disturbed me on the evening news. Several states are suspending programs which 'singled out' students whose parents were significantly in arrears on paying for their children's lunch. The media has named it 'lunch shaming'. Don't get me wrong here. The child is not at fault for the parent 'stiffing' the school system for lunch money. Stamping their hand, making them clean the tables or serving them a cheese sandwich while their contemporaries eat 'high off the lunchroom hog' is not the way to make a child love to go to school. So, the state(s) in question are rescinding the 'shaming' program and what? They're allowing the children to eat whatever gourmet delight 'Alice the lunch lady' is dishing up. Let's hear it for 'the right thing to do'. Woe betide that Johnny or Janey should suffer for the sins of their fathers (or mothers).
Well, now, every story has its seamy under-side. In so saving “J” or “J” from humiliation, the lesson of 'the free lunch' is reinforced to the child, individually, and to each of their peers, en masse. Are we not adding to the 'entitled generation' by giving the parents, and through them, the children, a pass on personal responsibility? What legal action is appropriate? Do we drag parents into court? Uh, I don't think failure to pay for lunch is even a misdemeanor. Do we just tell Johnny or Janey to 'take a study hall' while their friends eat? Hardly what that 'village' that Hillary emoted about would do, is it? But, after all, scarce tax dollars are at risk here and teachers and school bus drivers need to be paid for an honest day's labor.
This is, but, only one needle in the haystack of similar problems facing our country today. Put the media spotlight on a single needle and it becomes a 'national shame-of-the-day'. We cannot afford treat a single symptom at the expense of seeking solutions to the real problem. For each penny we steal from Peter, Paul must go begging. The money those meals cost is, for the most part, money that is supposed to come from 'lunch money', not the school district budget. The lesson taught, and reinforced by the media, is that it would be reasonable to expect Harry and Mary, who's parents diligently pay each day, to pocket the money and get a 'free lunch', too. After all, what's good for Johnny and Janey, is equally good for Harry and Mary, no?.
If your mind is reeling at this, don't even pause. Scan the news for other examples of, and in no particular order, unpaid medical bills, unpaid taxes, unpaid tolls, Medicare fraud, 'entitlements' demanded by those who have not earned them, abandoned credit card debt and a myriad of other 'bills' dumped in the lap of the average and honest citizen to pay out of some misguided perception of 'fairness'.
No, I don't have a solution. I'm just sick of the way we slice the problem into 'manageable' pieces. Tiny slices of bullshit remain bullshit, nonetheless.