Simplify everything down to the essential “why,” and there’s really only one drive in the human heart: to survive. Of course, there’s the drive to survive the perils of ones’ life — hunger, thirst, cold, wild animals, murder etc. But there’s a second level to that drive that often transcends the drive to survive life itself — and that is to survive death. We, as individual organisms, survive death by procreating, sending pieces of our bodies, our ideas and our legacies on to a future we will never see; but common wisdom holds that only so many can go on to tomorrow.
Putting all other BS aside, those in power have one goal, and one only. The same as the alpha male of any pride or pack: to make sure they go on to survive death, and other people don’t. This is no more apparent than in the Conservative movement that, like any number of other fascist movements before it, centers primarily on the worship of power.
Taking that into context, then, the GOP’s war on food stamps makes complete sense. One February 5th, Obama signed into law a new Farm Bill that carried with it an $8.7 Billion cut to the Food Stamp program; which, to be fair, is about $30 billion less than the Tea Party originally asked for. The Farm bill passed with wide bipartisan support, with all involved deciding that they had more important things to talk about than feeding those they were elected to govern.
Obama would have called this cut to food stamps a “concession” to get things under way; the Tea Party called it a victory in starving the poor into focusing on surviving life. This, obviously, is nothing new: not 10 days ago, Ohio TeaLord John Kasich cut food stamps overnight to more than 10,000 recipients, even as a study proves that the majority of lazy food stamp “moochers” are actually the working poor.
Now…all that being said, we can put this particular story into context.
Last week, the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah (the spiritual home of caring, sharing Mormons, Mitt Romney, Glenn Beck and Mountain Meadows) reported that 32 to 40 children at Uintah Elementary School in Salt Lake were going hungry, as school lunch workers were forced to rip the food from their hands and throw it in the garbage. Why? Because they couldn’t pay for it.
Tuesday is normally the best day of the week for Uitinah students: It’s pizza day, one of the few when any kid legitimately looks forward to eating. Some more than others, apparently — particularly the students of parents who were behind in payments to their kids’ lunch card. The school, in an effort to collect on negative balances for $2.00 lunches, shut off the cards of all kids with a zero or negative balance. Of course, it called parents to notify them of their past due balance — but unfortunately, not all the calls had been made by lunchtime that day.
At the end of the lunch line, when the cards didn’t work, tearful lunch workers were forced to not only take the food from the childrens’ hands — because of school health regulations, they had to dump it straight into the garbage. After watching their lunch go into the garbage, students were sent away with a piece of fruit and a carton of milk.
Unbelievably, the school suspended the lunch workers themselves for what it described as a “mistake,” and has squarely decided to scapegoat minimum-wage food workers for the state’s policy on stealing food from children. what’s even more nauseating is that this school, which sits in a middle-class neighborhood, qualifies for federal reimbursement on meals that meet nutritional guidelines. No word yet on whether or not those “meals” were a piece of fruit.
And Utah isn’t alone in this practice; many states (shockingly, almost exclusively red and governmed by TeaLords like Kasich, Rick Scott and Rick Perry) have “no such thing as a free lunch” policies. Similar scenes of “throw it out if you can’t pay” cruelty have been recorded at schools in Dickinson, Texas, in Attleboro, Massachusetts and will soon likely play out in Chris Christie’s New Jersey, since the Willingboro school district recently sent out a letter notifying parents that they were no longer offering “humanitarian meals” to students.
Of course, it would be unfair to place the blame entirely on the schools for what’s happened in these cases. That would be little more sincere than blaming the axeman for an execution ordered by a king. Certainly, mistakes were made, and they were to blame — but the heads of the schools were as horrified as anyone else at what happened, and there appears to have been no malicious intent at ground level. Then again, there never is when people just think they’re following the letter of policy — which means that these heads are easily laid at the feet of the Kings who set the policies.
The same people who decide who eats and who does not in the world outside of school are the same who created the policies that took food from these children’s hands. That’s what those who fear their continued procreation do — they starve the competition into focusing on surviving life, instead of surviving death. Surviving death is a luxury reserved for those who can afford luxuries. That’s what makes wealth worth something; and if all you are is your wealth, then being worth more than others is all you have.
Indeed…the world is a bleak place when all we have is the drive to survive life.
But that’s not all we have.
It was reported that, in Utah, those who got their pizza that day shared with those who didn’t. In Utah and other places, caring staff members — and even other students — paid for lunches out of their own pockets, so that as few as possible would have to go hungry. Friends and strangers helped when children in need had been left hungry by those who needed nothing.
And that’s an idea worth passing on.