Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

December 21, 2013

Poor kids should sweep floors, says GOP scrooge

Apparently Rep. Scott Kingston has taken it upon himself to pick up where Mitt Romney left off in attempting to establish the GOP brand as officially synonymous with disdain for poor people. In a recent speech Kingston reportedly said of kids benefiting from free-lunch programs, “Why don’t you have the kids pay a dime, pay a nickel to instill in them that there is, in fact, no such thing as a free lunch? Or maybe sweep the floor of the cafeteria.”

Where to start with what’s wrong with this comment?

First off, if poor children had a spare dime or nickel lying around, they wouldn’t be partaking in free-lunch programs. I can’t believe that it is possible that in 2013 we still have to explain the basic concept of poverty to adults — particularly adults responsible for drafting policy that affects those living in poverty.

Second, unlike a lot of progressives, and particularly minorities who identify as progressive, I have never considered “personal responsibility” dirty words. Unlike Rep. Charles Rangel I have no problem with the hotly debated legal requirement that adults living in New York public housing who are not working full time, students or disabled be required to engage in voluntary community service. Adults should be held accountable (or personally responsible) for choices they make, good or bad. That could be someone like me signing up for student-loan debt to finance my education, other students signing up for work-study programs to finance theirs or adults giving back to their community and taxpayers who are helping to finance the living situation they wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise.

But the words “personal responsibility” should almost always be limited to adults, and to those teens nearing adulthood who have the capacity to make informed decisions, good and bad, and to be held accountable for them accordingly.

Text Only
Opinion
  • Close the tax loophole that sends US corporations overseas Since we last overhauled our federal tax code, in 1986, countries around the world have lowered their tax rates, leaving the United States with the highest corporate tax rate in the developed word. At the same time, the system has become full of inef

    July 29, 2014

  • College cost isn't big problem for poor students To judge by this summer’s banner policy proposals, the most important question for higher-education reform right now is giving students easier access to loans. But evidence from Canada suggests those changes won’t address the greater need: Getting mo

    July 29, 2014

  • Money not always the answer I really have to stop and think sometimes. I challenge my thought processes when I write these columns. I am having a hard time with this one. It appears to me that every time a governmental agency or any of the entities that spend other people’s mon

    July 29, 2014

  • Teachers unions' destructive behavior You can always count on the national teachers unions to behave badly at their annual conventions, and they certainly didn’t let us down this month. In doing so, however, they let down many of their members, along with students who are working hard to

    July 26, 2014

  • Workers of the world, curb your ambitions A group of Democrats introduced legislation this week to protect low-paid shift workers from last-minute changes in their schedules. The idea fits into an intriguing category of economic activism: Not trying to lift low-paid workers out of poverty, n

    July 26, 2014

  • State of the reunion ‘Katy! It’s been so long! How’ve you been?”My God, she’s gained so much weight I didn’t recognize her. It’s a good thing we’re all wearing nametags. I thought it was some distant cousin past due with triplets.“Bob! Long time, no see.”No hair, either.

    July 26, 2014

  • Fear indifference ‘Perhaps the Catholic church would volunteer to pony up some cash for the illegals’ care then? Hmm?”“Pope should stay out of it. Matter of civil laws, not church laws.”“Thinking that the pope should want the illegals to go to Argentina to get better

    July 25, 2014

  • A push for felon voting rights If advocates have their way, voting rights could be a new reality for the nation’s incarcerated.Full voting rights for felons is as hot a topic in Washington as voting rights in reverse pushed by voter-ID-tickled Republicans. But with new legislation

    July 25, 2014

  • Big insurers need better oversight Could Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. threaten the stability of the financial system? The U.S.’s top regulators are asking themselves this question as they consider whether Berkshire and other large insurers should come under Federal Reserve

    July 25, 2014

  • Questions for Obamacare after the ruling Tuesday, I outlined what we knew about Halbig v. Burwell, the case in which a federal appellate court ruled that subsidies for purchasing insurance under Obamacare can only be made available on marketplaces established by states. Now I propose to out

    July 24, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks