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5 Dumb Ideas Conservatives Have to “Help” Poor Kids

5 Dumb Ideas Conservatives Have to “Help” Poor Kids

Conservative lawmakers are often out-of-touch when it comes to the class divide, but that doesn’t stop them from trying to find backwards solutions to supposedly “help” the economically disadvantaged. Some of their suggestions pertaining to children are particularly appalling. Here are 5 of their not-so-great ideas:

1. Poor Kids Should Work to Pay Their Debt to Society

Just last week, lawmaker Ray Canterbury shared his thoughts on free school lunches with the West Virginia House of Delegates. “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.” He’s also not opposed to them missing class to complete this work. “They might not, in that class that afternoon, learn to add, they might not learn to diagram a sentence, but they’ll learn a more important lesson.” Yes, because completing menial tasks is far more valuable than getting an education. Surely such a system where kids lose class time will not disadvantage poor children further.

If this suggestion sounds familiar, that’s because Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign included the bright idea that poor kids should work as custodians in their schools because they lacked a “work ethic.” They can justify it however they want, but the real end goal is to train less fortunate kids to be subservient to the elite at an early age.

2. Hard Labor Keeps Poor Kids Fit and Trim

Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is also not a fan of banning child labor, particularly when it pertains to young kids working on farms. In protesting the legislation, Grassley tried to paint Democrats as hypocrites by saying, “It’s interesting that this child labor bill goes against Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity initiative. How can kids be active if they are limited by this law?”

Yes, Grassley, how on earth can children stay skinny if not working the field? That’s the kind of exercise that playing and sports could never provide. Surely these child laws have nothing to do with preventing cheap, exploitative labor… if you really care about the health of poor kids, you’ll send them out to pick our crops!

3. Do Well in School or Lose Your Benefits

Earlier this year, Stacey Campfield, a Republican State Senator for Tennessee, proposed that a family’s welfare benefits should depend on the kids’ performance in school. If students did not score well on state standardized tests (which we know always accurately measures a child’s learning), then their families would lose 30% of their welfare allotment.

Sure, the idea may be to help incentivize children to do better in school. However, if you take children in poverty and limit their access to necessities like food and clothing, you’re kidding yourself if you think these kids’ grades and test scores would magically improve. Fortunately, even an 8-year-old girl could see the flawed logic and helped put a stop to this counterproductive measure.

4. Don’t Feed the “Animals”

Gabriela Saucedo Mercer, a Republican candidate to represent Arizona in Congress, mused on her Facebook page that while the National Park Service discourages people from feeding wild animals because it teaches them to not take care of themselves, the U.S. government has no qualms about handing out food stamps. Get it, get it? Poor kids are like dumb wild animals, guys. Go ahead and laugh now. Sigh. Fortunately, Arizonans chose not to vote for the animals, either, and Mercer lost the election.

Unfortunately, however, Mercer is not the only one to choose this dehumanizing type of analogy. Andre Bauer, then-Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina and Republican, said the following in a speech: “My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed. You’re facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don’t think too much further than that. And so what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to curtail that type of behavior. They don’t know any better.”

Bauer later claimed his statement was taken “out of context” and did not apply to impoverished children, even though cutting off funding to adults who “breed” (eek!) these kids would most definitely affect quality of life for such kids. At any rate, deeply sorry to hear you’re no longer in office, Bauer!

5. Okay, Fine, Feed Poor Kids… Just Not As Well As Rich Kids

Officials at the Webster, Missouri school district developed a “better” solution for dealing with poor kids who expected free lunches… by serving them an inferior meal. We’re not talking the usual subpar cafeteria fare, but the nearly 50% of the student body that can’t afford lunch are given a cheese sandwich and milk instead of the standard hot meal. What a great opportunity for kids to learn about the class divide at an early age!

One kind cafeteria employee gave a student the nicer lunch despite the fact that he was poor and should have been getting a cheese sandwich every day, so, of course, she was fired. Never mind that Missouri schools receive federal funds to ensure that every student can be fed properly and this class segregation is pretty much illegal – I’m sure school officials found a better use for that money than giving back to less fortunate children as it was intended.


Each of these concepts shows a severe lack of empathy. There is no way any of these politicians would want any of these laws to apply to their own children. But as long as we’re talking about someone else’s kids… make ‘em work and let ‘em starve!


Related Stories:

Should Parents of Failing Students Lose Welfare Benefits?

8-Year-Old Pursues Tennessee Lawmaker, Forces Him to Drop Bill

Gingrich: Put Poor Kids to Work Cleaning Schools


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12:31AM PDT on May 11, 2013

Hi Kevin,

Apparenty only about a day before I do.

11:14AM PDT on May 10, 2013

Lol, Robert, you are right, it was a colossal waste of time even talking to him. When am I going to learn that some folks just aren't worth the effort?

6:08AM PDT on May 10, 2013

Let him talk to himself. Everyone else has abandoned this thread and Him.

6:07AM PDT on May 10, 2013

Finally Kevn!! LOLOL

5:04AM PDT on May 10, 2013

Right, play "pigeon chess," bury your head in the sand and pretend that what is happening to the working class is not real, and continue to live in your fantasy world where "you" need to teach the working poor about the "work ethic." It makes no difference to me, you want to believe the bullshit "facade of legitimacy" that is your business.

Quite frankly I am tired of talking with someone to ignorant to face facts and who clings desperately to the way the "want" to see the world. If it makes you feel better to believe that the working class, the poor, the unemployed, the hungry are merely lazy, because it makes you sleep better at night, go ahead. Lots of people embrace that mentality. I am tired of trying to talk sense to you.

11:30PM PDT on May 9, 2013

Hi Kevin,

Again, you're conflating "better than before" and "good. I thought you were smart enough to tell the difference. Of course there is hunger among the poor. There used to be more, and more outright malnutrition. Just to get back to the point, the fact that there is hunger among the poor does not imply in any way that the causes of poverty are necessarily business-owners' greed or other such external factors. A drop in the wealth of the poor while the rest of society gets richer would imply that greed plays a major role, but that is not what you described, nor is it what is actually happening.

The data does not support your claims so you cannot "pound the facts" as I have. There is not reason to believe that any well-established underlying dynamics, or laws of society, support your position on the matter so you cannot "pound the law". Are you just "pounding the table" for fun?

11:32AM PDT on May 9, 2013

Yeah Stephen, tell a hungry child that he is not really hungry since it is merely a change of the definition by the USDA. Tell them that they are not hungry because their household has a used TV and DVD player they bought last year for $30. You can do this while you are lecturing them on the need for a "work ethic."

9:04AM PDT on May 9, 2013

Hi Kevin,

None of your descriptions of the hardships of the poor address the trends. How have these things changed over time? The USDA-ERS changed its definition of food-security in 2006, so that cannot be used as an effective index oneither side of that period.
If you want to use it as an index, you need to present both data and changes in the definition of terms over time.

Your comment about how people can get those appliances in thrift stores now actually supports what I have been saying about the trends. The point there is not that cheap consumer goods are available, but that goods which were not cheap have become so. The poor have increased access to goods. Yes, the Heritage Institute came out with something like this a while back, and it's accurate.

I didn't even realize the unemployment is the #1 cause of food-insecurity until you pointed it out. Again, even many unemployed parents are not perpetually so, so they are able to teach their children the necessary lessons by example. However, those who cannot need help.

10:34AM PDT on May 8, 2013

NO Stephen access to cheap consumer goods like appliances is NOT a "fair index" of the poor getting richer. Most of those appliances are REQUIRED by law in any rental unit (stove, refrigerator, etc.) The other things can be bought at most thrift stores for next to nothing. Oh a person can buy a TV or old DVD player for $20. I guess they are not poor then?

That is the same crap the Heritage Foundation and other right wing groups have been slinging for years. The fact that cheap consumer goods are availible is NOT a sign that things are "better" for the poor. All of the data shows otherwise.

Do you realize the hubris it takes to think you should lecture these people on a "work ethic"?

10:28AM PDT on May 8, 2013

Fifty million Americans – one in five children - go to bed and awaken hungry. Across the United States, the number of families and individuals who are food insecure or living in constant fear of not being able to feed their families and themselves has remained constant or been growing for many years. The country’s crippling economic crisis is resulting in record high spikes in poverty, unemployment, hunger and homelessness.

Trends in national food insecurity levels parallel national poverty levels, showing how food insecurity is inherently connected with income. This was shown to be especially true during the recent recession. The number of families that experience food insecurity has risen dramatically since the current economic crisis began in 2008.1 The principle causes of food insecurity in the United States are:2

High housing costs
Low wages and poverty
Lack of access to SNAP (food stamps)
Medical or health costs

Do you realize the hubris it takes to think you should lecture these people on a "work ethic"?

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