Wednesday, July 24, 2019

More, Please?

     Scrooge eventually saw the light of day. And I'm guessing Fagin had second thoughts about his career path when he stood on the gallows.
     I think I stand on firm ground when I say we can rule out Donald Trump and the Republican Party ever having such an epiphany (although I'm all for sending him and many of his enablers to the gallows, second thoughts or not).
     Seriously, when did the United States become such a dystopian Dickensian nightmare? Let's start with school lunches: According to Nokidhungry,org, 12,000,000 children are living in food insecure homes. That's 6% of our nation's children. According to CNN's findings, 75% of school districts, three quarters of them, are reporting children owing large school lunch debts at the end of the year.
     But to some school districts, the real problem isn't child hunger but the unpaid bills their parents can't afford to pay.
     Further exacerbating the problem, the Trump administration just decided to tighten the restriction on SNAP eligibility for food stamps in households with children. That would be the same Trump administration that not too long ago gave a trillion and a half dollars of our money to those least needy or deserving of it while raising middle class and low income tax burdens while giving multibillionaires tax credits for their private jets.
     The tax scam bill, as it was rightly called, was also passed with the most naked corruption by the same Republican Party that, after 18 years, was finally shamed into doing the right thing by 9/11 responders the same exact day Trump made it more difficult for children to get food in their mouths.
     Yet a school district in Pennsylvania has been getting some heat lately by threatening to kidnap children and put them in foster homes if their school lunch plans were not soon paid by their parents. After it got some heat for that, the district then sort of backtracked and said it would send out "a less threatening letter."
     Considering how many school districts outsource school lunches to private corporations who basically feed our kids shit in their penny-pinching profit motive, it's not much of a stretch to say these school districts are going to bat not for themselves but the rapacious corporations these districts contract when they rattle their sabres and demand to be paid.
     According to this NY Times article from late 2011, a full quarter of our school districts have been outsourcing food processing to private corporations under a federal program called the National School Lunch Program. This is a longstanding program that essentially gives school districts heavily discounted or free surplus food . Yet more and more, the chicken they would get, for instance, from the Dept. of Agriculture gets sent out and then comes back as chicken nuggets only at 3 to 4 times the price.
     A 2008 study found a direct correlation between greedy, cost-cutting food service companies and lower test scores. And that's because of the higher fat, sodium and sugar content fed to our children five days a week, nine months every year. The scary thing about the trend to privatization of school lunch programs? There isn't a single agency that tracks such a thing.
     And then there's the (thankfully) heavily-covered trend of arresting children whose parents legally seek asylum at the border are kidnapped and thrown into concentration camps. If you think our own children are being fed poorly in our schools (and by and large, they are), that's nothing compared to the crap we're feeding these imprisoned children.
     Here's a snippet of a report from CNN barely a month ago on the conditions these children are facing:
Crowded conditions are a common theme, and many children relay that day after day they receive the same meals of yogurt, oatmeal, soup, cold sandwiches, juice, burritos and cookies. They complain of a lack of vegetables.
     The guards also mock the children who are crying over their conditions after being separated from their parents.
     The cost at least as of a year ago, according to NBC, reached a whopping $775 a head per day, which is lower than the cost of staying at a Trump luxury hotel. In other words, we're not just being cruel to migrant children who, like their parents, had committed no crimes, we're being cruel for profit.
     A quick Google search using just "Republicans, child labor laws" are guaranteed to bring you countless hits on stories of Republicans slavering to weaken or entirely roll back child labor laws that actually started in Massachusetts in 1836. At the 2016 GOP convention, Stephen Moore, whom Trump originally picked for the Federal Board, actually advocated as "a radical" for the abolition of child labor laws and to put kids as young as 11 or 12 to work. That same year, our Secretary of Charter Schools, multi-billionaire Betsy DeVos, called child labor, “a gift our kids can handle.” And, in a truly Dickensian moment, in 2012, New Gingrich suggesting turning schoolchildren into janitors to earn their keep. Barely a week and a half after getting sworn into the US Senate, Mike Lee called child labor laws "unconstitutional."
     And in the glorious age of Trump, between 2017 and 2018, 276,000 more children were denied health care, the first time this decade the uninsured rate among children actually rose.
     And this, obviously, is just the tip of the iceberg. If I was so disposed, I could literally spend months writing a book on how much the "pro-life" right wing really loathes children, especially brown-skinned ones, as if they're getting all their policy cues from Oliver Twist.
     These would be, incidentally, the same exact scumbags who'd move heaven and earth, and viciously defend doing so, to keep their own kids from getting conscripted if we still had a draft.


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