Dining on the taxpayer gravy train

According to government figures disclosed this week, almost half of all of Carson City's school-kids are considered "poor." As high as 85 percent in one school. As such, those kids will qualify for free or reduced-cost meals at school this year. Well, not really "free." They're taxpayer-funded. The old adage is still true: There's no free lunch.

In any event, something is definitely wrong when almost half of our city's school-kids are labeled "poor" and dining at school on the taxpayer gravy train - but it's not what they'd like us to think it is. Folks, those are inner city-type numbers. Are we to believe that Carson City is the Harlem of Nevada? Or is it more likely that there's something wrong with the government's numbers?

My bet is that the government is cooking the books somehow in order to keep draining $69 million a year from Nevada taxpayers to fund the ever-expanding school lunch program - which I believe now includes breakfast, as well. Could it be that maybe what the government considers "low income" isn't what you and I would consider low income?

For example, in Congress right now there's a debate on whether or not to authorize an expansion of SCHIP, a taxpayer-funded government program which provides "free" health care to poor kids. But did you know that in the House version of the bill an adult making $100,000 a year could qualify for the benefit? I don't know about you, but in my book an adult isn't a kid, and $100,000 isn't "poor."

In addition, it doesn't make me feel any better when government bureaucrats who are trying to keep both their program funding and their jobs hyperventilate that "sometimes the meal they (poor kids) receive at school may be the only meal they get for the day," and that it's "an old adage that hungry children can't learn," and that "studies have shown nutrition is paramount to learning."

Well, duh.

But that's not really the point here, is it? The point is whether or not taxpayers are picking up the meal tab for kids whose parents are perfectly capable of sending Little Johnny to school with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich themselves. Then again, that might mean the kid would have to wear Wal-Mart brand tennis shoes (like my kids) instead of Nikes. And we can't have that now, can we?

And here's something else the government figures don't disclose, which I suspect means the government continues to hide: Exactly how many of these "low income" children are illegal aliens or the children of illegal aliens? Why won't anyone ever talk about THAT?

A legitimate purpose of government is to take care of those citizens who can't take care of themselves, not those who won't. The government wants us to believe that almost half the parents of Carson City students can't feed their own kids. I don't know about you, but I'm not buying it.

Well, actually, I guess I am. Literally. With my tax dollars. But I shouldn't be. I have my own kids to feed.

• Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach (www.citizenoutreach.com), a limited-government public policy organization.


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