I’m Mad as Hell

This post has nothing to do with climate change, or any aspect of science or mathematics. It’s about politics. It’s about why, even though I think the democratic party in the USA is generally incompetent, I’m still a staunch supporter. Because every now and again I see something that makes me so angry … I feel the need to rant.

I know lots of republicans. Not politicians, not party leaders, just plain old folks with a strongly conservative bent. Some are extreme, claiming membership in the “tea party” and believing that President Obama wasn’t born in the USA. I have strong disagreements with them. But none of them, not one, not a single goddamn person I know, would dare, would even consider, to deny food to a child in school.

But that’s what happened.

According to the Associated Press, students who couldn’t pay or who were behind on their pre-paid accounts were flat out denied lunch by an employee of the district’s lunch supplier. Some students cried and others were forced to throw their perfectly good food in the garbage when it was determined that they couldn’t pay.

What kind of monster would do such a thing?

The responsible official, working for Whitsons Culinary Group of Islandia, N.Y., was placed on administrative leave after the incident. Superintendent Pia Durkin has since promised that, “There is no way any child in my district will ever go hungry. Children need to eat.” A spokesperson for Whitsons Culinary Group also admitted that the situation was handled poorly and issued an apology to parents and students.

“Handled poorly”? Bullshit. What actually happened is that the “responsible official” decided that corporate profit was more important than food in the mouths of children at school.

I blame the republican party.

Not rank-and-file republicans. I don’t know a single one who would permit, let alone condone, this. But I sure do remember Mitt Romney complaining that Americans wouldn’t vote for him who feel “entitled” to food. Food.

It’s the attitude that so pervades the republican party leadership that they no longer represent rank-and-file republicans. They are so intent on “I’ve got mine and to hell with anybody else” that we don’t dare end billions of dollars in subsidies to oil and gas companies despite their raking in record profits — but we mustn’t let the government feed hungry children.

They have pushed this agenda so far that they are responsible for legitimizing exactly the behavior which is so obviously despicable. Things that people once wouldn’t dare to crawl out from under their rock to do, they now dare — because of the environment of selfishness and greed which is a core principle of the republican party leadership. Then they’ll complain that they lose elections because of their “messaging.” It’s not the messaging. It’s the message.

You know what’s so incredible, so defies belief, that I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry? The fact that whoever made the decision to refuse food to kids in school probably has the unmitigated gall to call himself a Christian.

A schoolchild knows more about how to follow the example of Jesus, than the “responsible official, working for Whitsons Culinary Group” and the leadership of America’s republican party all put together:

One boy saw a girl behind him begin to cry after being told to discard her food. His mother, Jen Ingemi says he offered to share.

What the hell is this country coming to?

33 responses to “I’m Mad as Hell

  1. The official should have been fired. This is bullshit of the worst type. Having elementary age kids myself I am enraged!!!

  2. Dan J. Andrews

    Bloody hell! How did that person even get a job around children? “No food for you!” That whole entitlement thought process seems to be getting worse. Check what is happening in the UK lately with the bedroom tax, cuts to benefits, skivers vs strivers terminology, etc. That is the road the U.S. is going down with great gusto, and they’ll no doubt ignore the damage it is doing in the UK and repeat all the same mistakes in the US.

    And “Handled poorly”???? Not to be flippant, but that gross understatement puts me in mind of the ancient knight in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when he says, “He chose….poorly”, after the bad guy drank from the wrong cup, aged and blew away into dust within 30 seconds.

    • What’s going on in my country (UK) is utterly despicable but don’t get it the wrong way around – it is all modelled on what has been happening in the US wrt the small state, low taxation, poverty is the fault of the poor not the rich rhetoric. Look up the Atlantic Bridge and you’ll find that the same fascists responsible for what is happening in the US are the ones with ties to the fascists destroying the welfare state in the UK. Unsurprisingly, they’re all climate change deniers too.

  3. I thought “Greed is good” has been the mantra since Ronnie and Maggie? You say this is new? I’m shocked, shocked!

  4. Tamino, did you read any of the comments in that article you linked??? Some of them made my skin crawl. So much heartlessness, and all of them with the same message – “Personal responsibility”. I am disgusted, and enraged. The coming climate woes will teach those arrogant misanthropes a thing or two.

  5. As I read this, I am reminded of a story my father told me about his father. My father grew up in a small western Canadian town in the “dirty 30s”. His father (my grandfather) was one of the lucky ones – he had a job running one of the local grain elevators.
    The story happened at my grandfather’s funeral. Someone came up to my father and told him how much their family had respected my grandfather – during the depression, she said, her father (jobless) could always depend on my grandfather finding him a little work at the elevator when he was most desperate. It had made such a huge impact for the family at times of need.
    The thing that my father knew, that this family never realized, was that in the 1930s in a drought-stricken prairie town, the company that owned the elevator had absolutely no money to be hiring casual labour. Any money that was used to pay this fellow for the labour he provided could only have come out of the pocket of my grandfather. By letting the fellow “work at the elevator”, my grandfather not only was able to help a person in need, but was also able to preserve that person’s dignity.
    That is what people do, who care about the other people in the society they live in. They don’t steal the food out of the mouths of hungry children.
    I am crying as I write this. What sort of world are we living in now? Shame on the individual that refused to let children eat. Shame on the society that accepts it.

  6. Makers vs. Takers. I cannot scream loud enough whenever I hear those arguments.

  7. I believe the increasing nastiness happening as exemplified by this incident is directly related to the mirror image of global warming: We are running out of cheap (fossil) energy. That fact, together with the increasing maldistribution of wealth and income, means that there is less opportunity for all to be adequately fed (and housed and provided with meaningful employment). We are in overshoot. Look up HANPP. Etc. I sense the public discourse becoming edgier and more polarized. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think it’s due to a subconscious fear of the global energy crisis and what it implies for our collective future.

    I also think circumstances are going to get worse before better, assuming we’re lucky enough to have a civilization left after the average EROI of available energy supplies drops somewhere into the single digits.

  8. It would be even better if they fed school kids proper food and banned sugar and soft drinks in schools. The way most kids eat nowadays – especially in the US – is criminal in itself. And also for profit, first for agriculture and the food industry, and then for Big Pharma. And Big Government doesn’t seem to mind either.

    Systemic changes are needed…

  9. Similar to Bechtel in South America about a decade ago. Why you don’t privatize public goods.

  10. As I write this, there’s a bill winding its way through Tennessee that specifically targets low-income families by threatening to withhold welfare to recipients with children who fare poorly in school. Seriously. (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/04/01/1198511/-Tennessee-lawmakers-terrifying-new-plan-to-punish-welfare-recipients). The bill–Senate Bill 132, House Bill 261–aims to dock poor families 30% of their benefits should children in that family fail to meet certain academic standards. The bill’s sponsors–both republicans, natch–claim the bill will “decrease expenditures” while encouraging “personal responsibility”. But it’s hard as hell to see how dumping the burden of an entire stressed family’s survival on a hungry schoolkid is going to encourage a damn thing but more hunger, more homelessness, more stress, possibly more child abuse, and worse.

    BTW: the bill punishes only poor families; there’s no word on what punishment will be meted out on middle- and upper-income families with underperforming kids.

    • One word: devolution!!! I am in despair. And we expect to see them solving climate change problems???

  11. I don’t often agree with your political opinions, but this is one of those instances where we are on the same page.

    I’d like to know who the person was who verbally instructed a child to throw their food away. Why is a person like that even allowed to be around children in the first place??? The brutal rat.. I mean beuracrat…who made the decision is guilty, and so are the people who followed the perverted orders they were handed.

  12. That is just the right temperament for working in a concentration camp.

  13. But this is related to climate change, just one more aspect of profit at all costs. Starve a child or destroy a world, all for the sake of another dollar.

  14. Riccardo Reitano

    Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 5:
    “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
    Not feeding a kid at school, forcing him to throw his food in the garbage while seeing others eat is definitely cruel, inhuman and degrading. There can be no justification whatsoever.

  15. Yes, it’s an appalling incident.

    George Bernard Shaw: “Must then a Christ perish in torment in every age to save those that have no imagination?” (Saint Joan) and “Why was I born with such contemporaries?” (Dark Lady of the Sonnets.)

  16. Gavin's Pussycat

    > I’d like to know who the person was

    Wouldn’t we all… and have him converted to Soylent Green. Better not know

  17. Dahell is wrong with American politics?!

  18. I live in Perth, and just spent 4 days in Sydney. I was appalled at how they drove. And then I realised that if I lived there, I would end up driving like that too. I’d adopt their actions and attitudes. Because I’m no saint, I’m just an ordinary person.

    In Sydney, choices were made about roads, housing, cars and public transport. And these choices make Sydneysiders drive differently – aggressively, selfishly.

    If you want someone to decide that they shouldn’t feed hungry kids, then you need to have a certain type of society. Its a choice. And we vote for the people who make those choices. And if enough of us are stupid enough to believe the lies of those who want us to think that their interest is our interest, then we will make a system that makes us horrible.

    • Good post–next step: The common thread in the choices made by people all over the world (e.g., roads, housing, cars and public transport) is to use fossil fuels to drive their economy. As the basis for that economy erodes, people get irritated because their choices don’t work so well any more.

    • Yes – but what if the only choices you can vote for are people who will do this sort of thing? What then? While I agree society chooses in a sense – sometimes your options are all bad ones – as in this case – where I suspect to fundamentally change the system takes a revolution of some sort (the only choice left when you have no choices you can vote for).

  19. The Ryan budget proposes doing the same thing on a massive scale:


  20. Even beyond a rejection of Christianity — which many of these people claim to believe — I think it’s a rejection of civilization itself: the burdens of a shared life.

  21. Unfortunately society in certain “developed” nations would appear to be moving in diametrically the wrong direction. You can’t make an increasingly large portion of your population hungry, angry and desperate without consequences.

    • But you can try. The trick is to make the disadvantaged think its their own fault. That if only they tried harder, it would all be ok. And of course there is never a shortage of smug rich people telling their story of climbing out of poverty, as if that somehow proves that everyone could do it.

      Did you ever play football during lunch in primary school? There were often kids who were the last picked, but the basic rule seemed to be that if they wanted to play, we’d fit them in somewhere.

      Now we seem to be intent on making a society where an ever growing number are “not good enough” to be picked. They are meant to spend their lives sitting on the side lines. And blaming themselves for their plight.

  22. If you want to know where this is coming from look to the Tea Party and Ayn Rand inspired libertarianism.

  23. This is child abuse.

  24. Dromicosuchus

    Jim: On behalf of my state, I’d like to apologize for Stacey Campfield’s existence, both in the past and continuing on into the future. We Tennesseeans aren’t all evil, although sadly we appear to have a tendency to elect evil representatives.

  25. That reminds me, better put some more on my son’s balance

  26. This, contained in the body of the article is to my mind worse:

    When students are unable to pay for lunch they should be offered a cheese sandwich and milk.

    This is a proper lunch for children? How many are on this ‘school lunch’ day-in day-out?