In this video, which I found via my friend Captain Crab, Kate O’Beirne (editor of the National Review) attacked the federal subsidized school breakfast and lunch programs. She did so by stating that parents who would find the program necessary must be “criminally negligent,” since they can’t put food on the table:
The federal school lunch program and now breakfast program and I guess in Washington DC, dinner program are pretty close to being sacred cows… broad bipartisan support. And if we’re going to ask more of ourselves, my question is what poor excuse for a parent can’t rustle up a bowl of cereal and a banana? I just don’t get why millions of school children qualify for school breakfasts unless we have a major wide spread problem with child neglect.
You know, I mean if that’s how many parents are incapable of pulling together a bowl of cereal and a banana, then we have problems that are way bigger than… that problem can’t be solved with a school breakfast, because we have parents who are just criminally… ah… criminally negligent with respect to raising children.
It’s an excellent example of the stigmatization of poverty: letting your kids go to class hungry would make you a bad parent, but taking advantage of programs set up to be sure kids don’t go to class hungry (and thus less able to learn) also makes you a bad parent. The problem here isn’t structural, or even about poverty. The problem, from O’Beirne’s manner of framing it, is that individuals who enroll their children in such programs are, by default, negligent “poor excuses” for parents.