U.S. Representative Jack Kingston, a Republican from Georgia, has said children from families in poverty, who qualify for free lunches at school, should be forced to work for those meals. He suggested the children sweep the cafeteria floor to understand what it means to work. He said children should learn there is no such thing as "a free lunch." State Senator Stacey Campfield of Tennessee has introduced legislation in the Volunteer State that would cut State welfare benefits to parents whose children do not perform well in school.
As to Representative Kingston's suggestion, I would say, first---where does a member of Congress get off criticizing anyone for accepting a "free lunch"? This especially is hypocritical when Representative Kingston has sat on the Defense Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee and listed, on his 2010 filings, several defense contractors as campaign contributors. Perhaps the Congressman did not accept any free lunches, but one could surmise there were a few free dinners, complete with nice selections of wines, so he could lend an ear to lobbyists. A fitting task for Representative Kingston, and one consistent with his suggestion for poor kids, is he should sweep the floors of veterans' hospitals, or the floors of hospitals in Afghanistan or Pakistan where the victims of the materiel of some of the corporations to which he caters come to rest and heal.
As to State Senator Campfield, education should not be used as a means, even in passing, of punishment in this country. We already have a culture in which education and intellectuals are demonized. Punishment of parents whom the State Senator claims need to be more involved with their children's education might not improve if the parents are punished for their children's bad grades. If jobs are unavailable---think about how many jobs have been outsourced and how many more have been subsumed by technology---a "cure" through punishment of parents for their children's bad grades hardly seems even a partial cure for the problem of our education system.
I would suggest, as to Congressman Kingston's suggestion, that if we wish to instill the work ethic in children, then ALL children should have to work. Make the children of the very rich mop floors alongside their less-fortunate schoolmates. We should instill a work ethic into trust fund kids as much as anyone else. If we did so, maybe we would not have such outrageous comments from people who are quite well off.