One day, in the distant future, when the U.S. recovers its economy and its marbles, Americans are going to be grateful they didn't live in this age. And one way they'll express this sentiment is by asking, "Can you believe some leaders wanted poor children to labor for their own school lunches?"
The idea that children should have to labor for the trappings of public education smacks of something bred in a vacuum-packed ivory tower — probably by a self-styled libertarian who was born an inch from home plate and thinks he chose the uterus that hit the triple. In his mind, poor people should start young in learning the lesson to not be poor.
I minored in political science in college. One of the characteristics of a political science student (and I'm not innocent) is insufferable ideological rigidity. It's very easy to sit in a classroom, study philosophies that jibe with what you believe and declare that such should be the unblinking law of the universe. These departments are valuable as incubators of thought; throwing shit on the wall to see what sticks requires walls, after all. This is where such rigidity belongs, because it's impractical in the real world.
Yes, there is no such thing as a free lunch. But does that mean children shouldn't have free lunches? Of course not. Our taxes can pick up the tabs for those. I don't mind. It seems as good a use of government funds as any. It's not really in anyone's interest to have kids starve — they can't learn as well, they get sick and we pay for the consequences one way or another. That problem doesn't vanish just because we think life can be governed like in an Ayn Rand comic book.
I expect that sort of mindset from young idiots. But not from people who have a chance at altering the law.
The problem isn't work ethic; it's that many of our politicians are still stuck in school. And they aren't learning anything.