04 April, 2006

TANSTAAFL, Little Kid Style

My sister's visiting. She's a schoolteacher and is here to take the Rest Cure version of Spring Break. That means she sleeps late, reads, watches TV, and sits on the swing to take in the heavy-honey smell of the Wisteria and "infamous" Chocolate Vine.

It also means that she plies me with anecdotes from the Kindergarten Public School trade. In light of all the talk about Bryson's state spending cap and the resultant conversation over at Pith In The Wind, I thought I'd pass this tidbit along.

When people talk about spending, they often append their appeal for your money with the standard "It's For The Children" line. What could be more "for the children" than free lunches for the poor kids in school? Before you start frothing at the mouth, let me say that I think these are a good idea, at least theoretically.

But everybody seems to forget, as we have these loud arguments, that children are, well, by definition, children. They don't make the same kind of reasoned, rational choices that adults make. That is why my sister watches most of the kids on her school's free lunch program eat the cupcake and throw away the carrot sticks, yogurt, salisbury steak and other healthy things. She also says that most of the kids "refuse to drink milk. They only want to drink pop."

As sad as this is, I think it's a nice analogy for government spending. You can have the best of intentions on spending the money in the "right" place. You can go out of your way to do something "good" for another human being. But invariably our own tastes for luxury lead us to spurn the sensible and crave the silly. You can have the best of ideals, only to watch them wasted--like a five-year-old's carrot sticks. Children are children. They do stupid things because they are self-motivated and don't care to do any different. Government is government. Same difference.


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