Free lunch

Americans are willing to make considerable sacrifices in order to fund the most expensive public school system in the history of the world -- even though the effectiveness of said schools is pretty pathetic.

But what if Americans come to realize the giant jobs program they're financing under the rubric of the "public schools" is no longer mostly about "schooling," at all, but has instead morphed into a huge archipelago of food banks and full-service welfare agencies?

More than 19 million American schoolchildren are already provided free or reduced-cost meals during the week when they're at school, according to Feeding America, a national network of charities. In Clark County, roughly 148,000 children qualify for the free or tax-subsidized meals -- not because they are all necessarily poor, but because they live in areas where a certain percentage of the populace is statistically "poor," and no one wants to embarrass a child by making him or her assert individual poverty in order to qualify.

But that's not enough, according to Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., who introduced a bill Tuesday that would allow the schoolchildren to head back to their schools on the weekends to pick up tax-funded food handouts, as well -- or else carry home backpacks full of canned meats and fruits on Fridays.

The Weekends Without Hunger Act would allocate $10 million per year for a five-year federal "pilot program," giving away food for schools and local anti-hunger groups to distribute.

"With 45 percent of Clark County schoolchildren relying on the free and reduced-price lunch program, more than 140,000 students in Southern Nevada are facing hunger at home, and many depend on school meals as their main source of food throughout the week," Rep. Titus said.

According to who? Where are these kids living, inside hollow trees? Where are their parents? Are local hospitals full of starving kindergartners?

In fact, we're told we have an epidemic of childhood obesity.

If the culture of welfare dependency created by the "entitlement" approach of the federal government over the past 55 years has actually rendered the American family unable to do today, in a land of luxury, what it was able to do through all the tough times of the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and the Great Depression -- feed its children -- then surely it's time to end the welfare-state experiment, not extend it.

If Rep. Titus truly wanted to create a climate of opportunity for the poor, she'd instead advocate tax cuts and other policies that encourage entrepreneurship so the free market can create real jobs for the parents of kids who qualify for a free government school lunch.