Frédéric Bastiat Deserves a Posthumous NobelLawrence W. Reed Jun 30
Bastiat made the core truths of economics lively and unforgettable.
What could be more magnanimous than a cafeteria worker giving out free lunches? Or an education official writing off school loans? In both cases, the recipients of the largess must see a champion. Yet, in neither case is the person acting as a beneficent philanthropist paying the costs of the apparent charity. The bill goes to the taxpayers. Public officials should learn that the money is not theirs to give.
Not Hers to Give
Della Curry recently lost her job as kitchen manager at an elementary school in Aurora, Colorado. She admitted that the school fired her "for giving food to children that did not have money." She admits that doing so was legally wrong, but, she adds, "I do not feel bad about it and would do it again in a heartbeat."
Curry presents herself as a great humanitarian and denounces this rich nation for failing to "provide lunch for its children," but she did not pay for a single child's lunch. She did not give them any of her own food, nor sacrifice financially on their behalf. Rather, she gave them a full lunch at public expense.
Public officials should learn that the money is not theirs to give.
Indeed, contrary to her claim, the school district was no collective Scrooge. Many children were on official school lunch plans and received free or cheap meals. In fact, a family of four could earn $44,000 annually and still receive a federal subsidy. Any other student without money received free meals three times. After that, cashless children received a cheese sandwich.
But that wasn't good enough for Curry. She denounced a cheese sandwich as inadequately nutritious, so she gave away the school's money as she saw fit.
Not His to Forgive
Far bigger bucks are involved in US Education Secretary Arne Duncan's giveaway. The 100-campus, for-profit Corinthian College chain has collapsed, leaving some heavily indebted students in limbo. Students from these schools are thought to carry about $3.6 billion in publicly backed loans.