A Republican congressman from Georgia who is hoping to be party’s next Senate nominee said over the weekend that poor children should have to pay or sweep floors if they wanted to eat school lunches.
“I’m on the Agriculture Committee, we have jurisdiction over the school lunch,” Rep. Jack Kingston explained to the Jackson County Republican Party in a clip obtained by The Huffington Post’s Amanda Terkel. “School lunch program is very expensive.”
“But one of the things I’ve talked to the secretary of agriculture about: Why don’t you have the kids pay a dime, pay a nickel to instill in them that there is, in fact, no such thing as a free lunch?” he suggested. “Or maybe sweep the floor of the cafeteria — and yes, I understand that that would be an administrative problem, and I understand that it would probably lose you money.”
“But think what we would gain as a society in getting people — getting the myth out of their head that there is such a thing as a free lunch,” Kingston added.
While campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination in 2011, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich also floated the idea of replacing unionized janitors with children during a talk at Harvard’s Kennedy School.
He later told a crowd in Iowa that poor children were basically lazy.
“Really poor children, in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works so they have no habit of showing up on Monday,” the Georgia Republican insisted. “They have no habit of staying all day, they have no habit of I do this and you give me cash, unless it is illegal.”
Gingrich suggested to supporters in South Carolina that children as young as 5 years old could get “an education in life” by working.
“If you take one half of the New York janitors, who are paid more than the teachers,” Gingrich explained to a Republican debate audience in late 2011. “An entry-level janitor gets paid twice as much as an entry-level teacher. You take half those janitors, you could give lots of poor kids a work experience in the cafeteria, in the school library, in the front office, in a lot of different things. I’ll stand by the idea young people ought to learn how to work.”
Watch this video of Rep. Jack Kingston speaking to the Jackson County Republican Party.
[Photo: Flickr/Rep. Jack Kingston]