Vail Daily letter: Federally funded food
July 15, 2015
A month ago School Superintendent Jason Glass did a column enthusing about a new summer program that provides meals at school facilities. It is called the Summer Foods Service Program. I'll refer to it as SFSP. It is the first of a number of initiatives sponsored by the Integreat! Coalition. The vision is one of "an inclusive community in which all children are loved." According to Glass, it is paid for with federal funds.
SFSP provides meals to anyone who walks in — rich or poor, young or old. It's free for those up to age 18. Those over that age have to pay four bucks. Glass estimated that 15,000 meals will be served. This is a stretch from the ordinary school lunch program. Talk about mission creep.
SFSP sounds like a gratuity, since federal money is paying for it. Politicians get mileage with certain voters by sponsoring such schemes — a food program here, free cell phones there, a leg up for some business that has connections.
But this is borrowed money. The U.S. government is spending more than its revenues. I realize SFSP alone is not going to tip the scales into a fiscal meltdown. But the sum total of such feel-good programs is what has helped create financial distress for the federal government.
We hear in the news about economic problems in Greece and Puerto Rico. The U.S. is a bit behind them on the curve, but give it time. On July 9, Keith Hall, director of the Congressional Budget Office, testified before a Senate committee about the magnitude of the federal debt. It's now 74 percent of gross domestic product. Unless there are substantial tax increases, and/or substantial reductions in federal spending, it will be 104 percent by 2040; that's the last peak, at the end of World War II.
Many citizens are vaguely aware of the problem, but they accept having their representatives kick the can down the road, as the saying goes. You start using words like "budget" and "deficit," and their eyes glaze over. The media cater to this apathy; they'd rather focus on Donald Trump, the Confederate flag and Caitlyn/Bruce Jenner.
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In addition to the fiscal issue, there is also a political question: Why is the federal government involved in a local program like this?
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