March 2 - March 8, 1995


Animal House

By Jeff Smith

ALL THESE YEARS we've waited to see what the Republicans would or could do, if only they had the world by the nuts, and when it finally happens all they can manage is to beat up a bunch of women and children.

Not even normally healthy and robust ones either, but impoverished mothers with babes at their breasts, and undernourished kids.

I expected mean out of Newt and the boys in D.C., but I did not anticipate anything quite this chickenshit.

The latest in the string of hits taken by America's underclass is the abandonment of the free lunch program for poor kids in schools. Hell, when I went to University Heights, probably half the kids in school were getting their mystery meat and sauerkraut for next to nothing. Which was what it was worth--and still is--but at least it provided sufficient basic nutrition and energy that our after-school flag-football team could beat the snot out of Cragin and those other affluent campuses.

And what did it cost the taxpayer? Again, next to nothing. With surplus commodities and the economies of scale achievable in a mass-feeding program of a school district-wide production and distribution system, the only deal better than giving free lunches to poor school kids would be giving free lunches to all school kids, so comfortable assholes like Newt Gingrich wouldn't envy the poor so much they want to take away the few measly perks attached to poverty.

A lesson to be learned the next time American society comes around to compassionate and common-sense dealing with the poor who will, as the Bible says, always be with us: Never give anything to the poor that the rich can't have too. Even if it is just free shit-on-a-shingle.

With the end of the free lunch and the WIC supplemental feeding program for pregnant women, the Republican boys in charge at the nation's capitol will instead be returning the money these operations formerly cost directly to the states in the form of block grants, to be used at the states' discretion for the same services. Yeah, right.

All this robbing Peter to pay Paul is supposed to eliminate the bureaucratic waste and nit-picking control we are supposed to believe is practiced like Satanism by federal employees. If only we eliminate those demonic federal bureaucrats, the new states' rights movers tell us, immense savings will result and the people will be better served. Yeah, right. And what is every American's personal vision of eternal damnation to the fires of Hell? Waiting in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles, right? And who runs this Hell on Earth?

Your very own state government.

And is anyone in America naive enough to believe that when a leaner, meaner federal government sends its big ol' block grant back to, say, Mississippi, so the good ol' boys in Biloxi can divvy it up to them poor nigra school kids and welfare mothers and such, that those kids and moms are going to get the free lunches they used to depend on? And that money will be saved and bureaucratic time-wasting eliminated?

Oh, money will be saved all right. Because those children and poor pregnant women will go hungry. Once the money the feds currently spend on free lunches is converted to block grants, it will wind up building skyboxes for fatcats at the football stadium at Ol' Miss.

And here, oh sweet irony, is where what goes around eventually will come around. Twelve years from now those school kids, who would have made Newt so proud of his Georgia Tech football squad or gladdened the hearts of the alumni association at Ol' Miss, are going to be a bunch of weak, stunted, athletically challenged heartbreakers. Dartmouth is going to send down 11 white boys with glasses and pocket protectors--but proper diet--and stomp Ol' Miss into the mud on its home field.

And then the hue and cry will be heard from the banks of the Mississippi to the shores of the Potomac:

"We gotta feed our nigras better."

Of course it will take another 12 years to breed and feed a proper crop of collegiate athletes capable of putting these traditionally top-flight football and basketball programs back on top where they feel they belong, and I doubt that Southern pride can take that much more abuse. Not on top of the 130-year snit they're still nursing since the War of Northern Aggression.

Let me interject here my profound apologies to Mississippi and the South and redneck peckerwoods wherever they may be found. I only employed you as examples so that my fellow Arizonans might get the point without getting all huffy and defensive. As a matter of fact, Arizona is probably the worst state in the union when it comes to cheating the underclass and blowing hot air about states' rights and the Evil Empire of the federal government.

Between Governor J. Fife Symington III and the state Legislature, Arizona has made more noise and emitted more noxious gas about how they're going to cut out all this bothersome stuff--like environmental standards and campaign reform and social welfare and public safety--than the rest of the federated states combined.

The comparison that comes immediately to mind is a gang of frat boys finding themselves suddenly in charge of the university. Animal House with a twist. The twist is that the tight-ass, spoiled, rich, white boys who were the bad guys in the movie have as much to say about the new world order as the beer-swilling, womanizing screw-offs from the outlaw fraternity. Neither group is up to the task of policy making, beyond deciding what to put in the punch to make the girls get naked and the boys blow lunch.

And all of them are lily white, upper-class, misogynistic and out of touch with the working world.

Animal House. Like the U.S. House of Representatives under Speaker Newt Gingrich, or the Arizona House under Mark Killian. A mob of dangerously powerful grown men with the selfish sensibilities of fraternity boys, throwing a tantrum and playing pranks, at the expense of those outside their privileged circle.

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March 2 - March 8, 1995

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