It’s Free… – Religion and Politics

For a little over fifteen years, I’ve been a “homeowner”—to the degree that anyone facing the “triple threat of” mortgage, property tax, and the potential for a claim of imminent domain can consider him or her self so. There are other challenges, like upkeep and maintenance, and local “yard police.”

The point is though, I’ve lived in the same house with whatever constituted my family at any given moment, for a bit more than a decade and a half.

My direct neighbors are not just good, they’re almost as good as neighbors can be. They mostly mind their own business. They tend to be quiet. They’re generally friendly when you deal with them.

Some of the other denizens of the neighborhood have not been so wonderful with which to deal.

At the moment though, most of my neighbors are decent folks and, like me, are “homeowners” or their family.

The logic behind my purchase of this particular property was not the most judicious in the world. Nonetheless, I have mostly been pretty happy with my “purchase.” I bought the house based on a few major considerations, and some more that were not as significant.

Price is always a consideration. I got the place relatively cheaply. The proximity to my work at the time (which, considering I was there for less than a year, proves to have not been so important as I would’ve thought) was “in the mix.” And finally, there was a relatively new, reasonably well kept elementary school less than two blocks away.

That last point also turned out to be relatively unimportant as well, considering one of two children who I have raised or am raising in this house ever attended that school, and only for a short time. I’m not going to go into detail as to why that was the case. It’s not really relevant to the current conversation.

The school, it turns out, is relevant.

My locality would not be considered “affluent.” That’s not a concern to me, in terms of status or anything of that sort.

What it means though, is there are people in this area, who would be considered “economically challenged” to put it mildly.

I came to this part of town, in a time when things were not wonderful. They weren’t horrible either, but this “little nook” had definite issues. By comparison to what it had been years before (a gangbanger haven), it was night and day. Even so, there were things here to make a person at least wonder, if not be unhappy.

Things were sufficiently solid, to make me move in, and frankly, though there have been one or two reasons to consider leaving, there’s been nothing sufficiently serious to get me to finally do so. Obviously, that could change at any time.

The aforementioned school, was sufficiently nice, and it has stayed in relatively good repair for the past fifteen years—at least in terms of the architecture and structure. One of the reasons my child left, was the “staff.” If my child’s teacher could spell, you wouldn’t have known it based on the notes and papers that came back from her (she has, I believe, since retired). She was sadly far from alone. Much of the “workforce” of that supposed institution of learning, were shall we say, not entirely fit for their positions.

My youngest child is moderately Autistic, so when he started to attend school, I was forced to send him to a campus almost ten miles from my home (special needs curricula fill up fast). That turns out to have been a “blessing in disguise.” I won’t get too in depth, but it happens that the place he ended up attending had a pretty good special needs program, as well as a solid team (headed by a couple of particularly good teachers). The point then, is the he didn’t end up at the school in question at all.

Because of his “condition,” I have chosen to keep him in that distant school, knowing that, short of staff changes, he will likely continue to thrive there.

As many are aware, the last school year in this area (and in a large portions of the U.S.) was “interrupted by” a “pandemic.”

Whether you agree with the use of that term—pandemic—to describe what’s happened or not, you well know that many schools ceased to have “on premises instruction” near the end of the last school year. The hope is, they will come back to “normal operation” in the coming year, but that’s really neither here nor there in this discussion.

The “pandemic” is well known to have caused a fair amount of what is termed “economic hardship.” In this part of the city, since there are already many folks not in great financial shape, that means some people have “sunken pretty far.”

The school district decided it would initially be “responsible for” ensuring students got lunch for the remainder of the school year. Over the course of time, that was “extended to” dinner. Then someone decided that, even after the end of the school year, this trend needed to continue.

During the school year, though I disagree with it somewhat, the lunch was somewhat understandable. Dinner became tenuous in my mind. Outside the school year, none of that was reasonable.

I should say though, that I don’t know with any certainty, that the school district continued to pay (it might have been funded elsewhere). I can only tell you that the school’s facilities continued to be used for the process (something which also costs money).

My bigger problem though, was that I very rarely, saw school aged children, or parents who would likely have children of such an age, picking up food.

I’m quite sure folks reasoned, “It’s free… we should take advantage.”

The problem? Somebody paid for that food, and for the most part they had no say in the existence of the “program,” much less its administration. The result is, I very much doubt many “using the program” were parents (or even grandparents or relatives) of school aged children.

Put another way, likely predominantly non-students got food, and the taxpayer (with little or no input) paid for it. That may not be a problem for you, but you can rest assured it is for me and others like me. I pay for what I eat and feed my child (who is “school aged”). When I see people with nicer, newer cellular phones and nicer, newer cars than me, drive up to a local school to pick up food, you can be sure I’m not in my “happy place” at that moment in time.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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