I’m certain that P&R is using the term in its most benevolent sense:
I’m told that 40% of students in Sioux Falls receive subsidized school lunches. I was told this by somebody trying to impress on me the high level of child poverty in this city. Hmmph. If you seriously expect me to believe that 40% of children in Sioux Falls, South Dakota would go hungry without such a program, you’re an idiot.
Whether the number is accurate or not, I must concur with the general sentiment. For example, I would be remarkably surprised to find out that 4 in 5 parents of the children getting subsidized school lunches in the city (whatever actual number of people that may be) do not have their own non-essential mobile phones.
I spoke with a friend the other day who struggles to scrape along, has serious debt that she is barely making headway with and small children. She’s using a limited data plan for her smart phone to keep costs down. In her world, the phone appears to be a necessity. In reality, however, it is simply a very strong desire. (In the interests of full disclosure, both P&R and I have smart phones which we could do without. However, I believe we are also fully paying for the cost of our children’s meals.)
Here’s the thing, though. Many people do not consider the influence of their actions. If the school officials say “Hey, if you make less than $$$ per year, your children are eligible for reduced cost/no cost lunches” how many people have the will to turn that down? After all, to them it is “free money.” Many of them could afford (and should afford) to feed, clothe and house their offspring but when someone else offers to cover those costs for them, they are quite happy to spend their money on more desirable things.
Does this mean that no one should have a mobile phone if that person accepts government assistance in meeting basic necessities for himself/herself or family members? Most assuredly not. But when we do for others that which they can do for themselves, we destroy a little bit more of that which separates us from the animals.