Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) proposed that "low-income children do some manual labor in exchange for their subsidized meals," the Huffington Post reports.
Said Kingston: "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? 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."
Great idea, Congressman.
And you're so right that there is no such thing as a free lunch.
There is, however, such a thing as free airport parking, among the other perks - for a congressman, at any rate:
In addition to the power to shape policy and public discourse, legislators get great health care and retirement benefits, hefty salaries with annual cost of living increases and the incumbency-boosting ability to blanket constituents with mail touting their achievements.
But there are many less-publicized perks that come along with the job. Here are a few to keep in mind the next time you hear politicians refer to themselves as “public servants.”
Members of Congress have long been treated as a class apart at the Capitol.
For years there were members-only parking spaces, elevators, dining rooms and exercise facilities to which all legislators — past and present — enjoyed lifetime access. Former lawmakers could also return to the floor of the House or Senate whenever they liked.
In the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal, access to these privileged places was curtailed in 2006 for ex-members of Congress who registered as lobbyists.
Lawmakers’ perks aren’t limited to the legislature. Airports and airlines — the profits of which can be heavily impacted by decisions made on the Hill — also pamper politicians.
Staff schedulers often times make reservations for members of Congress via dedicated phone lines that Delta and other major airlines have reportedly set up for Capitol Hill customers. Airlines also permit members to reserve seats on multiple flights but only pay for the trips they take. “We get on every single flight,” one congressional aide familiar with the process told Roll Call last month.
Whenever lawmakers decide to show up for a flight, they are also guaranteed free parking at the two Washington-area airports, according to a spokesman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. At Reagan National, 89 spaces out of 8,000 are reserved for members of Congress, diplomats and Supreme Court justices; at Dulles International, 97 of 25,000 are set aside.
Former Rep. Tom Davis, R – Va., defended the airport amities in a 2007 interview with WTOP. “Members like to get out of town and get back with their constituents,” he said. “If you make it hard for members to move back and forth from their districts, then the people are going to say, ‘Where are you? Why aren’t you back here?’”
Free airport parking, free Capitol parking, access to the Congressional dining room, with it's subsidized meals, as well as subsidized daycare and free postage for mail - yeah, you're so right, Congressman Kingston.
There is no free lunch in this world.
Unless you're a functionary of the corporatist state - like a congressman.