You can offer free reduced lunch to all in TN, but you can’t guarantee results


By Chris Butler | Tennessee Watchdog

NASHVILLE — This challenge goes out to all the government bureaucrats who have decreed taxpayers must pay for all free and reduced lunches and breakfasts for some of Tennessee’s public school students — rich and poor alike.

If you say, as Nashville Metro School System officials claim, that such a plan “will have a ripple effect on academic achievement, student discipline and school culture,” then please prepare to make good on that promise.

A new school year is about to commence, and Tennessee Watchdog is watching you and watching the Hamilton County School System, both of which have signed on to the federal government’s Community Eligibility Provision.

LUNCH: All kids, regardless of family income, will receive free breakfasts and lunches in Nashville and Chattanooga.

As Tennessee Watchdog has reported, this U.S. Department of Agriculture program will expand upon their already-established method of reimbursing school system officials for their free school lunch programs.

Nashville Metro School System spokesman Joe Bass told Tennessee Watchdog last month that school officials will have no barometer to measure whether the program affects overall student grades.

If that’s the case then why bother making promises that you can’t even measure, much less guarantee, in the first place?

Do government bureaucrats really have such little respect for taxpayers and their hard-earned money?

This situation might remind people of something the late economist Milton Friedman once said.

“One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.”

So if the government won’t hold school system officials accountable for getting real results through this program, on behalf of taxpayers, then who, other than Tennessee Watchdog, will?

Established mainstream media outlets?

Ha ha ha!

The primary reason local, state and government officials fail at getting results in so many things has to do with their lack of appreciation for the incentive system.

In other words, rewards are given without condition.

FRIEDMAN: “One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.”

There is no requirement that the receiver of the reward, whether it’s an EBT recipient, a government contractor, or even a civil servant, works hard and invests money and effort in a way that pays off for taxpayers.

And what kind of message do we, as adults, send to children when we do things like that?

No one opposes helping the truly needy — although taxpayers would prefer to see some real measure of their investment paying off in some way — but is extending the same benefit to wealthy kids really wise?

Or, heaven forbid, are government officials following the Joker’s pattern, with no regard to logic or reason, going purely on instinct?

“You know what I am?” the Joker, as portrayed by Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight,” asked attorney Harvey Dent.

“I’m a dog chasing cars. I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I caught it. You know, I just …. do things.”

The Joker, while comparing government officials to schemers, went on and talked about the need to turn certain plans upside down.

“Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos.”

Is Tennessee Watchdog really an agent of chaos by asking government bureaucrats to use taxpayer dollars more

JOKER: “I’m a dog chasing cars. I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I caught it. You know, I just….do things.”

Regardless of the answer, bureaucrats are wise to encourage students to work harder now that they will supposedly fill their bellies with more food. This all assumes, of course, that these students even bother eating Michelle Obama’s government-mandated fruits and veggie meals.

If bureaucrats are truly serious about spending taxpayer dollars wisely, and, more important, if they even respect taxpayers, they will monitor whether this program pays off with real academic progress.

Tennessee Watchdog is watching.

Contact Christopher Butler at or follow him and submit story ideas on his official Facebook page.

Get regular Tennessee Watchdog updates through our Facebook or Twitter accounts

Click here to get Tennessee Watchdog articles sent directly to your email inbox (click Tennessee under “Watchdog News Updates)

Like Click HERE to get breaking news alerts in YOUR state!