Why Paul "Brown Paper bag" Ryan Should Never Be U.S. President
Empty soul Ryan: Senator who lied about his time on marathon is at it again
[Speaking Truth To Power]
Paul Ryan and The Republican Rightwing War Against Poor People
Wisconsin Republican Senator Paul Ryan recently apologized for using, out of context, the story of a homeless boy and a “brown paper bag,” to symbolize the supposedly immoral practice of the federal government helping and feeding underprivileged Americans.
Isn’t Mr. Ryan’s misuse of this story just a current manifestation of Republican right-wing attempts to justify their war against America’s poor.
Last Thursday, at the annual CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) meeting, Senator Ryan told a story he says was relayed to him by Wisconsin Department of Children and Families Director Eloise Anderson about a hungry school kid who supposedly disdained the idea of eating a free school lunch.
Mr. Ryan used this story as an example of why the federal government should remove programs like Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) and Food Stamps—that Republicans argue encourage dependency.
“He didn’t want a free lunch,” Senator Ryan said. “He wanted his own lunch, one in a brown paper bag, just like the other kids. He wanted one, he said, because he knew a kid with a brown paper bag had someone who cared for him. This is what the left does not understand.” Mr. Ryan also used the opportunity to criticize those he says who offer hungry people "a full belly and an empty soul."
However, Senator Ryan’s telling of the tale was inconsistent with the actual factual story.
There was indeed a boy behind this story by the name of “Maurice,” who was met by sales executive and author Laura Schroff—around 20 years ago. Schroff met Maurice Mazyck, then an 11-year-old, homeless boy when he was a panhandling and the two developed a relationship, which Schroff documented in her book “An Invisible Thread.”
In that book, Schroff recounts how she told Maurice she would either give him money, or, food to last the week.
Maurice did tell Schroff he would like his food in a brown paper bag. But the issue of Maurice refusing to accept a “free lunch” had absolutely nothing to do with the context of Maurice’s request.
Moreover, in more recent times, both Schroff and Maurice have been promoting the Share Our Strength No Kid Hungry campaign—which promotes providing school and summer lunches for needy children. And, Ms. Eloise Andersen seems to have never meet Maurice or Schroff—but probably, read the book.
Consequently, on Friday, on his Facebook page, Senator Ryan apologized for getting the facts of the story wrong. “Today at CPAC, I shared a story I heard from Eloise Anderson, the secretary for children and families for the state of Wisconsin,” Mr. Ryan said. “She mentioned it in her testimony for a House Budget Committee hearing last year. I have just learned that Secretary Anderson misspoke, and that the story she told was improperly sourced. I regret failing to verify the original source of the story, but I appreciate her taking the time to share her insights.”
What’s clear from this tale is the lack of insight, and cluelessness, silver-spoon rich kids, like Mr. Ryan, have when it comes to issues of poverty and economic injustice. Even Pinocchio could’ve told Ryan his version of the story was pure bull. How the hell could anybody—except some Richie Rich kid—believe that a hungry kid would refuse food because that food came from a government program, without a “brown paper bag?” Would anyone who knows anything about hunger—and the struggles of working poor people—believe something so comically absurd?
Isn’t this why rich Republicans like Mr. Ryan and Mitt Romney don’t understand the 47 percent of Americans who they label as unrepentant moochers? The fact that Senator Ryan didn’t see the idiocy in this tale underscores just how out-of-touch he is with the desperation that is fed by hunger and poverty. His lack of understanding or empathy on such a serious issue should put a chill in every average Americans who struggles to survive in America’s current climate of economic inequality.
How can Republicans tell the nation they have the answers to the problems of poor working Americans when they are so tone-deaf and out of tune in their basic understanding of these topics? It’s quite obvious Mr. Ryan knows not one thing about real hunger. If he did, he would’ve realized nearly no one would believe such a fanciful fiction.
Senator Ryan thought he could score political points by telling some moral lesson here. But the lesson he taught instead is: that rich kids hardly ever make effective politicians for poor people. Ryan’s rhetoric on this story illustrates his profound ignorance of the economic plight of many Americans who struggle to support and feed their families.
Ryan and the Republicans like to argue that so-called free government programs promote dependency. But what have Republicans been doing to create jobs, so, Americans aren’t dependent on government? For years now, they’ve been whining that it’s unfair to tax the ”job creators.” But where are the jobs from these great “job creators,” that they are always trying to protect from paying taxes and the like?
Republicans seem to think corporations should be the only ones allowed to create jobs—and government should just stay out of the way. Besides the fact corporations can’t create all of the jobs for everybody, if government is out of the way, who will regulate corporate abuses? In the Republican world, workers would be further impoverished by greedy corporations.
Nowhere in Senator Ryan’s fable does he truly address the important problems of poverty and homelessness underpinning this story. Mr. Ryan obviously didn’t care about those issues—he just saw this as an opportunity to push the twisted Republican argument that government should have no role in the lives of the poor. These heartless ideologues really believe the poor should be left to their own devices—which taken to its logical conclusion means more misery, crime and suffering.
Currently, Republicans are leading an all-out assault against government programs that help America’s poor. So we hear all sorts of outrageous discussion about why we should shutdown programs like Food Stamps, Welfare, and so on. Interestingly enough, while Republicans don’t believe we need programs to help poor people, they fight for all sorts of programs to benefit wealth corporations and rich people. How can Republicans fight against programs for the poor while arguing that billion dollar oil companies should continue to get government subsidies?
Senator Ryan claims the “left” offers people a “full belly and an empty soul.” Is he saying we should let people—especially, children—starve to teach them how to fill their souls?
What kind of sick logic is he trying to instill here? Are we supposed to love hungry children by letting them starve? If we can use taxpayer money to subsidize oil companies—who’re making billions every quarter—why can’t we feed America’s hungry school children?
Republicans like to give grand sanctimonious speeches about how great this nation is because of its freedoms. So why are they so upset that their free nation is capable of giving “free” lunches to hungry kids? Shouldn’t a free nation be proud of such an achievement?
Senator Ryan gives us jive talk about “full bellies and empty souls.” Shouldn’t politicians strive to fill the stomachs of all citizens?
If Senator Ryan wants to see what “empty souls” look like, he should look at himself and the Republican Party.