In a broad sense, we're all being micromanaged by our respective governments. Drive on the left/right side of the road. Pay taxes. Don't drink soda.
Oh, wait. That last part was only for people who are on assistance for food stamps in New York. My bad.
I have to admit that my initial reaction to the story was that the taxpayers decided what the money was to be used for, and they have every right to expect that the money is used in accordance with their wishes. Soda isn't really a fundamental food right. I get that.
But then I thought some more about this issue. After all, I know how I feel about the local Christmas charity, run by city and school officials. It sends letters home in my schoolchildren's backpacks begging for donations. Help the needy in our local community! Who could resist helping a neighbour have a good Christmas with some basic gifts and a super-good meal? The only stipulation for recipients is that they be in genuine need and oh, that all school-age children are enrolled in Cityname Public Schools. And fair warning, they will be checking.
So if you don't educate your child as WE, the city and school supported by YOUR tax dollars, think is right? No charity for you, then.
Ok. Maybe I should be more charitable about the charity. Perhaps I should say that they want to be generous, but only to those people who fulfill the role of what they choose to believe is a worthwhile recipient. That means "good" parents who send their children to school.
So, good parents are defined as those who send their children to school, don't buy pop at the store, limit their television viewing hours and make sure not to say shucky-darn in front of the littles. People who don't follow the rules are undeserving of sympathy or any help whatsoever.
"I'm undeserving," Alfie P. Doolittle would say, "and I aim to go on being undeserving."
But back to the material point. With limited resources to give, we want to make sure our charity dollar is used well. More bang for the buck. I certainly don't just hand out money to people who ask on the streetcorner because I don't know if it's going to go straight to drugs or if it will meet a genuine need. But do I have to give only to charities who provide one turkey, three cranberries and a bag of stuffing to each family factory-style because it's the most efficient use of my charity budget?
I'm really wondering. Because although I can't control how people in New York allot their food stamp budget, I can be wise in my charitable giving and in my voting and more gentle in my compassion and understanding of others. I'm working on it, anyway. :)