Not So Great Gatsby: All You Bad Folks

“All you black folks, you must go

All you Mexicans, you must go

And all you poor folks, you must go


Muslims and gays, boy, we hate your ways

So all you bad folks, you must go.”

-Tribe Called Quest

Dear Nick,

Today the elected officials of the United States of America came for the bathroom privileges of transgendered school children. The day before, it was the free lunch program for the poor and malnourished school children. Betsy DeVos, the billionaire Amway heiress, blatantly purchased her cabinet position by donating over $200 million to various Republicans. That is not a typo. Two hundred million. She never had any experience with public schools in her life and now she is running them all. She had the nerve to say to the Conservative Political Action Committee that she is the “first person to tell Bernie Sanders to his face that there is no such thing as ‘a free lunch.’” Oh, the hilarious world of the evil billionaire elitists. It is not enough for these dollar-grubbing assholes to pick on our most vulnerable; they are going to be mean about it whilst they do.

We spend about 11 billion dollars on the school lunch program in this country. And this is not a reflection of typical wasteful government spending. Each lunch costs less than $3, so we are serving 3.7 billion lunches a year. Based on a public-school year, that is 31 million children whose parents make less than $28,000 per year, roughly the income requirement to qualify, though it can vary based on geographical location. I had no idea the enormity of the number until I looked on the USDA website to reference it for this letter. When Truman started the program in 1947, the costs were $70 million. In 2000 it was $6 billion. We are quickly becoming a nation of haves and have-nots and there is a chasm between the two.

But instead of lifting up our most vulnerable, treating a child to a $3 meal of questionable nutritional value, the billionaire power elitists want to eliminate the program entirely. It costs too much. DeVos is a billionaire who was born into a rich family and married into an arguably even richer one. She donated the equivalent of 66.6 million school lunches to our elected officials to help them get elected. Like many of her peers in the billionaire power elite, she claims to be a Christian, but must have skimmed over the stuff about charity and helping the less fortunate.

To her credit, DeVos did privately oppose 45’s repeal of federal protection for transgendered students to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify. She even warned representatives of the LGBT community within the Department of Education that the repeal was coming. An unverified source said that 45 threatened her position, so DeVos got in line. Which I understand, old sport. If I paid $200 million for a bicycle, I would want to ride it for more than a month.

Fifty percent of transgendered Americans will attempt suicide. Think about how hard your life is. Indulge me for a moment. Life isn’t easy. We are faced with difficult choices and forced to deal with circumstances that are not of our own manufacture. Now imagine not being at peace with how you were born. Not for a moment. Layer that on top of all the other day-to-day crap. Then throw in being a societal pariah just for good measure. Just for being different.  For being born to inner conflict. There are zero cases of transgendered people being arrested for lewd behavior in a public restroom. Zero. Three US congressmen have been arrested for lewd behavior in a public restroom.  Statistically it is safer for your child to pee next to a transgendered person than a US congressman. By 300%. But let’s take away the rights of the most vulnerable. They only represent .006% of the US population. It’s a sliver of a slice.

I am not sure who asked for this repeal. Who it appeases. It’s petty and mean-spirited, and it doesn’t protect anyone. We are better than this. The US has its faults and it has dealt with systemic evil like slavery and internment camps, and we are still working to be a place where “all mean are created equal” is actually worthy of the paper it’s written on. But I don’t remember a time where the billionaire power elite purposely picked on the most vulnerable among us so overtly and for no reason other than spite.

Nick, I have long been cured of my Catholic roots, but Jesus was a wonderful philosopher, and doesn’t resemble the likes of those who pervert his name in the quest for power. Leafing through Matthew, I recalled Jesus said, “Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.'”

If the billionaire power elites get their way they will re-write this Bible verse to say, “When the children came to me, they were hungry, but the $3 lunch was too much for my billionaire’s purse. They wanted to use the bathroom, but I wouldn’t allow it because their sexuality made me uncomfortable.” We should be ashamed of ourselves for allowing this to be sentiment to be normalized.