There is no such thing as a free lunch

Published 11:44 pm Friday, October 10, 2008


That acronym was what I was faced with in my high school economics and government class.

I remember it so well because as soon as I found out what the acronym stood for I knew exactly what its meaning stood for, especially in relation to government.

The acronym was puzzling to students as they came into class. What exactly did it mean? Was it a word? Was it a foreign language?

Finally, the answer was revealed on the board.

TINSTAAFL: There is no such thing as a free lunch.

At the Northampton County Board of Commissioners meeting this Monday, that phrase for some reason kept rolling through my head.

Perhaps it was because of the discussions held between the commissioners on a certain topic.

The point for discussion happened to be inviting court personnel to Northampton County employees’ appreciation day.

Commissioner Virginia Spruill suggested this after County Manager Wayne Jenkins gave a report on the thousands of dollars the county would entail with the updates to the courthouse facility.

Upon her being notified that court employees were not employed by the county (they are state employees), Commissioner Spruill noted the “perception of the public” when they looked at the services the county provides, court employees were included in that realm.

Therefore she believed court employees should be invited to the county’s employee appreciation day.

Right, all on the county’s dime.

Before I start my spiel, I completely agree county employees should have a day where they feel appreciated, get recognition for their work and are fed a nice meal, and the same goes for state paid court employees. They should have their day as well as they provide vital and necessary services to all of us.

Having luncheons such as the appreciation day is way for local governments to show they are good employers.

However, when it comes to bearing the burden of paying the bill on appreciation day, shouldn’t the county be responsible for just their employees and not placing even more financial responsibility on a poor rural county?

We have yet another Pandora’s Box, commissioners.

Like Jenkins suggested during the discussion, if the county were to extend the invitation to state employed court personnel should they extend it to every state agency that is present in the county?

Should the Forest Service take a seat at the table? How about the library staff? And the federal agencies in town like Soil Conservation or the Farm Service Agency? Are they eligible for a free luncheon?

And since we’re in the mood, let’s invite all those the county appropriates funding to.

As far as I’m concerned the day is not called “Federal, State and County Luncheon,” come one, come all, courtesy of Northampton County government and, consequently, the taxpayers!

Sorry Commissioner Spruill, like I learned in high school, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

Amanda VanDerBroek is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. For comments and column suggestions email: or call (252) 332-7209.