Paul Ryan plagiarized "brown bag" story from Laura Schroff's book titled "An Invisible Thread"
Today at CPAC Paul Ryan told this story that he claims he heard from Eloise Anderson, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's (R) Department of Children and Families secretary.
"He told Eloise he didn’t want a free lunch. He wanted his own lunch, one in a brown-paper bag just like the other kids," he continued. "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."Here's an excerpt from Laura Schroff's book titled "An Invisible Thread"
“Look, Maurice, I don’t want you out there hungry on the nights I don’t see you, so this is what we can do. I can either give you some money for the week–and you’ll have to be really careful about how you spend it–or when you come over on Monday night we can go to the supermarket and I can buy all the things you like to eat and make you lunch for the week. I’ll leave it with the doormen, and you can pick it up on the way to school.”
Maurice looked at me and asked me a question.
“If you make me lunch,” he said, “will you put it in a brown paper bag?”
I didn’t really understand the question. “Do you want it in a brown paper bag?” I asked. “Or how would you prefer it?”
“Miss Laura,” he said, “I don’t want your money. I want my lunch in a brown paper bag.”
“Okay, sure. But why do you want it in a bag?”
“Because when I see kids come to school with their lunch in a paper bag, that means someone cares about them. Miss Laura, can I please have my lunch in a paper bag?”
Ok. So. Not only did Paul Ryan plagiarize Laura Schroff's "An Invisible Thread," he also totally distorted the meaning. You see, Laura Schroff met a panhandler named Maurice and .... well read what she wrote:
Hi, my name is Laura Schroff, and An Invisible Thread is the story of my friend, Maurice, and me. We met on 56th street in Manhattan in 1986, when I was a 35-year-old single, successful ad sales executive, and he was an 11-year-old homeless panhandler. He asked me for spare change; I ignored him and kept walking. But something made me stop, and turn around, and go back to him, and that day I took him to lunch at McDonalds. We met the Monday after that, and the following Monday, and every Monday for the next four years, and hundreds of times after that. Today, 25 years later, we are still great friends.Seems Paul Ryan does not even understand the meaning behind the words he plagiarized.
"An Invisible Thread" is the story of how Maurice changed my life, and I his. It is the story of how two people who needed each other somehow became unlikely friends, against all odds. It is the story of the mysterious, unseen connections that exist between people who are destined to meet—and how, if only we open our eyes and our hearts to them, these connections can be the great blessings of our lives.
tsk ... tsk
5:08 PM PT: Glenn Kessler is reporting that Eloise Anderson is the one who plagiarized this story during her testimony July 31, 2013. I have read her testimony (here) and cannot find the "brown bag" story in it.
The mere fact that Eloise first plagiarized the "brown bag" story does not get Paul Ryan off the hook as it is his committee's job and his staff's job to vet all the testimony the people he calls gives ... especially if he is going to repeat it almost one year later.
Now, the new question becomes, why is Eloise Anderson, a woman who loathes the poor
5:24 PM PT: Glenn Kessler told Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine that Eloise Anderson plagiarized this story and Chait write that Eloise Anderson testified to the following:
Ok, I'll say it, this lady sounds like a plagiarizing bitch who has no business being Secretary of Department of Children and Families.
My thought has always been around the SNAP program even when it was called "food stamps" is, why do you have this program, school program, school breakfast, school lunch, school dinner, when do we start asking parents to be responsible for their children?
You know, a little boy told me once that what was important to him is that he didn't want school lunch, he wanted a brown bag because the brown bag that he brought with his lunch in it meant that his mom cared about him. Just think what we have done. If this kid tells me a brown bag was more important than a free lunch, we've missed the whole notion of parents being there for their children because we've taken over that responsibility, and I think we need to be very careful about how we provide programs to families that don't undermine families' responsibilities.
I don't know if you all are familiar with Jonathan Chait but his conclusion is spot on
It sure looks like Anderson turned the story "An Invisible Thread" -- about a New York City boy -- into a child she met who scorned his government-provided school lunch. Or else she happened to meet a kid who said the exact same thing as the buy in "An Invisible Thread." It's also interesting that Anderson's conclusion from the (probably fake) story is that the school lunch program makes parents into lazy slackers, while Ryan's conclusion is that it robs children of their soul.Oh, and by the way, this still does not get Paul Ryan off the hook because, like I said above, Paul Ryan has had almost a year to vet the story. If it only took a few hours for me, and others, to realize this story comes from Laura Schroff's "An Invisible Thread," surely to god our tax dollars could have paid Ryan's staff to find out Eloise Anderson lied and plagiarized her tale.
8:10 PM PT: Glenn Kessler called Eloise Anderson and asked her about this story and here is what he reported:
Joe Scialfa, communications director for the department provided us with this answer:Kessler goes on to write:
In the course of giving live testimony, Secretary Anderson misspoke. What she had intended to say was the following:
“Once I heard someone say, ‘what was important to him as a boy was that he didn’t want school lunch, he wanted a brown bag because the brown bag that he brought with his lunch in it meant that his mom cared about him.”
Secretary Anderson was referring to a television interview which she had seen with Maurice Mazyck.
It’s important to note that there is no discussion in the book about the school lunch program, and we could find no interview with Mazyck in which he said that. He simply repeats the story as told in the book, without any larger political context about federal programs to help hungry children.And here's where Paul Ryan is not off the hook:
Kevin Seifert, a spokesman for Ryan, said: “It’s unfortunate to learn that while testifying before the House Budget Committee, Secretary Anderson misspoke, but we appreciate her taking the time to share her insights.” After our inquiry, Ryan posted a notice on Facebook saying, “I regret failing to verify the original source of the story.”