It never occurred to me that being on food stamps because you’re too poor to feed your family is unhealthy. But Robert Rector of The Heritage Foundation believes it is and thinks we should starve the wretches into submission.
Rector says food stamps are not helping the poor, claiming that, “The majority of them are overweight, and the idea of what we need to do is give them more food is just kind of silly.”
The ungrateful fat bastards don’t know how good they have it.
But, uhm, maybe if they are overweight as you say, it’s because about all that people on food stamps can afford are low cost, starchy-but-filling foods like Kraft mac-and-cheese dinners. Not much room for fresh fruits and vegetables on the lush $5.80 per person food stamp daily allotment. Anyway, he has other reasons for starving the poor.
“It’s a counterproductive program because it still rewards people for not working and these programs have an anti-marriage bias. (T)he family gets more from the program if a working father isn’t in the home,” Rector snorts with Victorian self-righteousness.
“Most poor children in America today are, in fact, super-nourished and grow up to be, on average, one inch taller and 10 pounds heavier than the GIs who stormed the beaches of Normandy in World War II,” he huffs disapprovingly, supporting his Worst Person nomination.
Of course, Rector neglects to mention that, on average, everybody is taller and heavier today than the generation that fought World War II 60+ years ago. We also live longer which, for Rector, is probably reason enough for not providing universal health care although I bet he has other arguments supporting illness for the poor. Maybe something along the lines of “when they’re in charity hospital beds, they’re not sleeping on the streets or in squalid tenements.”
So much for whatever is left of “compassionate conservativism.”
There is a hunger crisis in America that mulyuks like Rector must believe is a good thing.
For months, the number of people on food stamps has been increasing steadily. In June, it hit 28.6 million, according to government figures, and rising. With any luck – unless people like Rector or John McCain put a stop to it – the US will enjoy the disgrace of seeing the same number of hungry citizens on food stamps as those with no health insurance.
The only other time so many Americans used food stamps was in late 2005, when huge numbers of people needed emergency help after hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Food stamp eligibility is based on income. Households with no income receive the most benefits. Households with incomes at 130% percent of the federal poverty line – a household of three making $22,900 a year – get the least benefits.
Changes making more households eligible for benefits come after new federal legislation takes effect Wednesday. For the first time, people will be able to deduct child care costs when calculating their income and they will not be penalized for having retirement accounts, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, D.C.
Additionally, the standard deduction on the food stamp application will be indexed for inflation. The minimum benefit increases to $14 from $10 per month, also indexed for inflation. As one expects from the government, there is a complicated formula for calculating benefit eligibility. As a result, experts and recipients said the increase many will see in benefits is needed because food stamps are not enough to get by on.
Dottie Rosenbaum, a senior policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, D.C., told McClatchy newspapers the complicated formula that determines how much money people receive has a maximum benefit of $1.60 per meal per person. That lush sum might cover the cost of a bowl of cereal, more than enough for the poor, the wretched, the huddled masses according to folks like Rector.
“But that’s not what most people get,” Rosenbaum calculates. “They get close to a dollar and a quarter a meal.”
Hang The Cheatin’ Bastards!
Whew! And here I thought we were wasting taxpayer money. Still, I wonder why $1.25 per meal per person is a scandal but $700 billion for Wall Street will save the global economy. It’s the same logic banks use: Wealthy people who don’t need money get loans easily while those without resources are shooed away like buzzing flies in the sticky, August heat.
Many food stamp recipients say they get extra meals from food pantries and church dinners. Rector’s reaction is probably “hang the cheatin’ bastards, hang ‘em high!”
Making matters worse, food prices are spiking and there’s the nettlesome problem that wages have been sagging for decades.
The Agriculture Deptartment reports food prices rose 6.1% this month over last September, the steepest increase in two decades. Meanwhile, from the early 1980s to now, the income of the nations richest grew 62% while wages of the poorest grew only 21% including the cash value of food stamps, giving the needy a lofty $143 annual bump in purchasing power over the same 20 years.
I’ll save you the math: This works out to 43 cents a day.
Only Rector and maybe Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, the millionaire former Clinton backer with countless homes on several continents who now supports McCain because Obama is “elitist,” would argue that an extra 43 pennies a day is too rich for the lumpen proletariat.
Paging Marie Antoinette!
Back To Reality
Throughout the late 1950s and early 1960s, the landmark CBS Reports did an extended series of documentaries on the problems of hunger in America, beginning with the award winning Harvest of Shame.” In 1968, Robert Kennedy built much of his presidential campaign around the problems of the country’s countless poor, working poor and disadvantaged. Forty years later, we remain the richest poor nation on earth.
Every night, nearly 30 million people including close to 20 million children go to bed hungry. Parents are deciding between buying food for their children or paying for heat; between finding enough spare change around the house to buy milk for their kids and finding enough spare change for bus fare to get to work; between listening to the cries of their hungry youngsters and listening to the braying of donkeys like Robert Rector.
How can one nation produce tens of millions of hungry Americans as well as the strident – dare I say “elitist? – crapola of men like Robert Rector, today’s worst person in the world.
If you’re born in Milwaukee, you are born a Democrat. And so I gravitated naturally to liberal politics, first as journalist and then an activist. I’ve been writing since I was eight years old and, after working in newsrooms for far too long, I have devoted much of the past decade as an independent investigtative jouralist. When not writing about politics or George Bush, I scribble out essays on the peculiarites of modern times.
Articles by Charley James: