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Idiocracy: Land of the Hungry

This last week there has been a focus on the national food stamp program following the horrible 7 hour standoff and suicide murder of the Rachelle Grimmer family in Texas. The family was having trouble with the bureaucracy getting their food stamp case heard and Ms. Grimmer reached the end of her apparently short and muddled rope and committed this horrible act.

 

The media is missing the point completely on this as it has little to do with the food stamp program and a lot more to do with Ms. Grimmer’s mental health. However it has drawn attention to a national problem that really needs to be looked at.

 

You would think this would be a national disgrace. The land of the free – and the home of the hungry is not how we were brought up thinking of this country, however it is a fact these days in America.

 

There are 46 million Americans today getting help from the SNAP program. The average recipient gets about 134.00 a month for food. Less than $5.00 a day. Try feeding yourself on that every day for a year and you will see this is not a program that is needing to be cut as the Newt Gingrich’s of the world would have you believe, but more likely increased to a sustainable level. On a side note is it a coincidence how much Newt’s name resembles The Grinch?

 

The Republicans want to reduce food stamp spending by around 20% and already voted to slash WIC (for pregnant women and children) by 10%.  Is this the country you want to live in? What’s worse is this is happening with the full cooperation of the Democrats and the Obama administration. It’s shameful is about the best thing I can say about it.

 

We are not talking about deadbeats here, but the working poor of our country. A family trying to get by on 8.00 an hour jobs. What is the answer for these families from those that would see these benefits cut? There is none. Talking about private sector help is all well and good and it has a place, but it will never work for the chronically needy who are working and trying to get by. The private sector is great for emergency help, but cannot support an ongoing solution.

 

This is a problem born of a dual class system that we are living in today. No one on capital hill can begin to understand living on 8.00 an hour. Look at it this way.

 

8.00 an hour x 40 hours is about 300.00 a week if you don’t even take into account taxes and deductions, not to mention the cost of health insurance. That equates to an income of about 1200.00 a month.

 

Take a single parent with one child who we are going to assume is being left home alone since day care is completely out of the question. Lets conservatively assume a rent of 600.00, utility bills of 300.00, clothing at 50.00 a month and incidentals (toilet paper,diapers etc.) of 150.00 a month. Now lets just assume this poor person has no car at all and rides the bus at 2.00 a day or 60.00 a month. There are no expenses here that can even be considered reachable by most of us, but lets say this person is really good at scraping by. Not a single latte in the budget. This leaves a grand total of 40.00 a month to feed two people on and god forbid a child should need a cavity filled or something.

 

Can you feed two people on $1.25 a day? What can this person do who is doing exactly what we say we want them to do by working and being a “productive” member of society.

 

This is why we have hungry children in this country and its shameful that we are even considering cutting benefit programs for these people.

 

We cannot pretend that these people do not exist. for many it is worse than that as a full time job for a single mother can be hard to find these days, your local Target and Wal-Mart hire on 30 hours as full time. Try the math with that paycheck and it really does not add up at all.

 

My message to Gingrich and his ilk is this. You can brand Obama “The Food Stamp President” but he is a failure even at that. We can only hope that he actually becomes the food stamp president and starts to ease the suffering of our working poor. God help us all if you become President and starve off the lower 25% of our population. Who will make your McDonalds burgers for you then.