Forget About Breakfast and Lunch Too!

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            There is lots of room at the table. The problem is—there is not much on the table.

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            There is a government program called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) better known as the food stamp program. It was designed to help Americans in need feed their families.  As of November 1, 2013, the fat cats in Washington will have cut billions of dollars from the program.  Now, for those of you who can’t keep up with the goings on in those hallowed halls in our nation’s capitol—and that’s most of us—there is a farm bill that the Republicans want to use as a way to gut the food stamp program by an additional 39 billion dollar over the next decade.


            How many of us understand what a billion dollars is, let alone 39 billion dollars? Here is what we do understand: If we are a family of four receiving the maximum monthly benefits of $668 those billions of dollars of cuts will mean that we will now receive $632 a month. We now have $36 less each month to feed our children and—if there is anything left over, ourselves--not to mention other household expenses like the cost of keeping warm (or doesn’t that count?).


            How many of those politicians in Washington feed their families, pay their utilities and other household expenses on $632 a month? How many middle class people feed their families, pay their utilities and other household expenses on $632 amonth?

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            Then, there are those in congress who complain about all those cheats who take food stamps when they don’t deserve to get them. They cost the government tens of millions of dollars, maybe more. That is true. There hasn’t been a program yet devised that hasn’t had cheaters. It’s worse in our foreign aid programs where the theft is in tens of billions of dollars.  Does that mean we deny aid to the deserving in order to deny the cheaters? I don’t think so!


            How many people are we talking about? In fiscal year 2007, prior to the recession, there were approximately 27 million people receiving food stamps. The latest data available, July 2013, indicates that there were 48 million people receiving food stamps. 48 million people! That’s about 1/7th of the American population! More people than the populations of Poland and Canada!


            We as a country should be both proud and embarrassed. Proud that we have reached out to help so many of our citizens. Embarrassed that so many of our citizens, citizens of the wealthiest country in the world, are in such dire straits. It seems that congress is not proud or embarrassed. Like those three, well known monkeys, congress pretends to hear no evil, see no evil but speaks-- (If ignorance and insensitivity are evil congress is too well spoken.).

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            We are not a zero sum country. There is no rule or law that states that for every winner there has to be a loser. If the U.S. Senate and the U.S. Congress spent less time in petty, political fighting and spent more time in helping instead of blaming we wouldn’t have a growing need for food stamps.


Bob Flicker

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 © robert 2014