FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

How About a War on Poverty Instead?

by JAYNE LYN STAHL

The local news was replete with images of First Lady Michelle Obama in the elegant, strapless designer gown she wore for this White House’s first state dinner.

Don’t get me wrong, I like to look at gowns by Naeem Khan as much as anyone, but as we edge closer to that holiday most often associated with abundance, and overindulgence, one can’t help but be distracted by the equally stunning number of people who find themselves hungry and poor this Thanksgiving.

More than 12% of all Americans know what it means to be poor in America. While they’re conspicuously absent from reality T.V. shows, from box office movies, and political party platforms, they are increasingly visible at food banks, and shelters.

Too often, politicians of both parties speak of the need to save the middle class, but nobody talks about the working poor. There is little mention of those who return from the battlefield only to struggle to keep their homes, their dignity, and find a way to feed their families.

As the Web site Feeding America reports, in 2008:

40 million, or 13%, of Americans lived in poverty. 8 million families, or more than 10%, were in poverty 22 million, or nearly 12%, of people between 18-64 were in poverty. 14 million, or nearly 20, of children under 18 were in poverty. Nearly 10% of households with seniors were food insecure. 3.6 million seniors, 65 and older, nearly one in ten, live in poverty

In 2008, 49 million people lived didn’t have enough to eat (32 million adults and 17 million children). A disproportionate number of those who face the gravest food shortages are men, women, and children of color. The number of households that experience food shortages has increased by 3.5% from 2007-2008 alone.

Ironically, the state with the second greatest percentage of hungry residents is Texas, home to our previous president, George W. Bush.

In 2002, 35 million went hungry, a number that has increased by 50% since then.

Last year, 4% of all U.S. households, nearly 5 million Americans, accessed emergency food from a food pantry one or more times.

In 2008, too, more than 50% of all households experiencing food shortages participated in one of the major federal food assistance programs, but that’s not enough. Instead of the trillions of dollars this administration has committed to buying drones, building embassies in Iraq, and sending thousands of more servicemen and women into combat, we need to fight the war on poverty here at home.

According to the Oakland Institute, a staggering 50% of all Americans between 20 and 65 (4 out of every 10 adults in America) will use food stamps in their lifetimes. 85% of African-Americans will need to use food stamps. African-Americans and Hispanics make up the leading groups of those experiencing the most egregious food deprivation.

In 2008, households with children were more likely to experience food insecurity than single households. Nearly 40% of households headed by single women experience hunger while nearly 30% of households with children run by single men have dire food insufficiency.

Clearly, Congress is making a good start by working to pass legislation that will enable more Americans to get affordable health insurance, but that’s only a start.

If this government devoted even half the resources to the war on poverty that it has to the war on terror not one child in America would go to sleep hungry tonight.

I don’t want to be a party pooper and suggest that the mainstream media run footage at food banks, and encampments where people have now moved after losing their homes to foreclosure instead of the Obamas at tonight’s state dinner. It’s nice to have a break from reality once in awhile.

But, when the president announced today that he intends to “finish the job” in Afghanistan, it becomes clear the job he needs to finish is here, and not in the Middle East.

JAYNE LYN STAHL is a widely published poet, essayist, playwright, and screenwriter, member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA.

JAYNE LYN STAHL is a widely published poet, essayist, playwright, and screenwriter, member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA.

May 02, 2016
George Wuerthner
The Economic Value of Yellowstone National Park
Rivera Sun
Celebrating Mother Jones
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir and Postcolonialism
Mairead Maguire
Drop the Just War Theory
Weekend Edition
April 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What is the Democratic Party Good For? Absolutely Nothing
Roberto J. González – David Price
Anthropologists Marshalling History: the American Anthropological Association’s Vote on the Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions
Robert Jacobs
Hanford, Not Fukushima, is the Big Radiological Threat to the West Coast
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
US Presidential Election: Beyond Lesser Evilism
Dave Lindorff
The Push to Make Sanders the Green Party’s Candidate
Peter Linebaugh
Marymount, Haymarket, Marikana: a Brief Note Towards ‘Completing’ May Day
Ian Fairlie
Chernobyl’s Ongoing Toll: 40,000 More Cancer Deaths?
Pete Dolack
Verizon Sticks it to its Workers Because $45 Billion isn’t Enough
Moshe Adler
May Day: a Trade Agreement to Unite Third World and American Workers
Margaret Kimberley
Dishonoring Harriet Tubman
Deepak Tripathi
The United States, Britain and the European Union
Eva Golinger
My Country, My Love: a Conversation with Gerardo and Adriana of the Cuban Five
Richard Falk
If Obama Visits Hiroshima
Vijay Prashad
Political Violence in Honduras
Paul Krane
Where Gun Control Ought to Start: Disarming the Police
David Anderson
Al Jazeera America: Goodbye to All That Jazz
Rob Hager
Platform Perversity: More From the Campaign That Can’t Strategize
Pat Williams
FDR in Montana
Dave Marsh
Every Day I Read the Book (the Best Music Books of the Last Year)
David Rosen
Job Satisfaction Under Perpetual Stagnation
John Feffer
Big Oil isn’t Going Down Without a Fight
Murray Dobbin
The Canadian / Saudi Arms Deal: More Than Meets the Eye?
Gary Engler
The Devil Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Is Washington Preparing for War Against Russia?
Manuel E. Yepe
The Big Lies and the Small Lies
Robert Fantina
Vice Presidents, Candidates and History
Mel Gurtov
Sanctions and Defiance in North Korea
Howard Lisnoff
Still the Litmus Test of Worth
Dean Baker
Big Business and the Overtime Rule: Irrational Complaints
Ulrich Heyden
Crimea as a Paradise for High-Class Tourism?
Ramzy Baroud
Did the Arabs Betray Palestine? – A Schism between the Ruling Classes and the Wider Society
Halyna Mokrushyna
The War on Ukrainian Scientists
Joseph Natoli
Who’s the Better Neoliberal?
Ron Jacobs
The Battle at Big Brown: Joe Allen’s The Package King
Wahid Azal
Class Struggle and Westoxication in Pahlavi Iran: a Review of the Iranian Series ‘Shahrzad’
David Crisp
After All These Years, Newspapers Still Needed
Graham Peebles
Hungry and Frightened: Famine in Ethiopia 2016
Robert Koehler
Opening the Closed Political Culture
Missy Comley Beattie
Waves of Nostalgia
Thomas Knapp
The Problem with Donald Trump’s Version of “America First”
Georgina Downs
Hillsborough and Beyond: Establishment Cover Ups, Lies & Corruption
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail