FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Balancing on the Poor

by TIMOTHY COLLINS

Shame on the U.S. House of Representatives Agriculture Committee for slashing food and nutrition programs in its version of the 2012 Farm Bill.

According to The New York Times,  the House measure cuts $16.5 billion from the food stamp program,  part of $35 billion in overall cuts to the bill.The gap between the House and Senate versions is wide. The Senate cuts totaled $23 billion,  with close to a $4.5 billion reduction in the food stamp program.

That was bad enough. The House version amplifies the irresponsible Senate cuts,  creating the prospect of an ugly compromise once this measure is finally passed,  whether before or after the election.

We are living in terrible economic times for many. Food prices have increased and likely will increase further because of the drought. The numbers of people who have filed for and received  food stamps has been rising in the past decade. The program currently serves about 46 million Americans,  up from 19 million in 2002. President Obama’s budget proposal for 2013 approaches $4 trillion.

To put things in perspective,  the current $80-billion fiscal-year food stamp expenditure represents about .02 percent of the proposed new budget.

We have too often heard arguments that the poor and unemployed are lazy and need to take more responsibility for their lives. The official unemployment rate is currently hovering above 8 percent,  while some estimates put it at closer to 15 percent. Meanwhile,  official poverty rates have soared to levels not seen in nearly 30 years.

Have people in this country really become that much lazier in the past decade? Or,  could it be that the country’s economy and job markets are no longer accessible to them? More importantly,  when will the workplace economy open up again for the millions of unemployed?

If current conditions — and yet another “jobless recovery” — continue,  the change may will be awhile in coming.

According to the Times,  Chicago-based Feeding America estimated that three million people would lose benefits if the House version stands. Even worse,  nearly 300, 000 children would be ineligible for the school lunch program.

Representative Frank D. Lucas,  Republican of Oklahoma and chair of the House Agriculture Committee,  called the House version “a balanced,  reform-minded,  fiscally responsible bill that underscores our commitment to production agriculture and rural America,  achieves real savings and improves program efficiency.”

Sir, the truth in these words is sure. This measure is balanced: on the backs of the poor.

In the rush for “reform,” fiscal responsibility, and efficiency, the program does save money. But here’s the unspoken truth: this Farm Bill would inflict real harm on real people who are blocked from full participation in American economic life.

A country is only as strong as its weakest link. Both the House and Senate versions attack that link. Shame is not a strong enough word for what is going on here. Let’s call it what it is: a cruel injustice to the poor that hurts us all.

Timothy Collins is assistant director for research, policy, outreach, and sustainability at the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at Western Illinois University in Macomb. Opinions expressed here are his and his alone.

This column originally appeared in the Daily Yonder.

May 05, 2016
David L. Glotzer
Welcome to Fortified Europe: the Militarization of Europe’s Borders
Adam Szetela
Beyoncé’s “Formation” and the Boutique Activism of the Left
Bruce Lerro
Lost at Sea: Left Liberals Have No Party
Paul Cochrane
Hot Air in the Saudi Desert: a Kingdom in Descent?
Brian Terrell
My Visit to a Las Vegas Jail
Judith Deutsch
The Military’s “Securitization” of Climate Change
Phyllis Bennis
Kunduz Bombing: Proof the Pentagon Should Not Be Allowed to Investigate Itself for War Crimes
Chad Nelson
When Compassion is Terrorism: Animal Rights in a Post-911 World
Dan Arel
Making Sanders’ Dream a Reality Through Political Activism
Kent Paterson
Ten Years Later: Reflections on the Legacies of Immigrant Spring
Serge Halimi
Why Firefighters are Against Free Trade
Andrew Stewart
Green Bernie or Green Party Machine?
Binoy Kampmark
Yuri Gagarin in Space: the Politics of Cosmic Discovery
Hayes Rowan
This Naming of Things
May 04, 2016
Kshama Sawant
It’s Not About Bernie: Why We Can’t Let Our Revolution Die in Philadelphia
Conn Hallinan
Baiting the Bear: Russia and NATO
Joshua Frank
Hanford’s Leaky Nuke Tanks and Sick Workers, A Never-Ending Saga
Paul Craig Roberts
TIPP: Advancing American Imperialism
Ted Rall
Hillary to Bernie Supporters: Don’t Vote for Me!
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton and Wall Street’s Neoliberal War on Latin America
Leslie Scott
The Story of Jill Stein: Putting People, Peace and the Planet Before Profits
Ann Garrison
Building the Greens Into a Mass Party: Interview with Bruce Dixon
Tom Clifford
Crying Rape: Trump’s China-Bashing
Lawrence Davidson
Getting Rid of Bad Examples: Andrew Jackson & Woodrow Wilson
Ellen Brown
Bank of North Dakota Soars Despite Oil Bust: A Blueprint for California?
Nelson Valdes
Is Fidel Castro Outside or Part of Mainstream Thinking? A Selection of Quotes
Jesse Jackson
Don’t Send Flint Down the Drain: Fix It!
Nathan Riley
Help Bernie Keep His Halo
Rivera Sun
Remembering Nonviolent History: Freedom Rides
Clancy Sigal
Rachel and the Isolationists: How Maddow Blew It
Laura Finley
Changing the Conversation About “The Woman Card”
CJ Hopkins
Coming this Summer … Revenge of the Bride of Sophie’s Choice
May 03, 2016
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Resumé: What the Record Shows
Michèle Brand – Arun Gupta
What is the “Nuit Debout”?
Chuck Churchill
The Failures of Capitalism, Donald Trump and Right Wing Terror
Dave Marsh
Bernie and the Greens
John Wight
Zionism Should be on Trial, Not Ken Livingstone
Rev. John Dear
A Dweller in Peace: the Life and Times of Daniel Berrigan
Patrick Cockburn
Saudi Arabia’s Great Leap Forward: What Would Mao Think?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Electoral Votes Matter: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders vs Donald Trump
Chris Gilbert
Venezuela Today: This Must Be Progress
Pepe Escobar
The Calm Before the Coming Global Storm
Ruth Fowler
Intersecting with the Identity Police (Or Why I Stopped Writing Op-Eds)
Victor Lasa
The Battle Rages on in Spain: the Country Prepares for Repeat Elections in June
Jack Rasmus
Is the US Economy Heading for Recession?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail