FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Balancing on the Poor

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.

More articles by:

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

April 25, 2019
Marc Levy
All My Vexes Are in Texas
Jim Kavanagh
Avoiding Assange
Michael D. Yates
The Road Beckons
Julian Vigo
Notre Dame Shows the Unifying Force of Culture, Grenfell Reveals the Corruption of Government
Ted Rall
Democratic Refusal to Impeach Could Be Disastrous
Tracey Harris
Lessons Learned From the Tiny House Movement
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Human Flourishing (Eudaimonia): an Antidote to Extinction?
Dana Johnson
Buyer Beware: Hovercraft Ruling Deals a Major Blow to Land Conservation in Alaska
Norman Solomon
Joe Biden: Puffery vs. Reality
Jen Marlowe
The Palestine Marathon
Binoy Kampmark
Lethal Bungling: Sri Lanka’s Easter Bombings
Michael Slager
“Where’s Your Plan?” Legalized Bribery and Climate Change
Jesse Jackson
Trump Plunges the US Deeper Into Forgotten Wars
George Wuerthner
BLM Grazing Decision Will Damage the Owyhee Canyonlands Wilderness
April 24, 2019
Susan Babbitt
Disdain and Dignity: An Old (Anti-Imperialist) Story
Adam Jonas Horowitz
Letter to the Emperor
Lawrence Davidson
A Decisive Struggle For Our Future
John Steppling
The Mandate for Israel: Keep the Arabs Down
Victor Grossman
Many Feet
Cira Pascual Marquina
The Commune is the Supreme Expression of Participatory Democracy: a Conversation with Anacaona Marin of El Panal Commune
Binoy Kampmark
Failed States and Militias: General Khalifa Haftar Moves on Tripoli
Dean Baker
Payments to Hospitals Aren’t Going to Hospital Buildings
Alvaro Huerta
Top Ten List in Defense of MEChA
Colin Todhunter
As the 2019 Indian General Election Takes Place, Are the Nation’s Farmers Being Dealt a Knock-Out Blow?
Charlie Gers
Trump’s Transgender Troops Ban is un-American and Inhumane
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Just Another Spring in Progress?
Thomas Knapp
On Obstruction, the Mueller Report is Clintonesque
Elliot Sperber
Every Truck’s a Garbage Truck
April 23, 2019
Peter Bolton
The Monroe Doctrine is Back, and as the Latest US Attack on Cuba Shows, Its Purpose is to Serve the Neoliberal Order
David Schultz
The Mueller Report: Trump Too Inept to Obstruct Justice
Geoff Beckman
Crazy Uncle Joe and the Can’t We All Just Get Along Democrats
Medea Benjamin
Activists Protect DC Venezuelan Embassy from US-supported Coup
Patrick Cockburn
What Revolutionaries in the Middle East Have Learned Since the Arab Spring
Jim Goodman
Don’t Fall for the Hype of Free Trade Agreements
Lance Olsen
Climate and Forests: Land Managers Must Adapt, and Conservationists, Too
William Minter
The Coming Ebola Epidemic
Tony McKenna
Stephen King’s IT: a 2019 Retrospective
David Swanson
Pentagon Claims 1,100 High Schools Bar Recruiters; Peace Activists Offer $1,000 Award If Any Such School Can Be Found
Gary Olson
A Few Comments on the recent PBS Series: Reconstruction: America After the Civil War
April 22, 2019
Melvin Goodman
The NYTs Tries to Rehabilitate Bloody Gina Haspel
Robert Fisk
After ISIS, a Divided Iraq, Wounded and Grief-Stricken
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange as Neuroses
John Laforge
Chernobyl’s Deadly Effects Estimates Vary
Kenneth Surin
Mueller Time? Not for Now
Cesar Chelala
Yemen: The Triumph of Barbarism
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail