Monday, May 27, 2013

Food for thought

Even liberals (like me) get uncomfortable with the concept of “government handouts”, but here’s a fact that can’t be denied:

As of March of 2013, the number of Americans relying on “food stamps” increased to a record high of 47.8 million people, or roughly 15% of the population. If you're a regular shopper at Walmart, you may be interested to know that close to 80% of the employees of Walmart nationwide rely on food stamps to survive. The average Walmart store costs U.S. taxpayers $420,000 a year.

Officially, the program is now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

If you do a little further digging, you’ll discover that there are 11 states where the food stamp usage ranges from 16.5 to 20.6% of the population. The states in question are Oregon, New Mexico, Michigan, West Virginia, Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee. 7 of the 11 have Republican governors. The exceptions are Oregon, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Although both Kentucky and Tennessee have Democratic governors, Republicans hold the majority in both the House and the Senate.

Although every Republican on the House Agricultural Committee recently voted to cut $20 billion from the program in the next decade, the President who did the most to EXPAND the program was a Republican. This is what Richard Nixon said in 1969:

“That hunger and malnutrition should persist in a land such as ours is embarrassing and intolerable”.

Those words are still true today, and they apply both in our country and throughout the world.

To protest the Republican cuts to the food stamp program, 26 members of Congress (all Democrats) recently tried to live for a week on a food stamp budget. Not surprisingly, they found that it wasn't very easy.

The Nixon administration also passed the Clean Air Act of 1970, the Clean Water Act of 1970, established the Environmental Protection Agency, and passed OSHA. From 1970 to 1975, spending on human resource programs exceeded spending for defense for the first time since the Second World War.

Sadly, none of those accomplishments could happen today, and bi-partisan efforts, like the McGovern-Dole Food Program are a lot more difficult to imagine.

There are 19 Bible verses related to the feeding of the hungry, but nearly 3000 verses that deal with poverty in general. As a result, the recent cuts in the SNAP program would seem to violate Biblical mandates.

The most important reason to INCREASE Federal funding for the SNAP program is economic. According to a recent study by Moody’s, the absolute best way to expand the economy and create jobs is through the food stamp program. For every dollar spent on that program, $1.73 is generated throughout the economy. Business incentives, such as tax breaks, provide the LEAST band for the buck, since they generate only 33 cents in the economy for every dollar spent.

You may or may not agree with my opinion, but at least you’ll have some facts to chew on for a while.

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