Friday, November 1, 2013

Cutting food assistance, just in time for Veterans Day and Thanksgiving

(WPA poster, image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

In preparation for Veterans Day and Thanksgiving, America is cutting off food assistance to low-income veterans, children, disabled Americans, the elderly, and the working poor. (See, e.g., "Millions on food assistance facing benefits cuts," "Cuts will take food off the table for 47 million Americans," and "When veterans get food stamps cut, it's time to prioritize our budget") 

While we're cutting back on food assistance, just in time for the holiday season, the rich are getting richer, corporate tax avoidance is thriving, taxes are historically low on the super-wealthy, and America is losing $300 billion annually to illegal tax evasion--thanks to offshore bank accounts where Americans can hide money, while the soldiers who fought for them wonder how they're going to feed their families. 

(WPA poster, image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

During the New Deal, the mentality was a little different. Surplus food programs provided food to those in need, the Civilian Conservation Corps provided food and work to jobless young men, the WPA school lunch program provided over 1.2 billion meals across the country, etc. Indeed the Food Stamp program (now called "SNAP") had its origins in the New Deal. 

Today, we're abandoning New Deal policies, in favor of policies that benefit the rich at the expense of everyone else. So, what can we do about it? Well, one American billionaire might have the answer, encapsulated in a recent statement he made to his fellow super-wealthy citizens: "And now it’s time to kick out and share some of your good fortune by paying higher taxes or reforming them to favor economic growth and labor, as opposed to corporate profits and individual gazillions." (See here)

(WPA poster, image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

We frequently hear that America is a Christian nation. And, in the Bible, we see verses like, "Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him" (Proverbs 14:31). Of course, many "limited government" types would say, "Those verses are intended for the people, not the government!!" But isn't American government supposed to be "We the People"? Isn't American government supposed to be a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, as a famous Republican once said? Why wouldn't a verse about the welfare of others apply to the American government, especially in light of Article I, Section 8 of our Constitution: "The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States"? (emphasis added)

Also, relying on the super-wealthy to give freely, instead of taxing them at a higher rate, might not provide the best outcome. Why? Because, as was recently highlighted: "Donations to provider agencies are down because the middle class provides most donations, 'and they are still having a hard time making ends meet'" (see "Local food pantries feeling the pinch: Demand driving greater need for donations"). And, as journalist Judith Warner noted in the New York Times: "surveys have shown that upper-income Americans don’t give away as much of their money as they might and are particularly undistinguished as givers when compared with the poor, who are strikingly generous."  

In any event, many Americans will now have a little less food this holiday season, thanks to our plutocratic government's ruthless and hypocritical policies. Welcome to the new America: Pushing away the New Deal.....and embracing cruelty.

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