September 21, 2013
Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have passed a bill cutting billions of dollars in federal food assistance to the poor. As it is seems unlikely to become law, the cut is apparently meant as a policy statement: The Republican Party declares a new "War on Poverty."
Specifically targeted in the legislation are the unemployed, who, according to the Republicans, refuse to take any of the multitude of jobs currently available to all Americans and work for a living. Food stamp recipients, Republicans suggest, are simply taking the easy way forward, scarfing up government handouts and lazing around in their easy chair.
Over half of those benefiting from food stamps are children, and I suppose we will next see Republican legislation encouraging full employment from the age of, say, 5 years. This would give all the children cut from the Head Start programs something to do and help the rich get richer, given that a 5-year-old would be unlikely to demand a fair wage. I'm not sure what they would do in the workforce, but with so many jobs available I'm sure they will find something.
Personally I find the legislation unAmerican, immoral and unnecessary. I support fiscal responsibility, but there is plenty of low hanging budgetary fruit in bloated and ineffective programs, expensive subsidies and tax loopholes. True, harvesting such budgetary fruit would require a bit of statesmanship and a lot of hard work: That's why congressional representatives are elected... and well paid... by the American people.
Direct food assistance is the most targeted, effective program we have in America today. True, it subsidizes businesses that pay minimal wages. Yes, it helps those who are disabled or retired or otherwise unable to work. And yes, it feeds a lot of kids who haven't worked a day in their life.
Working or not, these people are important, valuable members of our society and a helping them with one meal in three seems a small enough contribution for the richest taxpayers in the world.