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Eye on the storm

A new "War on Poverty"

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.

Comments

curly 3 years, 12 months ago

I am sorry I find it hard to agree with your blog, for I don't know if you have ever been in a store when people are using the Oregon trail cards. I have and what they are buying is junk food beer and other things that are not good for those 5 year olds. Also there are places that just cash out the cards and then the people go and get drugs. I do know that there are those out there that need the system but the abuse is high. So I think the system needs to be changed, its not a war on poverty like you think its an attempt to weed out the ones who are taking advantage of the system.

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OurFuture 3 years, 11 months ago

I also find this blog to be a little one sided. I have also seen several abusing the assistance provided by food stamps. Many receiving this assistance view it as their only way to provide food for their family and forget that it is to be used as a supplement. Using the assistance to become self-sufficient should be the goal. Improving the opportunity to grow or harvest vegetables and other healthy options would provide a longer lasting effect on those in need. Give a man a fish; he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish; he will feed his family for life. Being a working taxpayer, I feel it is good to know that my support is reaching those who need it rather than those who “play the system”. Those who feel that more could be given there are many opportunities with local food banks (whom serve many receiving food stamps as well). And for those who feel that more can be done we have several community meals volunteering options.

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dragonlady52 3 years, 11 months ago

UM curly,,, you can not purchase ALCOHOL with the Oregon food card nor can you even purchase hot deli foods and so many other items you refer to as abusing the system. please get your facts straight and don't rely on the media for them!! If you do see someone and im talking about the STORE not the person violating this Or trail card then TURN them in to the State office.... there is a very small amount of abuse compared to the overall need for people to have this help.... BTW.. How about those fat rich senators who have direct FARM SUBSIDIES going in to their own pockets??? go ahead and use SNOPES, its the truth!! while they want to cut out food from millions including our VETERANS they fill their greedy pockets....

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markbgibson 3 years, 11 months ago

Thanks for the input. This is a blog, and so I am allowed to be "one sided."

The "visible poor" are hard to stand up for... they inspire little sympathy and yes, many cheat the system. I'm all for changing what can be purchased using food stamps... I'd like to see less fraud in our tax and foreign aide programs as well.

That said, one if five Oregonians use food stamps, a measure of our service economy, and some 40% of those are children. They are not defrauding the system. The cut that went into effect Nov. 1 has immediate repercussions for them.

I'm all for gardening, and have met many a poor person who would love to have the opportunity. But it's a little hard to do in an apartment complex. And fishing would be a great benefit if the fish weren't poison and unsafe for consumption... except the salmon, which are expensive to fish for.

If we want to save money in food stamps, the best way to do so would be to raise the minimum wage.

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