Thursday, February 2, 2012

The "Myth of Starving Americans" - SAYS WHO?

Well, it's no wonder Mitch Romney can blurt out that "I don't really care about the very poor!" given recycled textual detritus such as appeared in the WSJ on Jan. 30 ('The Myth of Starving Americans', p. A15). And btw, while Romney enjoins us all to "look at my whole sentence" - and to be fair, he did add "they have a safety net" (although one he would like to strip away as I will show in a future blog), there are dozens of ways he might have re-worded his opinion to prevent his Freudian slip being unleashed.

For example, he could have phrased it:

"They either have ample resources or access to a safety net, so I am not overly concerned right now with the very rich or very poor"

More or less putting his rhetorical "exclusions" on the same plausible footing, as opposed to markedly opening with one and the initial words "I don't really care....".

But perhaps the Freudian slip was triggered by the piece in the WSJ by Warren Kozak (who also happens to be the author of a new book ('LeMay') praising the biggest renegade ever to serve as a Joint Chief, Curtis LeMay. The guy who begged JFK to bomb Cuba, thereby inciting a nuclear war, and who compared Kennedy to Neville Chamberlain when he refused!)

Kozak does concede on opening that "a hungry child is the ultimate third rail in the entitlement debate. Few candidates- Democratic or Republican - would even question conventional wisdom on this particular issue because that would make them look indifferent to hungry children and that of course is political death".

As well it should be, so then why does Kozak proceed to look askance at this conventional wisdom? Maybe because he can? This despite the fact that more people are now on food stamps than anytime in history, not because they want to be....but because the financially unsound policies of the BushCo regime - which launched new wars without paying for them, and delivered nearly $3 trillion in tax breaks to the wealthiest, incepted the financial collapse in 2008 along with unwise unregulation of securities and fraudulent bond ratings.

But that is another blog. Or more accurately, the past substance of at least a half dozen blogs I've done already, mainly last year.

Kozak writes:

"The U.S. government spends close to $1 trillion a year providing cash, food, medical care, housing and services to poor and near-poor people"

But HOW much is this, really?

Let's note first that the government's defined poverty line is $12,968 for 2009 for an over-65 couple, and roughly $22,000 for a family of 4. However, neither of these threshold limits has been altered since 1969 - when the value of the dollar was five times greater than in 2009. This means that one can logically argue the poverty levels are lowballed, and more plausibly the poverty line for a family of 4 today would be around $48,000/year. This means up to 70 million households are in poverty. Add in seniors, and you get as many as 80 million households, with perhaps 165 million people affected or more than half the country! This means if anything government benefits are too meagerly distributed.

If there are 80 million households in poverty and needing some kind of assistance, then how far does that $1 trillion go? Performing the math, this comes to about $12,500 per household, but obviously this will vary according to the types and thresholds of benefits. Some households may need both Medicaid for ailing kids and food stamps, others will just need food stamps, no Medicaid. Leave out welfare, and the total comes to only $10, 000 per household. (I leave out welfare because all welfare programs are now predicated on 'welfare to work'- so the person must work a certain number of hours to obtain it or attend school directed toward fruitful employment.) Eliminate unmployment insurance, which should not be considered as part of this "entitlement matrx" because this is part of what companies pay - not all from government - and you bring it down lower. But we will leave it at an even $10,000/ year.

Perhaps $7,500 of that will plausible go for medical assistance, say via Medicaid, and that leaves $2,500. If we regard that as primarily for food, then that works out to about $208 a month. That's for four people! Kozak claims that - based on his $1 trillion figure, "Of that about $111 billion is spent on food in federal and state programs".

But again this isn't exactly breaking the bank! If there are 165 million in need, as I calculate (based on revising the lowballed poverty rates since 1969) then that means about $627 each for food per YEAR! Obviously, Kozak is using the lower poverty numbers, and this would be closer to 50 million people or about 1 in 6 Americans, if one accepts the census figures (which obviously I do not because they are based on the lowballed poverty thresholds!) .

Then, in that case, each receives about $2,220 per year. So of course, a guy like this hack would wonder where the money is going! Indeed, he writes:

"Yet despite this spending stories of rampant hunger persist. With all that money going out, how is that possible?"

Uh, because it's NOT enough, jackass, because you and the feds have lowballed the actual poverty rates! DUH! As I showed, the actual allotment for food, if my revised poverty etimates are correct, translates into a food money deficit per year amounting to $2,220 - $627 = $1,593. Or, if you wish to put it another way, that $111 billion cited by Kozak being spent ought to actually be about 3.5 x higher, or $380.5 b a year! Then if THIS was the amount spent, Kozak wouldn't have to be beseiged by so many "stories of rampant hunger persisting".

Is this really all that much? Consider: we have pissed away - to NO avail, and no profit, in my opinion, roughly $10b per month since the Afghan incursion, invasion began 10 years ago. Do the math! The total of this useless pissing out on a nation that will surely revert to Taliban control once we leave (as we must because we lack the $$ to remain there) comes to $120b a year or $1.2 trillion over the whole time. (I won't even bother to add in the cost of leaving all that equipment behind, which ran to $330b for Iraq. Get that? $330 b in cost just to leave millions of pounds of military materiel behind. That would almost feed all the U.S. hungry for one year!)

But I'm not done! Add in the cost of the Bush tax cuts to the wealthiest and you add in another $900b for ten years! Add in the cost of the Iraq war - a war of choice, totally - and you get another $2.2 trillion. Add in all these together and you get: $2.2 trillion + $1.2 trillion + 0.9 trillion = $4.3 trillion! How much is that relative to the measly $380.5 million to feed 165 million famished Americans each year! Do the math on your own to see how far that $380.5 million would stretch if all that wasted money was available!

You ought to arrive at 11.3 YEARS! That is how long we'd be able to feed our hungry citizens on $380.5 billion a year if we hadn't pissed trillions away on two wasted occupations and a decade of tax cuts for fat cats.

Yet Kozak pisses and moans about a measly $111 billion spent on food for one fuckin' year!

Having shot his wad with this nonsense, Kozak isn't above using more spurious stats to try to reinforce his specious case that 26 million American kids aren't really going to bed hungry each's all in their little heads. Or ours!

He claims that two wonks (RObert Rector and Rachel Sheffield) from.....wouldn't you know it? The Heritage Foundation...

"found that according to Census Bureau data for 2009..of the almost 50 million Americans classified as poor, 96% of the parents said their children were never hungry"

First, as I already showed, the "50 million poor" is bogus, and lowballed. As for the parents saying their kids weren't hungry...well, doh! Would you admit on a census questionnaire you weren't able to properly provide for your kids? Give me a break! What do you take people for, stupid? Of course, parents - already shamed - will sugarcoat the information or put a smiley face on it! That doesn't mean their kids aren't hungry or don't go to bed in that state!

He goes on, oblivious to the basics of human psychology:

"Eighty three percent of poor families reported having enough food to eat and 82% of poor adults said they were never hungry at any time in 2009 due to lack of food or money."

And you believe this, nitwit? Because that's what they stated on a government questionnaire? If so, I have three acres of prime oceanfront resort to sell you in Barbados! (For his information and other readers, numerous papers on psychological response questions have been done over the decades to show such surveys can't be trusted, especially when they entail questions regarding whether the respondents are: a) racist, b) have sex x times or less a week, or c) reflect on their incapacities in economic terms.)

People by nature will give false or deceptive responses on these sensitive issues (which let's face it, reflect on their worth in the society's eyes) , because,.....the TRUTH FUCKIN' HURTS! But see, a bozo like Kozak refuses to take this into account because the converse bolsters (or he thinks it does) his phoney case that hungry Americans is a myth.

Not done yet, this miscreant then goes on to bellyache that:

"Today, two out of three lunches served at schools are free or nearly free"

He then implies such kids who eat school lunches, and are all the better for it (Colorado for example is trying to expand it through the No Kid Hungry campaign, which includes an awards program for schools that serve breakfast to more kids) , see e.g.

are "tax eaters" and not tax payers, to use LBJ's old comparison. He then complains that "where once there were strict guidelines" on what foods could be purchased with food stamps - actually now benefit cards, that no longer applies. He obviously hates the thought of people being able to purchase anything other than cabbage in bulk, large rice sacks, oatmeal, flour, macaroni or milk.

His last solution to this food over-spending?

"If able-bodied, non-elderly recipients of food stamps were made to work the numbers would drop dramatically"

In other words, see those kids gobbling school food in the photos for the D. Post piece? (See link). Make 'em work before they eat! Good, ol' fashioned 'Murican values! No work, no eats! Tough luck, kid!

Great! So if either Newt or Mitt gets in, and especially with a Repuke House and Senate, we can expect a massive return to child labor - with kids mopping floors and cleaning toilets, just to get a square meal a day! Well, one good thing: At least the cheering Gooper-Teepee crowds will now be screaming 'Let 'em work!', as opposed to 'Let 'em die!', say, in the case of the medically uninsured who can't afford to pay for treatments for severe adverse health conditions!


jaylen watkins said...

Americans are severe crisis because of past politicians mistakes.

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Copernicus said...

Would you be so gracious as to elaborate on that? Which politicians? Which mistakes?