Thursday, April 16, 2015

Seriously? Those On Food Stamps Not Allowed To Buy Any Goodies?

It is a sad fact, known mainly to those of us who have the opportunity to travel beyond our shores, that we inhabit a very mean-spirited country. This came out back in Nov.,2013 when the SNAP (food stamps) program was viciously cut back with far reaching repercussions of hunger - especially for 16 million kids.  Many pediatricians warned of the consequences, but the GOP didn't care. They were determined to cut so the military could get much more.

Now we learn of a number of states (such as Kansas) where plans are afoot - such as by the mean-spirited guv Sam Brownback, to pass legislation to ensure food stamp recipients can't even purchase anything that remotely hints of luxuries - including cookies, candies, cakes - as well as preventing families "on the dole" from using public pools. Are you shitting me? We're going to worry and fret about forlorn families and their kids having it too good when our whole malformed system is bent to ensure only the richest prosper and jobs are sent away overseas by the millions? Meanwhile, these same rich bastards are able to milk the system for everything it's worth to the extent they can even afford luxury, gold laminated bathtubs:

Excuse me, but what the hell is wrong with this picture? Well, the misbegotten notion - dispelled by the most basic research - that the "wealthy earned their goodies".  Oh yeah, they earned them all right, by pushing through policies that sent millions of jobs overseas. Policies started by the likes of "Chainsaw Al' Dunlap back in the nineties when he was with Sunbeam - and decided having jobs in Mexico was better for shareholders, since the Mexicans would only earn half of what Americans were getting - and no benefits. A shyster born every minute!

But don't think Dunlap is the only clown who did this and got away with it (hint: Jack Welch of GE did too)!  So then, years later the path was already paved for endemic poverty of millions  -yet the proud and the ignorant pound their breasts and believed they were doing a good thing by keeping the poor off "welfare" - hence designing the hideous "welfare to work" programs.

While all this was going on, I got a real kick out of some outraged WSJ pieces in the late 90s - some of which I still have- caterwauling about the nerve of those Germans to use unemployment benefits to take holidays in Italy or France's sun coast.  So what? If they need time off from pounding the pavement, big deal! But the WSJ and its snarky assholes made a federal case out of it, and then bragged how - at least in the US of A- we'd never allow any unemployment insurance recipients to get away with such nonsense. But see, the Germans aren't all anal about such stuff as we are. As my friend Reinhardt put it two years ago: "The Germans helped to pay in for those benefits and they can use them any way they wish up to a year. And if that means taking a holiday or two, so what? It's no skin off our noses and that's what we pay our taxes for!"

Which thinking would be totally anathema to the Puritan American, brainwashed by the early messages of John Calvin, to keep his nose to the grindstone if he wants to win an eventual place in the next world. Even today, evidently, too many buy into this Puritan-Calvinist bull pockey, hence the yen to ensure food stamp beneficiaries go to no amusement arcades, Malls or just to the candy store for M&Ms.  Jeezus, it makes you want to rip your hair out - the level of petty thinking - tied to "wasting taxpayer dollars" while the rich waste hundreds of billions a year with their own rancid games- including tax write offs and dubious trusts!

Look, no one - no American, "likes to" file for food stamps, but since the Bushies sent the whole U.S. economy into the crapper ca. 2007-08 with their push for minimum wage jobs only (and keeping the minimum wage as low as possible), sending 7 million other jobs overseas to China and India, and de-regulation of banks - allowing them to sell crap subprime mortgages to people who couldn't afford them, not to mention wreaking havoc with their tax cuts and wars of choice, lower and many middle class families have had no choice. The Bushie combo of massive tax cuts for the wealthiest combined with setting off a speculative bubble that burst in 2008 - with more than 30 million middle class folks losing up to 40% of their 401ks, engendered the need for families to seek food stamp relief out of pure desperation.

To now heap insult onto injury and assert they're not even entitled to some pleasures (including swimming - and we know how important exercise is!)  is just plain nuts and, as I said, mean spirited. Certainly, if the families are able to wisely budget their meager resources to have some enjoyment it ought to be allowed- without the likes of Brownback or anyone else having a cow.  And we can damned well afford to be a little bit generous here given how the parasitic wealthy are endlessly using their ill-gotten gains to splurge on expensive toys and trips, and gorging on  $25,000 (apiece)  Frrrozen Haute Chocolate   desserts,  while children go to bed hungry. Shit, those poor kids deserve a bag of M&Ms once in a frickin' while! 

Sensible Americans need to express outrage on this, at least to the same degree of decibels as when Indiana tried to foist its phony religious freedom laws on its people - in the name of bigotry. In this case, Brownback and his misbegotten ilk are trying to force perpetual misery on already downtrodden families by denying them even the most benign luxuries.

 I leave with Barb Ehrenreich's powerful words (This Land is Their Land, pp. 6-7):

"How many 'wake up calls' do we need, people? How many broken levees, drowned cities, depleted food pantries, people dead for lack of ordinary health care? (Waters poisoned by blown deep water oil wells)......Why don't we dare say it? The looting of America has gone on too long, and the average American is too maxed out, overworked, and overspent to have anything left to take. We need a new deal, a new distribution of power and wealth, if we want to restore the beautiful idea that was America".

With a new distribution of wealth and power, no American will have to depend on food stamps, and we won't have the likes of Sam Brownback or his clones dictating to people what they can purchase using food stamps or welfare monies!

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