Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Hungry Kids On Food Stamps Is No Freaking Joke!

A 12-year old in San Luis County, Colorado boils oats for her family's dinner. They are not living it up and abusing their benefits as too many lazy thinkers seem to believe.

I realize it's become 'cool' these days to mock those on food stamps and welfare - especially for the nattering nabobs on the Right - who have a penchant for portraying these critical programs as "gimmes" for "takers" and "welfare queens". But if the ones who pose this BS were to step out of their FOX-ified fairyland boxes they'd see a real story unfolding with millions of proud citizens (NOT slackers) struggling to get decent paying work and put food on the table without falling back.  All of these people would bristle at any suggestion that they aren't doing all they can to hold it together and often, government assistance comes as a last resort. (To satiate their kids' hunger, not theirs.)

By way of example, Colorado itself is now a hotbed of poverty, including child poverty - as the coded map below shows, with the greatest poverty for counties  coded in dark orange and ochre.

As a recent Denver Post investigation (May 23, 1B) showed, many kids don't get enough to eat at night - even with food stamps - and must be somehow consoled by their stricken parents when bed time arrives and their bellies are still growling These are people, by the way, often working two or more jobs but who are squeezed in the economic conditions now plaguing our state as well as many others. Can those who mock them as "parasites" on the public dole see through the evil PR spread about them (often by the denizens at FOX) to the truth? One wonders.

While some may whoop it up and make jokes about the situation and that it's being "exaggerated"  or "hyped" by the "loony Left", the reality is far more brutal. The causes are also a lot more complex than portraying needy recipients as  "welfare queens" a la caricatures in cartoons or set media (e.g. from FOX)  images . These actually comprise only the odd exceptions and belie the extent and sad reality of genuine desperation. Believe me, a kid in the throes of hunger is no laughing matter, or fodder for claims of liberal  'hype"!

Typical families in San Luis, County live in 500-700 sq. ft. homes  - many of adobe construction with no windows. They often must travel more than an hour just to get to work and taking even one sick day is an unheard of luxury. They know even one missed day, hell one missed hour to attend to a sick child - could well be their last. (Our state like many others has businesses which have fought ferociously against paid sick leave. The best most can expect now is to have sick days bungled in with vacation days.)

 These people are fiercely proud and independent,  beholden to no one or to government handouts.  They only file for SNAP benefits as a last resort because their children are suffering and no parent of any mettle can allow that!  Further, they don't use those benefits to skylark and live high on the hog since in most cases - even with just simple purchases of rice, oats, and a tiny bit of chicken - the money often expires with a week or more left. And so they must try to make up the difference at food banks, such as Care & Share. It is a stressful, difficult existence always subject to contingencies.

 The children - including two of those shown in the accompanying images, are among the one-third of kids living in poverty in Southern  Colorado counties, including San Luis and Rio Grande.  All the families live in deadly fear of something as simple as getting a small raise - since a jump in pay can mean an increase in rent (or loss of public housing if the income now renders them disqualified), loss of free child care and a reduction in food stamps.  This is owing to the draconian laws which insist on "offsetting" benefits  if by some chance a family's financial circumstances improve - even a smidgeon. In this way the families can never ever get ahead.

In Denver and its suburbs there are often just as many impoverished, hungry kids- but concentrated in smaller areas near the urban core. Many of the reasons have to do with issues that outsiders may not grasp - chiefly "amenity migrants" (tr.  rich fucks) moving to places like Aspen, Boulder and Denver to be closer to recreational opportunities (and the mountains). In the process of buying 2nd homes - vacation homes - they drive up the prices and rents so much that no one of average means can afford them. This applies to most ordinary workers making maybe $50,000 a year or less.

How long will that last in an overheated housing and rental market? You figure it out given average rents now of $1350 a month and average home prices of $294,000 each in the Denver Metro area.  The dire effect of this imbalance is that either the communities' actual workers ( firefighters, teachers, cops, cooks, housekeepers) have to move far away to where home-rental prices are more reasonable, OR they are forced to go on food stamps to make up the difference if they remain. To make jokes that they are abusing their benefits is beyond the pale especially as MOST of those receiving food stamps via the federal programs are working.

But these insipid portrayals continue in the right wing mega-media as well as in assorted lesser media like blogs and Facebook pages. The modus operandi also never changes: portraying the abuses of a few as the generic norm of the many. Paint the recipients - including the starving kids - as craven whelps on the take just trying to grab what they can at taxpayer expense. As opposed to hard workers, or disabled people trying to make ends meet. It is also interesting that this is the same M.O. employed to try to make a specious case for tougher  voter I.D. laws when all sensible people know that the instances of deliberate voter malfeasance by fake I.D.  are fewer than the number of medium-sized asteroids that have crashed to Earth in the past 20 years.

Instead of making jokes about the plight of these people  such as 12-year old Mashel McDonald  trying to boil enough oats for her family to eat for dinner in their 500 sq. foot adobe home - we ought to be applauding them for their stoic and proud demeanor and "keeping on keeping on".  Despite getting no breaks and only minimal SNAP benefits,  they have valiantly succeeded in sustaining their lives in a hostile environment.  They have asked for no more gov't support than they absolutely need - ditto for most of San Luis' residents.

See also:


"if you’re in Wisconsin, and relying on food stamps, remember that Republicans don’t want you to have ketchup on your hamburger. They’d probably rather you didn’t have a hamburger at all, but Wisconsin farmers and ranchers have clout, and so proposed cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program made room for Wisconsin products. But they still don’t want you to have “crab, lobster, shrimp, or any other shellfish.” Or ketchup. Or spaghetti sauce. Really.

For now, that’s all grandstanding. SNAP is a federal program, and the Obama administration hasn’t allowed states to restrict food purchases that way. But that hasn’t stopped GOP legislators from trying."

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