By Nathan Barton
Once more, I read news about how the SNAP (Food Stamps) cuts which started in November are nothing but a Congressional War on the Poor, and will cause millions of Americans to – if not starve – lose food security and go hungry.
A Reuters blog stated this:’ Congressional Republicans seem hell-bent on denying the most disadvantaged among us healthcare, unemployment benefits and, perhaps worst of all, food stamps, from which the House of Representatives slashed $40 billion last month. Elizabeth Drew, writing in Rolling Stone, calls it “The Republicans’ War on the Poor.”’
Wow! That is a lot? How much is SNAP costing the US government, and therefore, US taxpayers? Well, a little searching on-line found the official US government website that told me how much: in FY2013 (last Oct to this October) $76.0703 billion was spent providing assistance to 47,636,000 people; an average of $133.08 per person per month. Wow Again! 40 billion cut would drop that to only $36 billion: less than HALF!
Then I started looking. That would mean that the SNAP/Food Stamp Program would STILL spend more than it cost the last year of George W Bush’s administration: in FY 2008 (which ended the month before the election), $34.6 billion was spent. In just FIVE years, the amount of FEDERAL food assistance (well, direct assistance: this doesn’t include school breakfasts or lunches, doesn’t include state or local or church or food bank or other charitable spending, and doesn’t include the money my wife and I use to buy food for my elderly, senile relative); in just FIVE years, it more than doubled. Still, the Congress (blame the GOP of course) is Scrooge-squared to do this. How evil!
This sounds horrific! Then I ran across some OTHER articles – and no, not published by those purveyors of pornographic pro-capitalist propaganda like the Cato Institute and Washington Times and Independence Institute and LewRockwell.org. Published by that great, pro-government, pro-liberal, pro-welfare USA Today newspaper, which said: The actual cut was 39.5 billion OVER TEN YEARS, with about 4.5 billion the first year and declining each year after that! So! That means (go back to that government website and calculate: The 76 billion in 2013 gets cut to 71.5 billion in 2014. That means that the program is cut DRASTICALLY to 2011 levels (71.8 billion). Insane! Hideous! Horrific! Skeletons of the starved will be found in the streets and in their cardboard shacks under railroad bridges!
This “drastic cut” will mean that a family of four on SNAP will get only $632 a month, instead of $668, a drop of $36 per month, or about $1.16 per day. Imagine ONLY $632 per month for food for a family of four. Even with inflation, that seems to be a WHOLE LOT of money to me: a whole lot more than MY family of four spends for groceries each month. But that website explains “The cuts are especially painful in light of the inadequacy of existing benefit levels.” Huh?
Let us look at it another way: Aluminum now sells at the local metal place for about 60 cents a pound. There are 25 cans to the pound, so to get 60 pounds ($36) of aluminum, you need to collect 1500 cans. Sounds like a lot, until you realize just how many cans people buy and throw away, and how many you can find today on the roadside ditches and public trashcans of a typical American city. That is an average of 50 cans – just over 4 12-packs, a day. Hard work? Yeah, unless you really need that additional 36 bucks for food.
OR you could learn to cook something as simple as beans – a 15-ounce can of precooked pinto beans (Kuners) runs about a buck; a 10-pound bag of pinto (or anasazi) beans (from Dove Creek, CO Adobe Milling) costs five bucks, and makes the equivalent of 30-40 cans of beans: a cut in costs of 6:1. (30 cans at a buck each divided by 5). A 10-ounce can of processed chicken runs three bucks (on sale), a five-pound package of already-disassembled chicken costs about ten bucks, but makes the equivalent of 8 cans, a cut in costs of about 2.4:1. (80 oz at $10 versus 80 oz at $24). Similar savings on dozens of home-cooked versus store-bought foods, and you don’t need to go out and collect aluminum cans.
OR you could decide that your family only needs TWO cell phones (for the adults) and NOT for all four of you, at $50/month/cell phone (Denver rates with tax). $100/month. (Unless you are getting “commod” or “Obama” phones, of course.) Or you might have to – gasp! give up cable TV. Or NOT get that 50-inch television. Americans are the most incredibly wealthy poor people on the planet, and in history.
$36 lost might be a hardship, but hardly an insurmountable one. Even at half minimum wage, that is all of eight hours of work. Grunt work, under the table work, but WORK.
Excuse me, people, but WHAT gives?!? Why do we let these people get away with these lies? Why do we let them shame us into accepting that we are greedy Scrooges who OBVIOUSLY hate poor people?