Am I the only one around here who’s disgusted with the recent cuts in food stamps (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act, Medicaid cuts (funding for nursing homes, disabled, mentally ill, etc.), and the insults that our conservative politicians have foisted by labeling benefits that you and I have paid for all of our working lives “entitlements”?
What a mean-spirited crock they’re shoving down our throats. Whatever happened to that loving our neighbors thing? To me part of loving my neighbors is paying taxes (sharing a fair portion of my bounty) to fund the thousands of needs that any given community creates.
It could be in the Bible or maybe the Constitution, but doesn’t it say somewhere that we will be rewarded if we’re willing to share what we have? It might be right next to that “It’ll be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich person to get into heaven.”
Despite my mangling of scripture and verse, I think that if each of us is willing to share some of what we have our world will be a better place, and taxes would be a good example of this. Think about all the public services sharing our wealth has created (schools, police, fire, roads, aid for dependent children, nursing homes, public health, parks, water, sewer, courts, libraries, environmental protection, farm subsidies, on and on) you’ll most likely conclude that our lifestyles would be rather miserable without public services.
I find the latest attack on our food stamp system insulting. For my entire life America has boasted that we feed the world. Yet we have families, through no fault of their own, starving. To my dismay our conservative leaders just cut taxes and raised our debt by $1.5 trillion, then passed a budget that will spend $1.5 trillion more than last year’s budget. That’s $3 trillion added to the debt, so now in order for Congress to balance its budget it has to slash its way through the line items … and one of the cuts is food stamps and it proposes to substitute food boxes to cut costs.
Food boxes seem like a common sense idea, especially for those who don’t have to rely on SNAP and those who can get to wherever they distribute the boxes. Not so good for families that can’t get there. The problem here is that way too many folks have bought into the idea that folks on food stamps are just a lazy bunch of folks sucking off the system. I’m here to tell you they’re wrong and mean spirited.
Here’s my experience. Back in 1982 I finished graduate school, we decided to move back home and we were flat out broke. I left for grad school with two kids, came back with three, and since we had no money we applied for and received a month’s worth of food stamps. It was a humbling experience but we needed to feed ourselves so I headed to the grocery store with a list of purchases.
When I got to the checkout line, the person at the checkout rudely asked me what I was doing on food stamps. I said I needed to feed my family. She then said, “You shouldn’t be on food stamps, you’re from a rich family.” And she kept on and on while checking me out. Finally I tossed the food stamps at her and stomped out. Needless to say my wife wasn’t too impressed, and thank goodness my mother-in-law fed us anyway.
Back to my beginning, for those of you who think cutting all those welfare/social programs is a good idea, might I suggest that you at least take a minute to understand that there really are needs out there that are worth sharing our wealth to maintain. After all, most of us are where we are only by the grace of God.