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Republican lawmakers are on the defensive as the country heads into the holiday season, with cutbacks in food stamps stressing needy families while Congress debates how much more to cut from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). “Which of your constituents do you think should go hungry?” asks a holiday card electronically delivered to members of Congress this week. It points out that the proposed cuts mean “less food and more hunger for millions of low income seniors, veterans, working families with children and disabled Americans.”
TeAt the same time, assistance to farmers, traditionally coupled in the same bill with SNAP, appears to be weathering the GOP’s budget-cutting knife just fine. “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat,” said Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN), invoking the Bible to explain his vote earlier this year to cut food stamps while calling for increased crop subsidies for farmers. His family farm received more than $3.5 million in federal money over the years, making him the poster boy for 33 members of Congress who voted to cut food stamps, a program that helps the least among us, while having no qualms about accepting federal largesse for their farm businesses.xt
Twenty percent of Fincher’s constituents are on the SNAP program, says Jim Weill, president of Food Research and Action Center, which launched the website with the holiday greeting designed to trigger guilt over who is left behind during these days of plenty. Weill recalls the language of his college days to explain the easy passage of farm subsidies and the mounting resistance to SNAP. The farm part of the bill is “distributional,” he says; food stamps are “re-distributional,” a concept that is toxic in American politics.
Republicans who rail against big government have SNAP in their target sights because of the program’s growth in just the last few years. In 2006, 25 million people were on food stamps, and at the end of last year, the number was 47 million; now it’s 48 million, almost a doubling in seven years. Republicans see those numbers and assume there must be waste, fraud, and abuse. Democrats attribute the growth to the weak economy and more people needing assistance. One in four are not in the program even though they’re qualified.
For now, though, as lawmakers sift through the numbers and the partisan disagreements, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has taken matters into his own hands to announce $4.5 million in emergency food assistance grants to help food banks, churches, and charities cope with the spike in need prompted by the reduction in SNAP benefits. For those on the front lines working with people in need, the notion that more cuts could be coming seems incomprehensible. “It’s outrageous they’re still considering $4 to $8 to $10 billion cuts in the conference committee,” says Weill. “That will create real hardship.” And more cuts could create real political problems for Republicans if they head home for the holidays without passing a farm bill, or worse, pass one that worsens the food insecurity of millions.
The US has more people on food stamps than the entire population of Spain.
BTW what did humans do BEFORE food stamps and welfare, how did our species ever get this far without them?
November 28, 2013 The New American by Walter E. Williams
One of the oldest notions in the history of mankind is that some people are to give orders and others are to obey. The powerful elite believe that they have wisdom superior to the masses and that they’ve been ordained to forcibly impose that wisdom on the rest of us. Their agenda calls for an attack on the free market and what it implies — voluntary exchange. Tyrants do not trust that people acting voluntarily will do what the tyrant thinks they should do. Therefore, free markets are replaced with economic planning and regulation that is nothing less than the forcible superseding of other people’s plans by the powerful elite.
Because Americans still retain a large measure of liberty, tyrants must mask their agenda. At the university level, some professors give tyranny an intellectual quality by preaching that negative freedom is not enough. There must be positive liberty or freedoms. This idea is widespread in academia, but its most recent incarnation was a discussion by Wake Forest University professor David Coates in a Huffington Post article, titled “Negative Freedom or Positive Freedom: Time to Choose?”
Positive rights is a view that people should have certain material things — such as medical care, decent housing and food — whether they can pay for them or not. Seeing as there is no Santa Claus or tooth fairy, those “rights” do impose obligations upon others. If one person has a right to something he did not earn, of necessity it requires that another person not have a right to something he did earn. If we were to apply this bogus concept of positive rights to free speech and the right to travel freely, my free speech rights would impose financial obligations on others to supply me with an auditorium, microphone and audience. My right to travel would burden others with the obligation to purchase airplane tickets and hotel accommodations for me. Most Americans, I would imagine, would tell me, “Williams, yes, you have the right to free speech and travel rights, but I’m not obligated to pay for them!”
reply to post by Carreau
This is utter nonsense.
We live in a society with a great degree of interdependence.
The business man hires workers the society educated so he can get adequate professional expertise in running his business endeavor.
He doesn’t hire humans out of thin air. They are created and maintained by the interdependent society that makes people put their children in school BY LAW!
If we don’t take care of the poor and those that the mechanism of society leaves bereft of care then it will come back to affect you in some way negatively whether you like it or not.
So ultimately being humane is about self interest.
Europe now is failing because of that same austerity principle.