Monday, October 11, 2010

Between hunger or food...


Shall we?

For new readers  - my sister and I are co-guardians of our older brother, who is autistic.  We recently wrapped up work on his Person Centered Plan for the next 12 months.  Part of working on the plan involves a review of his finances to make sure everything is in order.

I’ve written a lot about the challenge of balancing my role as guardian with my longing to have more time to be a sister.  In the last month it feels like I’ve fallen short – I spent a hell of a lot more time knee deep in guardianship paperwork than hanging out with Bill. 

But nothing drives home how important our guardianship is like looking at the money.

Contrary to popular belief, a diverse group of people receives food assistance from our government.  My brother is one of that number…along with many military families, working folk, seniors and disabled persons. 

And also contrary to popular belief, folks getting food assistance aren’t eating steak and lobster for lunch. 

My brother receives $160 a month in food assistance.  That hasn’t been increased in…well, not since we became his guardians.  He’s on a special diet for health reasons...and that doesn’t mean a damn thing to the formula. 

When the cost of milk goes up we have to deal with it…when his dietitian mandates more fresh veggies we have to strategize for it…and when Newt Gingrich rants about food stamps as if cutting funding is no biggie, he’s indulging in a public display of ignorance that attempts to insult and shame recipients even as his proposal puts the already anemic monthly allowance at risk.

Gingrich would like to shape the discussion as a choice between food assistance and jobs…he’s taken to Twitter to launch a 140 character messaging attack against Democrats that is built on the American myth that hunger is a motivator, only unemployed lazy people at ease feeding from the government tit receive food assistance and only a failure would need to apply for food assistance.

But we’re not being asked to decide between food assistance and jobs.

That’s bullshit.

Pause…consider…continue.

Let’s keep it real - when food assistance is up for debate the choice is between hunger and food.

3 comments:

Jaelithe said...

Oh, hunger is a motivator all right. Hunger -- of the starvation variety -- motivates people do to some pretty damned desperate things. Like steal, for example, or turn to prostitution. Hunger motivates people to sell their children or force them to work in sweatshops or beg on the street.

Is that the sort of "solution" to joblessness and poverty conservatives want to encourage in this country? Is that how we want to treat the unemployed and people with disabilities? Really?

Because if that's Newt Gingrich's dream for America, he might as well move his well-fed ass to one of the many countries in the world where that sort of poverty action plan is already in disastrous effect.

Maureen O'Danu said...

This is a purely practical comment, but in Missouri for the last couple of years, the value of food stamps is doubled at farmers markets. There are several in Kansas City that take food stamps. I imagine the same is true in St. Louis.

Anonymous said...

I live in Aroostook County Maine. According to predictions of this most recent census, the population is just under 75,000. This county covers a physical area the size of CT, RI, and a few small towns in MA. 'We' make up about 1% of the population, but get 100% of the blame for what ails the economy. About 64% of the county uses state funded health benefits (my fault?). About 35% uses food stamps (pretty sad, when you find out this is a farming community and again, my falut?). What Noose Gingrich proposes doing would starve these 'real' Americans, the drunks that they are, the wife-beaters and peodophiles and racists that they are... oh, wait did I just say that out loud?