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When Did Hunger Become a Political Issue?

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  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Portland, OR
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    “That hunger and malnutrition should persist in a land such as ours is embarrassing and intolerable.”

    Most liberals and progressives would not think twice about agreeing with this quote, but what if I told you that this was no liberal or progressive that said this? Before a joint session of congress in 1969, President Richard Nixon stood before the American people and professed that it is a travesty that we have people dying of hunger in the richest nation in the world and he intended to do something about it. Building on what President Kennedy started, President Nixon expanded the food stamp program and worked with Democrats and Republicans to ensure that as many people as possible had a meal on their tables each and every day. It wasn't a political issue and it worked. Hunger was at its lowest rate in America as it had ever been.

    Fast forward to today. Republicans have done everything in their power to gut the food stamp program in the name of fiscal austerity. Never mind the fact that they whole heartily support provisions in the Farm Bill that give subsidies, aka free money, to multinational corporations that own nearly fifty percent of the total farm land in the United States. What do they have to do for this free money? Nothing whatsoever. Just hold their hands out and take that money. That is literally the definition of a hand out, but according to House Republicans, that is alright. Feeding our nations poor children? That's socialism.

    When it all boils down to it, here is why Republicans want to cut food stamps but keep the subsidies in place: the farmers have a powerful lobbying body and poor people don't.
  • Democrat
    Philadelphia, PA
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    An unfortunate fact of life is that there will always be poor people as well as hungry children, can we as a nation continue to feed and support these unfortunates, I believe we can as long as they understand that being poor is a situation and not a culture, we should always try to give any needy person a hand up out of their situation and not enable them to continue their in plight with continuous hand outs. I am not advocating any cut backs in worthwhile projects but when so many programs overlap one another it begs for corruption, and that is what happens when there are very few prosecutions or even penalties for fraud and corruption. These programs have been around during both Democrat and Republican administrations, so it would be unfair to blame either one of them for our current problem regarding the Food Stamp program, that being said however, there should be some type of control, not necessarily an austerity program, but at least a revamping of the rules as what is and what isn't allowed to be purchased, potato chips , I don't think so, over the counter cold sandwiches, give me a break, and stores that allow these types of purchases as well as others should not be able to avail themselves of this government program.
  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Portland, OR
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    The issue is much more complex than what one can and can't buy with their food stamps. There are no grocery stores in countless inner cities in this country because the big stores won't set up shop there. These kids then have zero access to fresh fruits and vegetables even if they wanted them. Potato chips and candy bars at the corner convenience store are it.

    What I'm not for is the continuous hand outs to the multinational corporations that get subsidies. The US Government hands out, with little to zero strings attached mind you, 20 billion dollars a year in farm subsidies. This mainly goes to the powerful corporations that own our farm land. This is free money. The epitome of a hand out. On the other hand, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has tons of strings attached to it. Just because there are a few bad apples that take advantage of the system doesn't mean that an overwhelming majority of individuals on this program take advantage of it. They are trying to feed their families and themselves. I'd much rather spend money on that then give subsidies to Monsanto.

    Gone are the days of the average farmer tending to his crop on his own land. Powerful interests now grow our crops, which has recently been reduced to mainly corn and soy because they have a much longer shelf life than many other crops and can be stored in silo's for years. It is a myth that the mom and pop farmer are the backbone of our nations agriculture apparatus. I am not for a blind free for all with regards to the Food Stamp program, but we as a citizenry have to stand up and demand that it is unacceptable that millions of our nations children go hungry each and every day for no fault of their own.
  • Democrat
    Philadelphia, PA
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    The topic is about hunger not multinational corporations subsidies. The large supermarket chains do not go into these very impoverished areas mainly because of the profit margin vs. theft, one is very low while the other is sky high, these chains are in the business of making money not being a social agency, the Bodega's and other small stores that open do cater to the poor but mostly from behind security screens, the problem is poverty and the more the Government ignores the problem for what it is, then in fact we will always have a poverty class of people along with the skewed culture that goes along with it. Stopping Multinational Corporations from receiving their subsidies is not the answer let alone a solution to the problem, if you think those monies will be transferred to an Anti-poverty/Hunger program ,you will be sadly disappointed.
  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Portland, OR
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    The Farm Bill covers both Food Stamps and the subsidies for multinational corporations. You can't focus on one without discussing the other.
  • Democrat
    Philadelphia, PA
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    if I'm I to understand that you believe that since the Farm Bill covers both ,that the monies saved from eliminating the farm subsidy handout that the money gets transferred to the Food Stamp program which last I checked was run by the Dept. of Agriculture, I don't think so.
  • Independent
    New Hampshire
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    It has been politics for decades, haven't you noticed? It was a political issue in 1968 with the "happy pappy" program with administrative costs about 2.5 times more expensive than the amount given out by program. After several generations on these programs it becomes a way of life. To break this problem it will require an effort that the GOP would never go for. It will take a program that will cover a multitude of areas including:
    1. Education and Job Training, This includes children and parents. All courses to be taught in English. A short crash course should be offered before the official program for to lean conversational English. Advanced reading and writing would be covered in the program.
    2. Work is required, if a person is not capable of that for health an alternative program of contributing to society will be required. This poses a problem with the availability of jobs. It may require city, state and federal governments to create local projects which are needed.
    3. Law enforcement has to do their job. Gangs should not be tolerated, drugs and prostitution.
    4. After being in the program for a defined period of time you would be required to provide proof you were seeking employment to continue with full benefits. Failure to comply would reduce benefits.
    It would be important for business to take part in this program as the goal of the program would be to raise the level of those in the program to become their customers.
  • Democrat
    Philadelphia, PA
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    Here in Pa. several years ago, we had a Governor named Thornbourgh, who proposed a welfare to work program, it contained many of the ideas expressed in your post, however the Democrats and Liberals called this man everything short of Stalin, the unions said that he was taking away the union jobs, so many called it unconstitutional, the black organizations called it a form of slavery, it never came to fruition , how would this idea fare now in this time of high unemployment, bad economy, and immense distrust of the government?
  • Independent
    New Hampshire
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    Several years ago I wrote a paper on rebuilding, for lack of a better word, slum area. I do not know if the word slum has been given a new name so that those who live the will not feel as though the are living a decaying area. I also have never worried about being politically correct so I don't think I'll start now. When I write (type) it takes a long time to get a final product as I must go over everything several times before giving it to someone to proof read and then I correct it. I may be a bit different than most people, I do not ask anything from others. If I do something for someone I expect nothing in return. I love to work and the feeling I get knowing that what I have just do is as good as I can do, even if was doing something I really didn't care for.
    I know what I proposed would meet with strong resistance beginning it with a requirement to use English. If you are from the British Isles there is a good chance you are able to speak two languages. If you are from the Continent you most likely speak three or more. If you are from the USA you probably have a problem speaking one. Anyone who comes here does so by choice, though we do not have a national language by law we have a nation language and it is now called the American Language (before it was English). If you chose to live here the use of that language should be required for employment, education, obtaining any license and anything else outside the home. Why should anyone learn the language of the land if it is not required by the government and the government is willing to print everything in several languages. I wonder how much we could save on printing costs. I have been waiting to hear the following recording when I call for software support:
    "Thank you for calling (name of company). If you speak Spanish press 1. If you speak Indian press 2. If you speak Russian press 3 ................
    If you only speak English please hang up and don't call back as we don't have anyone here that you'll be able to understand." and that would be from an American software company.
    Setting a time limit and/or restrictions on receiving full benefits it is made it clear that aid/assistance is only a temporary situation which will be corrected. There may be a time in a persons life when assistance may be needed and in a nation as wealthy as ours it should not take an act of Congress to get it to them. We are offered Freedoms and to the ability to make a better life for yourself, nowhere does it say that you will get a free ride for the rest of your life. Each of us has choices to make, you really don't want the government to make them for you. The individual must make the choices and they must realize they are responsible for the choices they make.
    Education must teach a minimum level of speaking, reading and writing the American language but it must go beyond that with job training and the skills necessary to become a member of society. Growing up in Somerville, MA the school on Cross St. was primarily a trade school. A student had the option of going to the standard Jr. and Sr. High Schools or attend a trade school. The Trades available would have to be increased due to advances in technology but back then you could learn auto mechanics, plumbing, electrical, construction and a number of other trades. We'll have to ask Dutch for the European school system as I know many countries have an education system that prepares you for a job. I know Delft even had training for becoming a Precision Optician (as opposed to eyeglasses).
    The paper I had written had a combination of government and private financing and I'm not sure what the regs are with respect to union Labor. I do know licensed people are required for signing. I may have a copy of the paper on an old external hard drive, I'll look over the weekend.
  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Portland, OR
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    johnnycee Wrote: if I'm I to understand that you believe that since the Farm Bill covers both ,that the monies saved from eliminating the farm subsidy handout that the money gets transferred to the Food Stamp program which last I checked was run by the Dept. of Agriculture, I don't think so.
    I did not call for eliminating the Farm Subsidy program. It is a just and appropriate program when it is used appropriately and effectively. The history behind the farm subsidy is for another discussion, but I am a believer in it when it is used to help the small farmer. I am 100 percent against it when it is paid to multinational corporations, which a vast majority of the recipients of subsidies are.

    And yes, I am calling for the money that is saved in eliminating farm subsidies for multinational corporations to be transferred to the Food Stamp program. As I stated in my original post and subsequent retorts, I think it's an absolute shame that we have millions of poor children in the richest country in the world going to school hungry each and every day. I think it's an absolute shame that they have zero access to fresh fruits and vegetables because capitalism is king and the grocery chains are too scared to open up shop. I think it's an absolute shame that millions of Americans shrug at the problem and don't think that anything needs to be done because it is not affecting them directly. And I think it's an absolute shame that this is even a political issue in the first place.

    The Agriculture Committee's of both the House and Senate share oversight of the Department of Agriculture. They also write the Farm Bill, which the Department of Agriculture then enforces once it is signed by the President. The Department is responsible for both handing out the subsidies and managing the Food Stamp program at the federal level. So, I'm not quite sure what your last comment was supposed to insinuate.
  • Democrat
    Philadelphia, PA
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    My last comment was not in any why insinuating anything other than that Federal dollars allocated for certain programs (Food stamp) if not used for the intended purpose is returned to the General Fund. That is a fact not a insinuating comment.
  • Center Left Democrat
    Democrat
    Flagstaff, AZ
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    the House of Representatives just voted to reduce funding for food stamps (SNAP) by $20 billion over the next decade ..

    the average weekly food stamp benefit is $31.50 per week, and 26 House Democrats have recently tried to live on that amount .. not surprisingly,
    they have found that it doesn't buy much ..

    http://www.politicususa.com/2013/06/13/125097.html

    although some sources say that average net worth of members of Congress is $966.000, it's actually slightly less than that, but not by much ..
    according to the Washington Post, the median net worth of Republicans in 2010 was $881,786, but Democrats were only slightly lower, at
    $862,508

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/capitol-assets/congressional-wealth-risk-matrix/

    as of June, 2013, America's approval rating of Congress (according to Gallup) has now sunk to 10%, the lowest rating that it's ever had, and the lowest of ANY institution that it has ever rated ..

    so ..

    when I think of all those millionaire congressmen who want to cut aid to our less fortunate fellow citizens, an old phrase comes to mind ..

    and it ends with ..


    ... "and the horse they came in on" ...
  • Independent
    New Hampshire
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    jaredsxtn: we are not the richest country in the world; but we are the most expensive.
  • Democrat
    Apopka, FL
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    I am very curious as to how the Congressional People are doing,daily, in their effort to live, survive, on the SNAP allowance. My two children and I received Food Stamps for a short time. As I combined the Food Stamps with my Unemployment Compensation we could no longer pay rent and had to move into a motel room. It gets worse the longer one tries to get by on Food Stamps. Starch becomes ever more important. Dishonesty may be one of the first good personal characteristics to leave. Feeding one`s self and children is a very basic aspect of survival. Hunger in the belly is horrible. I`d very much like to know how these People are liking it, and hope they are honest in their effort and answers. So please Al, do keep us informed on this.
  • Center Left
    Independent
    Central, FL
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    I know this will sound like a rant...... However..... I truly feel that the majority of repub's, are built to favor the rich. Work towards the ease of life and to lower the expense of getting by for the rich. That's why the govt. won't settle the hunger / malnutrition problem here at home. There's not enough point's to be gained versus what it would cost it the minds of those who don't care about the actual problem. Sad I know. If we could rebuild nothing more than our people... how great would that be to make so many well.