You can run from the label "Great Recession" all you want to, but the fact remains that we have endured the worst economic conditions since the 1940s, worse than the crash of the 1980s. And yet, somehow, we have decided to blame those that lost their jobs for their own plight. I must say "we", because you and I are both responsible for the actions of who we send to congress, whether we agree with their actions or not.
Thanks to today's United States House of Representatives vote, you have ninety days after losing the only job your household may have before choosing between mortgage payments and eating. And if you live in Tennessee, you can be assured that there is no help coming from the state government. At all.
A system supposedly "rife with abuse" that provides for nothing more than basic food needs strikes me as being a parallel to "people who drink too much from a public water fountain." We are a nation blessed with the most fertile soil on the planet, the cleanest drinking water and par excellent scientific minds. Yet somehow, "abuse" is defined as people who accept assistance for what most people would still describe as sub-standard foodstuffs. You and I's cost "savings" amount to a mere fraction of the total expenditures to it takes to run this great country of ours (or one tenth the cost of a failed project to develop a new fighter jet), but yet it dominates the mental consciousness of those who would rather blame the impoverished for their own poverty.
You can call it a "heart strings" argument but I call it being a decent human being who remembers a lesson from childhood to care for "least of these brothers and sisters of mine". We hear about the exceptional nature of this country of ours (even when other world leaders say we shouldn't think so highly of ourselves). No man, woman or child should want for basic needs in this country. And for far many, they reluctantly ask for nothing more. I really want to know where these mystical "boot straps" are that many insist they are able to pull themselves up by. Because last time I was in Target, they were not for sale and certainly were not available for donation to those that needed them.
It is also worth mentioning that a major employer in our state just cut 275 of more than 1,000 jobs only a day before this vote took place.
Until I hear of a millionaire (or even a hundred-thousand-are) abusing our food stamps program for personal gain, I cannot believe even for a moment that the program is fatally flawed. Last time I checked, qualifying for food-stamps does not get you caviar and an XBox every year.
I speak as someone who can claim exactly zero additional deductions on our household income taxes, which means I pay more as a percentage of income in federal and state taxes than most of the nation -- and far more than the 217 that voted against the funding for these programs. What I pay those taxes for is for us to live in a country that denies no one the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. Our exceptionalism is not measured by the power of our military to strike anywhere on the globe, nor is it by the opulence of our most wealthy. Our exceptionalism, our greatness, is defined by what the less fortunate among us are still able to count among their own good fortunes.
Imagine for a moment that these so-called "takers" are counted among our points of pride. Our country, so full of personal freedom and great wealth, can provide the most basic needs for any citizen, regardless of their social standing or personal ambition. If you honestly believe that the social safety net that has supported our nations for almost seventy years is to blame for a lack of ambition, then let me take you to a small West Tennessee that will be hit hardest by this legislation. A city that literally used to make the boots and boot straps we speak fondly of lost its garment factories and other manufacturing more than a decade ago. Those that hold jobs are only a few steps away from reverting to a bartering system to be able to afford groceries.
I cannot decide if it is tone deafness for their constituents or a malicious intent against those that were not fortunate enough to have money to invest in businesses or to live in a county where jobs were more plentiful. I am sure the "just get you a job" crowd still exists.
Government certainly cannot solve all of our problems, but it is most effective when it ensures that we have the means by which be able to solve our own.