Letters to the Editor

Letter: Food stamp funds

December 9, 2013


Somebody you know is receiving food stamps — but you probably don’t know it. The stigma persists; we don’t talk about it. The working poor are now getting less in food stamps. Life is harder this year due to changes in food stamp policy. Inequality for all is the norm. In Douglas County, 8,000 residents are receiving food stamps.

I have received food stamps (SNAP, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) three times in my life, beginning 45 years ago in Kansas City. I was unemployed and got food stamps for six months. Then, 35 years ago, as a low-paid janitor at the Douglas County Judicial Building in Lawrence, I got food stamps for five months.

Then, last year, being single and unemployed, I began getting $200 per month food stamps. When I began getting Social Security, I got less than $100 in food stamps. Then, with part-time work, it dropped to $16. Finally, with a better job, I didn’t need them anymore. Others aren’t so lucky.

You can donate to Just Food or LINK and do the Food Stamp Challenge, but that just helps the symptom, not the cause. Conservative Republican legislators in Topeka and Washington have erected barriers against needy people, cutting funding for food stamp outreach programs and not renewing the SNAP program in the U.S. Congress.  

Contact your representatives: Gov. Brownback, Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran, Rep. Lynn Jenkins and your local state representatives. Urge them to restore food stamp funding to its previous level. We need your help.


Brock Masters 4 years, 4 months ago

Giving people food stamps addresses an immediate need, but also only addresses the symptom. We will always need a safety net as life is unpredictable, but we need to figure out how to help people so they don't need government assistance.

Also, it is reprehensible that our government cuts funding to its people while providing aid to foreign countries and funding a piece of "art" that looks like a giant Leggo block creation at our Embassy in London to the tune of one million dollars.

Art or food for the poor? Not a tough choice in my world.

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 4 months ago

Someone said something recently that struck me and stuck with me.
"Charity isn't Justice. People need a living wage, not food banks."

Brock Masters 4 years, 4 months ago

And exactly what dollar amount is a living wage?

Businesses may if they choose provide charity by paying more than market for a job but should not be forced to so so.

Fast food workers want 15 per hour. It is ridiculous that they think that low skilled job is with that much.

Clark Coan 4 years, 4 months ago

Exactly. If people get a Living Wage, they will be self-reliant and won't need food stamps. We also need a full employment policy even if it takes federal grants to create worker cooperatives in inner cities and Indian reservations.

Kyle Reed 4 years, 4 months ago

It is a bit ironic that you indicate all they need is a raise in their wage to be self reliant. They've already proven they AREN'T self reliant if they are limited to a job that pays them minimum wage and they can't live on it. Self reliance isn't acheived by the situation changing to fit your needs...it is defined as "relying on oneself or on one's own powers, resources, etc."

4 years, 4 months ago

"Self reliance isn't achieved by the situation changing to fit your needs..."

This is exactly right, and it puts to the lie 'studies' that prove that food stamps, in the words of pseudonymous Mropus Wan, "create economic self-sufficiency." If anti-poverty programs eliminated poverty, the poverty rate would have gone down in proportion to the money spent on it. Instead, we have been stuck at about the same poverty rate for the past half century (Warning! Chart not adjusted for inflation!).

But that's really neither the point nor the problem. Everyone with a room temperature IQ understands that our national fiscal situation cannot continue as it is forever. QE4 cannot go on into infinity. We cannot run $600b+ deficits forever. SocSec and especially Medicare will need to be rescued again. And again. And Merrill is correct, a 50% reduction in defense is not only necessary, but just a start, because we spend as much on 'defense' as the rest of the world combined. We can't afford to run the world and could not do so even if we could afford it. How's that Afghanistan invasion going, btw?

And yet, we wander on, forward, year by year, never dealing with the issues but floundering over fiscal cliffs and sequesters and debt ceilings, ignoring the real in favor of the theatre version. But at some point, it's gonna break. Like Greece, like Iceland, like the USSR, at some point the bad numbers come home and you cannot adjust them away. Reality strikes. Budgets really get cut. And who gets hosed? The poor get hosed. Badly. Why do they get hosed? Not only because they have no money, but because they have no skills.

Food stamps are the world's greatest welfare program. For General Mills, Dole, and Kraft. That's where the money ends up. But can you imagine the empowerment if instead of spending $70b a year on processed, microwaveable future-heart-attacks, we spent it on legacy seeds, canning lids, and cooking and gardening lessons? What if instead of feeding the poor, we gave them the skills and tools to feed themselves? What if instead of lines at WalMart, the poor had gardens, instead of pot pies, they had fresh lettuce? What if we taught them to start businesses? What if we channeled the entrepreneurial spirit of the pot dealer into legitimate lines of work?

Nah, that's crazy talk. People who don't like food stamps really want the poor to starve. Don't they?

This is what I call ROI!

This is what I call ROI! by Bill Hoyt

4 years, 4 months ago

Yeah, it does, bro. When I write, "For General Mills, Dole, and Kraft. That's where the money ends up," that's a pretty good indication that corporations are taking full advantage of welfare.

4 years, 4 months ago

"poverty reduction measures did some measurable good"

Yup, right up until President Nixon resigned.

4 years, 4 months ago

Yes, thanks for not answering the question. When you decided to drag the "Old White Man Party" into it, how did my absolutely-freaking-next-sentence disagree?

4 years, 4 months ago

Now I'm confused. I thought Irrelevant Appeal to Sex and Race was supposed to precede False Accusation of Intellectual Dishonesty. Do I not have the proper edition of Liberal Internets 101?

But since you confuse "General Mills, Dole, and Kraft" with poverty-living SNAP recipients, I suspect that Reading Comprehension ought to precede them both.

Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 4 months ago

Thank you for your letter. It is possible to work two jobs and still qualify for food stamps. I understand why people think that the able bodied young should be working. But young, single people do get hungry and sick and they do need and deserve help. To me there are just so many factors that go into the decisions people make, and let us not forget that we have to abide by the decisions of others when it comes to getting hired and such. Despair and hopelessness are the most awful and debilitating of emotions and the hardest to defeat.

I think that sometimes people just go numb, emotionally and mentally, from the horrible reality that they can no longer affect. Others take this as indifference or laziness.

Clark Coan 4 years, 4 months ago

Sure some folks use food stamps so they won't have to spend money on food, but can use it for illegal drugs, cigarettes or alcohol, but the majority don't.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 4 months ago

Cutting the military budget by 50% and closing 500 military bases abroad would allow funding for USA job creation thus putting millions back to work in America.

In addition to covering the cost of Single Payer Insurance for all of us such that the other industrialized nations provide….. some of which are now home to USA jobs.

When we're told there is no money to do either of the two I say we're being lied to…...

Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 4 months ago

That would be financial disaster. What is going to happen to the workers if the plants that make military supplies are closed? If those bases are closed where are all the soldiers going to go? A military base is like a small city with stores and infrastructure and closing it would have a huge impact on the surrounding area as well as all the personel that keep a base working.

This is not a question of "pork" because in every state workers depend on that to take care of their families. It would be impossible for them to find jobs if they were laid off or fired. Stores, restaurants, etc. in the surrounding area would have to be shut down due to lack of customers. What would they do?

4 years, 4 months ago

"Urge them to restore food stamp funding to its previous level."

Look at these monster cuts!

Oh, the horror!

Oh, the horror! by Bill Hoyt

4 years, 4 months ago

"There are very few good reasons to show historical spending comparisons without correcting for inflation."

One of them would be that it doesn't make the slightest difference to my argument. You can look at either chart, and either one will tell you that the last few years are way out of 'normal' for the program. The numbers show a spike in the chart either way, and in either chart, a 'draconian' 5% cut will turn the clocks back to that fateful year of 2012, when this fair city was a virtual Ethiopia, complete with swollen-bellied children in the streets and Eric Cartman complaining about insect repellent.

Now, the fact that your demand for inflation-adjusted numbers made no difference to my argument also means that your hand-waving and hurrumphing is merely a distraction, not a response. If you had numbers that showed that my argument was incorrect (much less dishonest) you would have shared them rather than Barbara complaining that my numbers were not manipulated and Mropus complaining that they were.

I talked to the numbers about that and they said it was ok; they're used to people not liking them on first meeting. But they do hope that in the future they'll have a chance to be your friends and hope that over time, you both will grow to trust them even though they feel it necessary to share an unpleasant truth now and again.

4 years, 4 months ago

"So what exactly is your argument then, inflation-adjustment or otherwise?"

Seriously? If you were truly interested in the answer I suspect you would have asked the question before you posted half a dozen morally-posturing responses. But hey, you've proven yourself a warrior on behalf of something or other. Sleep well knowing you did all you could.

4 years, 4 months ago

"I fail to see how anything I posted was 'morally-posturing'."

That's not at all a surprise. But when one posts comments like "Chart and data manipulation isn't an uncommon trick to bolster talking points..." without understanding the point that is being alleged, well, that counts as mortally posturing. When one is taking sides without having the faintest notion of the arguments being made, based only on the 'side' being defended, that's morally posturing.

Hey, I don't blame you, bro. If I had nothing of value to offer, combined with low self-esteem and perhaps a little bit of neurosis as well, I'd do the same thing. Liberals gotta liberal, lest they fade into that goodnight, after all.

4 years, 4 months ago

Ah, yes, the old "hatefacts" argument - I don't like your numbers so here's a list of all the things they don't say.

We don't need to include inflation when looking at the 2009-2012 fiscal years - after all, our government tells us inflation is contained (ask any SocSec recipient about their adjustment this year). So let's not adjust them. Unadjusted numbers put the lie to the sob story that these programs are being gutted. The assertion is not remotely true.

The red line is the 30 year moving average - what some might call "its previous level." In fact, if we took the letter writer's advice, we might halve the program. Or more.

What has actually happened is that the program has gone from $30 million to almost $80 million in 6 years. Most of that is because of a temporary Stimulus package adjustment. But I suppose there is nothing so permanent as a temporary government program.

The thing I most enjoyed, however, was Mr. Wan's assertion that these numbers include "chart and data manipulation." I find it so amusing because the main thing you have accused me of is not manipulating it at all.

4 years, 4 months ago

Ok, so I'm right that we should not adjust the chart for inflation where it goes boom (besides, the 30 year trend line reflects inflation just fine). And I'm right that there were expansions in eligibility due to recent changes in the law. I suspect I'm also right that there have been no real cuts, much less that Congress has "not renewed the SNAP program" as the letter writer alleged.

My entire argument is this: the allegation of draconian cuts is rubbish in light of the fact that the program has doubled in 6 years, and has increased at a rate far higher than any time in its life.

If you can find something dishonest in that, I suspect you brought it with you.

4 years, 4 months ago

"...a chart that shows all of them and adjusts for inflation" Here you go.

Now, as I was saying, "Look at those monster cuts!" The funny thing is that in adjusting it for inflation, the chart makes the last 5 years' explosion look even bigger proportionally, especially since it's up another 7% (5.5b) this year. It also shows that it has been rising almost unabated since 2001. If I recall, 2001 to 2008 were not known for their high unemployment. But I might just be misremembering.

But if one wishes to look for intellectual dishonesty, it can be found exactly where the expiration of a temporary increase is called a cut. That's on the order of saying that your boss gave you a salary cut in January because he did not renew your Christmas bonus that month.

Wow, look at that adjustment!

Wow, look at that adjustment! by Bill Hoyt

Kyle Reed 4 years, 4 months ago

Get rid of the cheats and those that sell theirs to other people to buy drugs and cigs and there will be plenty of funding to take care of those that do.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 4 months ago

Look at these tax cuts which represent zillions in food stamps for a certain segment of USA society.

Is anyone paying attention? after 30 years?

A WHOPPING FOOD STAMP EFFORT = THE GOP ENTITLEMENT program for the wealthy which do nothing to make an economy strong or produce jobs. Tax cuts are a tax increase to others in order to make up the loss in revenue = duped again. Bush Tax Cuts aka http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2001/0301miller.html

Has anyone ever paid any attention to the ALEC Right Wing Anti American politicians? Every campaign they come off sounding like old school fiscal conservative socially responsible republicans. Once elected or re-elected they are back to their anti American agenda.

Is anyone paying attention? after 30 years?

Richard Heckler 4 years, 4 months ago

A dedicated source of funding for self sustainability would be cool but why is the USA so unemployed? Self sustaining wages instead of food stamps is a novel idea.

Millions want their jobs back.....however China would be one long commute.

--- Governor Romney wrote, "Let Detroit go bankrupt." And it did. Of the 25,000 UAW members at Delphi, every single one lost their job. Delphi once had 29 factories in the U.S., now just one. Today, GM still gets its parts from Delphi, shipped from the plants that the Romney hedge funds have moved to the People’s Republic of China. http://www.democracynow.org/2012/10/18/greg_palast_mitt_romneys_bailout_bonanza

Stop and take a deep breath. Millions of jobs have been lost to Reagan/Bush and Bush/Cheney home loan scams that sent our economies down the tubes and jobs abroad never to return.

What we have documented is the activity below doesn't create jobs but does demand food stamps for millions. Corrupt Wall Street activity and monster fraud has killed jobs for millions of Americans. Below are dangerous ENTITLEMENTS and terrible business decisions.

--- 1. Mergers = industry and jobs lost to other countries

--- 2. Hostile Takeovers = industry and jobs lost to other countries

--- 3. Leveraged Buyouts = industry and jobs lost to other countries

--- 4. Free Trade Agreements = industry and jobs lost to other countries

--- 5. Why did the GOP Deliberately crash the USA economy http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jun/09/did-republicans-deliberately-crash-us-economy

--- The Reagan/Bush Savings and Loan Heist http://rationalrevolution0.tripod.com/war/bush_family_and_the_s.htm

--- The Bush/Cheney Wall Street Bank Fraud on Consumers http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2009/0709macewan.html

--- What did Bush and Henry Paulson do with the $700 billion of bail out money? http://www.democracynow.org/2009/9/10/good_billions_after_bad_one_year

Richard Heckler 4 years, 4 months ago

One project alive and well in India is a project that is said to replace the USA Silicon Valley which will be millions more USA jobs lost abroad. It is a huge "business park" which is also forcing displacement of tons of local India residents.

More USA White collar and blue collar jobs going bye bye. Could this impact Lawrence, Kansas? Of course the ripple impact knows no boundaries.

Why does USA industry participate in such activity when in fact it is the USA that made these industries and some investors very wealthy?

Isn't this anti American?

4 years, 4 months ago

"So what exactly is your argument then?"

Lol. What I can't figure out is, if you truly don't understand what I'm arguing, why are you so dead set on arguing against it?

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 4 months ago

A Jewish viewpoint: Maimonides (1135 - 1204) defined eight levels in giving charity (tzedakah), each one higher than the preceding one. Food stamps might be considered to be tzedakah at level 2. On an ascending level, they are as follows:

Eight Levels of Charitable Giving:

8) When donations are given grudgingly.

7) When one gives less than he should, but does so cheerfully.

6) When one gives directly to the poor upon being asked.

5) When one gives directly to the poor without being asked.

4) Donations when the recipient is aware of the donor's identity, but the donor still doesn't know the specific identity of the recipient.

3) Donations when the donor is aware to whom the charity is being given, but the recipient is unaware of the source.

2) Giving assistance in such a way that the giver and recipient are unknown to each other. Communal funds, administered by responsible people are also in this category.

1) The highest form of charity is to help sustain a person before they become impoverished by offering a substantial gift in a dignified manner, or by extending a suitable loan, or by helping them find employment or establish themselves in business so as to make it unnecessary for them to become dependent on others.

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