Letter: Hostility toward poor incomprehensible
Posted on Dec 31, 2013 - 12:54 PM Printer Friendly View
Anyone with an engaged brain understands that it’s better to be rich than poor. Anyone with an ounce of empathy knows that those who are poor did not choose to be in that condition. People make misguided decisions or life-changing decisions are made for them: they lose their jobs due to “downsizing,” medical conditions cause them to quit their jobs and they find themselves in the humbling position of having to apply for assistance from the government.
It is not a pleasant experience. Applicants sense they have failed to succeed in life like everyone around them. Then they must contend with people who haven’t a clue about their private circumstances, but who feel they can make erroneous assumptions about them. The complainers usually believe that since there have been instances of fraud in a given program, anyone who takes advantage of that program is, ergo, a fraud, taking something to which they have no right. Applicants are made to feel extreme shame by this attitude.
The food stamp program is the first line of defense against hunger in America. Because of cuts in the SNAP program due to take place on Jan. 1, 2014, each recipient of food stamps will lose 16 meals per month.
Which 16 meals do you want to cut out of your family’s diet this month? And don’t forget that more than a million Americans will lose unemployment insurance this month. How will they feed their families?
According to Feeding America, a chain of food pantries in the U.S., 49 million Americans live in food-insecure homes and one in five kids goes hungry each day. We have experienced the worst recession since the Great Depression, people have lost jobs and homes, and Congress has failed to do anything about it. There has been a 50 percent increase in people going to food banks in the last four years alone.
The idea that churches and charities should be the sole venue for helping those in need is simply ludicrous. The amount of funding for all the charities in the U.S. could not come close to paying for the needs of our poor and working poor.
Taxes are the dues we pay for living in a civil society. Civility requires we recognize the humanity of those less fortunate than ourselves. Our Constitution calls on the government to promote “the general welfare.” I infer from this that our taxes are to be used for a variety of purposes, including maintaining the health and dietary needs of all our citizens, be they rich or poor.
Perhaps those who are hostile to the poor and working poor could look in the mirror and ask yourselves what you can do to help them and stop railing about the cost to you of their misfortune.