War on the Poor

220px-DorotheaLangeMigrantWorkersChildren

By Lawrence E. Rafferty, (rafflaw) Weekend Blogger

We have all heard of the so-called War on Drugs and the recently maligned War on Poverty, but I submit that the real war we should be worried about is the War on the Poor of this country.  The War on Drugs has not done much to stop the use of illegal drugs and the recent legalization of the sale of marijuana in Colorado may be a small step in the direction of ending the War on Drugs which has only succeeded in jailing thousands on minor drug offenses.  The African-American community has been especially hard hit by this failed attempt to end the use of illegal substances.

However, the War on the Poor is in full swing and seems to be succeeding.  One only has to look at the Farm Bill which is set to cut the SNAP program by anywhere between the $4 Billion in the Senate version and the $40 Billion in the House version.  At a time when this same Congress is refusing to extend unemployment compensation, they are attempting a monumental double whammy by cutting the ability of the needy to survive by cutting Food Stamps. 

“Somewhere in the US Capitol, a small group of legislators are hashing out a final five-year farm bill. Among many sizeable tasks, the conference committee must reconcile $40 billion in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program cuts from the House version with $4 billion in cuts from the Senate version.” The Nation  It astounds me that in a time when the need is arguably the greatest, the austerity maniacs in Washington think the only demographics that need cutting is the poor and unemployed.

According to the Nation Magazine article linked above, the number that the House and Senate seem to be settling on is $9 Billion in cuts.  At a time when the income inequality between the poor and the ultra rich has never been greater, the wisdom coming out of Washington is that the poor need to tighten their belts.

The proposed cuts to the food stamp program are not the only way Congress is taking it to the poor.  One Senator has actually filed a bill to mandate that food stamp users must present a photo identification card in order to buy any food with the stamps.

‘”On Wednesday, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) introduced a bill that would force recipients of food stamps to show a valid photo ID to buy food. Anti-hunger advocates say that because many poor people cannot afford to purchase government IDs, the requirement would make it harder for low-income Americans to eat.

Vitter says the bill is designed to cut down on fraud. “Using a photo ID is standard in many day-to-day transactions, he said upon introducing the bill. “My bill will restore some accountability to the program so it’s not ruined for people who use it appropriately.”

But it’s not that simple. Vitter’s bill would also prevent many Americans from using the nutrition aid they’re eligible for. “Many poor people do not have photo ID’s, and it costs money they do not have to get them,” Deborah Weinstein, executive director of the advocacy organization Coalition on Human Needs, told the Times-Picayune on Wednesday. “Senator Vitter’s proposal will be especially tough on elderly and poor people who do not have the documents needed to get their photo ID, and who will struggle even to get to the necessary offices. They will wind up going without food.”‘  Mother Jones

Senator David Vitter should be familiar to most of you.  He has an interesting past.  He must have “real” concerns about the Food Stamp program because he also filed a bill in 2013 that proposed that convicted felons should be banned from the food stamp program, even if they have paid their debt to society.  Consider the logic behind that idea.  A convicted felon who can’t get food stamps to feed his family and who may have increased difficulty in finding work because of his/her past may be forced back to crime, just to feed his/her family if Sen. Vitter gets his way.  And that poor prior felon probably goes back to jail and the cycle continues.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Sen. Vitter alleges that the photo ID is needed to prevent the rampant abuse of food stamps by its users.  That might be a good argument, if only it was true.

“Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD), who’s gotten over $500,000 in subsidy payments since 1995, is a particularly interesting case. While Noem is diplomatic in most public statements on food stamps, she endorses a common smear of the program when away from cameras. In a constituent letter obtained by ThinkProgress, Noem wrote that “loopholes and fraud in the current program have lead to federal spending on SNAP to increase [sic] by 270 percent over the past ten years.” Rep. Vicki Hartzler (R-MO) offers to same rationale for the cuts, and has taken $500,000 in farm subsidies as well.

In fact, the jump in food stamp enrollment is due almost entirely to the catastrophic economic collapse and ensuing Great Recession. Even amid that heightened strain on the program’s staff, “SNAP achieved its lowest error rates on record in fiscal year 2011,” according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Outright fraud is down to just one percent.”  Think Progress

Isn’t it just a tad hypocritical to lie about alleged fraud in the food stamp program and accept thousands from the farm industry that is a sacred cow to these same legislators, but yet has even more fraud than the food stamp program?  The photo identification idea seems to be borrowed from many state voter photo ID laws that have met with distrust among some courts, especially recently in Pennslyvania. Those same voter ID laws would also disproportionately impact the poor if allowed to stand.

Some supporters of the huge cuts claim that allowing benefits like these to stand just creates and enforces a dependent lower class.  Once again, that might be a good argument if it was only based in fact. “But the reality for SNAP recipients is far from King’s image of a “dependency class.” The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explains that “only 4 percent that worked in the year before starting to receive SNAP did not work in the following year,” and adds that the raw total of recipients who work while enrolled in the program has tripled since 2000.

The think tank also notes that SNAP’s role as an unusually efficient stimulative multiplier is backed by Moody’s Analytics and the Congressional Budget Office.

Furthermore, the program keeps hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Americans out of the deepest pits of poverty, and even as the Great Recession swelled SNAP rolls, the program continued to push its erroneous payments rates to record lows ..” Think Progress

Why would Congress be so concerned about keeping people from going hungry and paying their bills?  Why would it be more important for Congress to cut the needed benefits for the poor, but leave the farm subsidies for wealthy farmers mostly untouched?  Are these attempts to “save” the poor and unemployed from an imagined dependency, actually designed to keep the poor from actually getting ahead and getting to the polls?  What do you think?

Lawrence E. Rafferty, Weekend Blogger

“The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers.  As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.”

42 thoughts on “War on the Poor

  1. Either the intended or unintended result will be many more people entering the military to be trained and equipped to kill, maim, and plunder and……be killed. – just like in third world countries. The US seems to be in a backward trajectory.

  2. THERE IS A WAR ON JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING, BUT WHAT THESE SO CALLED RULING ELITE IS REALLY TELLING US, IS THAT THEY WILL CONTINUE WITH THEIR EVIL AND THAT NO ONE HAS A RIGHT TO LIFE, BUT THEM. LITTLE DO THEY KNOW THEY ARE THE REAL WALKING DEAD. THEY ARE SOULS WITHOUT ANY FEAR OF GOD IN THEM. THERE IS NOT ONLY A WAR ON THE POOR, BUT EVERYONE ELSE THAT IS NOT THEM. WE CAN ALL KEEP IN OUR MINDS, THAT CHRIST SAID, IT IS EASIER FOR A CAMEL TO WALK THROUGH AN EYE OF A NEEDLE, THAN A RICH MAN TO RECEIVE THE KINGDOM OF GOD. WE HAVE THE KNOWLEDGE OF WHY HE SAID THAT, AND IT BECOMES MORE VIVID EVERYDAY.

  3. GOP (and many dems) have a new economic policy that is titled, ‘Feed the Rich and Starve the Poor (and middle class)’. It’s like trickle down economics except it’s worse for the poor and middle class. Vitter and his need for prostitutes should be talking about the poor showing ID for food. He can dare walk into the senate as a perv and thrash the poor as if they are the less than desirables. Class act.He should have to take a lie detector test each week to receive a paycheck.

    LBJ stated the war on poverty and the GOP has continued the war on the poor. It’s a very disturbing trend that the GOP is now blaming the poor for being poor. They offer NOTHING of value. No work programs, no jobs legislation, no jobs training, no immigration reform, and no healthcare costs solutions. They cut food stamps and unemployment benefits while still giving hedge fund managers sweet tax deals that cost the government treasuries billions. GOP wastes trillions on unfunded wars, tax cuts for the wealthy and give pharma a sweet Medicare Part D and then they blame the poor for being poor. GOP feed banksters trillions of free cash with 0% interest and then blame the poor for being poor. GOP feed defense contractors billions in war funding for producing shoddy materials and they blame the poor for being poor. They blamed the poor for subprime that led to the economic collapse, but not the banksters who were breaking the law constantly with fraudulent mortgage schemes and derivatives gambling.

    But what is truly frightening is that so many people still believe the line that the poor are the problem and they should be punished further, while those same GOP voters see their wages stunted, their job prospects dwindle, their cost of living increase and their hopes dashed. But as long as they can blame the poor, they will never run out of ammunition for their soulless response to ever expanding economic injustice.

  4. Since it is game day, I will go with the short version of an old NoBull Prize economic equation:

    no jobs = no consumers = no shopping = no economy = no taxes = no guvmint
    Eventually.

    Wasn’t it Abe Lincoln who said… the Lord must surely have loved the poor, since He made so many of them.

    And now, their jobs are in Shanghai, Jakarta and Zamboanga; all a rather long commute.

    The days of noblesse oblige are over, we’re now back in droit de seigneur mode.

    Hide the women and children.

  5. they have until the spring of this year to get ww3 started. and since nothing else they have done has gotten it started they figure this work… its easy to figure out if you stop, and think… cutting the programs to the poor will result in riots and more crime. and that in turn will give the corporation the ability to implement martial law….

    ex. military weapons given to precincts = against the law

    2. homeland security has a youth trained military programming going on

    3. the reason for the nsa needing to know all of our business

    4. the purpose of them wanting to implant chips into our bodies.

    5. the tsa expanding from the airports out onto our roads and highways along with our trainsit systems

    6. the purpose of cctv
    if only the people would wake up and begin to shake off their brain washing and yes i know there are those out there who just love their mind control programming and with that programming they get to hold onto their beliefs thats its all just a conspiracy theory even though they have been told the truth over and over and not just by us the people but by the cabal bankers themselvers. in the movies, books, news, etc but hey thats just stuff that happens that hollyweird right? it doesnt happen in real life?

    and thats just a few examples,

  6. “What do you think?” – rafflaw

    I am reminded of some social sciences studies which indicate that sadism is increasing in our nation:

    Most of the time, we try to avoid inflicting pain on others — when we do hurt someone, we typically experience guilt, remorse, or other feelings of distress. But for some, cruelty can be pleasurable, even exciting. New research suggests that this kind of everyday sadism is real and more common than we might think.

    Together, these results suggest that sadists possess an intrinsic motivation to inflict suffering on innocent others, even at a personal cost — a motivation that is absent from the other dark personality traits.

    The researchers hope that these new findings will help to broaden people’s view of sadism as an aspect of personality that manifests in everyday life, helping to dispel the notion that sadism is limited to sexual deviants and criminals.

    Buckels and colleagues are continuing to investigate everyday sadism, including its role in online trolling behavior.

    “Trolling culture is unique in that it explicitly celebrates sadistic pleasure, or ‘lulz,'” says Buckels. “It is, perhaps, not surprising then that sadists gravitate toward those activities.”

    And they’re also exploring vicarious forms of sadism, such as enjoying cruelty in movies, video games, and sports.

    The researchers believe their findings have the potential to inform research and policy on domestic abuse, bullying, animal abuse, and cases of military and police brutality.

    (How The Official Pleasure In Torture is Analyzed).

  7. “Are these attempts to “save” the poor and unemployed from an imagined dependency…”

    Imagined? When welfare is paying greater than minimum wage in 35 states, how does one posit that there is great motivation to compete for fewer and fewer jobs? http://tinyurl.com/ntd2jty

    While extolling the virtue of the Fed Reserve, you don’t seem to understand how it keeps people poor: http://tinyurl.com/k8f56uo

  8. We’re told not to feed animals in National Parks because it makes them dependent and unable to fend for themselves. Now, if an orphaned juvenile animal is found it is taken and nurtured. Or, if an adult injured animal is sick or injured it will also be taken in and assisted. But, intelligent people understand the concept that just feeding animals capable of fending for themselves is really hurting, not helping them. Because, in the winter there are no tourists to feed them, and they starve to death.

    There are many in the US who need programs like SNAP. However, the USDA used our money to promote and guilt trip people into feeling like they should take advantage of this program, the complete reverse of the National Parks program. They can’t both be correct.

  9. I guess your analogy would work, if people were bears, and if food, housing, health care and education could all be picked off a tree.

    I heard this was a forum for intelligent people to discuss issues of law. I’ve seen quite a bit of craziness and a fair amount of idiocy. Is this as good as it gets?

  10. Telling you your analogy doesn’t work isn’t an “epithet.” Words have meanings. Calling a disagreement with your premise an epithet doesn’t make it one. Calling people animals doesn’t make them animals.

  11. consiglieri39,
    You’re advocating price controls on labor? Tell me how that doesn’t lead to further price controls, or are you for that also?

  12. On the National Parks analogy, to the secular humanist philosophy, humans are not different than other animals, or are you advocating the Christian philosophy that says a human is superior to animals because of an innate ability to comprehend and commune with its creator?

  13. “idiocy” and “craziness” were the uncivil words consiglieri. Read the memo. It’s a more pleasant and civil environment here now. The name calling has almost vanished. I don’t remember seeing a “homophobe” racist” “sociopath” liar” spewed in over a week. Quite nice IMHO.I stand by my analogy and have no problem w/ your disagreement. My objection was the 2 aforementioned epithets.

  14. I guess you didn’t notice the separate paragraphs between my response to you and my commentary on the overall atmosphere. When people are talking about implanted chips and FEMA youth militias, it tends to chill intelligent discussion among normal people. Where did you get the rest? I didn’t call anyone a racist, sociopath, homophobe or liar. I’m confused.

  15. I FOR ONE CONGRATULATE YOU ON MENTIONING FEMA AND THE MARK OF THE BEAST. THE MARK OF THE BEAST IS HERE, AND THEY WANT A MANAGABLE NUMBER IN POPULATION IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE NEW WORLD ORDER, SO THEY CAN IMPLANT THE MARK OF THE BEAST. THIS IS TRUE, FEMA IS WORKING WITH OUR GOVERNMENT FOR DEPOPULATION. THIS IS ABSOLUTELY FACT AND NOT FICTION. UNFORTUNATELY, NORMAL PEOPLE THESE DAYS INCLUDING THE REST, DO NOT WANT TO FACE FACTS, AND THIS IS PUTTING THE REST OF US THAT DO FACE FACTS, IN HARMS WAY. INCIDENTIALLY, WE ARE GLOBALLY GOVERNED AND RULED BY A BUNCH OF COMMUNISTIC PSYCHOPATHS. DARE CHALLENGE THIS ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. consiglieri, I did not even hint that you called anyone “sociopath”, etc. You obviously did not. I pointed out those days are behind us and I believe for the better. Although your “craziness” and “idiocy” comments were in the following
    paragraph, there was no other specific reference for those words in that paragraph. So, being a voracious reader, I refer back to the specific reference in the prior paragraph.

    My philosophy is that in a venue like this, and in a situation like this, I take people @ their word. So, that’s what I will do here. Since 80% of communication is nonverbal, the chances for miscommunication are high on a blog. So, that’s what I’ll chalk it up to.

  17. consiglieri, I did not even hint that you called anyone “sociopath”, etc. You obviously did not. I pointed out those days are behind us and I believe for the better. Although your “craziness” and “idiocy” comments were in the following
    paragraph, there was no other specific reference for those words in that paragraph. So, being a voracious reader, I refer back to the specific reference in the prior paragraph.

    My philosophy is that in a venue like this, and in a situation like this, I take people @ their word. So, that’s what I will do here. Since 80% of communication is nonverbal, the chances for miscommunication are high on a blog. So, that’s what I’ll chalk it up to. Thanks for explaining.

  18. The plutocracy that runs the US also runs the world:

    “It is staggering that in the 21st century, half of the world’s population own no more than a tiny elite whose numbers could all sit comfortably in a single train carriage,” said Winnie Byanyima, the group’s executive director.

    “Widening inequality is creating a vicious circle where wealth and power are increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few, leaving the rest of us to fight over crumbs from the top table,” she said.

    (LA Times).

  19. consiglieri, No apology needed but I will graciously accept it. I sincerely apologized to someone here once and it was thrown back @ me. Thanks, much. Hope you stick around.

  20. rafflaw,

    Some are into shaming poor young kids who can’t afford to pay for school lunches. Here’s a story I read about over a week ago:

    Colorado School Stamps The Hands Of Students Who Can’t Afford Lunch
    BY CARIMAH TOWNES
    JANUARY 10, 2014
    http://thinkprogress.org/education/2014/01/10/3146151/school-stamps-free-lunch/

    Excerpt:
    A school in Colorado was caught stamping the hands of students who received free lunches or could not afford meals. When former Principal Noelle Roni spoke out about the policy, she was terminated after nine years of dedicated service.

    Last year, Noelle Roni discovered that students attending Peak to Peak Charter School were humiliated for their inability to purchase school lunch or qualifying for free meals. As explained by one grandparent, her grandchild was publicly shamed by having his hand stamped and given cheese bread instead of pizza like the rest of his peers were, thereby deterring him from eating hot meals provided by the school.

    Hoping to spare the students from this ordeal, Roni discussed the matter with cafeteria workers, requesting that they stop the systematic demoralization of the children. However, she turned to additional school officials, including the food services manager, when the cafeteria workers did not oblige. She subsequently received a letter for “unprofessional conduct” and was asked to resign quietly. Despite the offer to receive the rest of the year’s pay, she turned down the buyout offer in order to publicly speak about the events that transpired and the shaming occurring in the school. “I believe that I was retaliated against for standing up for children’s rights and against activities that stigmatized children,” she said.

  21. Georgia GOPer Attacking Free School Lunch Expensed $4,200 In Meals
    DANIEL STRAUSS
    JANUARY 10, 2014
    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/georgia-senate-candidate-expensed-thousands-in-free-lunches

    Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) warned that there’s “no such thing as free lunch” for school children in Georgia, but he seems to have enjoyed a few.

    An investigation by Georgia’s WSAV channel 3 found that Kingston, who is currently running for Senate and recently suggested students work cleaning cafeterias in exchange for lunch, had expensed as much as $4,182 worth of lunches for his office over the past three years.

    “Kingston and his staff expensed nearly $4200 in meals for business purposes to his congressional office, paid for by the American taxpayer,” WSAV 3’s Dan Kartunen reported. The amount could have purchased nearly 2,000 Georgia school lunches.

  22. Dredd:

    Only one cure for the poor, make them wealthy, only one way to do that.

    Were did the wealth come from? It wasnt taken from the poor. It was created, at some point, out of products available to all in nature. Some are just more adept at making nature give up her wealth.

  23. Dont cut funding to the poor, end regulations which stifle wealth creation and the poor will be able to take care of themselves.

  24. I heard somewhere that we would be able to recognize the appearance of the Antichrist on the internet because he would post his comments in all caps. Is that true?

  25. Mike, Don’t know if it’s true or not. My eyes can’t handle the yelling so I don’t read the all caps stuff.

  26. I’ve been meaning to do some comparisons between the (lack of) raises in the minimum wage, and the Social Security and Congressional raises. The Congressional raises happen automatically unless they vote to not take them. Taking them in years when there is no raise to Social Security is bad politically (I’d say ethically but they only understand politically.) I’ll post the results if I get to it. Anyone else with some time on their hands is welcome to take this on. As Ralph Nader said (paraphrased), “Feel free to adopt my ideas/platform.”

  27. amazing that people think they have the right to judge about whether people use caps or not.. smfh @ using caps means you’re yelling. so in other words saying the same thing like this makes it understandable? yea ok unbelievable the things you people find the time to post about.

    now on to consigliere since you apparently don’t know all you seem to think you do.. i’ll help you out. if you choose not to read and understand thats your business. but from here on. it would behoove you to know wtf your talking about before coming my way… link 1 for you

    http://original.antiwar.com/giraldi/2013/08/21/homeland-security-made-in-israel/

  28. Elaine:

    What a terrible situation is as your article about children being stamped to receive sub-standard meals and humiliation reads. Shameful.

    I thought the principal in a school was essentially the administrative head and if she told the cafeteria manager to do something differently they should have followed. Is this not the case generally?

Comments are closed.