Posts tagged hunger
Posts tagged hunger
Hundreds of poor people waiting outside of a closed grocery store for the possibility of getting the remaining food is not the picture of the “American Dream.” Yet on March 23, outside the Laney Walker Supermarket in Augusta, Ga., that is exactly what happened.
Residents filled the parking lot with bags and baskets hoping to get some of the baby food, canned goods, noodles and other non-perishables. But a local church never came to pick up the food, as the storeowner prior to the eviction said they had arranged. By the time the people showed up for the food, what was left inside the premises—as with any eviction—came into the ownership of the property holder, SunTrust Bank.
The bank ordered the food to be loaded into dumpsters and hauled to a landfill instead of distributed. The people that gathered had to be restrained by police as they saw perfectly good food destroyed. Local Sheriff Richard Roundtree told the news “a potential for a riot was extremely high.”
And what would be more likely to cause a riot? Hungry, desperate people denied the food they were told they would receive, or distribution of said food? I’d be tempted to say that this is capitalism at its most dysfunctional, but it’s actually functioning as it is supposed to here. If a commodity can’t turn a profit for a capitalist, the capitalist is encouraged by the profit motive to dispose of the good quickly. As the author, Sarah Carlson, writes:
In a capitalist society, the motive behind the production of food is not to feed people, housing is not made to give them shelter, clothing is not made to keep them warm, and health care is not offered primarily to keep people healthy. All of these things, which are and should be viewed as basic rights, are nothing other than commodities—to be bought and sold—from which to make a profit. If a profit cannot be made, usually due to overproduction in relation to the market, the commodity is considered useless by the capitalist and destroyed.
Disgusting and heartbreaking. This is not an economic crisis — this is economic violence.
From The Maddow Blog:
This sign - and commentary - is hanging outside a food pantry in Manhattan’s East Village. Maybe it’s time we did something about the economy.
Food banks all over the country are seeing record demand and having difficulty keeping the shelves stocked. I don’t know about you, but I’m taking a few cans to my local food banks this week. And there’s this:
The number of Americans receiving food stamps reached a record 45.345 million in July, the government said. The number was 0.4 percent higher than the previous month and 8.4 percent more than a year earlier.
Participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program had set records every month since December 2008. Texas had the most food-stamp recipients in July, 4.051 million.
A record 1 in 5 people in the US receive federal assistance to feed themselves once WIC is factored in. The average monthly allotment per household is $283.68. Of course, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) thinks the program is out of control. Here’s what he said in an interview with ABC News:
"Well, look, do you think there are four times as many people that need food stamps today as they did in 2001? This year, they are proposing another 14 percent increase in food stamps without any real reform to understand how it is that it surged so dramatically. We cannot do this. We don’t have the money. If Congress doesn’t understand that we can’t continue to double the food stamp program every three years, they don’t understand how deeply we are impacted by the debt. The debt is already pulling down economic growth, costing jobs. We need people working with jobs, not receiving food stamps."
The past year was an excellent one for Sen. Sessions. His net worth increased 124% in 2010 - raising him from millionaire to multimillionaire - which is likely why he said it was "rather pathetic" to expect multimillionaires to shoulder a little more of the burden. Meanwhile, in his state of Alabama, 36% of people receive food stamps and the unemployment rate is 9.8%.
Yes, we need to have people with jobs - though Sessions voted against the jobs bill - and I have a hint as to the why this “surge” occurred: We have a government, specifically Congress, that cares more for dick waving contests and petty infighting than giving a damn that the food stamp usage rate has dramatically risen. American families are going hungry while Congress collectively twiddles their thumbs or butts heads over to what degree the richest 1% deserve to be subsidized.
American exceptionalism? How about being the most unequal industrialized country? How’s that for number one? This is unsustainable and unconscionable. Period.