Category Archives: Hunger

Greece: People Are Eating Out Of Dumpsters

L’Enfant de la Haute Mer has the story (please use Google Translate if you don’t read Greek).

This has happened in the United States within my lifetime, notably in the era of the “sainted” Ronald Reagan. I’ve seen it myself. Every grocery store dumpster had its regulars; it was presumably their main source of food.

It should never have happened in the United States. It should never again be allowed to happen in the United States. And it should not be allowed to happen in Greece or any other Eurozone country. Allowing people to starve in a setting of great wealth (which the Eurozone is) is simply wrong.

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Texas: State Of Tragedy

If this does not count as completely avoidable tragedy, I don’t know what does. Washington Post:

SAN ANTONIO — A Texas woman who for months was unable to qualify for food stamps pulled a gun in a state welfare office and staged a seven-hour standoff with police that ended with her shooting her two children before killing herself, officials said Tuesday.

The children, a 10-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl, remained in critical condition Tuesday. …

[Texas Dept. of HHS spokesperson] Goodman didn’t know what Grimmer specifically failed to provide. In addition to completing an 18-page application, families seeking state benefits also must provide documents proving their information, such as proof of employment and residency.

“We were still waiting, and if we had that, I don’t know if she would still qualify or not,” Goodman said.

Ms. Grimmer and her two children were taken into a room by a caseworker. Grimmer revealed a gun and the standoff began. I’ll spare you the details of the shooting, only the conclusion:

… Inside, they found Grimmer’s body and her two wounded children.

The children were “very critical” and unconscious when taken from the scene, [Laredo PD Officer] Baeza said.

It is notoriously difficult to apply for and obtain any social service from the State of Texas. The caseworkers are not to blame here: a solidly Republican legislature and governor for decades, coupled with re-re-redistricting designed to maintain that status in perpetuity, assures that obtaining state aid or state-moderated federal aid in Texas is as arduous as anywhere in the United States.

Yes, this woman was tragically mentally unstable. Who knows if she would or would not have qualified for food stamps… in Texas, an answer of “no” would be a good bet. But either way, a woman is dead and two children hang by a thread, mostly because of how poverty is regarded by TPTB in Texas. My heart aches.

AFTERTHOUGHT: This evening, in the parking lot of the grocery store which is my early voting location, a woman about 35 years old or so asked me for money so she could put up her two sons, ages 2 and 6, at a motel tonight. I gave her $20, based on what I had in my pocket and what I expected she could gather in that parking lot, balanced by the regrettably real possibility that she would use the money to get high tonight instead of for lodging or food for her children. But I could not forget the expression on the face of my late father decades ago, when he explained to me about such donations: he said yes, the person may just be handing you a line… but what if they’re genuinely hungry, or really are facing a freezing night out in the weather? Many times I saw my Dad reach for a couple of dollars (a lot of money in those days) to give to someone whose best hope otherwise was to be arrested for vagrancy. We really, really need to accommodate the victims of misfortune in this society. Too often, instead, we merely compound their misfortune. “The rich get rich and the poor get poorer,” or else die sleeping on the sidewalk in the freezing rain. Will we ever, as a society, decide “enough is enough”?

‘If He’s Content With A Vegetable Love…’

The year is 1981. Ronald Reagan’s budget, eventually passed as the Gramm-Latta budget, slashes $27 billion from entitlements and specifically $1 billion from the school lunch program. As the wiki tells us,

On September 3, 1981, the Secretary of Agriculture proposed classifying ketchup and pickle relish as vegetables to save money on school lunch programs.

(Just for the record, the Secretary of Agriculture at the time, as the writer of the wiki seems reluctant to tell us, was Earl Butz, a heartless bastard if ever there was one.) So ketchup and pickle relish counted as vegetables in school lunches.

Fast-forward 30 years. Barack Obama’s USDA makes a more healthful recommendation… the tomato sauce or paste on a slice of pizza must amount to a half cup to count as a vegetable. But the House and Senate are having none of that. Pizza, b’gawd, is a vegetable, no matter that it’s almost impossible to put a half cup of tomato sauce into a single slice, and “a couple of tablespoons” is more typical. Oh, by the way… Congress received $5.6 million (see same article) in food industry lobby contributions.

That’s a fair trade, right? Children’s nutritional health for congressional contributions from industry lobbyists? And it’s a trade that Republicans AND Democrats have been willing to make for 30 years. As the sainted Molly Ivins used to say, we live in a greeeaaat nation.

The post title? It’s from “The Aesthete” in Gilbert & Sullivan’s operetta Patience (here’s a YouTube):

And every one will say,
As you walk your flowery way,
“If he’s content with a vegetable love which would certainly not suit ME,
Why, what a most particularly pure young man this pure young man must be!”

Robert Reich: GOP Government Shutdown Blackmail Would Starve Still More Children

In a post aptly titled The Moral Question, Reich examines the consequences of the payoff the GOP is demanding for not allowing the government to shut down on Nov. 18:

Among other items, Republicans are demanding major cuts in a nutrition program for low-income women and children. The appropriation bill the House passed June 16 would deny benefits to more than 700,000 eligible low-income women and young children next year.

What kind of country are we living in?

More than one in three families with young children is now living in poverty (37 percent, to be exact) according to a recent analysis of Census data by Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies. That’s the highest percent on record. The Agriculture Department says nearly one in four young children (23.6) lives in a family that had difficulty affording sufficient food at some point last year.

“More than one in three families with young children is now living in poverty” … hell, there are third-world nations in better shape than that. This is the United Fucking States of America, and the most vulnerable one-third of our families are going hungry. What’s wrong with this picture?

I continue to try to comprehend the sheer cruelty of which the typical Republican seems capable these days. As best I can tell, they “govern” the way you or I would play a violent video game, only their motives are different. You shoot down space invaders as they descend on you; you turn a corner into a back alley and blow away violent thugs before they blow you away; you starve needy children to give almost unprecedented tax breaks to wealthy individuals and corporations… which one of these fantasy scenarios is not like the others?

And it’s all self-driven in an unstopped downward spiral; read Reich’s artice for all the ways in which “it gets worse.”

The thing that makes one just plain cry is that we know how to fix this. We’ve done so in the past. Reich, in an earlier column, has some concrete proposals that would do much to alleviate the worst of the suffering. But the GOP is having none of that. It must be a real thrill for them when they see that emaciated child…