Are there actually any Christians in this country?
Millions of Americans Are Going Hungry and Republicans Plan to Make Even Worse
By: Rmuse more from Rmuse
Conservative Christians adamantly claim America was founded on the bible and is Christian by design, but Christian America’s legacy over the past three years will be they precipitated Republican efforts to drive tens-of-millions of their fellow citizens into poverty and hunger; just because they could. 2013 was a very bad year for working-poor Americans, children, senior citizens, and Veterans, but they should count their proverbial blessings because by all accounts, 2014 is shaping up to be an incredibly worse year. America is the richest nation on Earth, but it is, as one writer put it, rich in name only or RINO, because while the wealthiest 1% of Americans’ fortunes increase dramatically, millions of Americans are going hungry and Republicans plan to make the hunger crisis much worse.
In a report by the U.S. Conference of Mayors titled the 2013 Hunger and Homelessness Survey, food insecurity and poverty is rising significantly with no end in sight for the richest nation on Earth’s hunger crisis. Of the 25 cities in the survey, 83% reported an increase in demand for emergency food assistance over the course of 2013, and fully 72% reported that declining federal aid means they will have substantially fewer resources to meet the demand in 2014. One director of food initiatives said, “What we’re seeing is the reduction in federal resources impacting folks in Boston, and since close to 32% of the budget for the Greater Boston Food Bank comes from federal and state funding, when there are cuts in that funding it impacts their ability to provide for their constituents.”
It is important to note that in 2012 alone, the Department of Agriculture reported that 50 million Americans suffered from food insecurity, and when the 2013 numbers are released they predict the numbers will be even more dramatic. Since the November 1 food stamp cuts ($5 billion) went into effect, food banks around the country began reporting stark increases in the number of Americans seeking emergency food assistance. The true travesty of the increase is that many hungry Americans seeking emergency food assistance are employed and some earn too much to qualify for food stamps. One non-profit reported that 59% of their clients suffered from the November 1st cuts to food stamps, and 41% worked at poverty-level jobs; there were no numbers for senior citizens who were unable to go to food banks or how many suffered from sequester cuts to programs like Meals on Wheels. There were also no numbers for children affected from cuts to Head Start or food stamps.
These depressing figures will only get worse in 2014 when 1.3 million unemployed Americans lose jobless benefits on December 28, and that number will increase as benefits run out for other out-of-work Americans over the coming months and throughout 2014. The November food stamp cuts affected all 48.8 million recipients and increased their hunger, but Republicans are calling for at least $39 billion more. Compassionate conservative Paul Ryan’s request for $135 billion in his Path to Prosperity budget was revised down to $90 billion in a farm bill iteration of sheer heartlessness. Ryan justifies his disregard for hungry Americans because “you have to get savings in some of these areas” all the while claiming he “wants people to dream again, but you don’t dream when you’ve got food stamps.” You also do not dream when you go to bed hungry and lay awake hoping there is adequate food the next day.
It is a sad commentary that while many Americans are making plans to celebrate Christmas, millions of their fellow citizens will wonder how to feed their children when schools close for the winter break and free and reduced-price school lunches and Head Start breakfasts disappear. Still, while some Democrats celebrated the budget agreement that left 99% of sequester cuts in place and eliminated unemployment benefit extensions, and conservatives complained the budget failed to cut enough spending from safety nets, 50 million Americans will face more hunger, steeper poverty, and no hope for 2014 except more hardship, less food for their children, and no hope of earning more than poverty wages; especially in the South. In fact, in Texas, a celebrated right to work for less state, child poverty increased by 47% and across the South food assistance that working families, children, and seniors depend on will be slashed well in excess of the $5 billion in November by politicians they support in every election.
It is incomprehensible that in the richest nation on Earth there is a hunger crisis affecting one in six Americans facing food insecurity every day of their lives. Tens of millions of Americans go to work every day for poverty wages and return home wondering how they will feed their children. Senior citizens and disabled Americans live day to day knowing their Meals on Wheels face steeper cuts due to the sequester Republicans kept in place for nine more years. With steeper cuts to federal programs food banks can hardly keep up with the increasing demands since the November food stamp cuts, and they know Republicans will cut billions more to, as Paul Ryan says, “find savings in some of these areas.”
It is possible most Americans are unaware there is a hunger crisis in America, but that seems unlikely. One wonders how much more the people can take; especially in the Southern states where poverty and hunger is rampant. The top 14 states with the highest child poverty rates are in the South, and nationally nearly 25% of children live in poverty ranking America number two behind Romania with only a slightly higher rate among the world’s developed nations. Republicans are surely to blame for America’s hunger crisis, but the media share the blame for not reporting that the richest country is home to 50 million Americans who lack “access to adequate food limited by a lack of money” and a political party determined to use a debt ceiling crisis to increase America’s hunger crisis.
Paul Krugman details how the GOP is an enemy of the poor in a sharp New York Times column today.
Krugman writes that Republican efforts to harm the poor are “deeply rooted in the party’s ideology.” Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan’s recent moves to address poverty are nothing more than rhetorical shifts to mask their ideology.
Krugman points to a number of GOP policies that are aimed at punishing the poor.
There’s the refusal of Republican governors to expand Medicaid as part of Obamacare, which denies health coverage to millions of poor Americans.
Then there’s Republican-controlled states that slash unemployment insurance and the education budget.
And the GOP constantly offers budgets that “involves savage cuts in Medicaid, food stamps and other antipoverty programs,” Krugman notes.
This anti-poor ideology is at the core of the Republican Party. The GOP still thinks that government aid provides incentives for people not to work.
And for now, that view isn’t changing. The GOP will continue to punish the poor.
pax on both houses
Let's stop seeing the enemy in each other
The Rev. Barb E. Blom | Special to The Citizen
Christmas is the time when many of us celebrate the miracle of birth and the wonder of childhood, with gifts, Santa, Christmas trees, lights, beautiful hymns, and a wonderful story about a child who becomes a man who will save us from ourselves by lifting up the poor, the hungry and the stranger, who tells us that all lives matter.
There are two birth stories in the Bible. Matthew has Jesus being born in Bethlehem where the wise men from the East come to visit him. Luke has Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem and staying in a stable because there was no room at the inn and shepherds come to visit. They don’t have much in common. But what they do have in common is the significance of the birth for Herod. In both stories Herod is afraid of the birth of this child and sees him as his enemy. As a man, Jesus will be called Savior, Prince of Peace, Lord, names reserved for Caesar. He will enter Jerusalem on a donkey rather than a chariot, he will never carry a sword, nor will he be protected by armored soldiers and yet people will lay down their coats and wave palm leaves before him as he enters the city. This vagabond will be treated like royalty because of his simple message: treat your neighbor as you would like to be treated for we are all children of God.
In our polarized society we are too often like Herod, quick to see the enemy in the other. A young man grows up in a community where there are few opportunities, his school lacks funds, he is hopeless, frustrated, angry and acts aggressively. A policeman works in a community where violence, guns and drugs are a common threat, he is fearful and acts aggressively. A terrible tragedy occurs. Who is right and who is wrong? Depending on which political side we are on, we tend to form our opinion and dig our heels in.
But brokenness can only be healed in the middle where the two sides meet. All young people need hope, well-funded schools, living wage jobs, so that anger and frustration do not become a threat. Police need continued training on being peacekeepers rather than aggressive militants.
But we also need to take more responsibility for ensuring the welfare and safety of all lives in our communities. Maybe we can mentor a young person, offer to watch the child of a mother working for minimum wage, or model respectful behavior toward all, including police officers. When we can see our own humanity reflected back to us in the eyes of the “enemy,” both a “Child of God,” healing can begin.
May Christmas serves to remind us of the promise of peace on earth, good will to all, and may we recognize our own role in fulfilling the promise. In the words of the famous Sufi poet, Rumi, “Out beyond the ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”
I once heard a story about a homeless man on Hollywood Blvd who really thought he was invisible. But one day a kid handed the man a Christian pamphlet. The homeless guy was shocked and amazed, “what! You can see me? How can you see me? I’m invisible!”
It isn’t hard to comprehend this man’s slow spiral into invisibility. Once on the street, people started to walk past him, ignoring him as if he didn’t exist… much like they do a piece of trash on the sidewalk. It’s not that people are bad, but if we make eye contact, or engage in conversation, then we have to admit they exist and that we might have a basic human need to care. But it’s so much easier to simply close our eyes and shield our hearts to their existence.
I not only feel their pain, I truly know their pain. I lived their pain. You’d never know it now but I was a homeless person. Fourteen years ago, I lived on Hollywood Blvd. But today, I find myself looking away, ignoring the faces, avoiding their eyes — and I’m ashamed when I realize I’m doing it. But I really can feel their pain, and it is almost unbearable, but it’s just under the surface of my professional exterior.
the militant Negro
of Various Subjects