Posted in Comedy, Tragedy and What the F...?

Bread, Bombs and Bullshit

iStock_000014146004XSmallAs the sabers rattle in our nation’s capital and the argument is made for retaliation against the violence perpetrated upon the Syrian people through chemical attack, the pulse of everyday America beats to a different heart. A war-weary nation still struggles to get on its feet from a kind of violence wrought by the greed and corruption in our highest financial sectors. Those crimes against humanity have gone unpunished. Retaliation is best served “profitable,” as in fodder for a military industrial machine or companies with trusted household names like Halliburton.

Meanwhile, back in America’s backyard, food insecurity is directly related to unemployment and poverty and is fueled by hopelessness. A country that allows its seniors and children to go to bed hungry seems to me the greater violence that begs to be addressed by those in power.

In one breath, the winners and losers mentality of our highly dysfunctional congress bemoans the distribution of food stamps, even though over 16 million of our own children are hungry. In the next breath, there is somehow money for bombs and drones and things we can do to assure that retaliation is had for Syria’s lack of morality. 1,400 people were ruthlessly hurt and killed in a country whose leaders have made power more important than human life. But what of our own leaders who turn the other way so as not to be impacted by the violence of poverty and hunger that perpetrates its devastation in every single county in America? Where is the outrage against that? Where is the war on hunger and unemployment?

“President Obama is not asking America to go to war,” said John Kerry…then added, “This is not the time for armchair isolationism. This is not the time to be spectators to slaughter.”

So how is it that Washington can be a spectator to the slow slaughter and scourge of hunger in this nation? How can they debate who dies or gets sick from lack of nutrition by cutting food programs—because we can’t just keep printing money, damn it– but we can print the money to go to war? You want to satisfy grabbing your nuts and grunting while the war drum beats? Fight the real war– the one here on our own soil that needs fighting. Fight for jobs at a livable wage. Fight to end hunger so that no child ever goes to bed with the pains of hunger or struggles to stay focused in a classroom that is blurred by the suffering of not enough nutrition to run their little brains. If you can spend money on bombs to show Syria who is boss, why can’t you spend money to feed your own people?

My heart hurts that we can do such violence to one another, but I do not believe that the United States has to be the policeman to the world especially when we have so many problems of our own that are asking to be addressed. Will Washington ever grow up and start looking for solutions that do not involve us bombing the shit out of everyone before we say “oops.” Remember “Mission Accomplished?”  Isolationism? What is the word that means isolation from your own people—the people in this country that suffer? Why do these problems not bring back a congress from vacation, ready to roll up its sleeves and find viable answers? You would think that having witnessed the outcomes of such arrogant behavior would be a deterrent to the hawkish leaders who sit before television cameras and try to convince us with grave sincerity why we must attack, while the rest of us watch from home and mutter “you are attacking the wrong problem with resources that could heal your own people.”
September is National Hunger Action Month. www.feedingamerica.org

• In 2011, 50.1 million Americans lived in food insecure households, 33.5 million adults and 16.7 million children.
• In 2011, 14.9 percent of households (17.9 million households) were food insecure.
• In 2011, 5.7 percent of households (6.8 million households) experienced very low food security.
• In 2011, households with children reported food insecurity at a significantly higher rate than those without children, 20.6 percent compared to 12.2 percent.
• In 2011, households that had higher rates of food insecurity than the national average included households with children (20.6 percent), especially households with children headed by single women (36.8 percent) or single men (24.9 percent), Black non-Hispanic households (25.1 percent) and Hispanic households (26.2 percent).
• In 2011, 4.8 million seniors (over age 60), or 8.4% of all seniors were food insecure.[v]
• Food insecurity exists in every county in America, ranging from a low of 2.4 percent in Slope County, ND to a high of 35.2 percent in Holmes County, MS

Posted in Comedy, Tragedy and What the F...?

A Seat At The Table

iStock_000010215203XSmallOur country is upside down and inside out!  Juxtapose the strong opposition to social welfare with rampant corporate welfare for starters.  The government gives billions in agricultural subsidies to huge corporations like Monsanto, but cuts food stamp programs that effect children.  There are 50 million “food insecure” people in our country—people who do not know where their next meal is coming from–and that is shameful.

I saw a film this weekend that was a real eye-opener—“A Place At the Table” is a documentary that sheds a light on hunger in America, its close link to obesity and why poverty is the underlying issue that needs addressing.  It’s in the theaters and you can also rent it on Amazon.com

While faith communities have done a good job of feeding the poor, charity is not what will end hunger.  Fair pay for a day’s work will feed the soul of a man as well as his belly. While the job deficit grows, so does the food deficit in many households across America, yet the safety net for helping and healing both is woefully inadequate.

What we are willing to subsidize in terms of feeding the poor is a mere $3.00 per day in Federal Assistance. Congress yells and screams, “How are we going to pay for more? These people just want a free hand out,”  all the while doling out corporate welfare to huge agricultural conglomerates and oil.  The myth, perpetuated by some of our leaders, is that somehow poverty is a choice.  I would really like to see where Paul Ryan wound up had he been born into the inner city of Philadelphia as opposed to his privileged home. Moreover, I don’t believe that any innocent child chooses to go to bed hungry. Most people who are hungry are experiencing embarrassment and not glee in applying for Federal Assistance like food stamps. We can bail out the banks, cut taxes and award money to big corporations but we cannot fund a decent program that keeps children from starving in this wealthy nation of ours?  There is something criminal about that.

“A Seat At the Table” both angered and inspired me.  It angered me because I see that so many of our problems, including this one, are easily fixable if we would just get the big money out of politics and force our leaders to be the public servants that they were intended to be instead of whores who jump into bed with whatever corporation is holding out the biggest check for their re-election.  Imagine a Washington where the leaders were responsible to the American people, addressed the problems of those people and not the almighty American corporation. Imagine a pool of political candidates reliant upon their wits and wisdom instead of the lobby whose money will get them elected or re-elected.

“A Seat At the Table” inspired me as I began to wonder what I as one person might do to alleviate the hunger of children.  I know that I can make donations to my local food bank, but I think that there may be other ways for me to advocate that food is a “right” for all people. You can live without a lot of things in life, but you cannot live without food.  No mother should ever have to send her child to bed hungry at night!

There are two tiers of food consumption in this country:  people who have the least are relegated to a steady diet of packaged, processed, junk food because it is the cheapest.  Calories are cheap and nutritious foods cost, thus the link between hunger and obesity.  There is not a “choice” to eat healthy when you are eating on $3.00 a day. The second tier is made up of those who have so much of a choice that they are the largest consumers of diet books, trying to put all that abundance into some sort of perspective.

I have never had to deal with not being able to concentrate or focus because I was hungry, the way that fifth-grader Rosie did in “A Seat At the Table.”  I don’t worry about food lasting throughout the week because I am able to shop for more if I need to.  Any challenge of my life that seemed harsh or insurmountable up until now seems greatly diminished in its importance after seeing this film.

Poverty is tied to education, is tied to food, is tied to the health of a nation.  There are simple things that we can do now to assure that children get enough nutrition to assure a chance at a getting an education; that they get enough nutrition to assure a life of good health that in turn assures opportunity for improvement of their lot.  It’s not rocket science to think that instead of giving farm subsidies to corporations like Monsanto we fund food programs for these struggling people. The cost of not doing anything to alleviate hunger in our own country  will not help to balance the budget and it is certain to bankrupt us morally and spiritually.  It is time to acknowledge the problem of hunger right here in the good ol’ US of A and ask ourselves if we want a class system that delineates the haves from the have-nots by virtue of who is rich enough to feed their family.  If the ramifications of that are too frightening to consider, then what one action can each of us take that cumulatively can make a difference?