Day: January 3, 2010

The Newest Concept of “Poor”: Living Solely On Food Stamps

The New York Times has revealed that there is a new concept of what it is to be poor in America.

This new category are those who have lost their homes, their jobs, their health insurance if they had it, and have absolutely no cash income. All that they have is a few hundred dollars per month in food stamps, so that they can feed themselves and their children in an inadequate manner.

These unfortunate Americans have no welfare, unemployment insurance, pensions, child support, or disability pay. Two percent of the population now lives in a household with only food stamps as the source of sustenance. One in four children lives on food stamps and one out of eight Americans gets food stamps.

Food stamp use in Florida has doubled over the past two years, and tripled in areas of the devastated Southwest Florida, where foreclosures are particularly high. The number of whites on food stamps is growing faster than of other groups.

This situation is obviously unacceptable, and it behooves the Obama Administration to do more, even with the attacks on spending coming from the Republican party and conservatives. This poverty problem, worse than ever, is a national disgrace, and affects children more than anyone else. No one in good conscience can see this and look the other way!

The Ongoing State Budget Crisis In California And Many Other States

California is often called a microcosm of the nation, with one of every eight people living in the Golden State, and the state being one of the top ten economies in the world.

The state has been reeling from record budget deficits, which have led to budget cuts, tax increases, and a constant state of crisis relating to social services, including education, health care, and aid to the poor, the young, the elderly, and the state work force.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is in his last year as Governor, and it will be difficult for him to gain any traction on these problems in a political year where there is such a total collapse of cooperation with the legislature, and everyone is up for election.

Many other states have similar budget gaps in the double digits, but at a lower level than California. These states include Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Iowa, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont. 36 states have some budget gap that is creating a crisis.

It typically takes two years beyond a recession for state economic outlooks to improve, but with the high level of foreclosures and unemployment at present, the collection of sales, income, and corporate taxes is far lower than is needed to meet social service needs across the country.

Despite conservative opposition, it seems necessary for more federal aid to the states, with the argument being if Wall Street, the banks, and the auto industry could get federal aid, then the states must also be assisted, probably by another economic stimulus, which has helped to some extent to lessen the pain of the recession in many states, although not solving it.

This crisis comes just as the demand is growing to cut government spending because of deficit concerns, but if the states are not assisted by the US government, future chaos and massive suffering seems likely. What an unfortunate mess the Obama Administration faces to deal with the reality of tremendous poverty and suffering in much of the country!

It seems to me the only alternative is more assistance, as FDR increased in the second year of his administration during the Great Depression. Lack of action would be far worse!