We are only as strong as the weakest among us. And when we turn our backs on them, we become the very thing we hate.
According to the USDA, as of June 2013 there were 362,203 persons in Nevada receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (food stamps). That would be 362,203 out of a total state population of 2,758,931. The population of the state increased by about 2.2% from April 2010 to April 2012. So, the 13.1% of Nevadans currents receiving SNAP help is in line with the 12.9% reported by the Census as living below the poverty line between 2007 and 2010.
The Food Research & Action Center compiled such county statistics as it could in 2009 and reported the following numbers for Nevada counties. (pdf) Lyon County had 3,153 SNAP recipients, (6% of the total population), and 9,095 of its population having incomes 125% under the federal poverty level. Douglas County had 1,575 recipients, 4,207 people in the county were living on less than 125% of the FPL. Washoe County shows 29,018 receiving…
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One thought on “And they did it to the least of their brothers…”
First, I am so glad to have a place where I can comment to you, DB. You have been, for years, the person I have pointed other people towards as the most interesting and important writer on economics on the blogosphere. (Yes, I rank you above Krugman, simply because you don’t assume the same level of knowledge in your readers, because you have the Skeptic’s willingness to repeat yourself again and again until each reader understands not only what you think but why, and because you remind me of Asimov on science. You don’t convince your readers to agree with you, you educate them until they have no choice but to agree with you.)
(I even have suggested your column to pollstyers taking my temperature on the NY City Mayoral Race. I pointed out your only weakness is a slight tendency to use Nevada as the demonstration model for Republican economic stupidity — accurate if you know Heck, Heller and Amodei but a little provincial to someone who hasn’t been reading you. Turns out that wasn’t a problem for the pollster, he lives in Nevada.)
On the specific points you make, they are valuable, but, as with even you, and almost anyone else I see discussing things like welfare, homelessness, and governmental assistance, too ‘intellectualized’ and impersonal. I always have the feeling that these writers, if they’ve lived on a ‘welfare budget’ have done it voluntarily, for research, or because of a family emergency they knew was temporary and a result of an ‘accident’ or an ‘Act of God.’ They were dependent then, but they knew ‘tomorrow was a better day.’
I’m in my mid-Sixties now, and moderately comfortable, but I’ve lived for six months in a Men’s shelter, moved half a dozen times in a year, and know the feeling of putting a shoe in a Y room door so you could go down the hall to the bathroom without it locking behind you and locking you out until you paid a couple of days rent you didn’t have yet.
Now I’ve lived most of my life in NYC, probably the most generous city in America when it comes to social services — and my entire life in the Mid-Atlantic States, the most generous reason. I know how little food stamps supplied even at the heights before welfare reform. I know from reading how much less people in other areas get. But I think stating those figures, repeatedly, seeing what these ‘lazy schenmers’ are really receiving — and how little it is to live on, needs saying — with actiual numbers — again and again.
And one other point. I’ve never had kids, but I’ve known people on assistance who have — and, I suppose I can remember needing the help my own family received as I was growing up — not foodstamps, which didn’t exist, but AFDC checks. And parents are ‘a little funny’ when it comes to their kids. They’ll accept their own sufferings and pain — not happily, no But they are a lot less willing to accept the look of hunger on a child’s face, or the shivering from a lack of heat, or the shame a child feels going to school in the only clothes he has — not because they aren’t the latest styles and fashions but because the have holes in them or don’t quite fit. Even knowing their kids can’t hang out with their friends because they can’t take always being the one someone else has to pay for hurts worse than a parent’s own missed meal.
If the government takes back money those parents need, they’ll get it somehow if they can. (Do you, Dad, buy yourself clothes that will get you a better job, or your kids clothes they won’t be ashamed of? Do you, Mom, find some way to get them enough food that they won’t be hungry, even if it means never buying the sort of food you’d like for yourself? And just what WON”T you do to keep those looks of hunger, cold, or shame off your kids’ face.)
One last point — yes, this goes all over the lot, maybe you’re lucky I haven’t been able to comment before — but people will frequently sacrifice themselves, or even their family, for their own beliefs — whether it is the poor family that still tithes, the man ‘too proud to ask for help’ or the person who simply pays more to buy an American- or Union-made product. But Republicans demand people make sacrifices based on not their own beliefs, but on the — very dubious — premises of republican economics, whether they share them or not. And if people realize that’s what’s being asked, they might re-plook at the argumments that convinced them.