a country where it seems the sole purpose of government is to put on a
show of fake combat between the two parties, it’s getting more and more
difficult to determine who is stealing what and how the stealing is
During the recent debate over the Farm Bill this week, one courageous
representative had the chutzpah to stand up in a committee meeting and
declare that Americans who receive food stamps are the beneficiaries of
government stealing other people’s money.
The reason that this took some courage is that Rep. Stephen Fincher,
R-Tenn., has himself, along with his family, been the beneficiary of
millions of dollars in farm subsidies over recent years, according to
U.S. Department of Agriculture figures. Between 1999 and 2012, Fincher
collected $3.48 million in farm subsidies, which breaks down to an
average of $24,166 per month. That money comes from one source, the
While he collected his farm subsidies for doing nothing, he lashed out
against food stamp recipients for taking their comparative pittance of
$100-$300 a month as part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance
Program (SNAP). Food stamps go to those who have been left out of the
social and economic benefits of the nation. They include children, the
elderly, those who are disabled, veterans, those who are unable to find
jobs that will allow them to support their families. Both versions of
the Farm Bill have cut SNAP funding and the result is the cutoff of
some 2 million working families from food assistance.
According to the Environmental Working Group
(EWG), Fincher received a government check for $70,000 as a direct
payment in 2012. Direct payments, EWG noted, “are issued automatically,
regardless of need, and go predominantly to the largest, most
profitable farm operations in the country.” The group adds: Fincher’s
$70,000 farm subsidy haul in 2012 dwarfs the average 2012 SNAP benefit
in Tennessee of $1,586.40, and it is nearly double of Tennessee’s
median household income. After voting to cut SNAP by more than $20
Fincher, who quotes the Bible in partially explaining his vote against
SNAP benefits, managed to vote in favor of expanding crop insurance
subsidies by $9 billion over the next 10 years. This was right after he
voted to cut SNAP by more than $20 billion (that effort by the
Republicans failed). The actual cut to SNAP was smaller, but tell that
to the millions of families who will have many hungry days in the
future. Quoting the Bible, he told constituents and others: “The one
who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”
We can be sure that Fincher’s belly will always be full, because if he
is not eating on his generous government paycheck and the perks that go
with it, he will eat well on the farm subsidies that he receives for
doing no work. That has to be the answer for someone who has incomes
from a variety of sources, all of them seeming to emanate from one
source, the American worker and taxpayer. The history that Fincher has
read must be of the let-them-eat-cake school.
According to the Heritage Foundation, a right wing think tank, the cost
of food stamps has doubled under President Obama, and the group claims
that 80 percent of the Farm Bill consists of food stamp benefits, with
the rest going to subsidies. One thing that Heritage fails to mention
in its raising of the alarm about all that money going to poor people
is that most of the farm subsidies, including “crop insurance” goes to
a “small group of large farm businesses, while the bottom 80 percent of
farmers receive roughly $5,000 a year,” according to EWG. SNAP limits
aid to income below 130 percent of the federal poverty line, or about
$30,000 per year for two adults and two children.
Republicans and others on the right continue their mantra of “providing
only for the deserving poor,” and those who cannot fend for themselves.
They obviously have not been watching the news about the economy and
the dearth of jobs over the past 10 years. They obviously do not know
that there is an economic crisis in most regions of the country. The
stock market may be to their liking, but most workers do not rise and
fall with the stock market. Rather, they are subject to it. The lack of
jobs is a crisis in the U.S., but it is not likely that the
representatives and senators who are debating the Farm Bill this week
have been to the homes of those who are in need of food stamps. If they
did, they would understand the depth of the problem.
The food stamp program is just one of the ways
that tens of millions of Americans cope with an economy that has failed
them. And, it is not of their doing. They just have to put up with it.
Politicians have failed the people, in general, and their failure to
help develop another way to work and live and survive is weakening the
country, day by day.
It’s pretty easy to see who gets something for nothing, when looking at
the disparity in wealth between the top 1 percent and the other 99
percent. There is no work and no effort that warrants $30 million for
an annual paycheck for CEOs, but that’s where the money is. Food stamps
are really a band-aid solution to the problem of the U.S. economy and
it would not be too much to ask to see the program’s size double again.
That politicians show their contempt for those who are in need and
question whether they really need assistance speaks volumes about their
lack of understanding of the crumbling condition of the economy and the
poisonous politics they have created.