Tuesday, January 26

Paging Jonathan Swift

When I caught this image on the internets and the commenters were all saying just how adorable it was and I just didn't think so. Then I thought making it into this lolcat would make it better and it didn't.

It's even less funny on mornings when I wake up to radio news about "food insecurity," and the fact that most monthly food stamp benefits get spent in the first three days of the month. It's the 26th of the month, and this is 'the hungry week,' folks. Would it stretch the food dollar if your forty-four dollars per month per person food stamp allotment was distributed as eleven dollars weekly? Really.

Two dots that I have not seen connected yet: the severe state of "food insecurity" in Alabama and Mississippi, and the fact that

"Two states continue to apply their sales tax fully to food purchased for home consumption without providing any offsetting relief for low- and moderate-income families. They are Alabama and Mississippi."

Duh. So let's pretend I'm still stupid enough to live in Birmingham, Alabama. If I got my forty-four dollars a month per person for food stamps, I'd have to pay 4 percent sales tax on my food to the state, plus 2 percent county sales tax, plus 3 percent to the city of Hoover, which, like the vacuum for which it is named, has annexed every parking lot with a grocery store attached to it.

I was actually shocked to see that the sales tax in Hoover has gone up to three percent. Trust me when I tell you, there are very few other places to shop in metro Birmingham.

NINE PERCENT of my food stamp money would be CUT from my benefit BY THE GOVERNMENT with no way to recover that.

Don't tell me I'm coming up against my own tax and spend liberalism. You wanna tax clothes at the mall? Food court lattes? Go ahead. Taxing the hungry for their FOOD is sinful.


In other economic news I don't want to write about, Nicholas Kristof reports the heartwarming story of a family that sold their house and gave a really large and generous portion of their ownings to hungry people around the world. This is a really great lesson for all of us, but while reading this I had a nagging question in the back of my head:

"Wow, they were able to sell their huge crazy-overpriced house?"

It also bugs me that we poor people are reminded of starving people in Haiti as if that will get us to forget that the inequity of income in the US.

Excluding capital gains, the richest one percent [of people in the United States] claimed 17.4 percent of all pre-tax income in 2005, more than double what that figure was in the 1970s. This is the greatest concentration of income since 1936, when the richest one percent received 17.6 percent of total income.

I can understand poor people in America bowing their heads in gratitude and giving to the much poorer and devastated people of Haiti.

I question how much of those ten dollar Red Cross cell-phone bill add-ons will still be being paid off with interest, on Americans' credit card bills, this Christmas, when much of the Haitian devastation will be forgotten, and people use those same generous phones to vote for the American Idol finalist.

Also, I can't understand why the populism on the right is getting all the media attention. Oh yeah, right wing populism and bread and circuses meet the needs of corporate-owned media.

And people at salon last night were laughing that they feel my kick in their ass on days they don't post. Heh.


  1. I'll add my voice to your plaint.

    How much are they f**ing pledging?


    the richest one percent [of people in the United States] claimed 17.4 percent of all pre-tax income in 2005, more than double what that figure was in the 1970s. This is the greatest concentration of income since 1936, when the richest one percent received 17.6 percent of total income.

  2. Percentages are just fractions and many people have trouble with fractions. Invert and multiply?

    Did you remember to carry the bum?

    The Red Cross E.D. was on C-Span's morning show taking calls... The text pledge tally was at $30 Million. A caller asked how much would go to Haiti. The E.D. proudly said that 93 cents of every dollar collected goes to the effort. Only 7 cents to overhead.

    That's a $2.7 MILLION windfall to the overheaders from just one element of the Haitian Relief effort.

    No one questions the .93 or the .07 calculations or wonders the staggering sums being siphoned off.
    And the Red Cross is better than MOST.

    Someday maybe somebody will do the math properly and fix the glitch. Until then, you get animal groups hawking $20 a month donations to save a stray while others beg for pennies to feed a whole village.

    Maybe Americans aren't so good at math because American Math is really twisted.

  3. You think that's bad I hear the overhead at pro-life call centers borders on absolute robbery. After all, what are they gonna do with the money, bomb a clinic? Money to a pro-life group doesn't save one baby. It's robbery on the stupid.

  4. It's true, I sometimes hear the Voice of BlueGal, the Fairy Blogmother on days when I slack off on blogging.

  5. Food insecurity really frightens me, especially with so many people unemployed and under-employed (which is about 23% of California right now according to the SF Chronicle).

    I cannot stress enough that we all have to try to grow something to eat or to at least start cooking at home again, and not out of a box. But you know all that.



  6. I gave to Doctors Without Borders because I've heard nothing but good stuff about them and many of the medical workers volunteer. I believe they have a very small overhead expense.

    And Ten...I think about this a lot. Living in a tiny apartment in the city, growing stuff here is out, but I garden at my brother's place when I visit. Once the tomatoes and peppers come in, he doesn't have to buy any for months.

  7. As a currently unemployed person, I'm worrying about food, but nowhere near as desperately as many.

    $44/mo., huh? Minus taxes???

    Apparently these people didn't get St. Ronnie's memo that "There isn't any hunger in America!"

  8. Well, here's a ray of sunshine from Oregon of all places!
    We had 2 ballot measures...the basic theme-- Tax the Rich.
    One measure was an increased tax on those who jointly make $250,000 or more, or $125,000 individually, the other increases Corporate tax (from $10 min- circa 1931), to $150 min & up for the huge corporations (Nike & Intel).... today was the election & BOTH measures passed. They even threw in a $2,400 unemployment write off.

    So Yay for the little non corporate people!!!!

    And we don't know poverty at the level Haiti does. 80% poverty level (pre earthquake), and abject poverty- people living on less than $1 per day.

    But I have been a single parent on food stamps & there is always more month than money. I live in a non sales tax state.... but also a state with some of the highest income taxes. They get ya one way or the other.

    So 2 things about the new Tax the Rich measures in Oregon.....

    • It includes a $2400 unemployment write off.
    It is effective immediately. the tax book said wait till after todays election results to file taxes as it kicks in ASAP.

    • For as much as the rich bastards moaned about paying more taxes...(paid big bucks to try to defeat the measures).... the bottom line is they still do not pay as much of a % of taxes as do middle & low income folks.

    Here is my theory.....

    If corporations are people, then people pay taxes!

    Done deal here.

    I'm stoked especially after last week's Supreme Blow to letting corporations run amuck.

    Better they pay for education, social services & safety stuff before they blow the rest of it stuffing politicians pockets w money to buy votes, or I mean "Free speech", as the supreme court put it.

  9. My friend Libby wrote this comment at Facebook and I wanted to make sure it got over here:

    "I hear ya about the taxing food benefits (WTF?! WA doesn't tax food for home consumption at all, much less food bought w foodstamps!)

    But I do object to the "hand out foodstamps weekly" idea. Having been on foodstamps for most of the last decade, I universally got far better "bang" for my foodstamp buck by having a largish lump sum, which enabled me to buy things in bulk on sale, stock up on staples when they were cheap,etc.

    I realize that this approach takes a certain level of self-discipline and intelligence, and much of the rhetoric around poor Moms on both sides of the aisle centers around us being lazy, indolent and stupid. But having access to capital (even rather limited-use capital in the form of foodstamps) is part of the "way out" of poverty, as the success of microloan programs have shown. If you want to REALLY help out a struggling single mom, help her get a month ahead on rent and utilities, or come up with insurmountable first/last/deposit to get a better place - and maybe a bigger one so there's room for a roomate.

    Ehrenreich talks about this quite a bit in "Nickled and Dimed" - that the biggest hurdle is never being able to get far enough ahead. If you get all the foodstamps at once, you can buy the 50# bag of potatoes, and then you're NOT hungry at the end of the month. "

  10. Excellent points made above.... plus if there is a bureaucratic blunder, one could potentially go many weeks w/o food stamps while they fix the problem.

  11. In Mississippi taxes are not charged food purchased with food stamps.


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