Hunger in America is our canary in the coal mine. Forty years ago we began to invest in ending hunger and made significant progress. Today we have seen a four-fold increase in hunger in the United States since 1980. What happened? It is simple. We changed our priorities.
Consider that over the same forty-year period of food and nutrition program de-funding we have simultaneously increased military spending, corporate subsidies, and high income tax cuts and you start to see our priorities clearly. It should also be enough to judge them as well.
In the current farm bill budget, funding for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly called food stamps, was cut to placate anti-government, pro-private sector politicians. Again, this is a matter of priorities.
These cuts to food assistance is only part of the story. If a rise in hunger correlates with a cut in food assistance program, we have bigger problems. That problem is income and poverty. It is lost opportunity in America. And, again, that is a matter of our priorities.
Keep in mind that Republicans promised from the start that cutting government would be good for America. Ronald Reagan told us that one hungry person in America is one person too many. Since then the plug has been pulled and things have gone from bad to much worse.
The cuts didn’t work. If they did, would we have so many people unable to feed themselves and their families? Where are the promised working class jobs…the good jobs? What about that shared prosperity?
We have endured more than three decades of failed Republican promises and have nearly lost our country as a result. These are dismal, hard days, make no mistake about it. Real wages have stagnated for most, poverty is on the rise, and our social and physical infrastructure is in ruins.
But don’t let them tell you we are broke. We are not broke. The economy is growing and generating huge fortunes. We have trillions of dollars for military spending, billions for tax cuts, and billions more for economic subsidies which frequently go to the wealthiest industries in history. The only thing that is broken is our priorities.
A Place at the Table is about more than just hunger. It is a great overall study of what is wrong with our priorities today. We have to stop our downward spiral. Enough is enough. As the world changes and our society changes with it, we can’t abandoned the priorities that gave us security, strength, and prosperity. If we are to remain competitive and healthy, our government has to again serve the people, all people.