Wednesday, 9/25/13, Public Square

The below letter was written on September 19th by a veteran named Jason. He fought for our country and came home to an America that has left him feeling disenchanted.

Jason wrote the letter in response to Republicans voting to cut $40 billion from the food stamp program this past week. He happens to be one of those who is currently counting on food stamps in order to not go hungry.

My name is Jason. I turned 35 less than a week ago. My first job was maintenance work at a public pool when I was 17. I worked 40 hours a week while I was in college. I’ve never gone longer than six months without employment in my life and I just spent the last three years in the military, one of which consisted of a combat tour of Afghanistan.

Oh, and I’m now on food stamps. Since June, as a matter of fact.

Why am I on food stamps?

The same reason everyone on food stamps is on food stamps: because I would very much enjoy not starving.

I mean, if that’s okay with you:

Mr. or Mrs. Republican congressman.

Mr. or Mrs. Conservative commentator.

Mr. or Mrs. “welfare queen” letter-to-the-editor author.

Mr. or Mrs. “fiscal conservative, reason-based” libertarian.

I do apologize for burdening you on the checkout line with real-life images of American-style poverty. I know you probably believe the only true starving people in the world have flies buzzing around their eyes while they wallow away, near-lifeless in gutters.

Hate to burst the bubble, but those people don’t live in this country.

I do. And millions like me. Millions of people in poverty who fall into three categories.

Let’s call them the “lucky” category, since conservatives seem to think people on welfare have hit some sort of jackpot:

Those living paycheck to paycheck? They’re a little lucky.

Those living unemployment check to unemployment check? They’re a little luckier.

Those living 2nd of the month to 2nd of the month? Ding! We’ve hit the jackpot!

The 2nd of the month being the time when funds gets electronically deposited onto the EBT card, [at least in NY] for those who’ve never been fortunate enough to hit that $175/month Powerball.

I fall into the latter two categories. But I’ve known people recently — soldiers in the Army — who were in the first and third. They were off fighting in Afghanistan while their wives were at home, buying food at the on-post commissary with food stamps.

And nobody bats an eye there, because it’s not uncommon in the military.

It’s not uncommon — nor is it shameful. It might be shameful how little service-members are paid, but that’s a separate issue.

The fact remains anyone at a certain income level can find it difficult from time to time to pay for everything. And when you’re poor you learn to make sacrifices. Food shouldn’t be one of them.

The whole concept is un-American. People living here, in the greatest country on Earth, with the most abundant resources, should be forced to go hungry because of the intellectual notion of fiscal conservatism and the ideological notion of self-reliance.

Are you fucking kidding me?

I didn’t risk my life in Afghanistan so I could come back and watch people go hungry in America. I certainly didn’t risk it so I could come back and go hungry.

Anyone who genuinely supports cutting food stamps is not an intellectual or an ideologue — they’re a bully.

And nobody likes a bully. Except other bullies.

It’s time for regular Americans to stand up to these bullies. Not cower in the corner, ashamed of needing help. Because if there’s one thing life has taught me, it’s that you never know when you’ll be the one in need.

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44 Comments

Filed under The Public Square

44 responses to “Wednesday, 9/25/13, Public Square

  1. The fastest growing sub-group of recipients of SNAP are active-duty military. So it’s not just our veterans, but the families of those troops who are currently serving their country, who are harmed by this abhorrent behavior from the “patriots” in Congress.

    The luxury-car driving welfare moocher queens are corporate executives in the energy, pharmaceutical, defense-contracting, big agriculture and banking industry.

    The Federal Government spends $100 billion dollars a year on subsidies for business, including subsidies that benefit energy companies and subsidies that benefit foreign countries. The government spent $81 billion dollars last year on the SNAP program (a number that includes administration costs). It is estimated that over 170,000 veterans will be cut off from food if congress is successful. 76% of SNAP recipients are children, disabled or the elderly. CORPORATE WELFARE OVER HUMAN WELFARE.

    Luckily the republicans are the majority in one half of the Legislative branch only. They waste lots of time, they waste lots of tax dollars but their legislative record is one of being totally unsuccessful.

    • “The luxury-car driving welfare moocher queens are corporate executives in the energy, pharmaceutical, defense-contracting, big agriculture and banking industry.”

      Sing it sista!

      That’s the absolute truth. And don’t forget the tax exempt churches. They are welfare queens too.

  2. Obamacare offers insurance to those who don’t already have it! If you have insurance, keep it, keep the employer-paid contribution, just enjoy the new benefits Obamacare ensures all who are insured!

    I know that Ted Cruz hasn’t shown any evidence of being sane enough to understand but while he’s ranting someone should explain Obamacare to him. He either doesn’t understand or he is a liar. He currently is ranting about the POTUS enrolling for Obamacare.

    Obamacare is designed to ADD to the roles of insured those who don’t have insurance. If you already have insurance you do nothing except sit back and enjoy the cost savings and benefit improvements Obamacare brings to your insurance! This year for the very first time my mammogram and bone density test were covered — no additional co-pay — covered by my insurance because the new preventative health benefits for women my age went into effect this year.

    The republicans are desperate and relying on people believing the lies they’re spreading. It’s great that republicans, who are the only ones falling for the ranting lies, are small in number. The numbers of democrats and independents and unaffiliated are greater and we don’t swallow the republican lies. The truth — actual facts — are readily available for everyone capable of thinking for themselves.

    • His little tantrum yesterday just about sealed his fate for no cred with his fellow repukes much less anyone else.

      What an ass. He makes me ashamed of Texas, but, then we do send a lot of asses to both Austin and Washington.

      Just like Kansas.

    • There is a danger out there, fnord. it is the individual mandate, and its impact on young, healthy individuals.

      It matters not to most of them that they may well need health insurance coverage at any time; all they know is that they don’t need it right now and the idea they need to pay for something they don’t perceive they need is grating upon them. After all, they just know they need a new smart phone, a new tablet, or other gadget, and being required to pay for something they just don’t need prevents their being able to acquire the latest gadget when they want it.

      This group is (or logically should be) the target audience for the GOP radicals. In my very limited experience, they are falling for the crap being put out as justification for their opposition. Many of them do not have employment where the employer is mandated to provide such coverage, or are experiencing the reduction in hours to be allowed to work so the employer is required to provide the coverage (or pay the penalty). They are most willing to blame their plight on Obamacare, not realizing who is really at fault.

      I can provide real world cases to support the young folks affected by a reduction in hours and the negative reaction generated thereby, anecdotal though they be. I can also discuss the replacement of full time employees with part-time employees to avoid the employer mandate, which part-timers will have a problem affording the premium (especially given the refusal, in Kansas, to expand Medicaid coverage). Tax credits, etc., carry little meaning to them.

      Hopefully, these are isolated cases. Somehow, I think not.

      • I acknowledge that danger. The young people I know are smart, educated, totally turned off by the hatred and intolerance of the Republican Party. They check further than what comes out of the mouth of those speaking for republicans.

        I think republicans — or at least the Kochs — are attempting to reach the younger crowd. That repulsively clownish Uncle Sam video was aimed at younger people. They simply do not have a clue how to relate to younger people! Oh, I know there will be some who fall for the lies and exaggerations and propaganda. Maybe my grandchildren are of superior intellect 🙂 but here’s what my 25 year old said about Obamacare recently in a text: our generation would be screwed without it. most of my friends from college don’t have jobs with insurance.

        And the lie republicans are trying to push about the younger generation bearing the burden of paying more than older people… Well, do republicans really think others have no memory of how things have always been? Do they think the healthier (and often younger) in every group plan haven’t always been how the insurance companies have made their products profitable? If you are a young, healthy person who gets insurance through work, you are getting docked the same amount of money as your older, actuarially more expensive colleagues. What conservatives have now elevated to a principle of the highest moral magnitude has been violated for decades, ignored until its discovery as a weapon against universal health insurance.

        I fully expect republicans will continue with the lies, exaggerations. It’s what I’ve come to expect from them. But I have great confidence in our younger generation. They don’t fall for it. Do they vote for republicans in large numbers? No, they don’t. They don’t vote against their own best interests.

      • One last point about youth. Remaining on your parents policy until 26. A genius move! Parents who have insurance know the importance and they’ll be making insurance decisions for their young adult children for a few more years.

      • My 27 year old daughter doesn’t fall for the crap, either. I have been spending a great deal of time lately in Wellington, and the younger folks down here do. I can talk about the differences in education, the (unenviable) fact that most are employed in low wage, no benefit jobs, and go on and on, but the stark fact is they are quite willing to swallow the crap, hook, line and sinker.

        Similarly, the young folks the younger “manages”. While many are going to school, some are not. Even though there are several with children, the great consensus reported is great resistance to the individual mandate. Jeez, I’d have thought these folks wouldn’t be so gullible. . .

        I hope you’re correct, fnord, about the younger generation. I find that many are apolitical, convinced that their participation is meaningless. With this attitude, there is no need for voter supression efforts. Sigh.

    • wicked

      He either doesn’t understand or he is a liar.

      I vote “LIAR.”

      • The Rude Pundit says —

        Ted Cruz didn’t talk until he couldn’t talk any longer, and he was still able to stand. So he is a goddamned liar.

      • wicked

        Okay, I’ll be honest. I didn’t listen or see any of this circus. Frankly, I outgrew circuses a long time ago. Add to that listening and seeing that I have read very little on it, but really don’t care. An ass is an ass, with or without an audience. (I always manage to have an audience.)

        Why didn’t I listen or watch? I gleaned enough from the little I read and have a huge clue as to who he is and the reason(s) for what he does. And, too, I don’t have time. Simply reading comments from both sides tells me a lot of what I need to know.

  3. “Don’t be distracted by the antics of Ted Cruz. The real question over the next days and weeks is whether John Boehner is a statesman who will allow the entire House to vote on whether to keep government running and then pay the nation’s debts, without de-funding or delaying Obamacare — or whether Boehner is a political hack who so badly wants to keep his job as Speaker of the House that he won’t bring these bills to the floor unless a majority of Republicans let him. If the latter, we’re in for some difficult times. The larger question here is whether the congressional Republican Party is willing and able to govern, or is so dominated by rightwing fanatics (and their big-money patrons, like the Koch Brothers) that they’re intent on making Americans deeply cynical about the ability of government to do anything — in which case most of the public gives up on government and democracy, and the fanatics and big money win it all.” — Robert Reich

  4. I hope Boner needs Pelosi’s help and I hope she makes him crawl and gets some concessions from him. But she’ll probably be too good for that.

  5. On a happier note…

    Yahoo has a list today of the top ten community colleges in Kansas. Guess who made the number 10 slot?

    “10. Colby Community College

    Sliding into No. 10 on our list, Colby Community College in Colby, Kan., wins our accolade as one of the top community colleges because of its 10-1 student-faculty ratio, low in-state tuition of $1,824 per year ($2,944 with fees), and the fact that 97 percent of full-time first-time students receive some grant or scholarship aid. In addition to getting a cost break, students also receive direct attention from their instructors. Besides maintaining a low student-faculty ratio, Colby makes an effort to accommodate students who may not be able to make it to the main campus by offering courses through 24 locations spread throughout 14 surrounding counties.

    While Colby offers programs of study ranging from broadcasting to massage therapy to solar photovoltaic studies, the broad array of agriculture programs really make this institution shine. Colby’s 60-acre agricultural center acts as a living laboratory, provides students with real-world farming experience and offers the perfect place for the school’s agrocentric programs, including agronomy, farm and ranch management, and agriculture economics.

    The school also maintains strong programs for students who want to work with four-legged friends, including programs in equine science, animal science, and a robust veterinary technology program that can be completed on campus or online.”

  6. Guess who made number 7 on the list?

    7. North Central Kansas Technical College

    Nationwide, only about 20 percent of students graduate from two-year institutions within three years of enrolling. At North Central Kansas Technical College in Beloit, Kan., 81 percent of full-time students leave campus with their credentials in that time frame, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

    North Central Kansas only offers technical programs — 24 between two campuses — and students may be required to collaborate with those outside of their degree program. Every year, students from the school’s various programs — carpentry, bricklaying, residential electricity, telecommunications, electronics engineering technology, and plumbing, heating and air conditioning — work together to build a house from the foundation up.

    “It really has been a great culmination and a great collaboration between a lot of different programs,” says North Central Kansas Tech President Eric Burks. Proceeds from selling the house help fund the school’s career technical programs.

    North Central Kansas’ technology studies program also works in tandem with the local four-year institution Fort Hays State University and provides transferrable credits students can apply toward a two-year degree program at North Central Kansas Tech or toward a four-year degree at Fort Hays State. All North Central students, regardless of program of study, receive direct attention from their teachers thanks to the school’s sweet 10-1 student-faculty ratio.

    Both of those schools are in my neck of the prairie. But you have one in your area too. Let’s see who ranked number three.

  7. Actually, it’s number four.

    4. Flint Hills Technical College

    Located in east-central Emporia, Kan., Flint Hills Technical College is dedicated to hands-on education and partnering with local businesses. Seventy percent of learning time is spent in labs or in practical training. The Flint Hills construction technologies program, for instance, recently partnered with Kansas State University to build an office and classroom space on Flint Hills’ campus.

    The building is partially powered by solar and wind power. The construction technology program also worked with Habitat for Humanity last year to build a new house, while Flint Hills’ multimedia program partners with local manufacturers to design marketing materials.

    “We pride ourselves in every one of our programs to have cutting-edge technology,” says Flint Hills President Dean Hollenbeck. “It’s a challenge for us to make sure that our students, when they come into any of our programs, that the equipment they’re using is exactly the equipment, exactly the software” that they’ll be using in the real world, he says.

    Nearly all — 94 percent — of graduates find work or continue their education after leaving Flint Hills.

  8. I’m surprised the northwest Kansas Technical Colllege in Goodland didn’t make the list as they’ve drawn attention for using Ipads in all their classes instead of text books, They use them in the diesel mechanics program to do diagnostics and they use them in the auto mechanics and body shop programs, too.

    So, riddle me this. If Kansas has such great technical schools and community colleges that are affordable, why is Sam the Sham wanting to cut their budgets and gut them? Seems like big bidness in Kansas would love to have these well trained, well educated young workers. It would be like, wait for it, another subsidy for big bidness!!!!

    As 617 said, “What a maroon.” With a hat tip to Bugs Bunny.

    • Knowledge is the enemy of those wanting to control the masses the more you know. The less likely you will be to fall for the mambo jumble that they will try to feed you. The oxymoron of cutting money to education while demanding that people will need a higher education in order to be prosperous.

      Is so plain as to their thinking about only the most powerful and wealthy should prosper.

      • wicked

        My dad, born in 1910, had a 7th grade education, due to the death of his father when my dad was 10 and forcing my dad to go to work. Yet my dad managed to be one of the most intelligent people I’ve known. He became a voracious reader and kept learning, until the day he died.

        Too bad we all don’t do the same, because once those education cuts are made, they never return fully.

        You’re right, rd, ‘keep ’em dumb’ is the mantra of far too many.

    • wicked

      Goddard has instituted iPads in high school, but apparently there’s a few, big glitches. First, there weren’t enough given by Apple so all students have them, and they must be shared among many. Second, teachers learned that printing from the iPads couldn’t be done. The system wasn’t set up for it in the school. After correcting that, printing couldn’t be done from the computers, as it had been.

      More maroons?

    • wicked

      I’m going to HAVE to set aside several hours to puzzle over exactly what we, in Kansas, are getting…and which insurance companies are putting money into the pockets of our elected officials.

      • Yeah, Wicked. When you find out, let us know. I tried this morning when I read what RD posted. I still can’t figure out Kansas. And the policy I have now, with BCBS, is not going to be offered anymore after this year, so I will be forced to do something different. I just don’t know what.

      • wicked

        I’ll do my best, PP, but don’t hold your breath. Except for 2 years in the past 15, I haven’t had insurance. I’ve been lucky NOT to need a doctor for more than once or twice during that “without” time. I paid the necessary medical expenses–out of pocket–and went on. That does not mean things won’t change as I grow older and continue to live.

        Being self-employed–which supposedly is a good thing with ACA, according to a couple of things I’ve read–makes it all very iffy for me. As soon as I think “I can do this!” something comes along and ‘disappears’ some of my income. One step forward and another one or two back. We shall see, is about all I can come up with.

      • I hear ya, Wicked. I’m self employed as well, and I’ve been on a “group of one” policy with my produce business for the last seven years. It’s been reasonably affordable for me, although just barely. And with my health problems, hell, I’m a walking pre-existing condition so I had to stick with what I had.

        Now, under the ACA, “group of one” plans are no longer available, and my crappy little plan that pays for neither prescriptions nor doctor visits will also no longer be available under the ACA. I can renew my current plan in november for one more year, but after that? I’m on the exchange.

        Luckily, I’m poor as a church mouse and meet the income requirements for subsidies, so we’ll see what happens. I think my out of pocket expenses will rise along with deductibles, but they’ll cover my considerable prescription bill and doctor visits, which I need to do more often. So, the whole thing will likely be a wash for me. At least for a while. I’m 8 years from Medicare, if it’s even there when I hit the age, and that’s a loooooong time in health care years.

        I also fear the repukes will hold the House and take back the Senate, and then all this will go away and I’ll be worse off than before. Likely, if that happens, I’ll “go naked” with no insurance. How nice as I age and my health problems get worse.

        What did the Kinks say? “It’s a mixed up muddled up shook up world except for Lola.” And I don’t even know anyone named Lola….

    • wicked

      It certainly appears that the missile is headed for the, uh, elephant…until I noticed the shadow. Frankly, I’d prefer the elephant to be shot in the foot by it’s own ‘device.’

  9. I can go on all day undressing Ted Cruz and his Tea Party ilk’s preposterous grandstanding which seeks to convince the American people not to buy into the single most important health reform in over a century, but the always trusty Thom Hartmann does a much better job of explaining the sinister reasons behind the Republican Party’s unprecedented recalcitrance.

    It’s less than four minutes long. It’s well worth the time spent.

    • wicked

      On #1: “Basically, they are…” Scamming their followers.

      They’re great scam artists! Why? They want to put money in their own pockets. Koch money, insurance company money, and their followers money. As long as they can keep up the scam, they will.

      This is not to say that I don’t get requests for money from my own party. I do. Dozens of them a day. Do I send them $$? Very, very, very rarely. They are being paid to do their job, and paid much more than I’ll ever be paid. While I understand that commercial ads on TV and radio are expensive, I cannot shove $3 for rebuttal commercials for each and every request.

      If these people would do their jobs–ALL of them–and stop dicking around, wasting time and OUR MONEY, and if they’d work together to make this country as good as it can be for everyone, they wouldn’t need my $3.

      /rant

  10. As governor, Mitt Romney pioneered the main elements of Obamacare in his state. The federal government funded the Romneycare experiment with the hopes of nationalizing the program if successful. Ninety-eight percent of the population in Massachusetts is now covered under Romneycare.

    Obamacare Explained in 7 Easy Steps By Its Original Creator, Mitt Romney
    http://www.policymic.com/articles/65079/obamacare-explained-in-7-easy-steps-by-its-original-creator-mitt-romney

  11. WTF? Did you guys see this? I picked it up at DU just now.

    Ted Cruz just voted for Obamacare (Senate votes 100-0 for Obamacare)
    http://www.politico.com/blogs/politico-live/2013/09/cruz-a-vote-for-cloture-is-a-vote-for-obamacare-173213.html

    Cruz: A vote for cloture is a vote for Obamacare

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/25/politics/shutdown-showdown/

    The Senate voted unanimously on Wednesday to move ahead on a spending plan needed to avoid a government shutdown next week, with Republicans, including Sen. Ted Cruz, unexpectedly reversing themselves after previously trying to block the measure over their objection to spending for Obamacare.

    #winning

    • let’s all sing a rousing chorus of “I saw the light, I saw the light, no more darkness no more night.”

      Repukes. You just can’t make this shit up.

    • wicked

      Huh. I guess they heard my rant. (yeah, right)

      I don’t trust these f^ckers.

    • wicked

      Would the recent actions, words and ranting by the Republicans be considered GRANDSTANDING?

      fnord, did you use your good standing with the Republican Party to talk them down and make them see reason? LOL

      This seriously makes me wonder what these goobers are up to. Yes, I’m a suspicious person.

      • First, let’s remember there is still no bill on President Obama’s desk to fund the government. And, wicked is right to be wary. The republicans haven’t earned any measure of trust with their shenanigans!

        Maybe they decided to move the fight to raising the debt limit. Their constituents heard enough about how impossible their grandstanding on defunding Obamacare was and maybe they started to wonder about continuing the futility. But every republican is still repeating the ‘stoopid’ talking points about the debt limit. Most people understand needing to pay the bills you’ve already racked up, but republicans are certainly not most people. Not even close. Most people have the ability to reason if it’s explained slowly and clearly. That wouldn’t be a description I would use for republicans. They’re looney toons crazy and certainly not able to reason. They caused our credit rating to be raised once, who would question their repeating that stupidity again!? I’ve actually heard defaulting on the debt will be more devastating than shutting down the government. I believe they want to do the most damage possible!

        By the way, my good standing in the Republican Party has earned me several polling calls recently. My answers were probably a bit different than their usual responses. 🙂

      • Have the republicans all joined hands and agreed to stop eating their own? This should be interesting!

      • Here is what I think is going down. The GOP knows (at least in the Senate) that defunding the ACA is a nonstarter. The emphasis is on the debt ceiling fight yet to come.

        While the defunding stuff has made all the headlines, the rest of the Continuing Resolution sets the spending at sequester limits. This shoves the ball into the Democrats’ court, with great potential political blame to be headed their way if the CR doesn’t pass. Leverage gained by the elephants in the debt ceiling fight to keep future spending at the current post-sequester level as a trade for raising the ceiling is gained, and there doesn’t seem (to me) to be much appetite to fight the spending levels. JMHO, of course.

      • Someone today called teddy’s faux filibuster “the world’s longest presidential candidate stump speech.” Hope voters don’t forget what a dick he is before 2016. Including repuke primary voters.

  12. A popular tweet —

    Ted Cruz read from Atlas Shrugged and Green Eggs & Ham. One’s a nonsensical fairy tale. The other’s a children’s book.

  13. Here’s what the Rude Pundit writes —

    http://rudepundit.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-huckster-filibuster.html

    I can’t find a portion to bring to the blog. Just go read it and laugh. 🙂

  14. Ted Cruz enjoyed Canadian citizenship – doesn’t he? I wonder…..has he ever used the Canadian Health Care system?

    BTW – I remember hearing Ted Cruz promise to renounce his Canadian citizenship – but has he actually done it?

    Hmmmm…..

    Just another one of these GOPPERS- All for ME and none for Thee..