Hunger Remains a Reality for Millions of Americans


All three of the major candidates for President are mouthing beautiful words about the massive problem of hunger in America but, as usual, none of them are calling for a full assault to solve the issue.

Gore and Bradley want to increase the minimum wage and expand the Earned Income Tax Credit, both worthy goals but no where near enough.

Gore adds that he wants to increase the number of meals available at schools but that leaves out the smallest victims of hunger who do not attend school as well as their parents.

Bradley wants to increase funding for Head Start but isn't very clear about the number of American children that will affect nor, again, how the youngest and oldest Americans will benefit.

Bush JR., true to the vision of his wealthy owners, simply wants to scrap the Constitution and provide tax payer funds directly to Christian churches in the hope that this institution will suddenly find its heart and soul and begin thinking about the nation's poor rather than bigger churches and bigger hair for the preachers.

Nothing that these simple minded little politicians have offered will come close to solving this horror. Only a return to a government sponsored and controlled program stands a chance since Corporate America absolutely could not care less about the children except as consumers, the churches can't be bothered since a tithe of ten percent of nothing is nothing and the wealthy can't see the problem over their barbed wire topped fences and through their gated compounds. Only those Americans who believe that compassion and the sharing of wealth is the true American spirit can alter the nation's descent into the pure greed and selfishness that has become the American spirit.

It is even argued, by those with no mercy in their souls but lots of money in the bank, that the problem of hunger in America is a bleeding heart liberal invention and that this marvelous economy has lifted all out of poverty and into the splendid sunshine and warmth of their global economy. Their pretentious and fallacious arguments are painfully easy to dispel.

Between 1985 and 1990, the number of Americans living in hunger rose from twenty million to over thirty million, a 50% increase. (1) In a 1997-1998 report, that number had risen to thirty six million Americans, with fourteen million of those being defenseless children. (2) A thirty city survey published in 1998 by the United Conference of Mayors stated that, in the preceding year, "requests for emergency food assistance increased by an average of 14%, with 78% of the cities registering an increase." For those who whine that these people need to get jobs, the reality is that the report stated that, while the majority of those seeking assistance were children and their parents, over a third of the parents were employed but still unable to meet their food requirements. Saddest of all, the cities found that they were unable to even meet the basic needs of an average 21% of these families due to a lack of resources (read federal funds) and that 47% of the cities fully expect the need to increase in the coming years and for their resources to continue to dwindle at the same time.

The low unemployment rate, which we all know is a lie and a fabrication, hides the depth of this problem since the Republican Congress can happily withhold and/or outright eliminate funding for assistance programs by claiming that there simply are not that many families still living in poverty. Since nearly all media is now owned by conservative corporations who have a monetary stake in keeping this belief alive in order to minimize their honest share of the nation's tax revenues, the American people have no idea of the pain and suffering their indifference is causing. It is that indifference, more than even the vile intentions of politicians, that ensures the continuation and the growth of the number of Americans who live in hunger. It guarantees that this remains a nation where the hunger of children isn't important enough to discuss and where the sick conservative philosophy of "you can't have my money but you can take theirs" overrules all compassion towards these children.

As Peter Rosset, executive director of Food First, so eloquently puts it, "When a fifth (my emphasis) of America's children are raised in poverty, it is a disgrace to place the interests of military contractors at the top of our national priorities." (3)

The report cited earlier from the United Conference of Mayors goes so far as to obliquely damn the hateful "Welfare Reform" that the Republican Congress devised and that the President happily signed at Gore's insistence. It states, quite firmly that, "... the strong economy has had very little positive impact on hunger and homelessness. Low-paying jobs that cannot support a household [are] a very troublesome problem. Many cities report that welfare reform has had a negative impact on hunger and homelessness". (Well DUH!!!!)

You can all rest assured that the pain and suffering that one fifth of America feels today is only the beginning. The number of Americans living lives of need and misery will increase exponentially as NAFTA and GATT and the World Trade Organization creates more and more poverty all over the world through the constant movement of factories and businesses in their constant search for the cheapest labor and the least environmental and worker safety regulations available. Millions more Americans will fall further and deeper into poverty and despair as the wealthy of the world consolidate and strengthen their hold on the means of supplying food and health care and every other basic necessity of mankind. They will slowly dole out their "favors" only to those nations and those people most willing to live in an ecology devastated by pollution and in working conditions beyond those of slaves.

What Gore and Bradley and Bush Jr. offer as solutions are far from even the meager description of Band-Aids over the open sores of poverty and hunger. As long as we allow the rich to control the world, the longer and the more desperate hunger and need will become for more and more people. The response that these corporately owned and operated chattel offer as proposals, though, are only those that will most likely not anger their owners so we should be down on our knees in thanks that they even deign to acknowledge the poor in America.

Here, gentle readers, is the all encompassing question that America must force itself to confront and to answer. Are we going to support those with unconscionable wealth to continue to whine and moan and cry about their taxes while stealing as much as possible from the poor and redistributing it among the wealthy or are we, as a nation, going to demand that the wealthy pay their fair share of the burdens of a free and democratic nation which, in their warped view, is a redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor. Who will be asked to pay their fair share in our future? The question remains, who do you trust the most? The government, which is admittedly wasteful and slow, or Corporate America, a group without a soul and whose only goal is the amassing of the maximum amount of wealth with the least exertion from the segment of the world they believe the least able to defend themselves from the onslaught. That really isn't that hard a question for anyone with an average IQ (but I'll repeat it for the Republicans if they lost track of the thought around the word "fair").

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Copyright 1/7/2000