By: Wayne Brown
A local ABC affiliate station reviewed some of the latest figures for government nutrition assistance in the USA provided through various agencies of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Although I did not hear the entire report, the numbers offered were quite shocking in what they potentially reveal about our economic status in the USA today.
Nutrition assistance to low-income and out of work families in America has increased by a factor of 74% since 2007. That is an incredible increase in a very short timeframe. The number points to one or two factors or potentially a combination of the two. First, it certainly may be indicative of the true levels of unemployment in the country and the lack of any potential jobs in some regions. It demonstrates that the private sector businesses are simply “hanging on” and not growing in terms of output or market share. Secondly, it may speak to the level of how much easier it has become to defraud the government since the Obama Administration took office. Most likely, the figure is representative of some combination of the two factors.
46,000,000 people in the USA today are receiving some level of nutrition assistance in their household. That computes to approximately 15% of the national population and coincides nicely with numbers which are offered as the real “unemployment level” in America. At the present time, as much as one-third of the total population of the State of Alabama is receiving assistance. It is appalling to think that even a fraction of that number would be seeking assistance if there was another way…i.e. job opportunities. While there is certainly some fraud hidden in these numbers, hopefully we have not reached a point in America where we are so “assisted by the government” that we search for ways to take advantage of yet another free government program.
Nutrition assistance programs vary in size, shape, form, and name by individual state. All states are pressured and leveraged by the federal government to provide such programs. That leverage comes in the form of reduced federal funds to the state if it fails to offer such services. Since states operate under a “balanced budget” approach in most cases, this leverage offers a fixed amount of federal funds gambled against a variable cost issue. Since late 2008, states are seeing the significant rise in assistance requests and finding it hard to meet the demand even with federal dollars factored into the equation. Many states find temporary solutions by gutting other programs to continue support to those mandated by the federal government. In essence, the federal government is using taxpayer money to leverage states to assist people in becoming more dependent on the government for their subsistence.
America is a generous nation. It always has been such throughout its long history. Back before the federal government took on a role to be “everything to everybody”, those who fell on hard times were dependent on their neighbors and the local charities and churches for assistance. When someone received such assistance, it was likely desperation or a complete last resort as the person or persons took tremendous pride in maintaining their independence and showing their own ability to help. There was a “social awareness” associated with receiving charity and handouts that most folks did not want so they shied away from it.
The Depression offered the federal government the opportunity to reach its hand out to the citizens of America and to offer its assistance. While this was noble on the part of the President and those in Congress, it was also self-serving in that it gave them great stature with the voting public and significantly raised their stock for re-election. Even at that time, America did not have the money readily on hand to bailout an entire population of people who had fallen on poverty. That mattered little as our elected politicians began the process of basically robbing Peter to pay Paul…that of deficit spending and annual borrowing which slowly began to pile up the can of debt which the politicians kept kicking down the road in favor of more government programs.
Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” of the 1960’s era, opened the doors on many more assistance programs mandated by the federal government and paid for by the state. It was an amazing time to see the government using “borrowed money” to provide federal funds to states that were then strapped with the actual cost burden of a given program mandated by the fed. Ultimately, it was a case of taking the taxpayer to task on both ends of the equation all the time making the federal government look like the “daddy rabbit” for us all. In those days, most of us were far too naïve and intimidated to even think to ask where all that money would come from in our country. We thought those smart politicians knew. In the process of financing his grand ideas, LBJ managed to wrangle through legislation that allowed the government to raid the Social Security Trust Fund for the necessary revenue.
The process continued with each succeeding president and his administration. Some wanting to buy themselves a legacy; others shamed into making more commitments by their peers rather than to appear to have some fiscal responsibility. As a result, along with all the other burdens and programs created by the federal government, the debt piled up and up and the can just kept getting kicked down the road. Carter wanted to build everyone a house; Clinton wanted to give everyone an easy path for home loans and a government run healthcare system. Obama managed to get a government run healthcare system passed the impact of which is not yet determined but estimated conservatively and $65 billion dollars annually. Obama then took $500 billion from Medicare coffers to finance the initial implementation the plan. Between Johnson and Obama, much can be explained regarding the projected revenue shortfalls of both of these modern day Ponzi Schemes.
In the process of all this, our people lost that their affinity for taking hand-outs. In fact, many of them became downright aggressive at pursuing them quickly learning that life could be more lucrative on the dole than if one was working. This attitude quickly spreads from one person to another infecting the whole society and rendering it less and less productive. Of course, this is where the road to Socialism always leads….too much government, too little productivity, too little revenue and revenue sources, and far too many social programs. It is a winning formula for disaster in a country.
Of course there are those among our citizens who in their own caring way are quick to rush to the front and defend all of the social welfare programs as good and necessary. They, along with the various government officials, point out that nutrition assistance cannot be used for anything but food. Okay, I’ll buy that but at the same time it does not mention the various and sundry people who pull out that card at the grocery store but have to put away their I-Phone before doing so. Or, they take the groceries they just bought with the card and load them into the new $40,000 SUV that they leased last month when they got their first card. Yes, the point is true…the card can only be used for food but there is no acknowledgement of the fact that the card also allows other money to be diverted to buy things like I-Phones and SUV. So, in that sense the card is an indirect enabler of unauthorized purchases. I am all for putting food in the mouths of the needy and children but I do protest when that money or its equivalent is simply redirected out of the other household incomes for luxury items valued disproportionately to the need. There is something wrong with an approval system which will allow such abuse.
As a nation, we need to define better ways to use money applied to social well-being programs. If the government so believes that it can “create jobs” then why not use that money to do just that and put these people to work so they can feed themselves, buy their own SUV’s and I-Phones. Why not drug test all recipients regularly? Why continue to reward women who continue to birth babies to increase their share of the welfare pie. Where does it stop and where is the measure of what good it does?
Organizations are on television all the time begging viewers to just spend a few dollars each month to feed little Pabu over in a far-away land. No matter how success they are in collecting money for the purpose, little Pabu seems to continue to be hungry generation after generation after generation. Even if the money or some portion of it is reaching little Pabu and his family, it has apparently done nothing more than make them all wards for charity. Where is the program that gets Pabu and his family back on its feet and makes it a productive member of society? Where is the drive and motivation within little Pabu to get off of the welfare dole and contribute? It’s long gone. Pabu and his family have been conditioned from birth to depend on handouts. They have no drive and no self-reliance to break the chain and gain their independence. As much as we abhor slavery as a nation, we seem to forget that slavery can manifest itself in many forms.
The welfare attitude is thick in the air in Washington today and getting thicker the longer this administration and this Congress are in office. If Obama wins a second-term, he will obviously pull many back into office with him and the attitude will continue and prevail. Meanwhile, companies all over America and the world have exceptional amounts of capital sitting on the sideline awaiting change in America. If that change does not come in the form of Obama’s defeat in the elections of 2012, then that capital will remain sidelined indefinitely. There are far too many unknowns with regard to the government and the healthcare plan currently in the implementation stages. There are also deep concerns as to what will arise in a second term which would be far too controversial to address by a first-term president. Add it all up and one can see that the private sector is stymied by this administration and for good reason. Given that face, the outlook for private sector jobs is rather dismal leaving more and more people to line up for the welfare rolls in America.
One does not have to speculate too much as to what Obama’s new plan for the economy will be once he returns from his vacation. No matter what direction it takes, you can bet it will center around government inserting itself to a greater degree into the people’s lives. Money will continue to be spent on far-fetched ideas that are currently only dreams of the future. Americans will be told to tighten their belts and pony up more to cover the needs of the government. This is a given since the election of 2012 is still over a year out and minds must be changed and votes gathered before that time arrives. The only answer to that is pandering and the use of taxpayer revenue to buy votes and voting blocks. Obama’s strategy is currently…win the election first, come up with a program later, if necessary. One could only hope that entire state of Alabama is not on nutrition assistance by the time Obama leaves office; one can only hope.
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