Sunday, December 2, 2007

Don't Be Poor In The US

Now, it's no secret that on most issues I'm a bleeding-heart liberal. I've never tried to hide it, but I don't get into arguments with people (generally strangers) like I used to because I don't think it does much good and I'm not interested in changing people's minds (which never happens, anyway). I also tend to keep my mouth shut about things on which I don't feel informed - I generally suck at keeping track of specific individuals in the government, for example. I don't remember who Trent Lott is (though I definitely know how to find out), but I do find it hilarious that he's resigning and suddenly there's a young gay man who claims they had a physical relationship of some sort (those are the sort of details a girl can sink her teeth into). My bleeding-heart is tempered with realism - I believe we should take care of our elderly and our children and people who are unable to work, that we should all have access to health care and we should do more to support families, but I know any such systems have problems and are abused.

Why do I feel the need to divulge all of this? I'm really not sure. I always strive not to judge people and to make sure people know that I respect their views, regardless of what they are. So, I guess I need to do a little care-taking of my readers. What am I pissed off about today? That half a million people might be cut from the WIC program. For those of you who don't know what WIC is, it stands for Women, Infants and Children, a federally funded program administered by state governments that provides vouchers for things like milk, eggs, cheese, juice, cereal and peanut butter to low income pregnant women and women with young children. Most people who are on the plan need it and benefit greatly from it. Without that support, many of these people would not have access to fresh dairy in their diets. How is it abused? Women go on the program, use their vouchers to buy what they are allowed to buy and then sell those items for cash (usually they're drug users).

Why might they get kicked off the program? Is it Bush's fault? Well, it kinda is Bush's fault (from the Tuesday USA Today article):

"Bush has proposed spending $5.4 billion for the program next year, an increase of about $200 million, to serve 8.3 million people. The caseload, though, has increased to 8.5 million since his budget came out in February. Prices for products such as milk and cheese, which account for about 40% of WIC food costs, have soared. Because of that, the report says, the proposed spending level will cover fewer than 8 million people."

So, because our president can't see what he's done to the economy (yes, that is mostly his fault, too) and doesn't seem to give a shit that prices on these essential foods have skyrocketed to the point that it's seriously impacting people's abilities to feed themselves. Many people in our government and many people in this country don't know what it's like to not be able to feed your family and they don't seem to care that a significant portion of our country's population struggle with this on a day-to-day basis. This isn't fair.

I know life isn't fair, believe me. But there are some things that just shouldn't fall into that category. What is and isn't fair shouldn't extend to basic issues like food, shelter and health care (yes, this is a basic need). Those should be a given (though not abused). I don't have any ideas how to solve these issues, but I think it's important to keep talking about them.