Sick and poor---in the U.S. they go together like a chicken and egg. And it is often just as hard to decide which comes first. Illness leads to huge medical debt and loss of wages which leads to poverty. Poverty leads to loss of job and insurance which leads to lack of health care and more illness. The poverty caused by illness limits the educational opportunities of kids who grow up to work low skill, low wage, no benefits jobs. Since many debilitating diseases like asthma and arthritis are inherited, the kids raised in poverty are more likely to get sick, and--lacking insurance--they are more likely to lose their own jobs and then their kids go to bed hungry, their teeth aching from cavities, their hopes for higher education dashed by the grim reality that they will be forced to quit school young in order to support their families.
The seemingly never ending cycle of sickness leading to poverty leading to more sickness and more poverty is enough to make you sit down and cry. It all seems so hopeless sometimes. If only there were something we could do to help. Something easy---easier than finding a cure for asthma or arthritis, easier than correcting the inequality in our education system.
Actually, there is something easy we can do. We can make sure that no child goes to bed hungry. We can make sure that every school child starts the day with a full belly, so that he or she can listen and absorb what the teaching is saying. We can make sure that the diabetic has healthy food options and the stroke victim who can no longer use a can opener gets a hot meal. No one could object to feeding the hungry. Could they?
Yes, it turns out, a surprisingly large number of people do object to feeding the hungry. And you can find these extremists in the most surprising places---like the U.S. House of Representatives. From Paul Krugman, today:
Now, some enemies of food stamps don’t quote libertarian philosophy; they quote the Bible instead. Representative Stephen Fincher of Tennessee, for example, cited the New Testament: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” Sure enough, it turns out that Mr. Fincher has personally received millions in farm subsidies.http://www.nytimes.com/...
Don't feel sorry for Sara, the eight year old who does not eat during the summer when she is out of school. If Sara wants to eat, she can get a job. According to the U.S. House, Sara is not hungry. She is just too lazy to work. Eliminating food stamps will give her the motivation she needs to start a paper route. Let's hope that she does not pass out from hunger while she is delivering her local congressman's paper.