One often wonders why it has become Republican dogma to promote prosperity by forcing hunger on the poor. There is no question that this is the case: How many time did Ronald Reagan tell us that we have to pick up our bootstraps and make a life for ourselves. And now, Republicans in Congress are slashing SNAP benefits right and left and telling us that it is for the poor's own good -- you have to get them off the dole so that they can become "makers" instead of "takers." A good friend of mine recently published an opinion column in Al Jazeera on the Republicans' use of hunger as policy, and it is illuminating.
Malthus sharply criticized the poor laws of the time because they "diminish both the power and the will to save among the common people, and thus to weaken one of the strongest incentives to sobriety and industry…" In a refrain that has unfortunately become too familiar to our ears, Malthus considered aid to the poor as a huge waste of resources "that would otherwise belong to more industrious and more wealthy members".
Mosley pulls no punches:
From Reagan to contemporary Republicans, conservative US political ideologues have also embraced this old Malthusian thinking on using hunger to drive social and economic reform. Ronald Reagan is famous for demonising "Welfare Queens", poor single mothers who supposedly opted not to work and lived "lavishly" off public assistance. This racist and gendered stereotype would eventually lead to the Clinton era welfare reforms of the 1990s under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act.In an exchange I had in 2012 with a conservative friend of one of my cousins, she was convinced that everyone on food stamps was buying lobster at the local grocery store. When I explained that wasn't the case, and that most people on food stamps get them only for a short time, and get them because they are hungry, she launched into an expletive-laden diatribe against me personally. I diaried that encounter here.
We often accuse Republicans of wanting to turn back the clock to the 1950s to the "good old days" when everyone knew their place, gays were in the closet, women out of the workplace, and brown people on the outside looking in, let alone *GASP* be President. It is worse than that. They want to turn back the calendar more than 200 years, to the days of the Irish potato famine. Again, Republicans want to use hunger as a weapon against the poor. This is bad policy, and in my opinion, borders on evil for purposely inflicting and worsening suffering on the poor. As Mosley points out:
Subjecting people to hunger during periods of under- and unemployment is based on a centuries' old argument that the poor and people of colour are somehow different and must be compelled to work. The fact that these beliefs continue to be articulated in the US' political sphere is a disgrace.I couldn't agree more.