Thursday, August 15, 2013

Attacking the poor

I have been writing recently about being poor, because my eyes were recently opened to situations that almost any American can find themselves in faster than we know. There is much opportunity in this country, but sometimes that opportunity can be taken away for so many reasons beyond our control; look at the recent financial crisis for example. What this country does have is a good safety net for those who are poor, and while it is not perfect, it is something that a large part of the world does not have. The problem with the safety net is that it comes with a stigma so great that some of those who truly need it refuse to access it because they get shamed.
“GOP Congressman Displays Contempt and Ignorance While Blasting Food Stamp Recipients”
“Congressman Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma (R) displayed a contemptuous attitude towards food stamp recipients and complete ignorance of how the program works when he blasted a couple who was “physically fit” as fraudulent criminals because they bought groceries with an EBT card in Crystal City, Virginia.  His only evidence of fraud was that the couple looked “physically fit”. The story may be entirely apocryphal since Congressman Mullin said “everybody” in the store was using EBT cards. Unless he was going into each checkout lane and peering over each customer’s shoulder like a creepy stalker, it is not clear how Mullin came to this conclusion, except that it fits the narrative that he wants to convey”.
“In his self-righteous diatribe against this alleged food stamp fraud Mullin remarks that he saw a couple and:said: “they were both physically fit. And they go up in front of me and they pay with that card. Fraud. Absolute 100% all it is is fraud…it’s all over the place. And there you go, to the fact that we shouldn’t be supporting those who won’t work. They’re spending their money someplace””.
“Apparently even though Mr. Mullin is a Congressman he believes that all people receiving food stamps do not work. Yet, many adults on food stamps do work  for a living and in Virginia a couple can qualify for food assistance if their gross income is under 1640 dollars a month. If this couple has two children they could qualify even if they made up to 2498 a month”.
“Based on no evidence to support his belief, Mullin just assumes that the couple does not work, but since he does not know their circumstances it is entirely possible that this couple not only works but that they are also supporting children. If they have two children and each parent works 30 hours a week at nine dollars an hour, they would still qualify for food stamps, because 540 dollars a week in Northern Virginia is not enough to pay for rent, day care and transportation”.
I am not playing politics here, this is about having compassion for our fellow citizens who are having a hard time, to accuse someone of something based upon no evidence shows a severe gap in someone’s critical thinking skills, therefore, their education. People who represent us in congress should educate themselves better about the realities of life for all kinds of reasons, chief among them is because of the constitution’s “we the people”.
Do not shame people for being “physically fit” while being poor because they might be the working poor, and they definitely do not want to be in the situation they are in. Educate yourself first before you judge.
Dr Flavius A B Akerele III
The ETeam

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