Monday, February 10, 2014

266th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
"I say SNAP and they say
something stupid...uh, excuse me, ill informed."

SNAP is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program commonly referred to as food stamps. Stamps are no longer used but the stigma persists even though the government switched to a plastic card similar to a credit card. Consequently, the phrase “food stamps” lives on like most of the misconceptions associated with helping the poor feed themselves and their children.

In many, many conversations I have had about the food bank, people often mention early on in our chat that most recipients take advantage of the system. That is code for race. I immediately say, “Did you know that in Ohio, 49% of SNAP participants are white? In fact, you can almost assume that whichever majority is dominant in a particular locality— white, black, Hispanic, etc.—that majority will have the most SNAP recipients.”

In checking out my 49% figure for this blog I found more up to date information. On July 11, 2013 Paul Krugman wrote an article where he stated that “…nationally, 48.7 percent of food stamp recipients were white. In swing states the number was higher: for example, 65 percent in Ohio." The data Mr. Krugman cited was published in 2011 by the American Community Survey.

If our SNAP conversation doesn’t die there, we often move on to how wasteful government is and the food stamp program is probably one of the worst. Well, maybe twenty years ago that may have been an issue, but today effective and efficient are more accurate words to describe the SNAP program.

The final phase of our conversation usually ends up on unemployment. Another code for lazy.

In DC there is an independent research/lobbying organization called The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities that “works to influence federal and state policies and budget decisions that have a direct effect upon the lives of millions of low-income Americans.” (As an aside, this group is responsible for the two graphs above.)

The Center writes on its website that “Most SNAP recipients who can work do so. Among SNAP households with at least one working-age, non-disabled adult, more than half work while receiving SNAP—and more than 80 percent work in the year prior to or the year after receiving SNAP. The rates are even higher for families with children.”

The most surprising fact they state is “Almost 70 percent of SNAP recipients are not expected to work, primarily because they are children, elderly or disabled.” And if you remember my blog from two weeks ago the new face of SNAP recipients is working-age Americans. So work is not an issue either no matter what people assume. 

While pondering how to disseminate this SNAP information beyond a one on one discussion, I found another article that helped me understand more clearly what is going on. The Politics and Demographics of Food Stamp Recipients by Rich Morin at Fact Talk was published, interestingly enough, on July 12, 2013 just one day after the Paul Krugman piece. Mr. Morin discussed a Pew Research survey that found “significant proportions of Democrats (60%) and Republicans (52%) say they have benefited from a major entitlement program at some point in their lives. So have nearly equal shares of self-identifying conservatives (57%), liberals (53%) and moderates (53%). The programs were Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, unemployment benefits and food stamps.”     
If more than half the country participates in social programs of one kind or another and we still have misunderstanding and prejudice, then hypocrisy is at the root of this evil. So how does one beat hypocrisy? Tell folks, one on one that they are wrong … just as I have been doing all along.

Miles pothole fix in the works – In mid December I submitted 30 or so Miles potholes to the TDOT. Sometime later an article in the Arizona Daily Star stated the fix might take 40 days. I waited that many days and sent another email. The reply said I should be patient. Then a few days ago the Arizona Daily Star ran an update saying the pothole fix is currently down to 14 days but my request was up to 58 days by now.

The email I sent today was addressed to the newspaper reporter who wrote the 14-day article suggesting she talk to some pothole weary citizens instead of the folks who claim they are doing a better job.

I don’t relish confrontations but I dislike people taking advantage of others more.    

We collected a total of 160 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $32.00, a $25.00 check and $7.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


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