Stella F. Stamps is my “symbolic” recipient of benefits from SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) more commonly called food stamps. Stella F. Stamps is a single, working mom raising three children. Not surprisingly food stamps are critical to her children’s health. Stella F. Stamps’ children represent fully one half of all the 47 million folks depending on food stamps to supplement their meager meals. These children currently receive a whopping $1.40 per meal, but only until their monthly food stamp cap is reached.
Congress is debating further cuts to SNAP, that part of the nation’s farm bill that authorizes and funds food stamps. Conservatives (as in Republicans) argue for a $40 billion cut over 10 years, while progressives (as in Democrats) in a fit of generosity propose cutting the food stamp program a mere $4 billion. That’s on top of the latest $5 billion cut following expiration of funding increases authorized in the 2009 stimulus package. Can you imagine how Congress would vote if they lived solely on food stamps for 30 days immediately prior to considering the next round of SNAP cuts?
Contrast our nation’s tepid assistance for Stella F. Stamps and her children with our state kneeling to Boeing Company’s blackmailing the governor and Legislature for a promise of an $8.7 billion subsidy — the largest single state give-away proposal of tax dollars in the nation’s history! And that’s when Boeing Company’s stock is at an all-time high. Further, it follows a 20 percent hike in the CEO’s wage and benefits that in 2012 totaled $27.5 million. Poor fellow! Do Stella F. Stamps and her children come to mind? Hmmmm.
Food stamps are much prized components for the high profits of many of the nation’s healthiest corporations. According to the National Employment Law Project McDonald’s asks you and me to subsidize their profits with an estimated $1.2 billion annually in food stamps for their employees. That’s right, ol’ Big Mac pays many of their employees less than subsistence wages with no benefits while directing their lucky workforce to the food stamp program. Big Mac’s profit during the summer just past reached an impressive $1.5 billion. Now that’s a commendable management model to be replicated by all aspiring entrepreneurs.
Burger King asks thee and mee to subsidize their profits with an estimated $356 million in food Stamps for their employees. Your favorite Subway boosts its hefty profits by paying starvation wages supplemented by food stamps worth $436 million annually. The list goes on and on including Dunkin’ Donuts, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Target, etc, etc. And let us not forget the nation’s most notable and noble corporate welfare queen Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Why, Walmart even recently posted drop boxes in some of their stores — drops for food donations for their employees. No wonder Walmart is the nation’s largest employer! Let’s hope our friend Stella F. Stamps doesn’t seek Walmart employment.
Then there is your friendly banker. A recent study finds that one in three bank tellers need public assistance. Ooooh and how they’ll fight a minimum wage increase!
Remember that SNAP (food stamps) is part of our country’s federal farm bill currently stalled in Congress primarily because Rs and Ds cannot reach agreement on how much to “bleed” from Stella F. Stamps and her three children, all the while protecting their political boardroom benefactors? Isn’t it interesting that both sides of the aisle are promoting cuts to food stamps at the same time none in Congress suggest significant cuts in subsidies to farmers? “Farmers” like Paul Allen (Microsoft co-founder) and Charles Schwab, the investment tycoon, have been sucking on the farm subsidy teat for years. According to the Environmental Working Group farm subsidies authorized by our (yours and mine) federal farm bill, granted 50 separate billionaires or billionaire-owned businesses welfare payments totaling $11.3 million since 1995. It’s substantially more if you add in federal crop insurance benefits. Now that’s tough work, it you can get it.
Both sides of the political spectrum really would like to ignore Stella F. Stamps and 47 million unfortunate Americans like her. Her food stamp budget depletes valuable resources available to the Walmarts, McDonalds and Boeings of the world. Stella F. Stamps and her three children violate the very precepts of the free enterprise system sooooo cherished by our nation’s captains of capitalism.
Dave Gauger is the former publisher of The Willapa Harbor Herald in Raymond and South Bend.