The Torah reading to be read this Thursday includes the verse that the poor will never be left from the midst of the land. What a sad but true statement that Deuteronomy teaches. As the Children of Israel prepared to enter the land of milk and honey, a land of unmeasured fertility in which they were promised that they would flourish, they are also promised that there would always be poor among them. What incongruity! It is amazing. A land flowing with milk and money should certainly provide enough food to sustain an entire population. How could poverty endure in such a place?
Readers live in a land known for agricultural success. The United States may no longer be the only major bread basket for the world, but few countries export a greater variety of foodstuffs than this nation. Farmers here are so successful that many are paid not to raise crops. Among their crew are many absolutely dependent on subsidies to survive. Their lobby is sufficiently strong that subsidies are not even up for reconsideration. They are fully entrenched in the American economy.
Theoretically, farmers are paid to feed the rest of us. Whether farmers or paid to feed us or to avoid feeding us, people will never be able to stop eating. Eating is necessary for life.
Congress is considering curtailing the SNAP program that for years was known as food stamps. The Ohio Jewish Chronicle and other Columbus papers published articles last year bemoaning the inadequacy of food stamps. Yet as meager as those funds are, Congress is seriously considering a major cutback.
How dare Congress consider such a move! How dare Congress attempt to fix our country’s economy on the backs of its weakest and hungriest. How dare Congress forget that there will always be poor in the richest country in the world.
Generally this writer considers himself to be a centrist. Doing what is most moral and right is more essential than the platform of either political party. On this issue this writer is unequivocally liberal.
This view is not only based on Torah concepts but on personal experience. Until recently this writer and his family needed food stamps. There is no shame in it. Those three years were a period in which I submitted more than 5000 job applications, in which I worked at a variety of odd jobs to keep the wife and I afloat, and in which for better or worse, food stamps provided sustenance that is absolutely necessary for every living soul. Until they came, and even during those three years, this writer paid his fair share of taxes proudly. If not for food stamps; starvation.
Are food stamps necessary in the land of the free and the home of the brave? Absolutely. Without financial aid for food, the upper fringes would need to do their own grunt work, there would no longer be a lower class to meet that need. Food stamps not only support the impoverished, they provide underpinning for the entire social structure.
Please support continuing SNAP whether it is to help the destitute or to preserve the economy.