RANGER AGAINST WAR: Grits Ain't Groceries, Redux <

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Grits Ain't Groceries, Redux

When rich speculators prosper

While farmers lose their land;

when government officials spend money

on weapons instead of cures;

when the upper class is extravagant and irresponsible

while the poor have nowhere to turn-

all this is robbery and chaos.

It is not in keeping with the Tao

--Tao Te Ching
, Stephen Mitchell

There's nothing to hope for in politics,

I don't think

--Nick Hornby


Some spam mail brought my entry from two years ago to my attention (Grits Ain't Groceries). Predictably since then, the situation of "food insecurity" (= "hunger") in the U.S. has degenerated (even though I read the economy's going fairly swell, with a Dow over 10,000 again.)

"[T]he number of Americans who lack enough food [is at] the highest level since the government has been keeping track, according to a new federal report, which shows that nearly 50 million people -- including almost one child in four -- struggled last year to get enough to eat" (America's economic pain brings hunger pangs ). The Guardian UK notes that the statistics are probably more dire this year as the economy has degenerated (Number of Americans Going Hungry Increases.) Statistics like those make the Superpower sound like a Banana Republic.

Unless you're Al Gore or Rudolf Guiliani, you have probably noticed your grocery tab rising sharply over the past couple of years. Though the press attributes the steep rise in hunger to the unemployment rate, there is the concomitant problem of skyrocketing food costs.

In "Grits," milk was $3.50/gallon; it is now over $3.50 per half gallon -- double the cost. Other staples like eggs, coffee and meat have also risen precipitously. I remember grandma telling me 30 years ago, "Mark my words: You will see the price of a loaf of bread hit one dollar in your lifetime!" Now, it is at over 400% of her prognostication, and rising.

While an article on food stamp usage notes they help feed 36,000,000 Americans -- one in eight adults, one in four children, the personal allotment has not risen from an average of $110/month (Food Stamp Use Soars.) Can you imagine eating on $110 per month?

The NYT's Bob Herbert is one of the few columnist who routinely exposes how the sorry state of our economy affects its least fortunate members. From his Stacking the Deck Against Kids:

"We still have a hideously dysfunctional public education system, one that has mastered the art of manufacturing dropouts and functional illiterates. We have not even begun to turn that around.

"We still keep fighting tragic, futile, stupid wars, squandering lives and resources and creative energies that could be put to use right here at home, where the need for nation-building is beyond critical.

"The U.S. should be a paradise for young people. We need big changes in this country, approaches that are constructive, creative and fundamentally new, if we’re going to give those smiling kids I saw on Thanksgiving Day the kind of society they deserve"

There's not much else to say.

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Anonymous barcalounger said...

Uh, it's 36,000,000 people on food stamps.

Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 9:45:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

if they had truly wanted to revive the economy then expanding the food stamp program would have been one of the quickest and easiest ways to do it.

food stamp money is spent tout suite. it's a right the fuck now situation. entire communities benefit. food stamps mean that the other meager funds of the poor will be spent elsewhere, and spent they will be. clothes, rents, utilities, all other forms of spending go up when the food stamp money comes in.

instead the fed printed money, gave it to the banks interest free, and the banks used that money to buy t-bills at 1.5%. the money, made up bullshit as it was, went nowhere that wasn't inside the tight little group.

food stamps would have been a boon to local economies all over the nation. it was a quick and easy measure that would have had positive global implications.

but no. couldn't do that.

sometimes i curse a clear vision of the way things are going.

Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 10:23:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sad, this only the beginning of what's to come.

Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 12:11:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Grung_e_Gene said...

Yet, we still are turning food into automotive fuel...

Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 1:44:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Terrible said...

MB, I said at the time it was a fools errand to give "stimulus" to the top instead of the bottom. Hadn't thought of your idea though. That's a damn good one!

And speaking of taking farmers land away and the price of milk. The price paid to milk producers is about the lowest it's been since the late 60's or early 70's. Some one somewhere is making a hell of a lot of money off of milk right now.

Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 2:02:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Thank you. In our society, what's a few zeroes here and there?


An aware bagger at the local grocery noted that after they raise they prices, they will then lower them as pittance. He correctly divined that everyone will then feel very happy, feeling like things are getting better when they have actually gotten worse.


Precisely. For those on the inside, benefiting by those artistic dollars, things are turning up. Not so for the other 20% of us.


I did not about the price/payment disparity re. milk producers.

Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 2:52:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeh I shop mostly at stores that like Costco/Smart&Final and when you use to get 6 items shrink wrapped you 4 now at the same price.
Here's Matt explaining a little of what's happening and why. This person is real good at follow the money. In Japan 15yrs ago they saved the banks and let the people go to homeless. Oh well nap time.

Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 3:58:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Thanks, that's a good round up. Rolling Stone has some excellent features.

Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 4:50:00 PM GMT-5  

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