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
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.