I don't mind stealing bread
From the mouths of decadence
But I can't feed on the powerless
When my cup's already overfilled
--Hunger Strike, Temple of the Dog
We're oppressed and impressed by the greedy
Whose hands squeeze the life out of the needy
When will we learn that wars, threats, and regrets
are the cause and effect of living in fear
--Looking for Angels, Skillet
I had the pleasure of checking out with a friendly woman, middle-age, who had greeted me with a hearty hello as we passed earlier in the aisles. We had time to chat, as the bagger (who happened to be a night manager) left to check a price.
She smiled at my Biscoff biscuit purchase: "Oh, I love those with my coffee." "Yes," said I, "Just perfect. Remember where they're from? These were the original aircraft treats -- 'Biscuits with Coffee'?" She smiled, recalling the 2-pk foils they would come in.
I jested that since the price was so high I was not tempted to overindulge, so as to wheedle a few more serving out of the package. At this her face turned dark.
"I know what you mean. I work hard, and you expect to be able to treat yourself well as a reward. I can't do that anymore. I don't shop for clothes because I can't buy them. I have a grandbaby on the way and I can't buy the gifts I would like."
I know just what she means, but was taken aback by the swiftness of her felt words. I offered that Ross and Marshalls usually have some nice baby things, "but you have to search for them." The manager came back with the news that only the vanilla version of another biscuit was on sale, not the chocolate which I had purchased (a writer needs her treats, after all.)
The checker had been emboldened, and she offered, "I guess they're going to start charging us by the ounce for any chocolate content!" The manager was perplexed by the sale bias and offered the chocolate version at the sale price.
As I made to leave, she said, "Somebody can sure afford to fly planes and drop bombs, but I can't afford to fly!" An elegant and impassioned woman, and she was not the only one that night sharing that sentiment.
Mark Bittman, food columnist for the NYT, started a fast on Monday to protest House budget Bill H.R. 1, writing today,
"The budget proposes cuts in the WIC program (which supports women, infants and children), in international food and health aid (18 million people would be immediately cut off from a much-needed food stream, and 4 million would lose access to malaria medicine) and in programs that aid farmers in underdeveloped countries. Food stamps are also being attacked, in the twisted “Welfare Reform 2011” bill. (There are other egregious maneuvers in H.R. 1, but I’m sticking to those related to food.)"These supposedly deficit-reducing cuts — they’d barely make a dent — will quite literally cause more people to starve to death, go to bed hungry or live more miserably than are doing so now. And: The bill would increase defense spending.""In 2010, corporate profits grew at their fastest rate since 1950, and we set records in the number of Americans on food stamps. The richest 400 Americans have more wealth than half of all American households combined, the effective tax rate on the nation’s richest people has fallen by about half in the last 20 years, and General Electric paid zero dollars in U.S. taxes on profits of more than $14 billion. Meanwhile, roughly 45 million Americans spend a third of their posttax income on food — and still run out monthly — and one in four kids goes to bed hungry at least some of the time."
Bittman ends his column quoting Reverend David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World who is leading the fast:
"Though Beckmann is too kind to say it, he and many other religious leaders believe that true worship can’t take place without joining this struggle: “You can’t have real religion,” he told me, “unless you work for justice for hungry and poor people.”"I don’t think you can have much humanity, either."