Saturday, July 20, 2013

Social Justice Saturday: Other People's Money

A real farmer
Although I don't understand all the intricacies of the farm bill (and I doubt most politicians do, either), I do know enough to realize that it really isn't about farming.  It's about corporate welfare.  Very little of the money goes to real farmers - it goes to corporations.  But the bill's name conjures up pastoral images of red barns, bib overalls, and hard-working families, so it's easy for politicians to get by with continuing the corporate handouts without any public outcry.  And the fact that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as the food stamp program, is part of a "farm" bill makes no sense whatsoever.  

Earlier this year, when the bill was being debated, one of the more shameful events was when Rep. Stephen Fincher of Tennessee said he was concerned about taking "other people's money" to fund SNAP.  He quoted a Bible verse, saying "The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat."  This from a man who received $3.48 million in farm subsidies between 1999 and 2012.  When he wasn't in Washington, did he spend his time out on a tractor, tilling fields and doing other farm-related work to earn that $3.48 million?  (As a farmer, I know my husband and I could never work hard enough on the farm to make that kind of money.)  Wasn't it "other people's money" that he received?  And of course, some of that tax money he received came from the working poor, people who, through no fault of their own, often need a hand up from programs such as SNAP when the economy takes a bad turn.

As a comparison to a $70,000 direct payment that Mr. Fincher received last year, the average SNAP recipient in received $133.41 a month, which is slightly over $1,600 for the year.   Quite a comparison.  Shame on you Mr. Fincher and all the other politicians who take "other people's money" for work you did not do yet punish the poor for being poor.  And for using Christianity to justify it.

No comments: