“People Get Really Desperate”
I was very busy around the house and yard yesterday—even skipping the A’s game at 1000—so I very regretfully learned later that I missed Joel Berg at Firedoglake, author of All You Can Eat: How Hungry is America? His message is one we will all need to heed extremely well in the coming years, for California’s unemployment rate ripped to 11.2% in March, a figure only the very aged could recall ever seeing (in theory) since the Great Depression.
I’ve yet to read the book, hopefully there’s a Kindle version, but two messages from the blog entry are well worth repeating as we mercilessly grind our people down in the coming years with aching hunger. As the food lines swell and pantries stripped bare it’s damn well time we as a people realize the hungry Americans emptying the shelves aren’t lazy welfare queens, for Chrissakes, they need food because our society doesn’t provide enough jobs, and even if a job is to be had it’ll still keep you hungry with the terrible wage growth we’ve had in the 20 years.
We made choices as a society and the consequences are swelling hordes of hungry children, schools staying open during holidays just to keep the lunch programs running. Our people didn’t get greedy or lazy or make poor choices, we as a country horribly fucked up over a long period of time, we’re not handing out anything when we feed Americans, we’re investing in the human souls that make up the greatest resource we have, our people.
If we must have an increase in stratospheric defense spending, if we must rescue the titans of greed on wall street, if we must build roads and bridges for the future, can we as a people please accept that feeding Americans is just as equally a critical investment? Jesus.
Impatience turns to endless sadness realizing that as we have horribly turned our backs to the smallest and most needy among us over the last thirty years frantic tiny efforts by distraught Americans trying to keep our children healthy have failed. Massive waves of hunger sweeping the country require an industrial, institutionalized professional response, of course, and the noble but puny Mom & Pop approach of food banks, pantries and church kitchens will never be enough to even come close to solving the problem.
I’m one of those people, later today I’m touching up tiny details on a massive fresh vegetable food bank garden at St. Jude’s, cutting a dozen fresh roses for the office and finalizing plans for seeds. It’s a great relief to finally do something, but very sad to know I’m really not doing anything to really keep our people from going hungry, churches and food pantries couldn’t keep up years ago, with unemployment at 11.2% we’re all about to be crushed. Still, it’s far better than nothing.
Sustained policy choices that always keeps employment as the primary variable would be a real start. So would a much higher minimum wage, passage of the Employment Free Choice Act, and finally real infrastructure investments to truly feed people with professionals and real facilities, what a concept, you know?
So much has gone wrong, with so many problems to solve it’s hard for Americans and Democrats to realize we liberals and progressives could be in power for a very long time. Our worldview and policy outlooks have become far too compressed, if we can keep the country from going up in flames in the next two years we will indeed have the time, resources and votes to implement the above agenda, it’s not hard. Oh yes, yes we can.
In the meantime dry policy analyses, demographic variables and political ploys can be an awful perspective to view hunger in America. Our people are not spare parts, they are not cogs in the capitalist machine, they’re human beings with profound souls that desperately want to glory in the American experience, just as we all do. Hunger is an extremely powerful life element, with pain, shame, and furtiveness often far worse than a growling belly. “People get really desperate…” said a Depression survivor in the San Francisco Chronicle today. We’re about to find out how truly ugly that desperation is going to be.
I will continue to do my tiny part to help, I can do nothing else, but that path is not the answer to feeding our people, our government is.