A story in yesterday’s New York Times about the rising use of food stamps paints a pretty grim picture of where we are as a nation. For instance, the program,
now helps feed one in eight Americans and one in four children.
About 20,000 people are added to the program everyday. And more and more it’s people who never dreamt they’d be asking for a hand out. It’s hard-working Americans who are losing their jobs, having their hours cut and finding it more and more difficult to feed themselves and their families.As staggering as the numbers are, the program only reaches about two thirds of those eligible.
One good thing out of all of this is that the program is losing some of its stigma as more and more people find themselves in dire need. They’ve changed the name of the program to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP and users get an inconspicuous card to use like a normal debit card.
As I read stories like this I find myself coming back to an idea I first heard through Molly Ivins and Jim Hightower. They talked about a need for a “Doug Jones Report.” It would be something akin to the Dow Jones Report but instead focus on the average American. Is the average American up or down? Is he or she working? How are wages?
With actual unemployment near 17%, one in eight Americans on food stamps, and a million Americans about to run out of unemployment benefits in January, I’d say the Doug Jones Report is way down.