Cut Military Spending, Not Food Stamps

Editor, News-Register:

Is it possible that the editorial policy of The Intelligencer/News-Register chooses to target the food-stamp program as “as good a place as any to start making the difficult decisions” in cutting federal expenditures? Perhaps it’s time to rethink our priorities.

With the food-stamp program providing more than 46 million Americans in the year 2010 with a diet just enough to meet their minimum nutritional needs, one would think that it was money well spent. With the national disgrace of one in five of our children in poverty going to bed hungry, one would think Americans with any sense of empathy at all would demand an increased budget for such a program. But no! Many Americans, perhaps even a majority, find no fault with an editorial calling for cuts as a place to start. I can only think that they have not stopped to think, or that they have been misled by the hastened thinking reflected in such editorials. Perhaps we should examine our priorities with a new perspective.

In the year 2010 the food-stamp program alleviated just a little bit of the misery associated with the hunger, disease and death resulting from poverty, at a cost to the tax-payer of a whopping $65 billion. Big money no doubt. But in that same year we spent $119.4 billion for the war in Afghanistan. Informed and empathic citizens should realize that for the slaughter of 2,770 innocent Afghan civilians along with 323 American soldiers, we spent almost twice the amount we did on feeding our own hungry.

In trying to understand the thinking behind those calling for cuts in a program that provides some limited comfort and sustenance to so many of our neighbors, I have listened to all the arguments. “They’re too lazy to work.” (Most of them do work at minimum wage or less) “They are a drag on the economy.” (As if that $65 billion is not plowed back into the economy.) “It’s their own fault.” (Does that include the one in five children living in poverty?) “I wish my government would give me something for nothing instead of taking from me.”(My friend, you are free to join those free-loaders anytime you are willing to divest yourself of all the normal comforts you now enjoy.)

I fear that as a people, we are losing the inherent ability to empathize. That is the ability to feel “with” the other guy as opposed to the lesser sympathy which simply says we’re sorry “for” him. When, as a people, we can opt for spending almost twice as much for taking lives as we might be willing to spend for saving them, something is amiss. We seem to think no further than the lie that we are in Afghanistan to protect our freedoms while those very freedoms are being taken from us by our own government, which is controlled by the sociopaths and psychopaths that have taken us into an illegal war for no other reason than to add to their own ill-gotten and greed motivated gains.

Whether we support this illegal war, in ignorance or for greed, we are opting for death as opposed to life. Could it be that our obsession with wealth, along with that insane American notion of the “rugged individualist,” cause us to think that as an individual, and as a nation we need no other? My friends, we are “our brother’s keepers” whether we wish to be or not. Perhaps we would do well to rethink our priorities with a different perspective, one that would suggest that the military might be as good a place to start as any.

Hal O’Leary