JIM CREES: A little realistic compassion, please!

With all the brouhaha over the looming debt ceiling crisis (again!) the potential defunding of the Affordable Care Act (again!) and the continuing threat of a shut down of the American government (will this include the legislative salaries?) little has been said about the cutting of funding for the national food stamps program.

In short, House of Representatives Republicans narrowly forced passage of a bill late last month that cuts billions of dollars from the national food stamp program — the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, (SNAP.)

Billions of dollars. Almost $40 billion.

(The bill, by the way, only passed by seven votes.)

The food stamp program was tied to the farm bill which the assembled legislators actually failed to pass earlier this year. The assumption was and is that if the free-loading people of this country who are continually tapping into the food stamp program could be stopped from leeching on society, then the Tea Party GOP members might see clear to passing other portions of the farm bill.

The GOP simply wants to see the “drags on society” working. It’s that simple.

If you work, you eat — it is a basic Christian principle.

Seriously. The Family Research Council’s Ken Blackwell recently said it would be an “act of Christian compassion” to cut the food stamp program and ALL social welfare programs.

Blackwell noted that welfare programs created a “dependency amongst the poor.” Well, Blackwell and others of his ilk should be rejoicing at the GOP led drive to eventually eliminate food stamps. With the latest cuts to the program — to the tune of some $39 billion — some 850,000 American will see their food stamps cut off. They’ll just have to get back to work!

Blackwell noted there was “nothing more Christian than not locking people into a permanent dependency on government handouts...”

All this shinola simply panders to a group of people who have long manipulated their faith system into fitting well with their political beliefs.

And there is a lot of manipulating going on here. A LOT.

The good folks who believe the food stamp programs and other social welfare outreaches are bringing about the collapse of the American economy have been told this is so for generations.

They also have been regularly filled with such pseudo-theological silliness as “God helps those who help themselves.”

The GOP propagandists paint a picture of sluggards, slatterns, and lazy leeches using their food stamps to buy booze, drugs, and birth control.

Why, they say, should we Americans be giving food stamps to people who are too lazy to work?

Welllllll ...

The truth is that 48.7 percent of those receiving food stamps are children. Eight percent are elderly citizens above the age of 60. Another 19.8 percent of those receiving food stamps are disabled. That is to say, 76.5 percent of those receiving SNAP benefits aren’t responsible for their conditions.

That leaves 23.6 percent who are adults, (aged 18-49), who are living in a home without children. BUT ... these recipients can only receive three months worth of food stamps in any three-year period unless they are working at least 20-hours per week.

In other words a good percentage of the 23.6 percent of non-disabled adults receiving food stamps are actually what is referred to as “working poor.” They DO have jobs, but not jobs that pay them a living wage. They ARE working.

And for all you good folks who think that living high on the hog with food stamps is an African American phenomenon, that actually isn’t true.

Of all food stamp recipients, 49.5 percent are white, and only 26.3 percent are African American. Hispanics make up 20.2 percent of the food stamp population.

And if, by the way, people of color do receive more food stamp benefits than whites relative to total population numbers, it is simply because they are also the most disproportionately poor!

While so much focus is placed on the SNAP portion of the national budget, as though this one budget item was going to drag us down to economic perdition, consider if you will that despite the monumental good this program offers to the neediest of the needy in our country, it is only 2.2 percent of the budget.

Fifty-seven percent (57) is still spent on “defense” spending projects — or just over $653 billion!!!

I just find it interesting that while good Christian folk such as Mr. Blackwell and the Family Research Council are more than willing to jump on the food stamp and social welfare issue as being inherently against the laws of God, they are stunningly silent when it comes to saving the economy by cutting back a smidge — just a smidge — on military spending for weapons systems and policies that simply don’t work anymore.

Hmmmmmm ...

Wasn’t it Jesus, (you remember Him doncha?), who said “For I was hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in ... Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

And wasn’t it Jesus who said, “Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.”

Hey ... I’m just sayin’