Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.Putin’s World: Why Russia’s Showdown with the West Will Worsen - John_Mauldin
2. Stocks Bull Market Grinds Bears into Dust, Is Santa Rally Sustainable? - Nadeem_Walayat
3. Gold and Silver 2015 Trend Forecasts, Prices to Go BOOM - Austin_Galt
4.Gold Price Golden Bottom? - Toby_Connor
5.Gold Price and Miners Soar on Huge Volume - P_Radomski_CFA
6.Stock Market and the Jaws of Life or Death? - Rambus_Chartology
7.Gold Price 2015 - EWI
8.Manipulated Stock Market Short Squeezes to Another All Time High - The China Syndrome - Nadeem_Walayat
9.Gold, Silver, Crude and S&P Ending Wedge Patterns - DeviantInvestor
10.Is the Gold And Silver Golden Rule Broken? - Michael_Noonan
Last 5 days
Stock Market At Minor Top - 22nd Dec 14
UK Christmas Sales 2014 High Street Start Dates List - 22nd Dec 14
Ruble Takedown Exposes Cracks in Putin’s Defense - 20th Dec 14
Oil Drilling Our Way Into Oblivion - 20th Dec 14
Stocks Bull Market Resumes - 20th Dec 14
Gold And Silver Nothing Is Ever As It Seems And No Respite For PMs - 20th Dec 14
What Are Technical Indicators Saying About the Stock Market? - 20th Dec 14
Here’s How You Can Still Make 27% With Apple Even if You Buy Now - 20th Dec 14
Gold Stocks to Shine in 2015 - 19th Dec 14
Why Alibaba Stock Shares Are a Screaming Buy - 19th Dec 14
China, Dollar, Japan, Europe Burning Questions for 2015 - 19th Dec 14
U.S. Economy is in a Sweet Spot! - 19th Dec 14
US Dollar and the Gold Fairy Tale - 19th Dec 14
Show Me The Money (Flow)! Tracking Money-Flow Through Value Shifts In Stock Markets - 19th Dec 14
The Commodities Market Is Not Dying, It’s Just Hibernating - 19th Dec 14
The Price Of Gold And The Art Of War - 18th Dec 14
Euro Succumbs to ECB QE Expectations and FOMC - 18th Dec 14
John Williams: A Downhill Run for the U.S. Dollar in 2015 - 18th Dec 14
Outrage at Taliban Islamic Fundamentalists Massacre of 132 Pakistani School Children in the Name of God - 18th Dec 14
How Inflation Changes Retirement Benefit Choices - 17th Dec 14
The Real Reason It's Tough to Beat the Stock Market - 17th Dec 14
Russian Currency Crisis and Debt Defaults Could Create Contagion in West - 17th Dec 14
How to Profit From Russia's Stock Market Crash - 17th Dec 14
Russia Crisis - If You Put Your Money in the Bank Will You Get it Back? - 17th Dec 14
Crude Oil Price Crash, U.S. Employment and Economic Growth - 17th Dec 14
Opposing Forces At Play In Gold and Silver Precious Metals Complex - 17th Dec 14
Wall Street Will Always Find An Excuse For Not Raising U.S. Interest Rates - 17th Dec 14

Free Instant Analysis

Free Instant Technical Analysis


Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Dramatic Stock Market Selloff

Farm Bill 2014: The Food Insecurity Bill

Politics / Food Crisis Feb 07, 2014 - 08:14 AM GMT

By: Michael_T_Bucci

Politics

As part of a package of agricultural legislation, Congress and the President have passed what should be called "the food insecurity bill" that will cut $8.7 billion in food assistance (SNAP or food stamps) over the next decade. The bill will cause an estimated 850,000 low-income households in sixteen states (including Maine) to lose an average $90 in monthly benefits, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, following an approximately $11 billion cut to SNAP benefits on November 1 of last year. Since 2007 and the beginning of the Great Recession, food stamp enrollment has surged from about 26.3 million people to 47.6 million last year, according to Agriculture Department figures.


Consequently, spending on the program has more than doubled since 2007 and represents about 2.2 percent of some $3.6 trillion in total federal spending in the 2014 fiscal year. Lower incomes and rising food costs have pushed benefits upward, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

One in six Americans receives food stamp benefits. Seventy-six percent of SNAP households enrolled include a child, a senior, or someone who is disabled. Ninety-one percent of benefits go to households with income at or below the poverty line. One in six households, or nearly 18 million people, are considered "food insecure" by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.

In the New England state of Maine, Feeding America, the nationwide network of food banks of which Good Samaritan of Auburn is a member, ranks Maine's "food insecurity rate" at 15.7%; and Maine's child food insecurity rate at 22.8% - even before these cuts take effect.

Sen. Angus King (I) and Rep. Mike Michaud (D) voted "yea" for the Farm bill which contains these food cuts; Rep. Chellie Pingree (D) and Sen. Susan Collins (R) voted "nay". The U.S. House passed the measure 251-166 Jan. 29; the U.S. Senate passed the measure 68-32 Feb. 6. The bill was signed into law by President Obama on Feb. 7.

In the view of the Editorial Board of the Washington Post [Feb 4], "In Congress's farm bill, the rich get richer." The bill expands crop insurance subsidies and all but guarantee beneficiaries’ revenues [agribusiness] never fall below 86 percent of their earnings during years of high crop prices. The Post asks: "Why would a president concerned about inequality endorse such welfare for the prosperous?" The New York Times [Jan. 29] felt the bill "clearly worthy of support, particularly because it will prevent austerity fanatics in future Congresses from gutting food stamps for the next five years."  The Times concluded that though the bill's "food-stamp provisions were saved from being much worse, they will still reduce benefits for too many poor people." A cynic might point out that the newspaper is employing the "canard"  used by the Democratic Party and President Obama since 2008, "we're saving you from much worse," and is used here to reinforce the mirage of a two-party system and a sympathetic president. In truth, Mr. Obama verbalizes equality while facilitating inequality. Furthermore, not at the White House, in Congress or on the editorial board of The New York Times sits a poor person or a recipient of these food stamp cuts.

The reflex reactions by both right-wing "small government" groups and left-leaning opponents of "corporate welfare" were aptly summarized in a headline by the conservative Washington Examiner, "The farm bill: Left and Right on one side; special interests and the mainstream media on the other." [Feb 3]

The bottom line of the Farm bill is that agribusiness which can most afford to lose subsidies gains them, and the poorest that can least afford to lose more, losses more. "Charities simply will not be able to make up the difference," said Bob Aiken, CEO of Feeding America.

As the bottom drops deeper for the poor, the wealth sector reaps bonanzas. The Wall Street Journal and FactSet [Feb 3] admitted that any negative market conditions ahead "will sting a little less" for the nation's wealthiest because they had benefited from "stunning windfalls" in 2013. Twenty executives with the largest stake in S&P 500 companies had their wealth grow by a combined $80.9 billion in 2013, according to the Journal. Warren Buffett's wealth in his company increased by $12.7 billion last year bringing his total to $33.9 billion. Mark Zuckerberg's holdings in Facebook more than doubled from $11.3 billion to $23 billion; Larry Page, CEO of Google, gained $9 billion, to $26.9 billion; Sergey Brin (co-founder of Google) gained $8.8 billion, to $26.3 billion; Steve Balmer (Microsoft CEO) gained $3.6 billion, to $12.5 billion; Bill Gates gained $1.6 billion, to $13.4 billion. Gates, the world's richest person, enjoys a total net worth of $78.5 billion, up $15.8 billion from the year before.

A Bloomberg survey published in January found overall, the world’s 300 richest people saw their wealth grow by 13 percent in 2013, to $3.7 trillion, up by $524 billion. Last Fall, a report on income disparity by the Univ. of California, Berkeley, found 95% of income gains from 2009 to 2012 went to the top 1% of the earning population while other studies concluded that America's median household income has dropped by more than $4,000 since 2000, after adjusting for inflation. "Top 1 percent incomes grew by 31.4 percent while bottom 99 percent incomes grew only by 0.4 percent from 2009 to 2012," wrote Berkeley researcher Emmanuel Saez. "Hence, the top 1 percent captured 95 percent of the income gains in the first three years of the recovery [while the] top 10 percent captured 48.2 percent of income in 2012, up from the previous record, 46.6 percent, in 2011." ["Striking it Richer", Emmanuel Saez, UC Berkeley, Sep 3, '13]

"The income gap between the richest 1 percent and the rest of America last year (2012) reached the widest point since the Roaring Twenties," wrote CBS News [Sep 10, '13]. Whistle a happy tune, Gatsby lives! "The rich get richer and the poor poorer." Later, after the crash, people of the 1930's elected a president who conservative Republicans accused of eating millionaires for breakfast. Today, we have billionaires eating Americans for breakfast, lunch and dinner (as sales to them of Lamborghinis, Bentleys and Rolls-Royces soar).

"Workers aren't getting fair share of income, which is strengthening the burgeoning movement of worker protests in fast food, retail and the Occupy Movement," Tamara Draut, vice president of policy and research at public interest advocacy group Demos told CBS [Sep 10, '13]. "If you think about the notions of what Americans believe about their country, like the American dream of a broad middle class, this should be a wake-up call that this is not a good path for our democracy to be on."

Meanwhile, as numbers numb the average mind and alienate statisticians from feeling the human effects of hunger, Maine's child food insecurity rate of 22.8% continues. Tragically, it will grow worse from these cuts.

If the future belongs to the children, why are we letting them go hungry?

By Michael T Bucci

Contact: mbucci@michaelbucci.com

(c) 2013 Michael T Bucci. All Rights reserved.

(Note: responses to emails might be delayed or not met.)

Michael T Bucci is a retired public relations executive from New Jersey presently residing in New England. His essays have appeared at The Market Oracle (UK). He is the author of nine books on practical spirituality including White Book: Cerithous.

© 2014 Copyright Michael T Bucci - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.


© 2005-2014 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

Free Report - Financial Markets 2014