In the writings of the New Testament, “compassion” means: “To be moved as to one’s bowels, hence to be moved with compassion, have compassion (for the bowels were thought to be the seat of love and pity.” In the ideal world of religion, compassion is lauded as a trait that mankind should strive for. In Congress, those who would clamor for a more Christian nation with Christian values remain adversarial to the very concept of taking care of those who live in poverty every day.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is currently being hung up in Congress like a piñata. Led by Tea Party Rep. Eric Cantor, Republicans and some Democrats are lining up to see how many whacks they can take at a proven assistance method that is this nation’s most important anti-hunger program. In 2012, food stamps helped almost 47 million low-income Americans per month afford a nutritionally adequate diet. Plus, the Department of Agriculture estimates that $5 in food assistance produces $9.20 in local and state economic activity. These federal dollars go directly to farmers, small businesses, and grocers, and their employees.
Nearly 72 percent of SNAP participants are in families with children; more than one-quarter of participants are in households with seniors or people with disabilities. And SNAP is color blind with 49 percent of its participants being white to 26 percent African American and 20 percent Hispanic.
The proposed 2014 federal budget of over one trillion dollars has a razor-thin slice of one percent for agriculture and food while the military is to receive 57 percent of the pie. When countries with more abbreviated resources can feed their populations, the congress of the richest country in the world in terms of resources should not feign economic hardship.