We knew things were bad on Wall Street, but on Main Street it may be worse. Startling official statistics show that as a new economic recession stalks the United States, a record number of Americans will shortly be depending on food stamps just to feed themselves and their families.
Dismal projections by the Congressional Budget Office in Washington suggest that in the fiscal year starting in October, 28 million people in the US will be using government food stamps to buy essential groceries, the highest level since the food assistance programme was introduced in the 1960s.
The increase – from 26.5 million in 2007 – is due partly to recent efforts to increase public awareness of the programme and also a switch from paper coupons to electronic debit cards. But above all it is the pressures being exerted on ordinary Americans by an economy that is suddenly beset by troubles. Housing foreclosures, accelerating jobs losses and fast-rising prices all add to the squeeze.
Now, this is all well and good. And it certainly doesn't diminish the fact that there are more people on food stamps now, than last year. But, some perspective would be nice. If we are going to use data to draw accurate conclusions, we must understand some things:
Note the graph in this NYT article.
Understanding that many would love to use this as some kind of evaluation tool to prove that George W. Bush is the worst President in history, we must consider the trend of the indicator provided in this NYT article.
Supposedly, Clinton gave us the best years of our lives. Yet, in the mid 90s, the number of people on food stamps was near what it is now. Supposedly, Reagan gave us the worst years of our lives. But, if we look at the numbers in the mid 80s, we see that the number of people on food stamps were much lower.
One thing this Independent.com article does not factor into the mix is, the number of people crossing our borders and receiving this government benefit. Non-citizens are using this program too.
I have said before, we are a long way from the poverty and suffering in the Great Depression. One number that stands out is the 25% unemployment rate, during that time. But that seldom-considered piece of data doesn't stop the naysayers, who want to discredit this administration for the specific purpose of empowering themselves. They'll reach for anything, if they think it'll work in their favor.
How ironic this article turns out to be.