Some People Thinks Those On Food Stamps Are Like Animals


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So this post will probably make some of you not happy, especially the ones who believe that the ones who are struggling should be forced to starve and beg.  A few weeks ago, a Facebook post went viral and made a lot of people angry!  The Oklahoma Republican Party Facebook page put out a post comparing those on food stamps to those who feeds the animals in a national park.  The post reads:

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The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is proud to be distributing this year the greatest amount of free meals and Food Stamps ever, to 46 million people.

Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us “Please Do Not Feed The Animals.”  Their stated reason for the policy is because “The animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves.”

Thus ends today’s lesson in irony.

Yep, they said that!  Soon that post was deleted and an apology was posted on their Facebook page.  But it was too little too late.  So I wanted to talk about why people like me are stuck on food stamps.  And there are a couple of reasons.  For starters, the economy in some areas is still in a recession or depression state.  For some people, there are no jobs to go too!  Sure, you could say these people should just move, but you have to deal with finding a new place to live, changing addresses, getting new licenses if you move to another state, and all of this costs a lot of money, that most new employers will not pay!

Second, for people who might have a job?  Some people are stuck in a part time job, or others might have a full time job, but the pay is low. Please quit saying these people should “improve their skills” or “should get a second job.”  Heck, some people with four year degrees or more are still unemployed!  And in some areas, second jobs are unavailable.  So there have to be safety nets like food stamps, so people do not have to choose between food or paying the bills!  Some people are stuck in patterns like this because no one will give them a chance to show what they can do.  And don’t blame this on Obamacare, that argument is futile!

And third, some people with disabilities have an extremely hard time proving to others that they can be valuable in the work world.  For me, I have Asperger’s Syndrome, and I have been unemployed for over four years and have been turned down from nearly 1,700 job applications.  So what do I do if you think I should not be on food stamps and just starve, just because some people out there thinks I am a lazy idiot?  Sure, I might be attempting to get on SS Disability, it’s because no one there is willing to give me a chance.  So I have to stay on food stamps and hope I can get an income from the government, that sucks!

I am glad the food stamp or SNAP program is around!  If we never had a food safety net, people would be starving, and churches and food banks could not handle the massive amount of people starving after the great recession.  I know some out there would love to take away all programs that helps the poor.  But thankfully there are also people who care about the poor, and will fight to make sure the poor does not suffer!  I support the ones who care about the poor!

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Arizona SB 1062 Bill Is Vetoed / Five Crazy Bills In The 2014 Alabama Legislature


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This week, Arizona has been a hotbed of controversial news.  SB 1062 would have allowed any business that asserted their religious beliefs the right to deny service to gay and lesbian customers.  The bill was so controversial, some Arizona legislators wanted to change their vote, after they voted YES.  Many businesses and people were calling for Governor Jan Brewer to VETO this bill, and they got their wish.  A few hours ago, the governor vetoed the bill, and unless there is a legislature override, the bill is dead.

And sadly, I thought this would happen if Governor Jan Brewer signed SB 1062.  Some legislator down here in Alabama would have proposed something similar, and it would have passed with flying colors.  Now, that this bill is now dead, unless the Arizona Legislators are stupid, I believe the legislators here in Alabama will think twice before proposing something similar to the Arizona bill.  But sadly, there are other bills currently going through the Alabama Legislator that could cause Alabama some embarrassment.  Here are the five bills going through the Alabama Legislature that are a black eye for Alabama, and it will make the state a laughing stock once again.

School Prayer Bill

Rep. Steve Hurst, R-Munford, near where Geek Alabama is based, has proposed a bill that would allow teachers and/or principals to spend 15 minutes per school day to read opening prayers said before a meeting of the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate.  So far, this bill has passed a voice vote in the House Education Policy Committee, even though most members did not vote for it, how does that happen?  And did the Alabama Legislature forget about the separation of church and state?

The bill still has to pass both the House and Senate, and if it does pass and gets signed by the governor, Alabama is going to be using taxpayer funds to defend this law in court.  Because several organizations have already said they will sue the state if this bill becomes law.  The biggest problem I have with this, what if the prayer from Congress was a Muslim prayer,(it has happened before) would teachers in Alabama read it?  And would students have a option to stay out of the classroom during the prayer?  Yeah, I don’t see this bill passing.  And that 10 commandments bill will also be challenged in court and lose as well.

HB 31 – Health Care Rights of Conscience Act

This bill would allow health care providers to refuse, perform, or participate in any medical health care service that violates their moral, religious, or ethical principles, but only if the health care service involves women’s reproductive systems.  This almost sounds like that Arizona SB 1062 bill.  Bill sponsor Rep. Becky Nordgren, R-Gadsden, says the bill is meant to protect healthcare workers from being forced to do anything against their religious beliefs.  And no, this bill is not only about abortions.

Passage of this bill could result in hospital staff refusing to take part in ending a woman’s pregnancy during a miscarriage even if her health was at stake.  Anyone in the health care profession could also refuse to participate in abortion, sterilization, human cloning, and embryonic stem cell research.  Good job legislature, pass a bill that could harm the health of a woman because it might violate someone’s religious beliefs.  One has to ask this question, where is the outcry against this bill like that other bill in Arizona?  And yes, I know about the other abortion bills in Alabama, and they are wrong!

Common Core Bill

Most states and schools in America have adopted the Common Core standards that were developed by the National Governors’ Association.  But sadly, some conservatives out there believes these standards are leading towards a nationalization of public education. The real truth, business associations and state education groups have embraced the standards saying they will boost Alabama student performance.  These standards are not a Federal takeover of education, these standards are to make sure students are ready for the real world after they graduate from high school.

Several legislators including Sen. Scott Beason, are sponsoring a bill to repeal the standards, which is a boneheaded decision.  But some legislators like Sen. President Del Marsh, and Alabama Superintendent Tommy Bice, who I found out both read this blog, are working to make sure this bill does not see the light of day.  I agree with what the Alabama School Board has said, why are people going after legislators to repeal Common Core.  Why are these people instead going to school boards?  Repealing Common Core will allow Alabama to become a joke when it comes to education.

Welfare Bills

Five welfare bills are quickly passing through the Alabama Legislature.  One bill would require a drug test for anyone that has a drug conviction in the last five years and applying for TANF.  Another bill would require someone to apply for three jobs before applying for TANF.  Another bill would prohibit TANF funds from being used on alcohol, tobacco, lottery tickets, and psychic hotlines or at strip clubs and tattoo parlors.  And another bill would prohibit fraud to receive public benefits.  Although I support the first four bills, there is one bill I have a problem with.

State Senator Bryan Taylor, R-Prattville, introduced a bill requiring welfare recipients to perform community service to receive their benefits.  Later, the bill was changed that would prohibit the state from seeking waivers of work requirements for able-bodied adults under the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, also called food stamps.  So for someone like me, who has applied to over 500 jobs, been to 14 job fairs, and no one will give me a chance.  I am screwed come October because I have to rely on Food Stamps to get by.  Wonderful, this will be another expense my relatives will have to pay now.  And I know I am not the only person in Alabama who will be affected by this.

General Fund Budget

Alabama does fund the Education Budget pretty well.  But when it comes to the General Fund budget, the legislators treat it very poorly.  The budget for this year is being boosted by $145 million borrowed from the Alabama Trust Fund.  And without extra funds, the budget for next year looks awful.  And that is not good for a state that is trying to attract new jobs and recruit new industries.  Without the proper support from state government, people will not think about moving to Alabama.

Let’s see, Alabama can’t fund their courts properly.  The prison system is severely overcrowded and there is abuse in the women’s prison.  And state employees are not being properly funded.  So Alabama is going to have no choice but to look for new sources of funding.  They are hoping Congress will allow Alabama to collect an internet sales tax.  But why is Alabama not considering allowing a state lottery and gambling?  Every state around Alabama either has a lottery or casinos.  Alabama could become a tourist destination if gambling was approved, and taxes would not have to go up!

To sum things up, things are going so well in Alabama politics, the Alabama Republican Party Candidate Committee has rejected several candidates for not being Republican enough.  That’s too funny!  At least House Bill 141, that would keep the low-cost spay and neuter clinics, is going through the legislature, and I hope it passes!

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Sunday Discussion: Go Orange for No Kid Hungry Day


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Today is a special day, today is Go Orange for No Kid Hungry Day.  This day highlights the problems and solutions for child hunger.  And many people does not realize the problem of child hunger in America, and the number is huge!  Nearly one in five children in America lives in households that struggle to put food on the table.  They may look no different than other children; child hunger in America is often invisible.  They are hurting, just the same.  Sure, kids who struggle to eat at home can get a free or reduced lunch at school, but try learning or surviving the day with only one meal?  It’s a lot harder than you think!

48.8 million Americans—including 16.2 million children— live in households that lack the means to get enough nutritious food on a regular basis.  As a result, they struggle with hunger at some time during the year.  Many of these families rely either on food charities or the SNAP or food stamp program to survive.  And with the US House and Republicans wanting to cut the SNAP program by billions of dollars, these needy families are in jeopardy of going hungry.  In communities like here in Anniston with still record high unemployment in 2013, food charities can not keep up with the high demand of hungry people.  And if SNAP is cut, people will go hungry!

Some of you might say these hungry people needs to find a job, and then I laugh at these people.  East Alabama and West Georgia has some of the highest unemployment in the southeast US.  Just look at these unemployment numbers for July 2013.

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People can not find jobs around here.  And when a job fair for a new business is held, thousands of people apply for around 100 jobs that are available.  Simply put, there are no jobs here in Anniston / Oxford or in NE Alabama / NW Georgia.  I am surviving on food stamps and have been unemployed for 26 months now.  I have applied to over 425 jobs and been to over 14 job fairs across Alabama and Georgia.  I am not alone, there are other people who are in the same boat as me.  The long-term unemployed are scraping by while others are succeeding.  Often, the long-term unemployed are surviving by only eating one meal a day and are on food stamps.  This is something that has got to change!

Here are some other facts about food insecurity:

  • Rates of food insecurity are substantially higher than the national average among households with incomes near or below the federal poverty line, among households with children headed by single parents (35.1% of female-headed households with children are food-insecure) and among Black and Hispanic households.
  • Food insecurity is most common in large cities but still exists in rural areas, suburbs and other outlying areas around large cities
  • 25 % of households with children living in large cities are food-insecure.
  • The typical (median) food-secure household spent 27 percent more for food than the typical food-insecure household of the same size and composition.
  • 59% of food-insecure households reported that in the previous month they had participated in one or more of the three largest federal food and nutrition assistance programs: SNAP (formerly food stamps), School Lunch and WIC.

Children and adults who go hungry can not function as well as people who are doing fine.  In school, 3 out of 5 teachers say they have children in their classrooms who regularly come to school hungry.  Many teachers spend money out of their own pockets to buy food so kids can learn without having a growling stomach.  Yes, kids can get a meal during lunch, but what happens when schools are closed during the Summer?  Here is a test for you, try learning and concentrating on an empty stomach?  It’s not going to happen!

And if you think hunger is something our country can ignore, think again!  According to a report by the Center for American Progress and Brandeis University, “hunger costs our nation at least $167.5 billion due to the combination of lost economic productivity per year, more expensive public education because of the rising costs of poor education outcomes, avoidable health care costs, and the cost of charity to keep families fed.  Also, “food insecurity led to a loss of $19.2 billion in [life-time] earnings in 2010.”  Hunger also costs everyone!  In 2010, “it cost every citizen $542 due to the far-reaching consequences of hunger in our nation.” If the number of hungry Americans remains constant, “each individual’s bill for hunger in our nation will amount to about $42,400” on a lifetime basis.

Luckily, there is an organization that is committed to stopping the problem of hunger.  Share Our Strength is a national organization that works hard to make sure no kid in America grows up hungry.  They weave together a net of community groups, activists and food programs to catch children facing hunger and surround them with nutritious food where they live, learn and play.  There are solutions to the hunger problem in America!

One, schools needs to provide school breakfasts and lunches, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and kids needs breakfast!  Schools also needs to provide Summer meals for needy kids as well!  Two, education is needed so kids and parents can stretch food dollars and cook healthy meals at home.  And of course, there needs to be more awareness to the hunger problem.

Another great organization, Feeding America, provides food to 37 million low-income people in America.  One way food can be provided to low-income people is to protect the SNAP program.  I have seen the comments from some people online who say the program is full of waste and people are lazy and relying on government assistance.  No, most people are not lazy, we just don’t get a chance to get a foot in the door.  If Congress is successful, more people in America will go hungry!  And the food pantries and soup kitchens will not be able to keep up!

Another thing for people in Alabama.  Alabama is one of a few states that charges a full sales tax on groceries.  In some areas, up to a 10% sales tax is charged for everything including groceries.  The Alabama Legislature needs to end the sales tax on food so poorer people can afford to buy groceries, but with the Republican controlled legislature running the show, I don’t expect that to happen anytime soon, sad!

Learn more about Share Our Strength at: https://www.nokidhungry.org/

Learn more about Feeding America at: http://feedingamerica.org/