The Food Issues Book Club: How Hungry is America, Chapter 14

Hello all!  Welcome to the NOiG Food Issues Book Club, wherein I read books about food stuff, summarize each book by chapter, and then attempt to apply that book chapter's ideas to the New Orleans food environment and my own experiences.  Fun right?!  Check out previous installations here.  I'd love it if you'd read along and join in!  And now, without further ado...

How Hungry is America, Chapter 14: A New War on Poverty


Unless we work to end poverty, hunger will continue to rear its ugly head.  "[I]ncreased government supports, economic growth, community involvement, and a focus on personal responsibility are all needed to solve the problem."  An "Aspirational Empowerment Agenda" that encourages personal responsibility while providing a hand up would help poo people succeed in rising above poverty.

In addition to income inequality, wealth inequality (inequality of assets) is a major factor in poverty.  IDAs (Individual Development Accounts), first proposed in the 1990s, could be one way to address this imbalance.  The accounts would be provided with matching government funds for all money saved by participants - rather than punitively cutting off all benefits when a threshold savings amount is reached as is typically the case now.  However, in order for the program to be effective it would need more funds both for matching and for program administration.  Many poor people would also need to have lower costs and higher incomes in order to be able to save money and make the IDAs viable.  Training for job placement and retention is also key.

"Our growing poverty crushes hope and squanders dreams.  America must once again live up to those ideals by restoring pathways of mobility and returning to the land of my grandparents' dreams."


Ruby Bridges, New Orleans' first black
public school student, had to be
escorted into and out of William Frantz
Elementary each day while enduring
threats and racist slurs... in 1960.
Ooooookkkkkkk.  Berg gets a lil dreamy at the end of this chapter, and in doing so forgets himself a bit and fails to recognize that the "American Dream" was never actually for "everyone."  Even in the halcyon days of the 1950s, the US was segregated.  The "American Dream" was not the dream of "everyone."  It was the dream of white people.

Our culture has always, always been based on a sort of pyramid scheme with a large, marginalized working class at its base.  Whether that base is black or Irish Eastern European or Italian or Chinese or Mexican, without it our society doesn't work.  For that to change, society must change, and radically so.  The richest of the rich will need to be, well, less rich, so that the poorest of the poor can be less poor.  And they're not going to do it unless we make them.

How do we make them?  Tax the everliving crap out of them to pay for programs like IDAs.  Support a living wage, and vote for politicians who have a record of actually working on that issue as well as other issues of poverty and hunger.  The hoarding of wealth is a social disease, and we must attack it at its roots.  Our culture has a strongly held belief that people should be able to make as much money as they're able - anything else is some sort of Pinko Commie Nazi Weirdo Stuff that will not be abided.  Well fine, we can let them hoard all the money they can get their paws on - but not at the expense of the country's poorest.


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