Sunday, March 19, 2017
Trump Says: Forget the Food, I WANT Fighter Jets!
When I first started writing my opinions for the Monroe County Reporter, I received an email from a reader. It read, “I just want to know why you think the way you do.” I have been pondering that question for nearly three years now. I finally figured it out.
It’s because of SHOES! You see, I was the youngest of nine and we were dirt poor. That never bothered me; in fact, I never even knew we were poor. Until it came to shoes. I got two new pairs of shoes a year, one at Easter and one for back-to-school. At home, I went barefoot to save my shoes. When returning home from school, I would put them in a safe place so nothing would eat them. I never, ever hid them in the oven, though.
My sister got a new pair of shoes for Easter. She was very excited because she usually got hand-me-down shoes from her male cousin. The older siblings taunted her about the shoes, probably out of jealousy, and warned her she should put them somewhere safe so nothing would eat them. She put them in the oven. The next morning my daddy built a fire in the woodstove. You can guess what happened. Those shoes were toast! She was hysterical and my heart aches for her to this day. My sister NEEDED those shoes! My feelings for shoes and what happened to my sister has a lot to do with how I think and feel about things today. With each pair of shoes I buy, I feel guilt. You see, there is a difference in what you want and what you need.
Growing up poor gives you insight into what people need. I feel great empathy for those that are poor, especially children and old people. I feel empathy for those that need a hand-up or find themselves in temporary situations beyond their control. These people need things; it’s not just things they want. George and I have spent our life together helping people. Whether it be relatives, friends, or people we hardly know, we’ve always tried to help them over the hump, sometimes even to our detriment. We have campaigned for, and voted for, only candidates that supported those social programs for people who fall into these categories. We see that at as our civic responsibility.
That’s why I took the budget news on Friday so hard. Still reeling from Trumpcare targeting the poor and elderly, I was visibly shaken when I heard of the deep budget cuts to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The USDA’s budget will be cut by $4.2 Billion dollars. While many programs will suffer deep cuts, funding is being eliminated for many social programs, two of which are Meals on Wheels for the elderly and food for after-school programs located in low-income areas. The White House spokesperson said, “We can’t fund programs just because they sound good and don’t work.” I see no logic in that statement and find it cruel and heartless. Any program that feeds the needy elderly WORKS! Any program that feeds a hungry child WORKS! Also, by cutting out the after-school programs, families will fall further into poverty as parents have to quit their jobs to tend to the children after school. Or, these children will be left to their own devices either at home or roaming the streets.
Further, Trump’s budget calls for $6.2 billion dollars to be cut from the Special Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). This program has steadily decreased our infant and child mortality rates. What is it that is not working with this program? These are our most vulnerable human beings. Think people! There’s a reason people supported these programs in the first place and demanded they be created. Just because you may be able to cite one example of someone you felt unworthy, does not mean the program is not working.
Our Government is losing sight of the programs needed and the programs wanted. We NEED to help the elderly. Trump WANTS a wall ($15 billion). He does not need a wall. We NEED to help our children living in poverty. Trump WANTS 90 new fighter jets ($8.5 billion). He does not NEED 90 new fighter jets. Trump WANTS to go to Mar-a-Lago ($3 million each trip). He does not NEED to go to Mar-a-Lago. I WANT new shoes. I don’t NEED new shoes.
Our community is once again in mourning over the loss of a local leader. Dr. J. Ray Grant touched so many people and played a leading role in what our community is today. He left us a legacy and we should honor him. I think the “J. Ray Grant Fine Arts Center” has a beautiful ring to it.