I listen to National Public Radio frequently because I am a pervert. My prurient curiosity is often rewarded. On 7/19/10, around 4pm (Pacific Time) the lady host of one of the regular shows reminds us that one of President Obama’s many objectives is “to end childhood hunger in America.” I am curious because the whole idea that children don’t have enough to eat in this country makes me suspicious. (Old people, I think that’s possible because of lack of mobility and isolation.) The first words out of the reporter’s mouth are exactly this: “ A package of Kool-Aid costs….”
Would I make this up?
Ms NPR reporter: Kool-Aid is not food; it’s a mild drug. I was raised on tap water and my family was not even really poor. I did become a pervert, as I just confessed, but the water is hardly to blame.
The NPR target family has four members, plus cousins who drop in often for a meal. The oldest daughter, still in high-school, is pregnant. There is no mention of the sperm donor. The family’s name is Williamson. With an English name like this, they came on the Mayflower, or they are old English aristocracy or, take your pick.
The mother is a housewife the reporterette* describes as corpulent. NPR follows this brave woman as she travels hectically from free food pantry to cheap discount outlet in a desperate struggle to put enough food on the table for her family. Toward the end of the show, the reporterette mentions casually that the family receives $600 monthly in food stamps.
I know this is heartless but I had to ask myself the question, and then I asked my wife who does most of the shopping and with whom I raised two children: Could I, could we, feed four people on $150 a week?
The answer is a clear yes, even in pricey, resorty Santa Cruz, even shopping at relatively expensive Safeway, even with a pregnant teen-ager. It would be even easier in an urban area where you can food- shop at Walmart or at Costco. It would not be gourmet food and it could not include much prepared (processed) food. That modest amount of money would make for a healthy and especially for abundant home-cooked fare.
The husband and father, the only one employed in the family, earns $18,000. That’s very little, of course. It probably qualifies the family of four for other government aid, including health coverage and rent assistance. Even if none of this is correct, I doubt his paycheck cannot contribute $25 a week toward food. That would be $1250 per year for extras, maybe even for Kool-Aid.
Something does not ad up in this story. What do these people eat? Fully processed but organic apples obtained through Fair Trade? The liberal reporterette does not bat an eyelash. (I don’t hear it bat on the radio at any rate.) I wonder if she has ever gone shopping for food in a real store, or if she orders out, or if she only eats out.
Why are so many vile stereotypes right on the dot?
Are there really better examples of hungry children in America? Again, I am extremely skeptical but I am educable. Please, help me.
And yet, yes, I think it’s possible that there are children who go hungry periodically in this country. It’s not because of poverty though, it’s because their parents are ignorant, lazy or zonked out of their minds. Something needs to be done on such children’s behalf but the remedies are not the same as if this were Ethiopia or Somalia in war years.
Liberals have to be made to stop pretending this country is “kind of like the Third World, kind of,” even by small implications, even in half-spoken ways. We are surrounded with such pretense. It contributes to a climate of doom that ends up being paralyzing, to the young especially: If the world is all “fucked up,” why try to accomplish anything?
Small commentators like me, even honest people engaged in light conversation, the rank-and-file, must call such liberal and leftist lies- by-implication every time they hear them. I also think they should punish media that perpetrate such mendacity by boycotting them and by saying why at every opportunity. (See my recent column on the agony of the print press posted 7/15/10. It stages the President of a famous university and feces. )
Rational people who think facts matter have been agreeable too long to routine intellectual dishonesty. It’s high time to bitch loudly, every single time. Try it; you will like it.
* I don’t call all women journalists “reporterette.” In fact, the press person I admire most is Dorothy Rabinowitz of the Wall Street Journal. I also admire Peggy Noonan although I sometimes disagree vigorously with her viewpoint. The NPR reporter, though is a silly goose. She deserves the name. And I will be called a “sexist.” Who give a f…!