OPINION – We’ve been saved. Or have we? After a 16-day cliffhanger, where our very existence supposedly hung in the balance, a compromise has been reached. Business will continue as usual in Washington D.C. with increased government growth and spending.
In reality, the curtain has fallen on the latest performance of political theater.
For all the contrived drama, sound, and political wrangling, there was very little actual substance to the so-called crisis. However, there is a funding-related story that could still have profound impact on all of us.
Last weekend, the computerized Electronic Benefits Transfer system experienced a mysterious temporary “glitch” following a routine check. This failure left welfare recipients in 17 states unable to use their food stamp debit cards for a short period of time. Panicked shoppers had to leave behind carts full of food until connectivity was restored hours later.
“How will I feed my family?” was the concern voiced by many of those shoppers who couldn’t pay for food without government help.
Federal officials were quick to clarify that the incident was not connected to a partial government shutdown that was calculated to “make life as difficult for people” as possible. However, the letter sent out from the USDA to state directors of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program deserves our attention. The letter instructed SNAP agencies to: “delay their November issuance files and delay transmission to State Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) vendors until further notice.”
Here in Utah, that means roughly 100,000 people wouldn’t have received food stamp benefits had Congress failed to raise the debt ceiling again.
Food pantries throughout the state have already been drained by the temporary suspension of the WIC program that provides food benefits to women, infants, and children.
With nearly 50 million Americans counting on government benefits to help put food on their tables, an outage lasting even a few days could be disastrous. What happens when millions of Americans are unable to feed their families?
When the expectation gap becomes wide enough for those who depend on government benefits to keep them fed, things will get very ugly.
Seeking to place blame on a particular party for some perceived political advantage is a loser’s game. The real issue at hand is that there is an extremely dangerous downside to becoming dependent upon government for food. And the kind of unrest that hunger is capable of producing won’t just affect those who aren’t receiving their benefits.
In the words of a homeless man in Salt Lake City, “it’s going to cause problems because you’re going to come to find out that people are going to steal and do what they have to do to survive.”
In creating dependence on government favors, leaders in the nation’s capitol have sown the seeds for widespread civil unrest and suffering. If you’re not feeling somewhat uneasy over this realization, you’re not paying attention.
There are two very important things that we can do to help mitigate the potential for hunger-related problems here in Southern Utah. It doesn’t matter if you’re on food stamps or not, if a benefits shutdown lasts even a couple of days, it’s likely that store shelves will be stripped bare in a panic.
The first is to get our own houses in order and to have at least a two week supply of food and water on hand at all times. A 3-month supply would be even better. A full year supply would be optimal, but this takes time and planning to accomplish.
Having the ability to produce our own food is also highly desirable whether it’s through a garden, greenhouse, keeping chickens, or knowing how to bottle food purchased in bulk. This requires an investment of time as well as money to develop the necessary skills.
In addition to food and water, take stock of the household items like soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, etc., and have extra on hand. We’re not preparing for doomsday, we’re preparing for life—including any unexpected events.
The second action we can take to guard against hunger-related problems here at home is to generously donate to local food banks like Dixie and Iron County Care and Share. If each of us made a habit of donating 5 cans on a weekly basis, it would make a huge difference.
Simple actions taken now could make a dramatic difference down the road when government promises to take care of our needs prove worthless.
Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives talk show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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