I’m watching a profile on Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones (who may be one of the most naturally beautiful people on the planet), and she was talking about her youth, being raised in poverty, and how she was terrified to use food stamps. She was terrified that while she was using them, one of her friends from school would see her checking out, and she would just be humiliated. She also mentioned eating a lot of government cheese and beans, and living in the bottom of the church on a stage for a long period of time.
I was in Kroger (our chain grocery store) the other day buying a couple things of crab meat to make crab cakes for the party at Walt’s, and in front of me was a young woman with a baby in a stroller, and she was checking out, and she used food stamps, and then had to spend about five minutes counting coins to have enough to pay for her purchases (which, contrary to Republican beliefs, were not 40’s and steaks, but diapers, milk, oatmeal, and vegetables), and I remember thinking, as she was rushing and making counting mistakes, that poor girl is just humiliated and embarrassed she has to go through this. I genuinely felt bad for her. And then she turned around, looked at me and the people behind me, and apologized- “Sorry, it’s the 31st and I just have to have this stuff, and payday and everything isn’t until tomorrow.”
It was a heart-wrenching experience, and then I looked down at my purchases- crab meat, panko, buffalo mozzarella, green onions, dijon mustard, a couple bottles of wine, and some peel and eat shrimp, and I felt like the biggest most entitled dick ever as I was rung up and handed the lady my debit card and then declined a receipt because “I just do my banking online and I’ll deal with it next week.” At which point I realized how debased and out of touch I am. Here is a woman buying what she can to keep her kid alive, and I’m buying luxury foods, for a party, for other people, and I’m not even worried about the price. However ashamed that young woman ahead of me was, I am sure I felt more ashamed as I understood what I had just said.
But if you ask the modern GOP, I pay too much in taxes, and we do too much for the girl in line in front of me and Lolo Jones. We’re just a seriously fucked up nation. I’m not one of those making over 250k, but by any metric in the world I am rich beyond the wildest dreams of historical standards (although, admittedly, it takes a lot less to be “rich” in WV). Please, please, please, politicians. Raise my taxes. Spend it on food stamps, job training, road and bridge construction. Spend it on child care, nursery school, and child development. Anything but more god damned wars and tax cuts for Mitt Romney.