Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Morgan Stanley Feeding America ad

Today in the Wall Street Journal I saw a very clever ad sponsored by Morgan Stanley about "food insecurity."  It was a large graphic of a piece of broccoli in the shape of a brain.  The text: "One out of four children in this country struggles to get enough food for their bodies and minds to develop properly."

I think it's very nice to have corporate donors for food banks (Feeding America is the new name for Second Harvest). However, let's take a look at this 1 in 4 statistic. As of July 2009, the gross income ceiling to use a government funded food pantry (and that's virtually all of them, even the ones run by churches) was $21,659 for one person. There are probably many people in their first jobs who would qualify, but do they consider themselve "poor" or "hungry?" Then for a family of four the gross income figure is $44,099, and for a family of 6, it's almost $60,000.  Link.

So you see what's happening here, don't you? If you get a raise to $46,000 a year, you might lose certain "poverty" benefits. Maybe it's a special health program for a disabled child, or a certain housing allowance, or a tuition waiver (I haven't looked all those up because I think you need a PhD in government grants to figure out all 70 programs for the poor).

The very programs intended to help people get a toe hold on the middle class, to become independent and strong, in the long run hold them back unless they are exceptionally healthy, young and educated. And that's how voting blocks are created, serviced and maintained.

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