December 10, 2013
Demonstrators in 100 cities hit the streets outside fast-food restaurants Thursday to protest the miserly wages some service workers are paid. Too many are trying to support families on the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, and they can't do it. Nor should they have to. Adjusted for inflation, retail workers' wages have fallen 30 percent since 1973. Today's minimum wage would have to be raised to $10.60 an hour to equal the 1968 rate in real dollars. Even the pay of many workers who are lucky enough to earn more than the current minimum falls below the federal poverty line of $19,530 for a household of three.
December 6, 2013
NEWS is defined as a report of recent events presented in a straightforward style without editorial comment. A recent article by John Baer attempts to straddle the lines between news, commentary and a review of state Rep. Dwight Evans' book. Mr. Baer opens up the article by reminding us that Mr. Evans' 30 years in office "hasn't been pretty. " The question becomes: Is running for office a beauty contest? In his second paragraph, Mr. Baer goes on to say that there were "electoral flops for governor and twice for mayor," as if running for office and losing is an evaluative tool for Mr. Evans' 30 years in office as a state legislator.
December 2, 2013 |
It's been a month since food-stamp benefits were cut throughout America for the first time in history. And though it's too soon for official numbers and analyses, the effect of the loss of nearly $300 million in benefits in Pennsylvania and New Jersey is evident across the region. "It's mind boggling how the area has so many people this hungry," said Joanne Castagna, director of the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry in Prospect Park, Delaware County. "We've seen an increase in people - maybe 20 percent - coming here because their food stamps have been cut and they didn't know where else to turn.
November 27, 2013
IF YOU are so inclined, you can understand what recent cuts to the food stamp program means: Tomorrow, remove one vegetable and all the desserts from your Thanksgiving spread. Or, go to the grocery store, shop for your usual order, then put back $9 worth of items. That's the average weekly cut to the food stamp program that went into effect Nov. 1, which transpired when a temporary hike to cope with the 2008 recession lapsed and Congress neglected to extend it. Most of us could trim $9 from our shopping cart without too much pain, but those receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
November 5, 2013 |
THE SALVATION Army last year commissioned a poll assessing Americans' attitudes about the poor. More than one in four - 27 percent - said they believe that people are poor because they are lazy, not because they chose their parents unwisely or were hammered by forces beyond their control. By sheer coincidence, that 27-percent finding dovetails nicely with the Gallup Poll's recent report that 28 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the Republican Party. It's also close to the 25 percent who told the Huffington Post/YouGov poll this summer that they believe that aliens have visited planet Earth, and the 25 percent who told the Pew Religion and Public Life Project in 2009 that they believe in astrology.
November 5, 2013
IS FAST FOOD so vital to the nation that taxpayers should spend $7 billion a year to supplement the industry's profits? Imagine the outcry if that was proposed. And yet a study by economists at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and the University of California at Berkeley's Labor Center says that it's already happening. Seven billion dollars a year is what it costs taxpayers for Medicaid, food stamps and the other public assistance programs for fast-food workers who are paid poverty-level wages.
November 2, 2013 |
At the stroke of midnight on Halloween, food-stamp benefits were cut throughout America for the first time in history. People woke up Friday in unknown territory, having to figure how the loss of $5 billion in benefits - the equivalent of 1.9 billion meals nationwide in fiscal 2014 alone - will play out on the kitchen tables of the 47 million Americans who get food stamps. "This is nothing short of catastrophic," said Bill Clark, executive director of Philabundance, the largest hunger-relief agency in the region.
November 1, 2013 |
The manager of a Camden store pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges of fraudulently redeeming nearly $3 million in food stamp benefits. Alexander Vargas, 34, who managed Eddie's Grocery, accepted a plea agreement Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a news release. Vargas faces up to 10 years in prison, but is likely to serve less, according to a spokesman for the office. Vargas was a cosigner on the store's account beginning February 2012.
October 30, 2013
LAST week, Gov. Corbett signaled that he may reconsider his administration's policy to require asset tests for food-stamp applicants. This followed comments from recently appointed Department of Public Welfare chief Beverly Mackereth that she was less interested in testing assets of applicants than getting food stamps to those who need them. That's a refreshing sea change from former DPW chief Gary Alexander, who was responsible for the policy, claiming that he was trying to curb waste, fraud and abuse in the program - although he was alone in thinking that the program attracts fraud.
October 25, 2013 |
PHILADELPHIA Gov. Corbett said Wednesday he would take into consideration the state public welfare secretary's announcement that she was "rethinking" the food-stamp asset test, a measure that links federal benefits people receive to their bank accounts and car ownership. He made the comments when asked about the issue at a news conference promoting his "Healthy Pennsylvania" initiative. On Tuesday, Department of Public Welfare Secretary Beverly Mackereth told members of The Inquirer Editorial Board she was rethinking the asset test, adding: "My focus is not on waste.