Beyond the Rhetoric
By Harry C. Alford
Last week, the House of Representatives failed to pass H.R. 2 which is the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (also known as the Farm Bill). There were a lot of reasons why. The most popular reason is that it is going to implement “Self-Sufficiency.” You would think that most people would support such an effort.
However, there are a vast amount of “poverty pimps” who will jump up and scream racism. Is the mere fact of helping people find employment through organized placement and training an evil thing? Of course not! It is those who oppose whatever conservative thinking leads to, no matter what the outcome may be. Think about it.
Making the unemployed portion of our population employable and directly placing them in gainful work should be our responsibility and social mandate.
However, there are legions of pseudo leaders and profiteers feeding on the “Poverty Industrial Complex.” They do not want poverty to end. They want to manage it for their own gain and reputations.
Booker T. Washington called them out over one hundred years ago: “There is a class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs, partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs.”
The proposed Farm Bill wants to put able bodied and trainable recipients of the SNAP program which is the modernized “Food Stamps” charity, to transition into full employment and self-sufficiency. Is there anything wrong with that? Of course not! H.R. 2 pairs a realistic, supportive, and simplified work requirement with funding from the State to provide guaranteed, improved, and constructive options to move participants toward more desirable wages, quality employment, and independence of government aid.
This is not a dream! There are more than 6.6 million jobs available. All we must do is train able bodied recipients of SNAP and place them into these jobs.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly three-quarters of the job openings that will occur over the next decade require a high school education or less. Nearly four out of five job openings require no training or less than a month’s training on-the-job, while a whopping 87 percent require no prior experience. Let’s do it!!!
Current unemployment levels are at the lowest point in decades. However, 42 million people are on SNAP. The last time our unemployment levels were this low there were only 17 million on SNAP. The problem is clear, and we should all step up to resolve it. Right now, the SNAP program equates to over 80% of the entire funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Also, most of the recipients are white! Reducing the program and making it efficient and organized would not be a discriminatory process in the least.
There are a variety of pilots for the states to implement, helping to reduce stigmas, enhancing the recipient’s buying experience, and providing opportunities for those in the field to provide additional services and supports. My people, we are now ready to overcome poverty as it existed in the previous decades. A change is finally coming, and we must work through the resisters and “poverty pimps” to make this important change a reality.
Programs to help the disabled will still be in place and available. The meaningful change will be that the able bodied can be easily trained and placed into gainful employment. This is a critical ingredient for self-empowerment, hope and a promise of a future.
The agriculture committees and sub-committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives have evolved into providing a future for our long-neglected poor. Let’s not pontificate and throw unfounded reasons to stop this progress. Again, there are 42 million people on SNAP but the last time our unemployment levels were this low there were less than 17 million people on SNAP. It is broken!
Let’s tune up the process and get millions of fine Americans back into the work force. We will also lessen the strain of our federal budget, i.e. taxes. America will be stronger for this and that is why we are going to propel millions of able bodied Americans back into the workforce. Let’s energize and prepare this work-capable population for self-sufficiency by modernizing the program, including the addition of assessment and case management, guaranteeing access for all eligible participants, and enhancing the current suite and scope of services offered by the States.
God is great! All the time!!
Mr. Alford is the Co-Founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®. Website: www.nationalbcc.org Email: [email protected].