There are six times as many people seeking jobs in the United States than there are job openings, and the average time searching for work is six months — the most since the Great Depression.
Don't forget about the underemployed, those whose hours have been cut back. How can they best feed their families?
Were it not for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, what most Americans know as food stamps, many likely would go hungry.
When it came into being, that program was criticized as a give-away for those who would not work and for agribusiness, which provided the food bought with the stamps — an interesting combination if ever there was one.
However, food stamps have provided a safety net over the years that today helps one in eight Americans and one in four children. In Alabama, one in six receive this aid, and the number is growing.
From August 2008 to August 2009, the rolls of Alabama recipients rose 24.8 percent; today, there are more than 740,000 in the state receiving this aid, the Birmingham News has reported. Nationally, the number has grown 23.9 percent to approximately 36.5 million during that same time.
Contrary to the mythology that has encircled the program, only 17 percent of those qualifying for assistance in Alabama are on welfare. The rest are senior citizens and parents who don't make enough to pay living and food expenses for themselves and their children.
Part of this growth is due to the streamlined application process, though the biggest reason is simple: Millions of Americans are not earning enough to make ends meet. The ongoing recession is only making matters worse.
This is an example of the sort of program a compassionate people should insist their government do for those in need. The United States is a nation rich in resources, and among those resources agricultural bounty ranks high. It would be a terrible thing for American farm land to produce so much and at the same time have so many in America go hungry.
This program helps people who need help, including the agriculture sector of the economy. It is a balance the nation needs to strike more often — in drawing up a health-care bill, for example — if we put partisan bickering aside and think of the people.
The food-stamp program works. Other reforms can, as well.