Upon reading this our first thought was, “This undersecretary must be an undercover operative for Rick Perry’s re-election campaign.” Our second thought was, “If I were a Republican, and I’m not, I’d make sure this undersecretary’s statement was stapled to the behinds of Bill White (or, maybe, Farouk Shami) and Ronnie Earle (or, maybe, whoever) to see how far they can run with it.” (By the way, does White have a position on this? We searched high and low on his Web site and even his Facebook page and can find none. Perhaps his position is too, too nuanced and complicated to be explained in a coherent and logical fashion––like Kay Bailey Hutchison’s position on maintaining Roe v. Wade.* Personally, we have no problem with expanding food-stamp availability, temporarily and if necessary, although we see nothing whatsoever wrong with requiring applicants to undergo some semi-foolproof methods of identification confirmation and means-testing.)
Sure as the hack tunesmiths of Tin Pan Alley were once moved to reflexively rhyme “moon” with “June” came the Whole Foods shoppers-cum-hunger artists (or artiste), of the Chronicle editorial page, who on Sunday past once again ascended to that Upper West Side of the mind to look down their long, thin noses at Texas and declare “Shame on us: Texas is the worst state in the nation providing food assistance to the hungry.” The hungry? Since when is not being able to immediately acquire food stamps synonymous with “hunger”? (That groaning noise was Orwell, rolling over in his grave while trying to light a cigarette.) The editorial predictably called for doing away with the fingerprinting and means-testing procedures, requirements designed to hold down, if not fully eliminate fraud. “To have so many Texans going hungry should be unacceptable in this proud and walthy state of ours,” harrumphed the editorial, which for some reason did not include the usual routine mention of Children at Risk, the Bob Stein of local social-service lobbyist organizations.
But some Chronicle readers reside in the real world, having no doubt stood in line at the grocery check-out behind overweight shoppers who used their Lone Star cards to buy all manner of unhealthy edibles and then whipped out a wad of cash to pay for the beer, cigarettes and lottery tickets. (It happens, although we personally have never seen it at Whole Foods or Central Market). Next to the Sunday editorial the newspaper published a letter from one of those readers, a Sarah Gonzales, who, when it came to insight, logic and pith, had it all over the writer of the editorial:
I would like to suggest that if the Chronicle was attempting to garner sympathy for those who are facing challenges receiving food stamps, perhaps a better picture could have been chosen to accompany the story. Of the three people pictured standing in line to receive food stamps, two of them are wearing Bluetooth devices. If I was having difficulty feeding my family or myself, the latest in cell phone technology would not be a priority for my discretionary income.We went back to examine the picture Ms. Gonzales cited, and, sure enough, two of the three (that’s 66 percent) visible would-be food-stamp applicants had those noisome little phone devices in their ears. Perhaps Ms. Gonzales was too polite to mention it, but we’re not: None of the three looked to have missed too many meals lately. You could, in fact, politely describe them as overfed.
On the same day the paper ran its editorial its front page carried a striking Associated Press picture from Haiti that illustrated what real hunger looks like. It did not look like fat people standing leisurely in line while chatting on their Bluetooths (or Blueteeth?).
So tell us: Where should the “shame” really lie?
*In the interest of disclosure, we, like Hutchison, favor maintaining Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to an abortion. We also favor maintaining the death penalty. You might say that we are, in the currently degraded political parlance, pro-death.