Douchebag Decree: Robert Rector Hopes You're Hungry
This week's shiny golden douchebag statuette goes to Robert
Rector of the Heritage Foundation. A recent article published in The New York
Times reported that the number of people living in households lacking
consistent access to adequate food his risen to 49 million Americans. In the 14
years that the Department of Agriculture has been collecting these statistics,
these are the highest ever.
A bit more data from the survey to put this in perspective:
of those 49 million, one third of respondents reported that they are "outright
hungry" meaning they experience frequent hunger pains, are forced to skip meals
or reduce portion sizes.
The households facing the most dramatic food shortages are
usually headed by single mothers. In the last year, the numbers of households
reporting severe food insecurity that also contain children has swelled by
almost 200,000 to top out at 506,000. Of those 506,000 households, 37% were
headed by single mothers as opposed to 14% that reported married, two-parent
Now this is where the d-bag factor increases exponentially
in relation to the food insecurity data. Mr. Rector poo-pooed the numbers being
reported, saying, "Very few of these people are hungry. When they lose jobs,
they constrain the kind of food they buy. That is regrettable, but it's a far
cry from a hunger crisis." Well, thanks for letting me know who's really hungry
and who's not. For a while, I was worried about people trying to live on $133
per person, per month, but now I know that was foolish. "Those people" have
lost jobs and constrained their food purchases, but it's illogical that those
factors could contribute to increased hunger.
In other articles from the last year Mr. Rector has seemed
to contradict himself on this point though, saying that, "The majority of them
[poor people] are overweight, and the idea of what we need to do is give them
more food is just kind of silly." So, poor people aren't really hungry, and
even if they are, they could afford to lose a little weight? I can't tell if
I'm more grateful for his cogent public policy advice or his faaaaabulous
Mr. Rector has also publicly derided Federal Food Assistance
saying that it is "anti-marriage" because aid is slightly increased for those
who apply as single parents, or do not have a working father in the home. I
mean, are you kidding me? Who are these people right? Trying to feed their
kids?? If you don't have a man, then find one and have him pay for everything
because those were the good ol' days. And who would bother to get married if it
meant your paltry food stamps allocation might be reduced? I'm sure there are
all sorts of women living in sin or staying single by choice just for the extra
few dollars a month. Thanks for exposing the dastardly tactic of the
anti-family agenda Mr. Rector.
Let's bring it all home though. In researching the 2007 990
tax report filed by the Heritage Foundation, the latest available from the IRS,
we see that the Foundation reports $20 million dollars in salaries paid that
year and over 112 employees are paid $50,000 or more per year. While Mr.
Rector's name doesn't appear specifically—only the five highest paid employees
must be reported by name—it is probably safe to assume that Mr. Rector is not
trying to stretch a $133 meal budget over a month. Nor is he likely surrounded
by co-workers or friends facing these sorts of insecurities. We seem to be
learning every day that empathy is harder to cultivate in most people's hearts than
avocados in Oregon
Perhaps as we sit down to Thanksgiving dinner next week, we
can remember especially those 49 million who worry about food every day, and we
can give thanks that douchebags like Robert Rector don't get to be the only
voice on the subject.
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