In 2007-2008, the US economy collapsed into a powerful, potent recession that lasted years. Rates of unemployment and food stamp use escalated during this period. Everybody suffered throughout this turmoil.
Last year, The Washington Post asserted that food stamps increased because of the great recession – noting that 47 million people were now receiving the benefit. Amidst this trouble, Republicans in Congress worked to save about $40 billion over 10 years, by removing about 3.8 million from food stamps. But this highly-contested course of action never came to fruition.
What’s SNAP and who benefits?
The timing was confusing, though. At a time where more Americans than ever were in need of the welfare benefit, Republicans aimed to reduce benefits and exclude vast swaths of people. A variety of families and individuals need food stamps. From single-parent households with young children to underpaid full-time, single employees, food stamps positively affect and bolster the budgets of those most in need.
To qualify for SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) as an individual, you need to make $958 (net income) or less every month. That’s about $12,000 a year; otherwise known as, poverty for an individual. Without some sort of assistance, it’s reasonable to assume that paying for nutritional, healthy food options may be severely restricted or non-existent. That’s what makes food stamps an important necessity for those in need.
The demographics are growing, changing
The Guardian Liberty Voice recently highlighted the shift in food stamp (SNAP) recipients. Unlike most assumptions regarding food stamps that are propagated in our media and culture, recipients are now working harder than ever – despite needing more benefits. A sharp change occurred over the last few years:
Food stamp use is now highest among working Americans, according to government statistics. This is the first time this specific group has had majority use of food stamps in U.S. history.
As the article continues, most years the elderly and young benefited most from SNAP. Now, working Americans are the largest recipients of this benefit. The Guardian Liberty Voice calls into question growing corporate profits amidst this turmoil and economic distress for the working class.
What is especially troubling about more people being on food stamps is that corporate profits have been high yet wages continue to decline.
The $80 million government program accounts for about $1.50 per meal per recipient. That can be difficult to live on, but food stamps aim to prop up low-income households to enable them to recover and grow out of this impoverished level. Unfortunately, these populations and families have been the target of a variety of public spending and private-industry employee cuts.
Simultaneously, executives are killing companies and employee spirit
It’s reasonable to assume that corporate executives are paid more than traditional employees. Their responsibilities are far grander and they are held responsible in a number of legal and shareholder situations. Most are paid for performance and work in very competitive environments. This can breed a culture of corporate profits over people.
Income among working class and executive class swiftly changed in recent years. AFL-CIO has calculated the average executive versus worker salaries.
The CEOs of S&P 500 Index company made, on average, 354 times the average wages of rank-and-file U.S. workers in 2012.
Despite trying economic times and difficult rates of unemployment, many companies are seeing their greatest profits ever and CEOs are receiving staggering salaries (by number and ratio). Lawrence Ellison, CEO of Oracle, was paid nearly $100 million for a year’s salary. Moonves, CEO of CBS Corp., received about $62 million. Starbucks‘ chairman and CEO, Howard Schultz raked in almost $29 million. To make the top 100 CEO salary pay list, you need to make at least $18.75 million per year.
CEO-to-worker pay ratios make it clear: Executive salaries ballooned in recent years and are directly correlated with a sharp decline in employment. Wall Street tends to value this attitude towards employees; rid the excess and reward the leader, the lesser man is expendable. But unfortunately, this mentality is degrading worker rights, confidence, and consistency.
What comes around goes around
The current, frigid economic conditions have left many without an out. Executive pay, staggering unemployment, and poor business practices created a cyclical problem for the majority of working Americans. Now, they are the largest recipients of food stamps. The tragic irony is that worker pay stagnated and unemployment rates increased, while executives received bountiful bonuses.
There are few defending the most vulnerable among us. The current equation seems broken. Maybe it’s time for protections, regulations, and a general counterbalance to protect hard-working Americans looking to achieve and work for themselves? Maybe we can start with executive income ratios.