Cory Booker, food stamps, and looking great with the Poverty Diet

Newark, NJ, Mayor Cory Booker and a Twitter follower will be living on food stamps for a week following a Twitter discussion about the role of government in funding school breakfast and lunch programs. Follower TwitWit asserted that “nutrition is not the responsibility of the government.” Booker disagreed.

TwitWit: why is there a family that is “too poor to afford breakfast”? are they not already receiving food stamps?

Booker: Lets you and I try to live on food stamps in New Jersey (high cost of living) and feed a family for a week or month. U game?

TwitWit: sure, Mayor, I’m game.

Negotiations about challenge rules are ongoing–TwitWit feels it should be for a month, not a week–but the University of Bridgeport has offered to referee the challenge using the rules laid out for their own food stamp challenge, due to start the first week in December: $35 per person per week, no free food, and no food you already own; take photos of all food purchased and save all receipts. Followers of Booker have suggested additional rules requiring, for instance, that all food purchases must be accessible via public transportation, or that it must be cookable using a microwave or electric grill.

Twitter response to Booker’s challenge have been mixed, particularly from followers who are on or have been on food stamps. Many appreciate the gesture, while others see a well-off man living cheaply–even unreasonably cheaply–for a week as a stunt. Booker’s plan has a big fan in Fox News’s Andrea Tantaros, though, who said on Fox Business Wednesday night that a $133 monthly food allowance would be slimming for the wallet and the waistline.

I should try it, because do you know how fabulous I’d look? I’d be so skinny. I mean, the camera adds ten pounds, it really does. I would be looking great.

[h/t Colorlines]

113 comments for “Cory Booker, food stamps, and looking great with the Poverty Diet

  1. November 26, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    Geez, $35 is NOT doing it tough, if one has a place to live and is healthy. Will they be homeless, too? But they’ll probably struggle anyway. Sounds like one more of those political ‘let’s show we’re good, but too classy and sensitive to cope with too much’ deals. As for looking good, they’re right about that. When one goes hungry for a while, it is quite infuriating when people tell you how good you look – of course, that assumes you stick to healthy food. Let’s see if they can manage that, for a start.

    • Eleanor
      November 26, 2012 at 2:51 pm

      I thought that sounded weird too, so I went to the UB homepage…it’s a typo. (Caperton?)

      The deal is $35 a *week.* Which is how Tantaros got to her $133 a month figure.

      • November 26, 2012 at 3:10 pm

        Well, that’s more like it, but they won’t be homeless, will they?

      • November 26, 2012 at 3:36 pm

        Still, working and living on food stamp $ alone will give them some idea of being poor in this country.

        I had about 30/week to spend on food stamps for myself/ augment my roommates food stores as well, and let me tell you it was not easy. The only reason i’m not on them anymore was because the entire paperwork process was too arduous to complete. After the umpteenth office visit and the third time being denied regular funds due to THEIR error I quit trying. Luckily I got a better job soon after, so i’m not starving too much, but those stamps really could’ve helped me.

      • Drahill
        November 26, 2012 at 3:44 pm

        Because it’s not like living in a place that is unsafe, unsuitable for human habitation, unclean, a biohazard, etc. is that bad.

        There is a very good reason why so many homeless people fight tooth and nail to NOT go to shelters or other residences. Having a roof ove one’s head doesn’t mean a lot if that roof is a house of horrors or otherwise terrible place to be.

      • November 26, 2012 at 3:34 pm

        Sorry, typo–it is per day. Fixed it. Thanks for noticing it.

    • November 26, 2012 at 2:56 pm

      When one goes hungry for a while, it is quite infuriating when people tell you how good you look –

      Coworker: “Wow, you look great! You’ve lost weight, haven’t you? What’s your secret?”

      Me: [thinking] Not being able to eat, for starters.

      Me: [out loud] Oh, nothing. It’s just….stress.

      • Angie unduplicated
        November 26, 2012 at 9:55 pm

        Yep. Still fuming about those who think I “let myself go” after I got work. They resent every calorie over the cup of yogurt and can of beans that constituted the Unemployment Diet.
        If Booker could do it on foot in a Newark food desert, he might really learn from the experience.

  2. Kristen J.
    November 26, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    I understand where people who object to these *stunts* are coming from, but personally I appreciate it. It simply isn’t enough money for people to eat nutriously without supplementing with a garden, a food bank, or a generous neighbor. I do hope they do it in December and press covers it extensively (although maybe not Fox). I hope people remember it when they go out to buy presents for their friends and loved ones and when they go to pick up groceries for their own holiday meals. Fiscal cliffs and deficit reduction, tax cuts and “entitlement reform” can be abstract, but whether our neighbors have enough to eat…that’s not something we should be willing to sacrifice.

    • Li
      November 26, 2012 at 3:55 pm

      So, I’m in Australia, and obviously our welfare system is different, but what I really dislike about stunts like these is how the people who do them come out the other end claiming to have any idea what experiences of poverty actually look like. Because, sure, whether you can afford to eat nutritiously is one thing. But it’s also having to tell friends that you can’t afford to go to the movies and having them respond with “But it’s only $X!”. Or trying to apply to jobs and not being able to afford appropriate clothes for the interview. Or having people in your classes or random people on the bus or politicians wax lyrical about ‘dole bludgers’ or ‘welfare frauds’ or people ‘faking’ disabilities and knowing that they’re referring to you personally. Or having to chose which of your medications you can afford to delay for a week because you can only afford one at a time. Or the horrifying creeping panic you get whenever a large expense appears. And those things just aren’t there when you can opt out at any moment.

      • Kristen J.
        November 26, 2012 at 4:22 pm

        Oh yes. That’s absolutely true. And one of the reasons the holiday season still makes me cranky and bitter. Its one thing to have to eat beans and cheese every night, but its another thing altogether to watch all the holiday decadence and know you can’t afford a simple present for someone you love or even to call them on the holiday. But hey after dropping a C-note at the toy store, lots of people will give $5 to the salvation army and pat themselves on the back all fucking year. Did I mention bitter and cranky?

      • MrRabbit
        November 27, 2012 at 8:27 am

        A week is not long enough. You have to really live it, for years, the gradual grinding down. The unexpected big expense. Negotiating medical treatment (prioritising medications, doctors, specialists – which is most urgent). Doctors not treating you because you don’t have private health insurance so they won’t or can’t refer you on to specialists.

        Every now and again a politician will live on the dole for a week… And they decide it isn’t that bad. But try living this, knowing this is your life, you can’t go back at the end of the week.

        It’s the embarrassment at using your concession card on public transport (especially if you’re a young disability pensioner and your disability is not visible) and they think you’re bludging. It’s seeing your friends regularly go overseas and you can’t. It’s lying about why you can’t go to a concert or party. It’s about losing friends because you can’t phone them or go out with them. It’s about adding up the food in your trolley as you go because you’ve got $10 and no more money coming in for however many days. It’s about the things people say to you and how they treat you. It’s about politicians using you to enrage voters. It’s about your services being the first to be cut when the State needs to balance the budget. It’s about people using the word “poor” when they aren’t. It’s about someone on twice or more the income thinking they are in the same boat as you. It’s about being on disability support and being told it’s a disgrace you’re welfare dependent. It’s about always saying no the kids because you can’t afford the clothes or toys or food or outings. It’s about your kids not asking anymore because they know it upsets you.

        A week shows nothing, teaches nothing, changes nothing.

      • MrRabbit
        November 27, 2012 at 8:28 am

        Correction – no to the kids…

    • igglanova
      November 26, 2012 at 8:13 pm

      I’m inclined to agree, as long as the person doing the ‘poverty challenge’ thing keeps it in perspective enough to realize that actually being poor is a much harder experience. Sometimes a stunt can at least knock people out of their complacency for a little while.

      • AndrewJenny
        November 27, 2012 at 1:20 pm

        In Booker’s case, I think this should be a prelude to pushing for legislation to offer more aid (food and otherwise) to those in poverty. I think a stunt like this can get him a lot of political capital to push for these changes. And I think we should hold him to a higher standard on this, because he has real power to change current policies.

  3. Alara Rogers
    November 26, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    I think it is a great idea. Just like men listen better to men than to women about sexism, and white people listen better to white people than to POCs about racism, well-to-do people listen better to those of their own class than to actual people in poverty about what it is like to live in poverty. Sure it’s a stunt, but it’s a stunt that actually has the potential to reach people who are well-meaning but ignorant, and genuinely inform them. And I’m pretty sure Cory Booker knows this.

    It’s depressing that we live in a world where people are more likely to listen to those who share their own privilege about what it’s like to live without that particular privilege, but it’s true and I see no evidence that it will change soon, so I believe that stunts like this are actually very valuable. And the fact that a conservabot has taken up the challenge suggests that there might actually be some information flowing to the very people who most need it and are least likely to get it otherwise.

    I agree that the best way to really understand the experience of living in poverty is to be homeless on food stamps, but I doubt these guys will go that far, and honestly I am not sure the Mayor of a major city even *can* — most homeless people do not have a warm office to work in during the day, and Booker can’t very well quit his job for a month so that he can really live like a homeless person. Besides, it’s bad enough if you have a place to live where you can cook food. It’s just stunningly awful if you don’t.

    • Chataya
      November 27, 2012 at 9:26 am

      This. The asshats who believe the welfare steak and lobster myth aren’t going to listen to reason or statistics, but something like this might.

  4. rox
    November 26, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    I will say this– my son and I, I feel, are well supported because of food stamps. We are lacking in healthcare, therapy and many other things that would really improve quality of life– but I can buy broccoli, rice, beans, meats, carrots, celery. I can really create very healthy meals because of foodstamps. That said, it’s kind of hard to get toilet paper and shampoo, but we manage through family support and what little income I can come up with.

    I just want to say– foodstamps changed our lives. The largest reasons for the months/years I have refused them have the stigma (still within me) over the reality of how little I earn and how embarrasing it is to need help. But really my son eating a plate of good quality food instead of noodles and rice and sandwiches made out of (?). IT is more important to me than my ego.

    BUT It’s extremely hard to cook a lot of good food. REALLY hard. (Depending on your ability/disability status, enegery levels,etc)

    So my biggest question would be– do they have help with the labor of cooking, cleaning and other household chores? Because for a single working mom who does all household responsabilities PLUS work– it’s VERY desriable to be able to buy TV dinners sometimes and healthy TV dinners are extremely expensive. So I guess if they manage to squeek out healthy meals on 35 a week– which I have done but it’s freaking hard even for just two people… who will do the cooking and cleaning? Rice, beans, these things take a while to cook. Will they be working all day and them come home and cook for an hour and half and then do all the cleaning? And make sure the kids do homework and clean up their messes and don’t fight with each other and get to talk about their day and share their feelings and…..

    But I appreciate the gesture if it does generate more understanding and compassion for very low income families. I still think that a model of single parents working part time, picking kids up from school and then actually getting to do the work of parenting and cooking and caring for their kids after would be much better for the kids- but ofetnworking part time means you disqualify for many benefits but still can’t pay for life. The kids wind up paying for the loss of parenting.

    • tomek
      November 26, 2012 at 5:15 pm

      maybe it is culture difference bt therapy is not basic requirement for living. i know nobody who have therapy and they are all fine.

      • November 26, 2012 at 5:31 pm

        tomek–rox said that therapy would improve their quality of life, not that it is a “basic requirement for living…” That aside, I really disagree with you. I have a family member who, without adequate psychiatric care, cannot even function at a basic level. I think your comment demonstrates how mental health is so often overlooked as being just as necessary as physical health.

        It’s the same idea that I don’t “need” a primary care physician because I’m in good health–but if my body started to fail, I’d like to have the option. Just as I would if I encountered mental health issues. I think it’s really unfair how we continue to see counseling as a “luxury.”

        rox–I totally agree with you. Assistance like food stamps, are vital, but they only go so far. They leave a lot of other needs unmet.

      • rox
        November 26, 2012 at 5:46 pm

        yeah considering part of our poverty is due to my mental and physical health problem, it’s pretty relevant. Most desperately poor people I know have mental illness or undiagnosed mental illness oftenthat they are treatingwith food/drugs/cigarettes/excessbooze. Most people would take work with decent pay if they could reliably get to work and work a full day without having a psychiatric break every three weeks or being incapable of managing life to the point making it work is difficult many days, or having physical disabilities that impede the ability to get to work. Simply pushing pills out, which is available here if you get on waiting lists (many months of wait and then can you make it to the appointment? How do you know when it is?) is often not enough to “fix” many people’s conditions. It works for some,but for most it is not a complete fix and for some not even a fix at all. So yes, I think counseling, therapy, and occupational therapy to rebuild functioning– SHOULD be services available to the very poor. But I’m a fucking socialist so go figure.

        But -tomek- I would guess you don’t know people with serious mental illness, siezure disorders, stress activated autoimmuneand viral problems… which is great for you and your friends but irrelevant to the actual people who face these things and are unable to workand therefore very very poor and without resources to help them really recover and be able to work.

      • rox
        November 26, 2012 at 5:54 pm

        And I will add that compared to many disabled and extremely poor people I know I would say I have a very wonderful circumstance even without healthcare or hope of resources to really get better. I have many friends who are right now working the streets or on a lot of drugs or couch serfing. And many other who go between low wage jobs,many who are too proud to get foodstamps and therefore can’t feed their kidsanything but spaggetio’s and handisnacks and dollar menu items.

        And then I take them to mental hospital whenthe crack up from the two month red bull and no sleep diet. But what follow up services are available? None because the missing work caused them to lose their job and now they have no insurance!

      • tomek
        November 26, 2012 at 6:23 pm

        sorry rox i didnt know you mean mental health care for mental health issue. i consider this in part of health care general.

        i thought you mean of luxury therapy where to people who are fine go and talk to man with metal balls bouncing.

      • littlem
        November 29, 2012 at 3:04 am

        rox, you make what I think is a significant and under-discussed point.

      • EG
        November 26, 2012 at 5:48 pm

        Tomek, on this, as with so many things, you are clueless. Mental health care is as important as physical health care.

      • tomek
        November 26, 2012 at 6:29 pm

        yes eg i agree.

        but with globalisaing of american culture the having therapy is becoming as thing for people without even the mental health problem. people go to therapist when they just have issue and confusion in there life. this is for which you have friend and family to confide in. such issue is better be worked out by own… such this person get better strength and self-will.

      • Mandolin
        November 26, 2012 at 6:54 pm

        (replying to tomek)

        I agree–people without health problems (as defined by helpful outsiders)–mental or physical–going to the doctor are SO annoying. Like, what about those people who are perfectly fit but go in for vaccines! What’s up with them? Immunity is best dealt with on one’s own.

        And why get a cast for a broken arm? Those people just have inconvenience in their life. The arm will probably heal without medical intervention, even if it heals a bit wonky.

        Why don’t we all accept the obvious truth that there is “mental health problems” on one side and “people without even the mental health problem” on the other, and never the twain shall overlap in an ambiguous gray area where help should, by God, be unavailable?

      • Mandolin
        November 26, 2012 at 6:58 pm

        Also everyone totally has friend or family to confide in.

        Also, BOOTSTRINGS. I mean, self-will.

      • Radiant Sophia
        November 27, 2012 at 12:46 pm


        As someone who is living in poverty, without a chance of improvement, largely due to mental illness, I find your comments to be horrific. Everything you have said on this does nothing except expose your lack of understanding.

        When you can’t take any medication because any improvement in your condition will precipitate an event resulting in your return to a psychiatric ward, or you can’t even leave the house for weeks on end, then you can talk about how therapy isn’t a requirement. Until then, shut the hell up.

      • Amelia the lurker
        November 26, 2012 at 6:47 pm

        I got entirely the wrong image from “man with metal balls bouncing” until I realized Tomek was talking about a Newton’s cradle or some other sort of executive toy.

      • Bagelsan
        November 26, 2012 at 6:59 pm

        Really, everything tomek says is just gold.

      • Safiya Outlines
        November 27, 2012 at 5:13 am

        Is it wrong I laughed out loud at “talk to man with metal balls bouncing”?

        Tomek is the most obvious troll I’ve in these parts for a long time, I’m baffled as to how he’s allowed to carry on posted.

      • November 28, 2012 at 12:18 am

        Is it wrong I laughed out loud at “talk to man with metal balls bouncing”?

        No, not wrong! I laughed out loud as well.

  5. rox
    November 26, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    So yeah, I for one do appreciate the advocacy.

  6. matlun
    November 26, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    It sounds like an interesting test if you want to get a better understanding of what that kind of food budget means in practice.

    I do not see that it reflects the larger experience of living in poverty, though:
    1. Only having to worry about food costs is much easier than having to worry about all other costs also, and
    2. Doing it for a week or even a month seems fairly easy. The real issue is over the longer run – it grinds you down.

  7. November 26, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    Andrea Tantaros’s comment has my blood boiling so hard I can’t think of a coherent take down of it.

    • littlem
      November 29, 2012 at 3:05 am

      It’s just stunning in its ignorance, no?

  8. November 26, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    Doesn’t this stunt portray the opposite of what it’s attempting?

    The point is that food stamp allowances DON’T feed a family. Now you have two people trying to prove they do.

    • EG
      November 26, 2012 at 5:22 pm

      Well, I did see a plummy British conservative try this on a BBC program once, and the conclusion he came to was that it was not possible. So I suspect that’s what’s going to come of this as well, that when the finger-wagging “have you tried rice and beans” types actually have to do it themselves, they find it’s pretty much impossible.

      • November 27, 2012 at 10:51 am

        That is what I see as the fatal flaw in this plan. The politician should be the one saying $35 is enough to feed a family for a week and then he learns it’s not true. Maybe if he did a Supersize-me where he had all his health levels checked then that might be a good way of showing the effects of food stamps. I just don’t see how this plan, as stated, is going to educate anyone.

    • Lolagirl
      November 26, 2012 at 6:09 pm

      Doesn’t this stunt portray the opposite of what it’s attempting?

      No, no it doesn’t.

      Look, $35/week for one person to eat (all in, and without any supplementation) is pretty damn hard to pull off. Go wander around a grocery store for a while and actually pay attention to what fresh produce and meat cost if you haven’t done so recently. I’m a huge bargain hunting, coupon clipping, buy it only because it’s on sale shopper who always tries to stick to a budget, so I definitely know how spendy groceries can get. An exercise like Booker’s will definitely illustrate just how difficult it is for someone on TANF to feed themselves 3 nutritious and healthy meals a day for an entire month.

      I hate all the shaming that gets heaped on those who resort to utlizing supports like TANF. As if jumping through all the hoops attached to qualifying for it aren’t daunting enough.

    • Donna L
      November 26, 2012 at 6:55 pm

      Cory Booker is (from everything I know) a really good guy and a very smart politician — even if he did once say something to my son based on the erroneous assumption that he’s straight, he quickly corrected himself! — and I don’t think he would be doing this if he didn’t believe, with good reason, that it would be very useful in demonstrating what people here have pointed out.

      • November 26, 2012 at 7:36 pm

        Cory Booker is (from everything I know) a really good guy and a very smart politician — even if he did once say something to my son based on the erroneous assumption that he’s straight, he quickly corrected himself! — and I don’t think he would be doing this if he didn’t believe, with good reason, that it would be very useful in demonstrating what people here have pointed out.

        I agree with all those things and the overall premise, I just think that the challenge was hastily thought out, originating, as it did, from a tweet.

      • samanthab.
        November 27, 2012 at 4:31 am

        He’s taken a lot of money from the financial services industry, and they’ve been able to curry favor because of it. That’s not to say he’s without good qualities, and I would guess his intentions are good here. Since I also come from a place of privilege as far as food security, I’m not sure it’s appropriate for me to judge the outcome of his intentions. I lean toward thinking it’s a positive move because empathy for the poor is so rock bottom right now in the US. Given that, a stunt doesn’t sound like such a bad thing. But, again, it’s easy for me to say that.

      • samanthab.
        November 27, 2012 at 4:43 am

        I’ve since read it written elsewhere that Booker’s corporatism is at issue here, given that he, like the majority of today’s corporatist Dems, has failed to advocate for a living wage, a living wage that would obviate the need for food stamps among the working poor. Obviously not everyone on food stamps has a job, but a significant percent do. Social services are one thing; corporate welfare is another. Corporate welfare needs to go.

  9. Kasabian
    November 26, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    It’s an interesting idea and I applaud Booker for throwing down on it. Hopefully he’ll also take his constituents suggestions about public transportation / microwaves to heart and illustrate the importance of safety net / welfare programs.

  10. Miss S
    November 26, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    This reminds me of Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed. Annoying because the people are just pretending to be poor and can stop at any time, but nice because it shows people just how difficult it is to be poor. Like Alara said above, people listen to people who they have something in common with, and I think Barbara was able to reach an audience that I couldn’t have if I were to do the same thing.

    I hate that there are Americans who think it’s okay to let people starve. An awful lot of Americans are living in food insecure households.

    • Bagelsan
      November 26, 2012 at 7:03 pm

      Little kids starving, to boot. You’re still an asshole if you’re cool with adults starving, naturally, but little kids? That’s a new level of asshole, and some sweet cognitive dissonance to boot; even the holier-than-thou Christiany types should think that Jesus wouldn’t want small children to starve, right?

      • Alexandra
        November 26, 2012 at 7:21 pm

        I fundamentally do not *get* a lot of Christians in America who have apparently decided that the parts of their religion they care about are the hierarchical and authoritarian parts, and not the egalitarian and charitable parts… it’s like they skipped over the Gospels and went straight to Paul or something.

      • Miss S
        November 26, 2012 at 9:06 pm

        Exactly. A lot of the people living in food households are children. Children. How in the world can anyone be okay with letting children go hungry?

        Unfortunately, religion doesn’t mean what it should, especially to the people in power. It’s a tool for them to increase their power- nothing more.

        Not to get off topic, but I think that being a selfish asshole makes it much easier to get into power, so the people at the top are more likely to be selfish assholes. Religion, ethics, morals… they don’t care about any of that stuff. If they did, they would probably be a lot less powerful.

      • Kristen J.
        November 26, 2012 at 11:18 pm

        Yup. That’s one of the thing that galls me about the people I work with. Their response to that fact is “well, *they* shouldn’t have had children.” Yeah…there are so many levels of fail in that statement its hard to know where to begin.

      • Miss S
        November 27, 2012 at 12:03 am

        Their response to that fact is “well, *they* shouldn’t have had children.

        It’s infuriating on so many levels. I encounter that attitude far too often. Kids shouldn’t go hungry regardless of what their parents did or did not do. Adults should not go hungry regardless of their life decisions to have kids. You would think that the statement “No one should go to bed hungry” would be something most people could agree on but nope…. the cruelty towards the poor knows no ends, especially not in the U.S.

      • November 27, 2012 at 3:36 am

        Oh, how I dislike the “they shouldn’t’ve had kids if they can’t feed them” line of reasoning. It’s not about what the parents should or shouldn’t’ve done, it’s about the kid who exists despite all that and needs to eat. Nine months is a long time, long enough for someone to go from financially secure to insecure via things like job loss or medical bills (such as those incurred during a difficult pregnancy or birth). I don’t believe in punishing people for their circumstances, but punishing the child in this case seems even more wrong than other types of “just let them starve” ideas.

      • rox
        November 27, 2012 at 11:46 am

        Yeah, I’m not sure how many caught my seemingly “off-topic” comment in theother thread, but that is why I worry when choice activism bridges over into “All women should get abortions while in poverty/needing help because DUH it’s the right thing to do!”

        As much as a support the right to choose– I also support a woman’s right to choose that she believe’s a fetus can feel, and she wants that entitiy to live and be born. I think this is a very important right for women and the very poor and disabled DO have that right stomped on and taken away from them.

        Meaning the solution to poverty is, in fact, to address poverty. Not to force the rightness of abortion on every poor or struggling or differently abled woman who becomes pregnant for whatever reason.

      • rox
        November 27, 2012 at 11:50 am

        Not to mention thatunplanned pregnancy is only ONE waythat families become poor. Partners leave, people become ill, jobs can be lost—things happen. And for people already grappling with many difficulties– one or two parts of their support system falling apart can mean a descent into poverty that increases other health problem, worsens mental health and basic functioning and ultimately can create a spiral into poor functioning, desperate coping mechanisms and trouble getting up out from under.

      • November 27, 2012 at 11:57 am

        “All women should get abortions while in poverty/needing help because DUH it’s the right thing to do!”

        …and that would be a reprehensible statement, if anybody said that.

        Just that the ones who want abortions because they’re poor should get them, because it’s the right thing to do. Where “it” means “giving them abortions they want”, not “aborting while being poor”. And just because you CHOSE to have a kid while poor doesn’t mean that other women are no longer allowed to CHOOSE not to have kids because they feel they can’t afford them. I think their agency over their own lives trumps your wibble that Somewhere, Somehow, Aborting People Are Judging You.

      • rox
        November 27, 2012 at 12:08 pm

        I think you’re being needlessly hurtful. You might have missed the comments I was refering to in I WAS BEING INSULTED. I ampro-choice so you’re trying to hurt my feelings for absolutely no reasons. It IS working. If that pleases you. But when I see people saying “Only religiously deluded women would avoid an abortion while poor or in need of help” I WILL say something even if peoplelike you will attack me for it.

      • Bagelsan
        November 27, 2012 at 12:10 pm

        I think that someone can personally believe that an adult struggling to care for themselves should not have a child (or a pet, frankly), while still politically refusing to take that choice away from said adult. I would consider that a fairly moral position.

      • rox
        November 27, 2012 at 12:29 pm

        Right, if a woman is raped, has an embryo/fetus in her and believes that entity ALREADY exists and shouldn’t be terminated, then the woman’s lack of resources should not be grounds to force her change her beliefs about the feeling state or life worthiness of an embryo/fetus. It’s not just religion that causes people to empathy for humans and non-humans. What’s more disabled and poor women frequently have harder time accessing birth control or defending againsts sexual abuse or rape. Ultimately it comes down to whether children of poor or disabled mothers are better off never having existing– and as I am one, I would say no. Not all of us are better of never having existed.

        What’s more my poor disabled father who was bared from raising me because he was a special ed kid and struggled with a lot of things– managed to raise three AWESOME kids who are far more healthy and functional than I am despite being removed by people with your level of disdain of differently functioning parents. With the right resources and support, differently functioning people can in fact be good parents.

      • rox
        November 27, 2012 at 12:52 pm

        Also, a major factor preventing mentally ill and differently functioning parents to admit they need help to be better parents is the fact that the system is set up with disdain for the concept of differently abled people parenting. A LOT of people could self identify their parentingisn’t that great, but if the response toa parent struggling is toshame themfor daring to be a parent while imperfect the result is more hiding and worsening of functioning. I am NOT a fan of kids living with violent or emotionally volatile/cruel people. But the idea that allmentally ill or poor parents are psychotic and verbally berate their children for no reason all the time or torture them for kicks is entirely untrue. There are terrifyingly toxic abusive parents across the economic spectrum and across ability/disability status. I happened to be emotionally neglected by very wealthy people who adopted me but insulted me and hated me for my disability. MEanwhile my — also socially hated- disabled father didn’t give a shit I’m not good at school or earning a lot of money and I could have developed self esteem and … been loved as I was–

        If meddling disabled parent haters hadn’t convinved him he wasn’t good enough. Taking the children of the poor from their own to “save” their children is a problematic issue of itself. Because oftenthe children turn out more like their biological parents than their good socially approved adoptive parents. What then? More disability hatred will save the day!

      • November 27, 2012 at 12:58 pm

        Ultimately it comes down to whether children of poor or disabled mothers are better off never having existing– and as I am one, I would say no.

        My stepdaughter is the child of a poor disabled parent, a poor able parent and two disabled step-parents. Quit lecturing to me like you’re so much more virtuous and beleaguered by reality. I think that women who want abortions for any reason should get them. If you’re prochoice, that isn’t a position you’re against, so why all the drivel about how I think poor/disabled parents aren’t good parents? What the fuck statement of mine are you getting that from??? Talk about flinging shit at me to see what’ll stick.

      • rox
        November 27, 2012 at 1:15 pm

        Right we’re in total agreement that women who want abortions should have them. So why are you so angry that I stood up against some commentsI disagreed with? We are both in agreeement and I think your heckles got out of sorts becuase you misinterpereted my purpose of commenting. Have you even read the conversation I was discussing so that you understand why I was pointing out that religious delusion isn’t the only reason some women might want to give birth in difficult circumstance?

      • November 27, 2012 at 1:27 pm

        ut the idea that allmentally ill or poor parents are psychotic and verbally berate their children for no reason all the time or torture them for kicks is entirely untrue.

        What the actual fuck. I said literally nothing about disabled parents. What are you talking about? Whose comments are you even reading? Rape is not a problem? Sterilising disabled people is good? Kids of disabled people don’t deserve to live? WHO THE FUCK IS SAYING ANY OF THAT.

      • rox
        November 27, 2012 at 1:31 pm

        I think the problemis that I was responding to a comment but instead of replyingunderneath the comment I wroteit at the bottom of the comment thread. I think this would have been a different conversation if you had read thea ctual conversation I wasresponding to which was a number of peoplestating thatthe only reason womenavoid aboriton in difficult circumstance is because ofreligious training altering their thinking. When that is the case– and the woman in question does not at all want the pregnancy or believe theentity canfeelor needs to be protected— then I am in agreement that get rid of such oppressiveand downright evil brainwashing is EXCELLENT. But that isn’t the ONLY reason some women might not want to birth even when circumstances are difficult. That’s really all I’m saying and I don’t see it as an anti-choice sentiment at all but rather the opposite.

      • November 27, 2012 at 1:34 pm

        why I was pointing out that religious delusion isn’t the only reason some women might want to give birth in difficult circumstance

        Well, the fact that my wife and her ex-husband are both atheists might lead me to suspect that, yes.
        The point of that conversation was: sometimes women who don’t want pregnancies keep them because of religious beliefs.
        Your point is: sometimes women who want pregnancies don’t do so for religious reasons.

        THese two statements are not mutually bloody exclusive. So yeah, I found your ranty comments there disrespectful and inappropriate. I find your random fucking accusations of my being some sort of creepy-ass social darwinist to also be disrespectful and inappropriate. Does this make sense, or do I have to rewrite it in Silly Person Language?

      • rox
        November 27, 2012 at 1:34 pm

        Genuinely, I kind of hope you’ll go to the other thread and read the comments? If you really want to discuss this topic?

        I was responding to Bagelsan’s comment that people with difficulties functioning shouldn’t be allowed to have children let alone a pet.

      • rox
        November 27, 2012 at 1:42 pm

        Yeah I didn’t make such an accusation of you. There’s a few comments I wrote entirely for bagelson. I do have difficulty writting and I know, very well, that feministe spacesare not designed to be friendly to the differently abled, but I really do have a hard time typing in the way that is normal to most people. I am genuinely sorry that might make me more difficult to understand. But I believethat thevoices of differently functioning people are worth being present despite commuication issues they may present so.. as long as I am tolerated… I will attempt to communicate.

        Trust me, I wish it woeren’t so important for me to share my voice either because these conversations often leaveme heartbroken and in tears and feeling very isolated. But then again I deal with much of that anyway so the ability to share my voice is ultimately a wondeful gain. I support your right to share your voice aswell so if it pleases you to keep attacking me asif we are atwar than please do soand I hope it is genuinely helpful to you.
        I genuinely have nothing against you at all

      • November 27, 2012 at 1:47 pm

        Your point, rox, was that women in difficult circumstances sometimes keep their wanted pregnancies for non-religious reasons.

        THeir point was that women in difficult circumstances sometimes keep unwanted pregnancies for religious reasons.

        These are not bloody mutually exclusive statements, please stop treating them as such.

        And stop accusing me of creepy social darwinist tendencies while you’re at it. That would be real nice.

      • November 27, 2012 at 1:57 pm

        Sorry for the weird double-post! It seemed to disappear, but it came back! So weird.

        Rox, if you were addressing Bagelsan, it might have been useful to address it to Bagelsan. I was really freakin’ upset and confused because you seemed to be talking out of nowhere and assuming shit about me that’s really not in evidence.

        Also: I reread that conversation. I maintain my earlier point; that you and Sarah were referring to different things entirely. She’s talking about unwanted pregnancies; you’re talking about wanted ones. (This is NOT THE SAME as planned vs unplanned! Planned pregnancies can turn out unwanted! Unplanned ones can turn out to be wanted! Okay?) Apples and kumquats. You wanted your child; you had your child. Someone else didn’t; they didn’t. It seems pretty cut-and-dried to me.

      • rox
        November 27, 2012 at 1:59 pm

        Are you even reading what I’m writing? I never accused you of social darwinist tendencies? I stated TWICE that I was writing comments in respnse to bagelson that had nothing to do with you.

        Genuinely, if I misunderstood the conversation I was reading then I am sorry. I have nothing against preventing religious brainwashing.

        Can you quote my satements in which I accused you of social darwinism? I should like to stop accusing of such if you would explain to me where I am making any such accusations. I can refrain from making themabout you in the future if I know what they are.

      • rox
        November 27, 2012 at 2:04 pm

        Genuinely I think heated emotions on both sides of this are a communication issue alone. I can see how it would have sound like everything I wrote was addressed to you Mckavitykitsune. I can see what you’re saying about how you read the same conversation differently and agree I may have misinterpereted it. I think you jumped to imply negative intent to my misinterpretation that is really more attributable to my reading comprehension and personal issues than to my have a secret anti-choice mission.

      • November 27, 2012 at 2:14 pm

        Rox, my comments are disappearing and reappearing, except for the ones that are just getting randomly eaten. I’m sorry if they’re turning up out of order! The second comment (which essentially rephrased the first one) shouldn’t have turned up. Miss S is having the same issue as far as I can see.

        Once I realised you were talking to Bagelsan I figured it wasn’t my business. I still don’t think that Bagelsan’s necessarily being bigoted, only that she has personal preferences in the area. But whatever; that’s not my axe to grind.

        I didn’t think you had a secret anti-choice mission; I thought you were derailing in a way that seemed to raise a whole bunch of anti-choice red flags. Once I figured out that wasn’t the case, I simply thought you were misreading things and pointed them out. I know I speak aggressively, but there was a vast influx of anti-choice fuckers on that thread and I just assumed that you were one of them from the fact that you weren’t really addressing the post at all. Sorry about that.

        FWIW I think that PWD are good/bad parents at exactly the rate of the rest of the population. I also think that there’s some disabilities/mental illnesses that de facto render people unable to be good parents (narcissists shouldn’t procreate imo), and I don’t think, as long as I’m not running around sterilising narcissists against their wills, that that’s a particularly oppressive or horrid idea to hold.

      • rox
        November 27, 2012 at 2:24 pm

        I think we are essentially in agreement. I understand why you were being aggressive because you thought I was coming from a different place than I was. I think certain disabilities can render a parent unsafe for a child– but that certain problems can be addressed with some combination of meds/therapy/occupational therapy etc. My dad never stoped being horribly dyslexic and unable to gett hrough school or balance a check book without messing up but his wife helps him with the areas he’s not as good at functioning and he earns money andhelps her with her emotional vulnerabilities and struggles. People find a way. And they made sure their kids had joy,laughter, closeness, connection and someone toreally talk to more than I have seen in many families even those with “highly funcitoning” parents.

      • Bagelsan
        November 27, 2012 at 4:02 pm

        I was responding to Bagelsan’s comment that people with difficulties functioning shouldn’t be allowed to have children let alone a pet.

        Huh, it really would be terrible if I’d ever said anything like that, wouldn’t it? 9_9

      • rox
        November 28, 2012 at 11:25 am

        Oh psh now you’re just being coy, bagelsan. :P
        Your statement reads exactly like you find it a moral position to believe people who need help functioning shouldn’t have children or pets. I don’t find it a moral position and attempted toexplain why because that belief has caused a great deal of suffering to myself and my family and many other peoplein the world whose families have been broken needlessly by people who would rather break up families than provide disability services and family assistance to struggling parents. If that’s not what you meant to say, then what on earth were you trying to say?

        (And by the way the business of breaking up families and paying foster families costs $$$$. It’s not like we aren’t already spending money on this that we could redirect toward providing for family wellness services in the first place instead of waiting til distressed parents are beating their kids and then throw the kids in a brokensystemthat can’t meet their needs anyway.)

        You act like I put words in your mouth from thin air when I quoted you almost directly. What is the meaningful difference between how I quoted you and what you meant to say? The system is set up onthat premise and it fails to meet the needs of children so no, it’s not a moral personal position.

        People sharing their “personal opinions” of this nature really damage the self esteem of disabled parents, or disabled expectant parents who may be looking for community support and instead recieve disdain, shaming,and dissaproval. And that really doesn’t increase parent performance or help the kids in any meaningful way.

      • rox
        November 28, 2012 at 11:39 am

        Although truly, if that wasn’t the sentiment you meant to express I totally take you at your word on that and am glad. I just think you’re trying to paint my interperetation as way out in left field when I’m really going based on… what you said.

        I do have comprehension issues, but I think you’re kind of milking that fact by insinuating my comprehension of your statement is totally off base. The rights of disabled mothers (overlapping with povery for both cause and effect reasons) is an area that gets very little attention from feminism or human rights groups and it’s very important to me that it be taken seriously. If you didn’t mean to come across as anti-disabled parents than I believe you,but genuinely think the problem is more in your statment than my understanding of it.

        I’m mostly responding to your comment because I do taketrying to comprehend people seriously and if you really think my understanding was wildly off I will take that into consideration. But I would appreciate if you not assume the problem is me without at least considering how your statement might sound to a disabled poor mother who needs and uses help functioning and getting by.

      • Bagelsan
        November 28, 2012 at 3:24 pm

        Rox, what I was saying was that I personally think that people who cannot care for a child or a pet should make efforts to avoid having a child or a pet, not that existing children/pets should be removed (unless they’re being neglected, obviously.)

        As a (gasp) disabled person myself I am resisting getting a pet for exactly that reason; I can’t guarantee I could care for it properly, and I have no right to own another creature just for the lols when I can’t give it a decent life.

        Like I also said, which you failed to consider, I think that my personal opinion is both moral and *not* a basis for legislation — I don’t think people should have kids they know they can’t care for, but I think they should have the right to have those kids.

      • rox
        November 28, 2012 at 3:40 pm

        I agree with you that people shouldn;t plan to have a child or pet they aren’t able to care for. I think that makes sense. But when a pregnancy is unplanned– well it wasn’t necessarily intentional? I also think that rape, sexual abuse, reproductive coercion, and many other things can cause a pregnancy to happen that some women consider too far along for their comfort zone to terminate. As in, from the perspective of some people, they ALREADY havea child they are looking out for and sometimes through no specific intention of their own. Also many people think they will able to handle a child and then can’t or become ill or experience new mental health issues or trauma or crisis that extends beyond their coping mechanisms. So my point is, fromthe outside, deciding that “those people” shouldn’t have “planned” to become parents is exactly what is wrong withhow communities reach out (or rather don’t) to struggling families. I get that you’re stating your opinion is your opinion and not something to be legislated, but I think people’s personal opinion on these matters does affect the larger climate of how servicesare created and how disabled parents are accepted or shunned in communites. And disabled parents living in isolation and shunned is not exactly good for kids either. So basically I just disagree with you that it’s a moral position to pressume that people who need help must access abortion in the case of unplanned pregnancy in order to be decent people. They are the same amount of morally bad as other people with unplanned pregnancy, only because they felt differently about termination large potions of both the right AND the left feelit is their place to judge them.

      • rox
        November 28, 2012 at 3:43 pm

        Also, I feel like the term “can’t care for” is kind of loaded. Plenty of mothers SUCK at many aspects of parenting but they have the money to hire mentalhealth services, cleaning services, household help, recreational activities for the kids, buy prepaired healthy foods etc.

        The only difference between such women and poor women who “can’t” care for their childrenadequately is money. Which is why my point is, we shold focus on ensuring families have access to needed services rather than on how poor peopleare such “bad mothers” for choosing to be mothers while poor.

      • amblingalong
        November 28, 2012 at 3:44 pm

        Rox, what I was saying was that I personally think that people who cannot care for a child or a pet should make efforts to avoid having a child or a pet, not that existing children/pets should be removed (unless they’re being neglected, obviously.)

        It’s also worth noting there’s a huge distinction between this and what Rox is arguing against, centered around agency. Saying “PWD should not be allowed to do X” is radically different than saying “PWD shouldn’t do X if they’re unable to do so without hurting people.” Nobody is proposing a blanket ban on PWD having children. Bagelsan is arguing (correctly, I believe) that all people should consider whether they can care for children before having them, and that one reason someone might not be able to do so are certain disabilities.

      • rox
        November 28, 2012 at 4:26 pm

        I guess to me, I just disagree. I felt like my son was already a person and that he didn’t deserve to be adopted by people who would treat him like crap for being disabled and so I’m doing it myself as well as I can. I certainly wouldn’t have planned to create him into a circumstance where I had no husband and needed help to parent well, but with the help I have, he has a very loving home and his needs met. I’mjust tired of everyone and their mother being more interested in how bad these poor needy people are for daring to birth already created children rather than in how high the incedences of sexual assult and reproductive coercion are, or WHY these women might be getting pregnant without resources and in need of support or EVEN BETTER what sorts of resources and support might help them create a healthy nurturing environment for their children?

        It’s much more fun to get out scoldy finger and talk about how yucky women are for not wanting an abortion or failing to defend against reproductive coercion or rape adequately than to maybe be part of the solution.

      • rox
        November 28, 2012 at 4:42 pm

        I’m glad my son exists and he seems to be as well. I don’t think I did him a disservice in bringing him into the world. I DO lament not having more for him, but he’s got a shot of creating more for himself on his own. And who knows maybe some day we will change minimum wage and disability services and actually help people who go through the school system make it to a job they can sustain a family on. Until then, I think the working poor willcontinue to produce children despite their own limitations and poverty and I support their right to. The sin is in communities beleave low achievers (in the scholastic andworkforce) deserve to be destitute and paid wages they can’t raise children on—not that low achievers dare tobelieve they should be able to create families like anyone else.

      • rox
        November 28, 2012 at 5:11 pm

        Also, weirdly, it seems to be very unacceptable in most feminist/leftist/human rights spaces to shame women for getting an abortion. Yet shaming women for NOT getting abortion seems to be totally ok.

        The logic is confusing to me and doesn’t seem to be rooted in fully supporting women’s decisions. If she doesn’t get anabortion, it’s okto shame her for giving birth while poor or in need of resources, but if she gets an abortion it’s wrong for the meanie right wingers to shame her because that’s mysogeny!!

        FULLY supporting choice means supporting women in terminating or carrying to term. And embracing supporting children who are thus born into poverty without shaming women for either not being able to access abortion, or not wanting to have one.

      • rox
        November 28, 2012 at 5:16 pm

        I should clarify, I think it extremely uncool to shame a woman for getting or for not getting an abortion. I just feel like evenamong feministes it’s sacred to not shame women who have abortions but it’s open season on women who don’t and subsequently need assistance to parent well.

      • amblingalong
        November 28, 2012 at 6:11 pm

        I just feel like evenamong feministes it’s sacred to not shame women who have abortions but it’s open season on women who don’t and subsequently need assistance to parent well.

        I’m not going to tell you your lived experiences are false, but I do want to say I think anyone doing either of those things would get very short shrift among the commentariat here, at least. I also definitely don’t think Bagelsan was doing that.

      • Miss S
        November 26, 2012 at 9:11 pm

        Exactly. A lot of the people living in food households are children. Children. How in the world can anyone be okay with letting children go hungry?

        Unfortunately, religion doesn’t mean what it should, especially to the people in power. It’s a tool for them to increase their power- nothing more.

        I hate that I live in a country that doesn’t believe all of its citizens should have access to food, and would actually be okay with people starving. It takes a deeply disturbing lack of empathy to not care about kids eating. Then again, studies have shown that people with a disturbing lack of empathy make great CEO’s and politicians. I’m sure they make great ministers of mega churches too.

      • Miss S
        November 26, 2012 at 9:58 pm

        Ok my internet is acting weird, so I typed up another reply, it looked like neither went through, and they’re both there. ::sigh:: Sorry for the multiple posts.

      • tinfoil hattie
        November 28, 2012 at 4:28 pm

        This is at the root of what appalled me so much about Mitt Romne’s “47%” comment: “These people think that they are entitled to food.”

        That sentence, on its own, is horrifying. Of COURSE people are “entitled” to food. It’s a life requirement, remember? But, socialist/commie that I am, I believe that the idea of “not enough food” is b.s., at least in the U.S. Walk into a grocery store in the U.S. There is “enough food” for everyone in the U.S. It’s just that we distribute food in a capitalist context. Same with health care.

      • Miss S
        November 28, 2012 at 10:13 pm

        Tinfoil, this-
        I believe that the idea of “not enough food” is b.s., at least in the U.S. is true for so many resources. The problem is access. Providing things in a capitalist context means people can’t access food, healthcare, housing, clothing, etc. But there’s plenty of it to go around. It’s really fucked up to have plenty of resources and not allow people access to them.

        It also makes me angry when rich white Republican men start talking about entitlements. Food, shelter, and clothing are not fucking entitlements. They’re necessary to live and function in our society. Yet wealthy white men get to feel “entitled” to a large chunk of the country’s resources.

  11. rox
    November 26, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    EG– I think another thing is that people think that eating rice and beans and ramen noodles and koolaid is the “responsable” choice for poor people. It’s not starving if there is SOME food, right? The problems is that this is literally a state of malnutrition that can cause brain and physical health abnormalities and disease. Kids growing up in these circumstances will NOThave the same health or capacity as they would with an actual nutritious and balanced diet. You can’t just eat rice and beans for years without developing serious health problems.

    This whole “When my family was poor I fed thekidsrice and beans every day like a responsable poor person! None of this foodstamps/government aid business!” Meanwhile what are the measurable health outcomes of kids on those diets? Do the kids deserve to suffer potentially life altering mental and physical health problems,worse cognition, less capacity to function reliably in the work force or school? Meanwhile many people who say that kind of stuff are frequently people who ate macaroni and cheese a lot in college and during their first few years in the working world until they got a decent (at least a few dollars above minimum wage) paying job and could afford to eat. Or married someone with a decent job. And now remember fondly how tough they were for those 6 years living with roomates and going to parties and not having a whole lot of food.

    Which is completely different that being disabled and knowing you will never be able to earn a living at all, or much– or knowing you don’thave the cognitive abilities to do well in school and there will be no betterjob and this level of poverty is really it. You try to find joy in the little things, the drink, the drug. There isn’t much else to do, because you’re tired and always at risk of remembering that things are… sad.

    And if you research health outcomes in kids eating these diets it is not good. (And yes poverty itself worsens health outcomes for a variety of reasons but isolating variables the health effects of bad diet are still very real)

    • FYouMudFlaps
      November 27, 2012 at 5:16 am

      I liked your take on this.

    • MrRabbit
      November 27, 2012 at 8:35 am

      I love all the posts you’ve written on this topic. They’ve been awesome.

  12. Denise Winters
    November 26, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    I think the pubic transportation accessible criteria is a good one to add. The cost of bus fare and other means of transportation should also be factored in. I do think it is problematic to base it on a week though. There was a time when grits, reduced price lunch at school, and discounted hamburger meat (which meant waiting until after 9 p.m. and my parent having to walk home on a street with no sidewalks) with rice were the staples almost every night.
    I worry about some relatively priveleged person jumping to the conclusion that it is so totally possible to do with eating oatmeal or grits for breakfast, and then rice and canned veggies and beans for lunch and dinner everyday without understanding the toll that takes for weeks on end. Not to mention the challenges of doing so on public transportation. Also, no understanding of just how poor people have to be in some states to even qualify for food stamps (even having kids that qualify for free lunch is no assurance of food stamps in some states, and it would seem like that would be an obvious sign of needing some assistance, at least during periods when school is out).
    I think it is so great that the Mayor called the commentor out on it though and feel that something will be learned regardless of the limited scope.

    • Datdamwuf
      November 27, 2012 at 10:15 am

      Actually it’s meaningless unless they also live on the small money that comes with those food stamps. There are a hella lot of things you cannot buy with them, do these two have kids? Take away their toilet paper, paper towels, soap, etc, etc, give them minimum wage and make them ride the bus for a month and it might resemble some sort of reality.

      • Datdamwuf
        November 27, 2012 at 10:21 am

        Meant to say; give them minimum wage minus the average cost of housing in NJ

      • November 27, 2012 at 10:43 am

        I don’t know that this is intended as an “If I live cheaply, I’ll know what it’s like to be poor!” thing. Booker was directly challenging TwitWit (and others like her) and her assertion that a family that was on food stamps wouldn’t also need free school breakfasts, since their food is already paid for. The challenge would just demonstrate how hard it is to come up with three healthy meals a day on the allotted $1.67 per meal, thus demonstrating why nutrition actually is a responsibility of the government. If anyone came away from it thinking they actually understood poverty, rather than just the importance of funded school breakfasts, I hope they would be quickly and emphatically corrected.

      • November 27, 2012 at 11:18 am

        The challenge would just demonstrate how hard it is to come up with three healthy meals a day on the allotted $1.67 per meal, thus demonstrating why nutrition actually is a responsibility of the government.

        What the challenge is ignoring is how much easier it is for a financially independent person to feed themselves on that amount compared to someone who works 3 jobs and has 5 kids. The challenge allows TwitWIt a much easier task when it comes to feeding oneself on $35 a week. I could feed myself on that amount of money, (I work at home and I can bake my own bread, and make all sorts of cheap meals that take hours to prepare in order for them to taste decent, I have the kitchen equipment to do so, I don’t have children to look out for, etc. etc,) a lot easier than someone who was actually below the poverty line, but that would prove nothing. In fact, it would give a misleading impression that $35 stretches longer than it does.

      • Bagelsan
        November 27, 2012 at 11:27 am

        If you don’t have kids then you aren’t relevant to Booker’s argument, though, if the point is the need for school meals for kids. Living as one adult on $35/week without kids doesn’t have anything to do with whether your theoretical kids would need school breakfasts.

      • November 27, 2012 at 11:50 am

        If you don’t have kids then you aren’t relevant to Booker’s argument, though, if the point is the need for school meals for kids. Living as one adult on $35/week without kids doesn’t have anything to do with whether your theoretical kids would need school breakfasts.

        I personally don’t IRL but theoretical me has 3 theoretical kids who are looked after by a theoretical nanny, so I still have to theoretically feed them.

      • November 27, 2012 at 11:52 am

        P.S. They like theoretical Cheerios.

      • Bagelsan
        November 27, 2012 at 12:12 pm

        Theoretical you has a theoretical nanny? You theoretical rich brat! :D

  13. EmbraceYourInnerCrone
    November 27, 2012 at 9:40 am

    I think a better way to show how difficult living on food stamps is would be doing something similar to what Morgan Spurlock and his fiance did a few years ago for his show 30 Days:

    ” In the premiere episode of the first season, “Minimum Wage,” Spurlock and his fiancée lived for 30 days in the Bottoms neighborhood of Columbus, Ohio, earning minimum wage, with no access to outside funds.” As I recall they had to use public transportation and also find places to live and work that where on public transport routes AND that they could afford on minimum wage.

    And while I know it was just a reality show, I did appreciate that they tried to show what a challenge it is deciding what you have to do without. As in I can pay the heating bill or buy my groceries but I can’t do both. I remember having to juggle a toddler and my groceries onto the bus…

  14. a lawyer
    November 27, 2012 at 11:25 am

    If anyone came away from it thinking they actually understood poverty, rather than just the importance of funded school breakfasts, I hope they would be quickly and emphatically corrected.

    I hope that the primary sentiment would be positive, not negative.

    Perhaps it doesn’t make quite so much sense to be fighting so very hard against the obviously anti-poverty, pro-poor efforts of a mayor?

    Call me confused, but if someone takes a public stance against poverty it might be better to say “great!” and let that ride for a while before the “not good enough, and how dare you imply that you know what you’re talking about” stuff starts. Presumably the goal is to get more people to actually be anti-poverty and pro-poor, right?

    • Bagelsan
      November 27, 2012 at 11:29 am

      Welcome to online social activism, where the perfect is always the enemy of the good.

  15. TomSims
    November 27, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    I’d love to see Gov Chris Christie take the same challenge. But doubt we will see that. Booker will likely be the DNC nominee for NJ governor next year and should easily defeat the rotund Mr. Christie, assuming he gets the GOP nomination or if he is still a member of the GOP next year.

    • Donna L
      November 27, 2012 at 1:35 pm

      Nice job of body-snarking. Of all the things for which it’s legitimate to criticize Governor Christie, being fat isn’t one of them.

      • TomSims
        November 27, 2012 at 1:46 pm

        I did not criticize Mr. Christie for being fat. I referred to him as being rotund, which is a fact.

      • Past my expiration date
        November 27, 2012 at 2:46 pm

        He also has brown hair. Yet you didn’t say, “…the brunet Mr. Christie…”.

        Or, in other words — NOW is TomSims a troll?

      • November 27, 2012 at 2:48 pm

        His weight and/or shape have nothing to do with the subject of the post, so stop the body-shaming.

      • November 27, 2012 at 1:54 pm

        Ugh this. It’s easy enough to find reasons to snark about people who are generally reprehensible without getting on about their weight.

        (I’m looking at you, Toronto Media re: Rob Ford)

  16. November 27, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    In addition to the public transportation point, which I consider to be EXCELLENT:

    I’m disabled. In ways that make it hideously painful for me to carry things of any weight in my hands. When I’m having a fibro flare-up, I can’t even hold a mug of coffee for longer than it takes to sip, with both hands. Temperatures where I live routinely wander below -35 in the winter. You fucking tell me how I’m supposed to take groceries home on a bus route that takes 40 minutes unless I’m willing to walk several blocks with all those groceries, at that temperature. Fuuuuuck, the level of not-thinking. It must be nice to be abled.

    • Miss S
      November 27, 2012 at 3:44 pm

      Yeah, this experiment ignores the other ways poor people are marginalized. My best friend is blind, and on disability and food stamps. The transportation service the state of Maryland provides him is notoriously unreliable, and has left him stranded places. He doesn’t have a seeing eye dog (though he might get one) so when he’s stranded, he’s literally stranded. Fortunately, he has good friends who live nearby who take him to run his errands, but what about people that don’t?

      That said, hopefully people who have never been poor will at least understand a little better. The cynic in me says no, they won’t, they’ll continue to hate poor people. BUT, I remember reading the reviews of people who had read Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed, and it seemed like people were really seeing things from a different perspective. So, I have some hope. I have more anger though, that experiments like this need to be done. This country gives poor people basically next to nothing to survive on, and half of the country wants them to justify that. It’s disgusting.

  17. Alara Rogers
    November 27, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    Macavitykitsune makes a really good point.

    Many times, the reason people are poor is that there is something going on in their lives that makes it very hard for them to work… such as a disability. And when you are poor, it is very hard to own or maintain a car, so you’re stuck taking public transportation. And when you take public, everything takes longer and you’re limited to what you can transport on your person, but if you’re disabled, odds are that what you can transport on your person is less than what you could if you were abled, and if you’re working but cannot make ends meet, odds are you don’t actually have nearly enough free time to be able to ride the bus to the grocery store and then cook what you brought home.

    So it’s much easier for people who are not in systemic poverty to live like the people in systemic poverty do than it is *for* the people in systemic poverty… because there’s probably a reason for the poverty. Disability. Single parenthood. Lack of education reducing job opportunities. We ask people who have inherently fewer resources — either less physical ability, less time, or less training and skill — to make do with fewer transportation resources and fewer financial resources and fewer food resources, and then we complain that they can’t just bootstrap themselves out of their situation? With what bootstraps?

    I have been living for two months on nothing but what I make selling books online and children’s clothes and toys on consignment, because my business has been doing really badly. I have managed to do so in a way where my kids have barely noticed, because I already had a house, I already had a large freezer full of food, I already owned so many surplus children’s things and books that I could sell them, I have a well-to-do family who also has a surplus of books and who’ve been giving them to me to sell. My situation sucks but I don’t think for one minute it is anywhere near as bad as people who have to survive on food stamps even temporarily, let alone their whole lives. If you *used* to have money and now you don’t, odds are, you have a lot more reserves you can draw on than people who never had money. Which isn’t to say that you don’t deserve help either — I would never say that people who used to be middle-class and then lost their jobs don’t deserve aid — but it does say that your situation is likely to be much less dire than the people who have never had what you once had.

    All that being said… it would be virtually impossible to replicate the experience of living in grinding poverty for years, except by actually being in grinding poverty for years. But even a stunt like living on $35/week for food could open some people’s eyes. Because as much harder as it is to do it if you *have* to… it’s still hard even if you don’t have to, and learning that it is hard is something a lot of privileged people could gain a lot of empathy and compassion for others if they could just get that far.

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