While meeting with area farmers, U.S. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson brought up outstanding points, including the need to reallocate still-collected landline phone fees to improve rural broadband, but his most memorable comment involved food stamps.
Many people in Congress like to play Americans off each other. Some vilify immigrants, non-mainstream religious beliefs, minorities and environmentalists. Some vilify white supremacists, bump-stock-toting gun owners, global-warming deniers and white privilege.
In the hate-filled political world of “us vs. them,” those who woo either the far left or the far right hope to capitalize on divisiveness to create fear and then turn that fear into votes resulting in political power at the expense of national unity.
Those who love this country heed the far left. They also heed the far right. They listen for the little grains of truth contained within the sandstorms of lies both sides kick up. Then, on issues that matter, they do a bit of research on their own. They seek out credible news sources, knowing not one is perfect, but some, including The New York Times and Associated Press, try to be. They target peer-reviewed sources in medicine and science, such as the Journal of American Medicine. They are moderates and they keep America great.
They do not take what any politician says at face value. Many politicians tell half- truths. A few tell occasional whoppers. In history, a rare few live up to the old joke: Do you know how to tell when a politician is lying? His lips are moving.
One divisive view that has circulated for decades in the us-vs.-them political world involves food stamps. The view pits those with money, even just a little, against the poor. The view is this: Hard-working Americans are taxed to give food stamps to lazy Americans.
The truth: Some people get food stamps. The lie: Recipients all are lazy.
Confusing the situation is a few people cheat the system, which food stamp opponents use to suggest everyone cheats.
All of which leads to something Peterson said about one group of people who get government assistance – farmers.
As ag committee chairman, Peterson is an advocate for farmers. But he also called out farmers who take government aid for crop programs, including “tariff war” funds, while at the same time criticizing people using food stamp.
“You need the money, and I get that, but don’t ever, ever complain to me about food stamps again,” he told farmers in Odessa. “You’re at $300,000, $500,000 (in benefits), and you’re complaining to me about some poor old woman that’s getting 100 bucks a month, and it’s not even cash. It just drives me crazy.”
Suggesting aid to wealthier people is good, but providing aid to poorer people is bad, should drive everyone crazy.