OUR VIEWS: Basics should be prioritized

Oct 23, 2012

And they're in jeopardy for some Ottawa County residents after the federal government withdrew funding for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program.

The program received $187,000 last year — about half of what it got the prior year — to help those in the most desperate of circumstances in Ottawa and Allegan counties.

The sad part is that the funding was lost because two of the local poverty statistics were off by fractions of a percentage point. The counties have a combined unemployment rate of 10 percent, whereas the requirement is 10.7 percent. The two counties' poverty rate clocked in at 15.4 percent, just four-tenths of a percentage point less than required.

The need is great, and helping people stay warm and fed this winter will certainly be a daunting task for agencies already stretched thin in recent years. And now these agencies have lost a huge chunk of funding because the unemployment rolls don’t accurately represent those without jobs, and because of a pesky 0.4 percent poverty rate difference.

Compounding the problem is the fact that food costs are expected to increase by 15-20 percent across the board this winter because of Mother Nature's wrath.

Sure, a whole lot of people need to be held accountable for picking themselves up by their bootstraps and providing for themselves and their families. But we are not talking about people who drive Cadillac Escalades up to the food pantry doors. These lost funds went to help those who are close to losing everything and face a long road back to the stability we all seek.

We must ask, why the all-or-nothing approach to funding? Why aren't emergency food and shelter programs given priority in our nation's spending plans? Where are the legislators when families are in such great need of basic necessities?

It certainly seems they've turned a blind eye to real need, right here in Ottawa County.

Call your representatives and senators. Demand a focus on priorities that matter to you and your neighbors.

We consider basic needs among the highest priorities. How about you?

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Liz Stuck and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.
 

Comments

Vladtheimp

I'm somewhat confused by certain points in the article. (1) The federal funding was "withdrawn" because the counties did not meet the standards. (The funding was not "withdrawn" because that implies the counties qualified and the government took away the funding - in fact, unlike past years, this year the counties didn't qualify). Would you have the government not adhere to its standards, and take money from areas that do have sufficient unemployment and poverty to qualify, or would you simply add to the deficit by abandoning all standards? (2) It's nice to hear a media outlet finally admit that inflation is rampant, (15-20%), but it's not nice to simply blame Mother Nature - drought certainly has a large impact on the price of food, but we can't ignore the impact of politicians and radical environmentalists. A large part of the rise in costs is due to the rising cost of gas (doubled since President Obama took office). Since the President has halved the number of permits to drill for oil on public lands, has virtually shut down deep water oil drilling in the Gulf, and has imposed costly and time consuming regulations on the energy sector, is it any wonder that the price of oil is rising, not to mention our "friends" in the Middle East and Venezuela? Additionally, on marching orders from radical environmentalists, we are now using 40% of our corn crop to feed ethanol, not cows, and the price of food is artificially driven upwards. (3) You seem to assume that these people will starve without the Emergency Food and Shelter Program. The federal government is spending over a TRILLION DOLLARS on welfare, Cash aid was 12% higher in FY2011 than in FY2008, while food assistance was 71% greater in FY2011 than in FY2008, largely due to growth in SNAP. All of this money is borrowed at this point, and those who are working (who do not receive any assistance in cash, for food, for housing, for utilities, free phones, etc. ) and their children, grandchildren, and generations down the road will be in economic chains trying to pay it back. For once I would like to see some understanding and compassion for these people expressed in one of Your Views.

Wolverine49457

Amen!, time to put charity back in local churches and stop the scare tactics such as reporting starvation and helplessness that does not exist in order to justify a government program that at its core is little more than pork and pay-off. I agree, time to return to sanity, reality and truth and as the writer suggests back to the basics which are basic seasonably appropriate clothes and the "three hots and a cot"; we don't even offer our troops that promise, if the food is always hot it's because it's 115 in Afghanistan.
Billy Graham said it best, don't vote for the party vote the Bible, who is the most likely to return liberty, authority and dignity to the all too many stripped of these things in order to keep their rice bowls full; time to end the allegiance to the benevolent master and giver of goodies most of which are but an anchor around your neck, seek the truth and the truth will set you free!
Now…let us sit back and relax while all too predictable Bush blamers stir to life…after all consider all that is accomplished and completed to feed your fellow man by finger pointing venom and hate at a person who left office four years ago and a party that can do nothing…

Tri-cities realist

Ouch. Couldn't have said it better myself, Vlad. Kudos.

Soloman

It's difficult to believe the writers of these editorials are writing with their eyes open. One week they celebrate giving tax money to downtown business owners for facade improvements and the next they're complaining about funding cuts to the needy.

Vlad: From ABC news this morning.....US production of crude and other liquid hydrocarbons is on track to rise 7 percent this year. This will be the fourth straight year of crude increases and the biggest single-year gain since 1951.

and....“There are expert analysts who predict that within the next five years, the U-S could be an exporter of crude oil.”

Vladtheimp

1. You have never heard me celebrate giving tax money to business for facade improvements - it is a waste of my money. 2. You have never heard me complaining about funding cuts to the needy (you might want to revisit that allegation) 3. If we are indeed on track to increase crude and liquid hydrocarbon production by 7%, I'm glad, but knowing this has been in spite of the Obama war on fossil fuels, and can be attributed to the private sector (especially fracking in North Dakota, which, incidentally Obama's EPA is trying to limit or stop) think how much greater the increase would be if we had a President who wanted to increase our coal, oil, and natural gas production. Think how much we could decrease our dependence on our enemies for oil; think how much of an increase in tax revenue we would realize; think how much the poor would save on fuel and food costs. If I were able to fight a boxing match to a draw with one hand tied behind my back, I guess it would be an achievement, but I would rather see what would happen if I were permitted to use both hands.

Soloman

Vlad: My comment regarding the "writers of these editorials" was directed at the Tribune editorial writers and not at you. My comment on the oil production was only to interject a bit of good news and was not intended as a political statement or a start to an argument.

Lanivan

Vlad - please take a minute and get some credible facts and statistics before you write a post regarding Obama's energy policy. The fact is - in a nutshell - everything is UP! I know this should make you happy, right? Permits, deep water drilling, drilling on private and public land, big gains in wind power, solar power, natural gas, hydroelectric - you name it, this country is moving forward. US oil and coal production is at an all-time high - much higher than Bush (remember him - you never seem to have much to say about him??) Just quit going to Fox News, Rush, Bill, redstate.com, The Drudge Report, or reading the Romney/Ryan propaganda. It's all lies!!! There - you can breathe a sigh of relief, Obama is not a "Bogey-man"......oh, and by the way, I filled up yesterday in GR for $3.33/gallon. Obama has opened up the spigots (I heard he personally turned the faucet).

laurabaldus1228

While it must be quite comfortable to sit at your computer and debate about whether the people in our county truly deserve help considering we (our community) did not meet the guidelines, allow me to say that the seven women and two teenage girls I live with in a local homeless shelter simply become hungry three times a day, and therefore must eat. We do not know nor can we influence statistics that determine whether the organization that is helping us gets funding (Love Inc). Here, however is what we actually DO each and every day: attend life-skill and Christian classes, work, go to school, go to church, volunteer our time at local charities, and take care of the property we live on. What we do NOT do: drugs, alcohol, pornography, illegal activity. We do NOT pan handle. We do NOT pull resources from local agencies by living or behaving in anti-social ways. Now, considering that we are mostly working women who ARE doing positive things in our lakeshore community, and we ARE NOT faceless individuals crying for a handout, perhaps this will help you see why it is a tragedy that this funding was lost in our community. We too are local tax payers and local workers. The only difference between us? Maybe something as simple as a couple missing paychecks. Perhaps - just perhaps - these comments will help you consider another viewpoint. If so, great! That was the only reason I felt compelled to comment. If you disagree with me, that is ok, too. But please don't ask me to debate the issue - I've already spent more time than I can afford by responding this far. ;)

laurabaldus1228

While it must be quite comfortable to sit at your computer and debate about whether the people in our county truly deserve help considering we (our community) did not meet the guidelines, allow me to say that the seven women and two teenage girls I live with in a local homeless shelter simply become hungry three times a day, and therefore must eat. We do not know nor can we influence statistics that determine whether the organization that is helping us gets funding (Love Inc). Here, however is what we actually DO each and every day: attend life-skill and Christian classes, work, go to school, go to church, volunteer our time at local charities, and take care of the property we live on. What we do NOT do: drugs, alcohol, pornography, illegal activity. We do NOT pan handle. We do NOT pull resources from local agencies by living or behaving in anti-social ways. Now, considering that we are mostly working women who ARE doing positive things in our lakeshore community, and we ARE NOT faceless individuals crying for a handout, perhaps this will help you see why it is a tragedy that this funding was lost in our community. We too are local tax payers and local workers. The only difference between us? Maybe something as simple as a couple missing paychecks. Perhaps - just perhaps - these comments will help you consider another viewpoint. If so, great! That was the only reason I felt compelled to comment. If you disagree with me, that is ok, too. But please don't ask me to debate the issue - I've already spent more time than I can afford by responding this far.

Vladtheimp

Your time being oh so valuable, I will not ask you to debate the issue. Debating issues is obviously counterproductive.

Soloman

Vlad: My comment regarding the "writers of these editorials" was directed at the Tribune editorial writers and not at you. My comment on the oil production was only to interject a bit of good news and was not intended as a political statement or a start to an argument.

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