The thing that makes my teeth set on edge when I hear pundits and politicians talk about how everyone needs to sacrifice is that it is clearly evident that they have no frame of reference at all for how much sacrifice people on the lower end of the socio-economic scale already do on a daily basis. So I am completely in favor of all politicians and pundits to expand their understanding by taking the Food Stamp Challenge, living on the equivalent of SNAP benefits for a week, which in the case of this CNN producer is roughly $30/week.
So I applaud Newark Mayor (and future NJ Governor candidate) Cory Booker for taking on the Food Stamp Challenge. But moreover, I love that Booker also dared a Twitter detractor to put her money where her mouth (or typing) is and take it along with him:
The mayor — who interacts frequently with his Twitter followers — challenged one of his followers, @MWadeNC, to join him in the challenge of living on food stamps, after the tweeter, who bills herself as an “Army Veteran, Army Daughter, Army Wife … fighting against any and all forms of socialism/communism,” criticized Booker for quoting the Greek historian Plutarch on Sunday. “An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics’ Plutarch ancient Greek historian (c. 46 -- 120 CE)” Booker tweeted. “We pay 4 HUGE back end govt programs: prisons, police, etc. If we invested in Schools, nutrition, etc we’d save $ & create wealth,” Booker tweeted to another follower another who charged that Booker wanted to “redistribute wealth,” to which @MWadeNC responded, “nutrition is not a responsibility of the government.” “We have a shared responsibility that kids go to school nutritionally ready 2 learn,” Booker answered, receiving a “why is there a family today that is ‘too poor to afford breakfast’? are they not already receiving food stamps?” tweet back from @MWadeNC The back and forth culminated with Booker offering @MWadeNC a challenge: “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?” @MWadeNC accepted on Twitter “sure, Mayor, I’m game.”
I hope that @MWadeNC follows through and learns a little about what it's like for so many in America. When one in five children in the wealthiest nation in the world goes to bed hungry, we no longer need refer to it as a "redistribution" problem, but one of an inhumane system.