Letters to the editor

Sep. 19, 2013 @ 04:18 PM

Crises at home

Over the last month I have balked at the astonishing hypocrisy of my country. While the atrocities of Syria deserve our full attention, I cringe when our president and legislators argue for military strikes in the name of “humanity.” In our country there is a “humanitarian” crisis that I feel many ignore.

Gallup reported in August that nearly 20 percent of Americans struggled to purchase food over the past year. Astonishingly, House leadership reaction to this appalling statistic is to propose cuts to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly Food Stamps) of $40 billion. Such cuts will result in two million people will be forced off the program and 210,000 low-income children free school meals. Such astronomical cuts will only lead to higher rates of poverty.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities SNAP is one of the most successful safety net programs in the United States, lifting 4.7 million American out of poverty, including 2.1 million children, in 2011. The USDA reports only a 3 percent error rate and .81 percent of that was underpayments. Furthermore, 72 percent of SNAP recipients live in households with children.

In the name of “humanity,” let’s protect successful food assistance programs. If not, I guarantee we’ll be suffering the consequences in the near future. So please call your member of congress and ask them to reject these cuts.

Geoff Hightower

Durham

Disposable diapers can be essential

Recent letter writers imply that disposable diapers are a luxury item. They make a good point, but I would suggest that in this day and age, disposable diapers are not necessarily a luxury item, although a washing machine is. For those who don't own a washer/dryer, Laundromats are their only option. Getting to a Laundromat that permits diaper washing, while dealing with young children and one or two jobs, or while temporarily out of a job, is a definite hurdle and expense.

Disposable diapers can be essential time-savers for single parents or families juggling jobs and shifts. Furthermore, most day care centers require that parents supply disposable diapers.

The cost of diapers is one of many that make raising babies an expensive endeavor, and low-income folks are the hardest hit. Now is not the time to be yanking away social safety nets assisting with early child care, food aid and health programs, but that's what's going on in North Carolina and in Washington. It's not the fault of low-income people that our economy is in bad shape.

I'm with Mayor Bill Bell in encouraging people to donate diapers to people working to make ends meet. Let's pursue cost-effective, environmentally friendly ways to diaper babies that include all families; meanwhile, let's invest in the future of every baby and give our communities a step up.

Heather B. Stein

Chapel Hill