From Joel Berg, in the Washington Post:
Our country has been told that a gargantuan government rescue of the private sector is necessary because the collapse of major financial institutions would lead to unthinkable outcomes for society. Almost as if by magic, our nation's leaders conjure up vast sums to respond to this crisis.
Yet when advocates point out that our nation is facing an altogether different kind of crisis, one of soaring hunger and homelessness, and that a large-scale bailout is needed to prevent social service providers nationwide from buckling under the increasing load, we are told that the money these agencies need just doesn't exist.
In 2006, fully 35.5 million Americans, 4 million more than in 1999, lived in households that couldn't afford enough food, according to the Agriculture Department. Those households included more than 4 million children. ...
[New York state] slashed funding for community-based feeding agencies 16 percent in April and an additional 6 percent in August, after having ruled out a plan to avoid these and other cuts in social services by restoring previous levels of taxation on New Yorkers who earn more than $1 million per year. Other states are making similar budget choices.
We're told to simply accept these cuts because everyone is suffering. But that's just not true. According to Forbes, there are 64 billionaires in New York City with a combined net worth of $344 billion, a staggering 469 percent more than the collective worth of the city's billionaires two years ago.
Just as it is unthinkable for the country to allow financial giants to go belly up, it should be unthinkable to look the other way as tens of millions of low-income Americans (the types of people who clean the offices of AIG and Fannie Mae at night) go without food or shelter. It's time to get our priorities in order.