The midnight hour

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Occasionally, someone asks me why I don’t cut Obama some slack. Stories like this one from Rock Center are why. Because when we have so many people in such desperate need, and so very little political capital has been expended to help them (especially that decision administration officials made not to help struggling homeowners, citing “moral hazard”) — well, he didn’t step up to this enormous task when he took office. It is a disgrace that people are living like this in the richest nation on earth, especially where there’s always money for military weapons:

At the stroke of midnight, a growing number of Americans are lining up at Walmart not to cash in on a holiday sale, but because they’re hungry.

The increasing number of Americans relying on food stamps to survive the sluggish economic recovery has changed the way the largest retailer in the United States does business.

Carol Johnston, Walmart’s senior vice president of store development, said that store managers have seen an “enormous spike” in the number of consumers shopping at midnight on the first of the month. That’s typically when those receiving federal food assistance have their accounts refilled each month.

“We’ll bring in more staff to stock. We’ll also make sure all of our registers…are open…Some people may think at 12:01, Walmart’s very quiet, but in a lot of our areas of the country, 12:01 is a big day or a big night for us, actually,” Johnston said.

Becca Reeder and her husband, T.J. Fowler, are one of the families shopping before the sun rises.

When NBC News visited their home six days before the first of the month, they had no milk in their refrigerator. Among the few things left were water, bacon grease for the dog’s food, a little bit of apple juice, cheese and tortillas.

The couple and their 2-year-old son, Miles, live in Nampa, Idaho, about a 30-minute drive from Boise. Reeder and Fowler married in September. She recently had to pawn her wedding ring to help support the family.

“As long as I got my family, I’m good,” she said.

The newlyweds are both certified nursing assistants but have been unable to find work in their field. Fowler is commuting an hour and a half round trip to a part-time job flipping burgers at a fast-food restaurant and Reeder is not working.

8 thoughts on “The midnight hour

  1. You might think that Walmart could hold a 1/2 price sale from midnight till 3am on all food items purchased with food stamps on the first of every month. As for Obama. The last guy who actually tried to fight back against the 1% had his brains splattered all over the windshield of his limo in Dallas. Every president since then has been, well…….gun-shy. To give Obama credit he has set up the perfect debate about extending the payroll tax holiday. He wants the holiday extended for one year and he wants it paid for by levying a 3.5% tax against millionaires. So the Republicans get to act and sound just like Ebenezer Scrooge just before Christmas by fighting him on the extension and the tax increase to millionaires. Priceless.

  2. “…are both certified nursing assistants but have been unable to find work in their field.”

    And yet people are told to train for jobs in the health care field because there will be jobs in health care. Sure there are….

  3. There’s classified ads for health assistants here in SoCal … where Reeder and Fowler obviously don’t have the money to move to, and if they did, they couldn’t afford the local rent on the pay.

  4. quixote — and you KNOW that there are people who would use that information to claim Reeder and Fowler are just lazy or something along those lines. And claim that there are plenty of jobs but that people want to live off of the society and not work.

  5. And how is this Obama’s fault? The SNAP program has greatly expanded under him, and if these people are shopping at Walmart to get the most broccoli for their benefit, well, they have their heads on straight.

    HOW IS THIS OBAMA’S fault???

  6. It’s yet another reason I have for telling Obama canvassers to take a hike when they ask for support. He has no problem with writing off trillions for the .01%, but can’t muster the backbone for a cram down on home mortgages. No change does NOT equal change.

  7. Wobbly,

    He might have expanded SNAP. But he has more massively expanded the wealth transfer to the 1% – on an unprecedented scale – because he didn’t prosecute Wall Street for their terrorist act of 2008. Compared to that massive upward transfer, the expansion of SNAP is peanuts.

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