Mayor Cory Booker pf Newark, N.J., has today confirmed that he will live on nothing but food stamps the week of Dec. 4-11.
Booker decided to take the “food stamp challenge” after tweeting with a woman who calls herself TwitWit. She further described herself as a “Daughter of the American Revolution, fighting against any and all forms of socialism/communism.. Army Veteran, Army Daughter, Army Wife.”
TwitWit charged Booker with being a secret socialist who was attempting to “redistribute” wealth. As Exhibit A, she pointed to Booker’s attempts to provide school breakfasts and lunches for needy children. She made it clear that she did not accept nor believe that providing food to hungry people is a proper function of government.
“We have a shared responsibility that kids go to school nutritionally ready 2 learn.”
TwitWit came back with:
“why is there a family today that is ‘too poor to afford breakfast’? are they not already receiving food stamps?”
Booker then issued the 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?”
TwitWit agreed and the “game” is set to begin on Dec. 4.
New Jersey provides $133.26 for an adult’s monthly food stamp benefit – about $4.00 a day, or the cost of a medium sized latte at Starbucks.
According to the Associated Press, Booker told reporters, "This will not be a gimmick or a stunt," but is an opportunity "for us to grow in compassion and understanding." He also said that he wanted to explode stereotypes. The mayor of Phoenix also tried to live on a food stamp budget a few months ago. He failed, because, he said, he became “tired” and it was “hard to focus.”
The AP also tracked down TwitWit. She’s a 39-year-old woman from North Carolina who believes that the more government gives to people, the more they will want, including, especially, food. “There is going to be a lot more of us needing those food stamps if it doesn't stop,” she said.
In a classic demonstration of the notion of poor and working class white folks voting against their own interests, TwitWit told AP that her own family is just “Six months away from being in debt and on welfare ourselves. Most of us [poor white people] are in the same boat. … Some of us just aren't getting the assistance."
In 1982, Chicago’s first female mayor, Jane Byrne, physically moved into Chicago’s most notorious high-rise housing project, Cabrini Green. During her three-week stint at Cabrini, crime plummeted precipitously – which, she claimed, was her intention all along. But how could crime not fall? After all, Byrne moved into Cabrini Green with an entire phalanx of uniformed and undercover cops as her personal security detail. Byrne was known for her acerbic language and often outlandish plans for improving the city. (She actually turned the busiest section of State Street -- that “Great Street” -- into a mall, closed to all but bus traffic. After her defeat at the polls, State Street merchants got the street re-opened again).
And, when Byrne returned to her tony digs on Chicago's "Gold Coast," crime at Cabrini immediately shot back up to its "normally" outrageous and over-the-top levels.
So, like Byrne’s move into Cabrini, I think it’s fair to say that Booker’s “food stamp challenge” is little more than a publicity stunt. The man is an obviously ambitious politician who I’m sure does not see a helluva future as mayor to one of the country’s poorest and most crime-infested cities.
As to TwitWit, as intimated above, she is a classic example of why white racism and white supremacy maintain such a stranglehold on this nation-state’s body politic. Her refusal, for example, to accept food stamps for her own hungry family is rooted in a belief system that reinforces a bias and bigotry against people who do. She obviously is not aware that there are far more white recipients of food stamps than black or brown. Yet, she believes that more “people of color” partake of the government teat than do people who “look like her.”
She is the definition of the “low information voter.” And it is this type of poor and working class white person who has most vociferously objected to black advancement down through the years. Why? They see black people, brown people as threats to their own economic and political security. It is they who are required to compete with blacks and browns for jobs and school slots, not their middle class and upper middle class compatriots. For TwitWit, the provision of simple sustenance for poor children of color means that there will be less somewhere else for her and her children, even though she claims not to want it. It has always been a zero-sum affair for her and her fellow classmates.