Joni Ernst and the Wonderful Food Pantries

Joni ErnstJoni Ernst is the woman likely to become the next US Senator from Iowa because she castrated hogs as a child. This is supposedly some kind of clever implication that she will go to Washington and “cut pork.” No one seems to be willing to say the obvious: it’s a terrible analogy. It makes no sense. And personally, I think it is a lie. I had a very good friend in grammar school who lived on a farm and I remember being there when they were castrating sheep. The children were not involved. But who knows? Bottom line: it’s only a metaphor and a very bad one at that. The main thing is that Joni Ernst is a conservative freak.

Radio Iowa uncovered a recording of the candidate, Ernst Carries Concealed Weapon “90 Percent of the Time.” Because, you know, freedom. But Jonathan Chait brought my attention to one little section of the wide ranging discussion that also included ending federal involvement in education and even more cuts to food stamps, even while she continues to support price floors on foods that make food more expensive. Again, you know, freedom.

The point of all this freedom is that the private sector can do everything better:

We have lost a reliance on not only our own families, but so much of what our churches and private organizations used to do. They used to have wonderful food pantries. They used to provide clothing for those that really needed it, but we have gotten away from that.

Actually, no. Conservatives have this very strange idea that the government got into the poverty elimination business because it hates, you know, freedom. That’s not actually true. The government got into the anti-poverty business because the private sector was not dealing with it. The public sector never deals with this nor should it. Did the private sector get rid of child labor? No. Will it get rid of poverty? No. It isn’t what the private sector does and people like Joni Ernst are delusional.

Ernst claimed that private organizations “used to have wonderful food pantries.” I don’t actually know what she means. Earlier this week, I was doing some work at a church that has a food pantry. It isn’t wonderful in the sense of overflowing with food. This isn’t because a great deal of food doesn’t come through it. An enormous amount of food is given to the poor by the church. This is despite the food stamp program that Ernst wants to cut even more.

But what would Ernst know about the these “good ol’ days” when the government didn’t help poor people so that churches and private organizations could have wonderful food pantries? Joni Ernst was born years after the War on Poverty started. If she saw “wonderful pantries” it was probably because they weren’t needed as much as they are now because of government anti-poverty programs that conservatives have repeated cut funding to over the past three-plus decades.

I remember Bill Maher saying that it was okay to vote for a Republican because sometimes what you need is an angry old white guy to manage your money. I more or less agree with this although the last forty years have shown that Republicans are useless in this regard too. But what I can’t tolerate are people like Ernst who claim that they really care about the poor and that’s why they want to stop the government from doing anything for them. Joni Ernst has lived a sheltered life where her ideas about the deserving and undeserving poor come from television. It’s outrageous that she’s even competitive in a statewide race anywhere. That she is clearly leading in Iowa almost makes me give up all hope for democracy and the future of this country.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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