The Widdershins

Hidden value…

Posted on: September 13, 2013

A super superlative Friday to you my Widdershin friends.  Here’s hoping the day is a great one.

To borrow the words of Sherlock Holmes, “There’s something afoot.”  There are indeed ill-winds blowing when it comes Core Valuesto our shared values.

The Syrian situation got me thinking about sustainable values — an essential element of leadership.  Values are those things we all come to have through our environmental socialization process.  We all have a core set of values.  They just differ in their makeup, intensity, and number.

The core values of some people are unmistakably pronounced.  The core values of others are hidden beneath layer upon layer of unattractive and unacceptable behaviors, but make no mistake they are there.  In speaking and teaching about core values, I firmly believe, “It makes little difference what an individual’s core values are, just that an individual has some sustaining values to serve as moral and ethical guideposts.  The most dangerous leader is the one who has no discernible core values or at the very least, negotiable core values.”

Politicians often prattle on about American exceptionalism.  For what it’s worth, if there is such a thing as American exceptionalism, it has been based in our societal values.  Regrettably for us and the world, those values seem to be waning.

The Syrian situation is a good example.  In our not too distant past, using weaponized chemical agents to indiscriminately kill children and non-combatants would have been an unspeakable atrocity to Americans — an assault upon our collective values.  Now, by a margin of almost two and a half to one, we hang and shake our heads, shuffle our feet and say, “Not our problem, no national interest over there.”

Another example of eroding values is cutting food stamps to millions of the poorest among us in order to funnel tax cuts and tens of billions in non-productive agricultural supports to multi-national agri-corporations.  It has indeed been a fast erosion of values when a $3.00 a day food allowance for the poorest of children falls victim to corporate largesse.

Take for example the decades of our collective chagrin at low voter turnout.  In this age of new values, state legislatures with the imprimatur of the Supreme Court can’t legislate fast enough to make it almost impossible through de facto disenfranchisement for large segments of voters to vote.

Or look at our borders where innocent babies were brought to this country, have grown up here, been educated here, speak perfect English, and know no other home, but now we can’t find a place for them in our new value system.

Value Word BubbleWithout a sustainable set of values, we become a rudderless raft susceptible to the ever-changing whims of fate and circumstance.  Without values, the “shining city on a hill” dims from a beacon to an afterthought.

The incentive to deemphasize our once unequivocal values is intense.  The conservative infotainment complex is awash with untested and fictitious stories to complete the day’s narrative.  Progressives wince and refrain from doing the heavy-lifting when it comes to standing against the political tide.  Both sides too keenly eye the next election cycle when it comes promoting sustainable values in the face of political expediency.

When confronted with tough choices in defense of a position, I have too often found myself muttering, “It’s the right thing to do.”  That is stupid.  I feel stupid as soon as I say it.  Trial and error have taught me something.

Without logical or emotional antecedent or predicate, to utter, “It’s the right thing to do,” lays one bare to the rabid rejoinders of those stoked with the anger of their unknown demons.  I’ve found it much more useful to cast away the general for the specific by asking:

“Is it the right thing to allow children to be gassed?”

“Is it the right thing to allow children to go hungry for corporate giveaways?”

“Is it the right thing to make it more difficult to vote?”

“Is it the right thing to tear children away from the only home they have ever known?”

Only the hardest hearts and the most cynically bankrupt minds could deny those values.  We have an obligation to one another to do a better job of reminding ourselves of the values that once made us exceptional.

This is an open thread.

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19 Responses to "Hidden value…"

Amazing and thought-provoking post.

Thanks Chat.

Incredible post Prolix!

One of the latest things I’ve read on the food stamp issue from The Hill is a bill by this guy from TN and he has (quoting) ” proposed legislation that would require people using federal food stamps to buy only healthy food.”

Under Roe’s bill, food purchased under SNAP would have to meet the same guidelines that food purchased under the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program already have to meet. The WIC guidelines are strict, and are made up of several different standards for products like breakfast cereal, milk, vegetables, peanut butter and other foods.

Now this sounds great, but it also costs more to get those healthy vegetables. As one commenter said:

Has anyone ever noticed how healthy foods are much higher in price than junk food? Maybe that has something to do with poor buying less healthy foods. Price a box of little Debbie’s compared to a bag of apples. Compare the price of apple juice or cranberry juice with a gallon sugary orange drink or a 6 pack of cokes. Ever notice how sugar free and fat free products cost more than their unhealthy counterparts? And we wonder why poor people don’t eat healthy foods? Maybe we would do better by subsidising healthy foods that way the cost goes down. If you don’t have much money which one will you purchase for your family?

So I think good ole Congr. Roe needs to also propose that SNAP benefits be increased to cover the add’l costs of those healthy foods. But I don’t see that happening.

@3, Fredster, that is exactly correct in every respect. There was a great article a few months back in “The Atlantic” about this very issue. Calories are cheap — nutrition is expensive. And the reason calories are so cheap is the ag price supports for sugar which, along with cotton, are the two ag products that have received supports for the longest period in our history.

I don’t know if y’all watch “Top Chef,” but Tom Colicchio, the chef/judge/mentor/co-host, has taken on nutrition. He has become an outspoken advocate of the hungry and homeless. He testified before Congress and called it a joke because no Critters showed up. He also lambasted for the Heritage Foundation — DeMint sent some clown who had the gall to sit beside Colicchio and say, “There’s no such thing as hunger in America.”

Talk about eroding values!

I don’t think some of these @sshats understand these folks are trying to stretch those benefits for a month. I’m being snarky here but I’m sure at the beginning of the month the folks with the SNAP cards ponder: “Should I get the fresh salmon or mahi mahi or do I get the cheap-assed ground meat and hamburger helper?” That is, if they can even afford the cheap hamburger meat.

i will tell an anecdote here: One year I had ordered a birthday cake for my Dad at the “premiere” bakery in the parish. I went to pick it up and the counter lady went to fetch it for me. I pulled out my checkbook and was making out the check and asked her how much it was. She replied that they didn’t take checks! Grrrrr….Well I didn’t have enough cash with me so I had to leave to go to the bank ATM to get some money. When I got back there was a woman there with her kids and she was buying a big chocolate cake, brownies, cookies and various pastries. She whipped out the EBT card to pay for her items and it was accepted. Another grrr!!! I asked “You won’t take my check but you can get this stuff with a food stamp card?” and she replied “oh yes, you can get bakery items with an EBT card. Grrrrr again. I have to admit it did bother me.

@5, Fredster, the data on the SNAP are supportive of your supposition. The average recipient runs out of food assistance funds by the 20th of each month. That leaves ten or eleven days where they are forced to either go hungry or find a community food pantry. Currently the benefit is equal to about $4.00 a day, with the cuts proposed by the Tea Partiers and Repubs, it will fall into the $3.00 range.

The rate of fraud is less than 2% in the SNAP program, but everyone has an anecdotal story about seeing someone use benefits in a manner that runs afoul of common sense and good nutrition. With 47 million Americans getting some kind of assistance during the Great Recession, if you go to the grocery store you most likely see someone using an EBT card.

The difference is that the Repubs are trying to legislate off of anecdotes to assuage the Tea Party anger. Cutting $40 Billion out of the program is cutting one-half of the annual appropriation. Interestingly enough, $40 Billion was about what they put into the Ag bill in additional agri-corporate giveaways. Funny how that math works out.

Prolix said: The rate of fraud is less than 2% in the SNAP program, but everyone has an anecdotal story about seeing someone use benefits in a manner that runs afoul of common sense and good nutrition.

Yes that’s true. I will admit that when I was in school in Ky, after I moved off campus and was living in a mobile home, I was eligible for food stamps! My roommate and I went to the local I.G.A. and we got what we could. We weren’t living high on the hog with them, but since we were eligible, we got them, we had a place to cook, so we used what we were eligible for.

It is interesting that when the Repub rant and rave about the cost of SNAP and scream at how much the program has increased, they don’t mention the Great Recession, people working for fewer $$s than before or the fact it’s an embarrassment to the country that so many people are eligible and qualify for them!

@6 I am just at a loss to understand the public anger at EBT users. When i’m in the grocery store the last thing I’m thinking about is watching the person next to me pay. If I’m going to be irritated, it’s a lot more likely to be at the dearth of check-out clerks provided by the supermarkets, because after all, we don’t want any extra employees on our payroll.

@Mary Luke: The public anger is probably partly inspired by seeing someone using an EBT card who doesn’t “fit the image”, of what that person perceives they should look like, i.e. they should be driving an old ratty car, be wearing worn out, torn clothing, Remember Reagan’s image of “welfare queens driving cadillacs”.

The Syrian situation is a good example. In our not too distant past, using weaponized chemical agents to indiscriminately kill children and non-combatants would have been an unspeakable atrocity to Americans — an assault upon our collective values. Now, by a margin of almost two and a half to one, we hang and shake our heads, shuffle our feet and say, “Not our problem, no national interest over there.”

I love this post, but in terms of this paragraph, it is very hard to determine who “we” is supposed to be. Clearly there is a strong national interest for us to go over to Syria and try to steal their natural gas like we stole Iraq’s oil.

I agree it is horribly amoral to use chemical weapons on anyone, adults or children. Does anyone disagree? I doubt it. Does anyone want another quagmire in the Middle East, during which potentially millions of innocent adults and children will be killed as in Iraq, as a response to that amorality? No, most people do not. I find it hard to argue with that position.

Just your basic case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Food stamp benes are $4 per day??? Jesus. How do people live on that? It makes me insane that the govt gives billions in subsidies to big agra but the organic farmers are just screwed. It shouldn’t cost more for a naturally grown potato than one grown with special seeds that thousands of people worked on creating, and that took years and millions of $ to develop, right? Sickening.

Well, Laker and worked at Food Banks from the time he was allowed to, at age 12. When he was a senior he coordinated one, and got a special award for that at his graduation. Even in the middle to upscale area I live in, there are still plenty of hungry people that can’t afford food. Hud took over a motel in town and turned it into housing for disabled and we distributed food there also. I can’t believe these freaking republicans, bitching about people getting fed in America.

socal said: When he was a senior he coordinated one, and got a special award for that at his graduation

You’ve got a good kid there socal.

You would be be amazed at the folks in middle to upper areas who are having difficulties making ends meet.

Hubbie asked who you were rooting for in the AL TAM game tomorrow. I told him I thought you & Chat would prefer a 0-0 tie, but probably dislike TA&M less than Satans team. Trojans play tomorrow also. Hub also says there is a lot of talk that he won’t be back next season.

Our Dodgers are sure having a great summer. First time in years.

socal@14: said: Hubbie asked who you were rooting for in the AL TAM game tomorrow

You’ll see in the post for tomorrow! 😉

Who do the Trojans play? I would tend to agree with your Hubbie on the USC coach. And unless he improves drastically, I’d say the same for Mack Brown at the Univ. of Texas.

@4 “calories are cheap; nutrition is expensive.” Beautiful Prolix! That’s the essential point absent from all the discussions about food, EBT’s, medical issues such as diabetes and overweight/obesity. I’d like to see a physician or nutritionist challenged to take an EBT budget and come up with a month’s worth of groceries for an elderly person or a family of five.

@10, MB, the purpose of this woefully inadequate post was to get us thinking about our morphing values, not specific acts. In the Syrian situation, I was taken aback by the lack of moral outrage or at least the moral outrage being sublimated to concern over involvement. The mess that is Syria leaves really no good option, but by the slip of John Kerry’s tongue, it looks like the best possible outcome might come about.

In my weak mind, action based upon circumstance is one thing, but the hollowed out feeling you get when those things don’t coincide with your values is quite another. It’s the same thing with voting or food stamps or immigration. There might be practical impossibilities negating action, but the value laden collective ethos shouldn’t be shaken.

What I’m sensing is that regrettably those things I’ve always taken for granted as a collective American ethos are changing. Changing, in my opinion, inward and no longer altruistic. I shudder to think we are turning into a “I got mine, sorry about your luck” society. The anger and angst of the Tea Party, the Romney 47% philosophy, or Fox News does nothing but exacerbate my fears.

@12, Annie, that is one fine human you have raised. Hearing stories like that gives me such great hope and optimism. I am heartened by this generation’s commitment to making the world better — you have done your part in raising such a fine young man.

@16, Mary Luke, I’ve seen anecdotal exercises in nutritionists undertaking living on food stamps for a month. Invariably, they run out of money or the impossibility of getting fresh foods in the heart of cities or the time constraints of cooking nutritional meals as a single mother working full-time always does them in.

It is so easy for the anger-riding mobs of Tea Party critters to denigrate those needing the SNAP program. Remarkably, the reddest states and the reddest districts have the highest utilization rates of the SNAP program. If only someone would stand up and start educating, these tea party snail-brains would soon change their acidic ways.

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