Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.com.
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Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos
Like the coronavirus pandemic, food insecurity continues even when it recedes from the headlines. A new poll finds 23 percent of people in the U.S. haven't been able to get enough to eat or haven't been able to get the kinds of foods they want. More than half of those food insecure people struggled to access all of the government or nonprofit assistance that should have been available to them, and 21 percent said they hadn't been able to get any aid.
That means both people going hungry—maybe eating just once a day—and people unable to get the fresh, healthy foods they would want for themselves and their children.
In the new poll from Impact Genome and The Associated Press/NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, respondents were very clear about what would help them have enough healthy food: more money. Half said extra money was necessary to pay for food or bills, and another 39 percent said it would be helpful but not necessary. Other response options offered in the poll—reliable or accessible transportation, enough free food to last a few days, a free prepared meal with no prior notice, and meals that are delivered by a community service—drew well under half of people saying they were necessary, though in all cases a large majority said they would be either necessary or helpful.
Things have recently gotten worse for many people with the cutoff of expanded federal unemployment benefits. An expanded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program allotment expires on September 30, though it will be partially offset by a permanent increase in nutrition assistance coming into effect on October 1 after the Biden administration changed how the government estimates the cost of a healthy diet.
But even with the expanded unemployment insurance and added SNAP benefits, food insecurity was high. In fact, it was high before the pandemic. While food insecurity didn't rise overall in the population during the pandemic, it did rise for some groups, including households with children and Black households. Food insecurity for families with children has risen, from 6.5 percent in 2019 to 7.6 percent in 2020. Among Black households, food insecurity went from 19.1 precent in 2019 to 21.7 percent in 2020.
The expanded child tax credit is now helping many of these families—and it needs to be extended in the Build Back Better reconciliation bill. As Paul Krugman recently wrote in The New York Times, the lifelong damage of childhood poverty is such that any money spent to keep kids out of poverty is the fiscally responsible thing to do (to say nothing of the moral stakes).
"Lifting children out of poverty is every bit as real an investment as repairing roads and bridges. Indeed, the evidence for a big economic payoff to spending on children is a lot stronger than the evidence for high returns to spending on physical infrastructure (although we should be doing that too)," Krugman wrote. "In fact, the returns to aiding children are so high that the cost would probably be minimal even in narrowly fiscal terms—because helping children grow up into more productive, healthier adults would eventually mean higher tax receipts and lower medical outlays. Unlike tax cuts for the rich, aid to poor children would largely pay for itself."
Politicians who don't want to expand aid to children tell on themselves: It's not about the money. They just want to punish poor people.
Reprinted with permission from AlterNet
Anti-vaxxers have taken conspiracy theories to a new level with their latest attempt to convince unvaccinated COVID patients to leave hospital intensive care units.
According to NBC News, conspiracy theorists are circulating serious allegations about doctors treating COVID patients. The publication reports that they claim doctors are "preventing unvaccinated patients from receiving miracle cures or are even killing them on purpose."
Ivermectin enthusiasts and anti-vaxxers have also been spreading misinformation in Facebook groups telling COVID positive individuals to "stay away from hospitals and instead try increasingly dangerous at-home treatments."
NBC notes that the disturbing claims underscore "the escalation in mistrust" of the scientific community and medical professionals. The misinformation epidemic has grown worse over the last several months with the rise of the rapidly spreading Delta variant of COVID-19. Doctors and nurses in hospital systems across the country have also expressed concern about the rise in misinformation amid the resurgence of COVID.
Wes Ely, an ICU doctor and professor Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, revealed how their intensive care has changed over the last month with the rise in severe cases among the unvaccinated.
"We were down to four Covid patients two months ago. In this surge, we've had 40 to 50 patients with Covid on four different ICU services, 97 percent of them unvaccinated," said Ely. "We were making headway, and now we're just losing really, really badly. There's something that's happening on the internet, and it's dramatically increasing steam."
Harvard Medical School physician Aditi Nerurkar also expressed deep concern about what she describes as "vigilante medicine": a decision "wherein patients are deferring potentially lifesaving care from doctors to try unproven cures pushed on Facebook."
"It's vigilante medicine: medicine being practiced by laypeople who are reading groups created by other laypeople in echo chambers and silos that, likely, someone in the anti-vax movement is profiting from," she said.
Although social media has become the central hub for misinformation, Facebook insists it is fighting back against the spread of false information.
"We remove content that attempts to buy, sell, or donate for Ivermectin," a Facebook spokesperson confirmed in an emailed statement. "We also enforce against any account or group that violates our COVID-19 and vaccine policies, including claims that Ivermectin is a guaranteed cure or guaranteed prevention, and we don't allow ads promoting Ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19."
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