I moved to Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin a little over two years ago when my husband and I were dating. Prairie itself is conservative, while Crawford county is blue. Eventually, after the culture shock of no longer being in a big city wore off, I got into the small town swing of things and have met wonderful people and friends. It's down to earth atmosphere and friendly attitude are reasons alone to live here. The Mississippi river runs between here and Iowa, making for some of the most beautiful natural scenery I've ever been privy to see. So why am I explaining this? Because not only is Prairie du Chien conservative, it's also become a hot bed for methamphetamine production and use and an elevated rate of welfare and food stamp assistance. For the point of this post, I'm going to be using Crawford county, the county in which Prairie du Chien is, as my example.
According to FARC, the Food Research and Action Center, data collected on Wisconsin SNAP users between 2007 and 2012 shows a serious uptick in the amount of people collecting benefits. Their data shows that in 2007, Wisconsin had 393,943 SNAP users, while that number climbed a high 848,832 users in 2012, a 114% increase. To put a small silver lining on those numbers, when the they are looked at over a one month period, between October 2012 and November 2012, it drops from 849,574 people to 848,832 people. A microscopic 0.1% change. Go team. And of course, Republicans will spin that to suggest it had everything to do with President Obama. Unfortunately for Scott Walker, that's not a viable excuse. While he's been out telling us Wisconsin's economy has improved, he has yet to provide much in the way of explanation for the increase in government assistance.
Crawford county has a 13.2% participation rate in the SNAP program according to Madison's most recent numbers. That's a lot in a population of only 16,617 people, a lot of whom are incredibly conservative Walker supporters. I'm eager to hear the reaction of this legislation from people around town. How can Walker and his GOP controlled legislature explain 13.4% of just ONE Wisconsin county on SNAP during his first two years in office? Walker has been selling us the same tired story that we're in the midst of a Wisconsin comeback. People are getting hired, the economy is improving and everything is roses and puppies. But the data doesn't lie. This graph, courtesy of Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, doesn't lie. The hungry kids, unemployed parents and struggling citizens don't lie. Walker however, does lie. And he does it with no remorse. Interesting though, how the numbers were much lower under Gov. Doyle.
|An overview of how SNAP has grown in the state due to failed Walker economic policies.|
And what is Walker going to do with all the money he'll be saving the tax payers from having to spend on SNAP? Open rehab clinics so that people can get off drugs and get jobs? Oh wait, haha, that means he'd have to be helping people! My mistake! We all know Scott Walker is interested in helping one person - Scott Walker.
We could talk numbers and stats until our eyeballs fall out from having to look at math (I hate it passionately.) So I'll get right down to it - the point I'm trying to make here is that while Walker is on his anti-drug, anti-welfare crusade, he maybe doesn't realize (but doesn't care regardless) that he's hurting his own loyal base. Some of Wisconsin's reddest counties have some of the highest usage of drugs in the state. I grew up in Ozaukee county, and while the use of government benefits isn't nearly as high as it is the rest of the state, the usage of heroin has become epidemic. I knew several kids I went to high school with either died from usage or had come close to it. And the most important thing of this entire issue is who it's really hurting - babies, kids, teenagers and the sick. Can Scott Walker, a man from the "family values" party, really take food out of a kid's mouth? Can he look them in the eye and explain that due to a capitalistic love of money and power, they don't get to eat? Of course he can.