FALLS CHURCH, Va. -- Republicans say too many Americans receive food stamps, and that too many of them obtain benefits fraudulently when they could just get jobs instead.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program's enrollment has risen from 26 million in 2005 to 47 million today, pushing its annual cost to nearly $80 billion -- but costs would be much higher if everyone eligible for benefits actually received them. In fact, contrary to the idea that America's poor people are collectively gorging themselves on food stamps, they're actually leaving food on the table.
Roughly a quarter of Americans eligible for federal nutrition assistance don't sign up for it, according to the most recent data. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers the program, says that in fiscal 2010 nearly 51 million Americans were poor enough to qualify but only 38 million received benefits.
So why don't the rest enroll?
Lee Daniels’ The Butler
Film Review by Kam Williams
Eugene Allen (1919-2010) served eight presidents over the course of an enduring career in the White House during which he rose from the position of Pantry Man to Head Butler by the time he retired in 1986. In that capacity, the African-American son of a sharecropper felt privileged to be an eyewitness to history, since his tenure coincided with the implementation of most of the landmark pieces of legislation dismantling the Jim Crow system of racial segregation.
Directed by two-time Oscar-nominee Lee Daniels, The Butler is a father-son biopic relating events in Allen’s life as they unfolded against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement. This fictionalized account features Academy Award-winner Forest Whitaker in the title role as Cecil Gaines, and his A-list supporting cast includes fellow Oscar-winners Cuba Gooding, Jr., Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave, Robin Williams and Melissa Leo, as well as nominees Terrence Howard and Oprah Winfrey.
The point of departure is a plantation in the Deep South, where Cecil witnesses his father’s (David Banner) murder on the cotton field for protesting his mother’s (Mariah Carey) rape at the hand of an overseer. Because the perpetrator was never brought to justice, the youngster gets the message at an early age that “Any white man could kill us at any time and not be punished for it.”
Therefore, eager to avoid the same fate as his dad, he skips town as a teenager, settling in Washington, DC where he lands steady work as a bartender in a hotel catering to an upscale clientele. There he also meets Gloria (Winfrey), the maid he would one day marry and start a family with.
Cecil’s sterling reputation as a polite and deferential black man eventually reaches the White House, where he takes a position on the express understanding that “You hear nothing. You see nothing. You only serve.” Although he manages to maintain an inscrutably apolitical façade on the job, the same can’t be said for the home front, where current events are freely debated.
There, Cecil finds himself increasingly at odds with his elder son, Louis (David Oyelowo), a civil rights activist inclined to participate in voter registration marches, sit-ins at segregated lunch counters and freedom bus rides. The simmering tension between the two builds over the years to the boiling point when Louis derisively refers to his as father an Uncle Tom.
At that juncture, Cecil’s protective spouse intervenes to slap her son before uttering the moving line likely to land Oprah Winfrey another Academy Award nomination: “Everything you have, and everything you are, is because of that butler.” However, Forest Whitaker is even more deserving of accolades, delivering a nonpareil performance as a humble provider understandably reluctant to rock the boat.
Kudos to Lee Daniels for crafting such a gut-wrenching tour de force which never hits a false note while chronicling critical moments in the African-American fight for equality.
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for violence, sexuality, smoking, profanity, ethnic slurs, disturbing images and mature themes
Running time: 132 minutes
Distributor: The Weinstein Company
To see a trailer for Lee Daniels’ The Butler, visit:
By Norman Parrish
Before It’s News
Millions of seniors are turning down free money.
The Low Income Subsidy for Medicare Part D is a rare beast in economics research. The subsidy provides prescription drug coverage essentially free for low-income adults. That means it is what economists call a dominant option. For those who are eligible, there is no rational reason not to choose it. And yet, a new study shows that many eligible seniors do not take advantage of the program, despite outreach efforts by the Social Security Administration.
“We examined the role of seniors’ cognitive abilities in explaining this puzzle,” said J. Michael McWilliams assistant professor of health care policy and medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital and senior author of the paper. “If impaired abilities to access and process information are a root cause, simply providing seniors with more information is unlikely to help them make better choices.”
McWilliams and his team analyzed data from the nationally representative Health and Retirement Study on seniors who were likely eligible for the Low Income Subsidy and found that seniors with lower cognition and lower basic math abilities were less likely to enroll in Medicare Part D, and less likely to apply for the subsidy if they did enroll in Part D, according to a report published in JAMA Internal Medicine earlier this year.
By Andrea Coombes, Contributor
You’ve got a smartphone, tablet and active Twitter account? This story is not for you. But if you’re a boomer job seeker or someone who just wants to stay connected to their career—and you’re feeling just a twinge of tech fear or uncertainty—read on.
First, find comfort in knowing that you’re not alone.
Fully 55% of boomers—the generation that counts among its members Steve Jobs and Bill Gates—said they don’t use the Internet when not at home or work, according to a November 2012 survey by consulting firm Deloitte of more than 2,100 U.S. consumers. (The survey defines boomers as those born 1947 through 1965.)
This result seemed to surprise the Deloitte researchers, who wrote in their report: “Are boomers really not accessing the Internet while mobile, or are they just not aware that many apps require mobile connectivity?”
Why can't people spell on Twitter?
A new study by social media marketing firm Brandwatch found some discrepancies between how people communicate on social networks. Twitter, in particular, took liberties with spelling.
The survey also found that among people who own a cellphone, 71% of boomers and 90% of those born 1947 said they value their phone most for making calls.
By Diane Stafford, The Kansas City Star
Just how much the recession reshaped what many baby boomers thought retirement would look like is becoming clearer: More than ever they now expect to retire later or work when they're "retired."
In 1991, just one in 10 workers told the Employee Benefit Research Institute that they planned to wait to retire until they were older than 65. By 2007, three in 10 said that.
In 2012, it was 4 out of ten.
Boomers cruising toward a traditional retirement suffered financial comeuppance in the prolonged economic slump that began in late 2007. The downturn sapped jobs, stock and housing values, and interest on savings.
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AABoomers.com is an online magazinefor and about the 9.1 million African-American Baby Boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964. (We are honored that President and Mrs. Obama as members of our demographic.) (Click here to read more.)