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Let Them Eat Cereal

Updated: Mar 12

It has been debated whether or not Marie Antoinette actually uttered those words- en francais- “Let Them Eat Cake,” when millions of people in her country were starving and had no bread.  At the time of the French Revolution, that nation had a population of 28 million people while between 8 to 12 million were living in poverty, and the aforementioned utterance, apocryphal or not, has become synonymous with an uncaring and oblivious elite. 

Apparently we’ve progressed little in the intervening years, when the CEO of Kellogg’s blithely advised to let folks consume cereal for dinner as a cost saving measure. I guess he means straight from the box since milk, fruit, nuts and other ways to supplement taste and nutrition are expensive. But why be petty... problem solved.  Your family doesn't need to worry about food scarcity and balanced diets. Chomp down on some Fruit Loops. Good news, there are small traces of fruit concentrates and flavoring but unfortunately, no apple a day to keep the (unaffordable) doctor away.  

The scope of the issue is stunning and terrifying:

Instead of confronting this shameful reality, our politicians “debate” abortion and IVF, while children, actual living children, need food. It’s worse, however, than mere distraction or apathy, as our current Congress/administration proved when it not only gave Joe Manchin his Mountain

Valley Pipeline authorization, ignoring science and sacrificing our collective future well-being, but allowed him to single-handedly kill the expanded Child Tax Credit when it was set to expire in 2022. Manchin said OUTLOUD that he thought parents would use paid leave time to go hunting and use the money from the Child Tax Credit to buy drugs.

Studies have proven that the expansion of this tax credit in 2021 caused poverty in this country to drop to its lowest levels on record. But hey, leave the baby by itself and try to hunt down dinner. Or back to Fruit Loops.

The bottom line is that poverty and the horrific ramifications: hunger/homelessness/lack of health coverage and medical care, safety and education continue to be conscious legislative decisions. Children, especially those relegated to substandard schools, cannot learn when they are hungry. Or ill. Or unhoused.

Oh no/what to do? It might not get us all the way but we know how to get started: First, raise the taxes on the wealthiest people. Even by bringing tax rates to those in the 1950's and 1960's (~90% top tax rate), the wealthiest among us will not have to resort to Rice Krispies for dinner. Secondly, end caps on contributions into Social Security, one of the most effective anti-poverty programs in the country. Third, make stock buybacks illegal. Again.

We have more collective political and economic power than those currently dictating Dickensian public policies. But only if you act. This is an election year, so now is the time to make your voice heard.




Join groups fighting for specific issues or those taking on poverty like the Poor People's Campaign. Here is the link to the Maryland Chapter.  Go to the National Website to join their fight in your area:

Support local and neighborhood businesses.  Shop small and unrepresented merchants and services. And then, join more and more people every week and Don't Shop on Tuesday.

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