Changing financial realities for some people

Editor of the Reformer:

Having just read the quote in the Reformer from Rep. Eric Cantor in a congressional debate regarding food stamp usage, "While (SNAP) is an important part of our safety net, our overriding goal should be to help our citizens with the education and skills they need to get back on their feet so that they can provide for themselves and their families," (May 22), I feel compelled to respond.

Rep. Cantor, I think many of those citizens to whom you refer are on their feet. They are waiting on you at McDonald’s, they are greeting and assisting you at Walmart, they are running after your children in daycare, they are cleaning your bathrooms, they are providing assistance to our elders and people with disabilities. They are pounding the pavement looking for jobs that pay living wages. They are jumping through humiliating hoops and dancing carefully through intricate bureaucracies to qualify for meager safety net programs.

I, too, would dearly love to see people able to provide for themselves and their families. We agree on that. No working person should have to depend on government for basic needs. Where we diverge is in what needs to be done to achieve that. Truly living wages, tax structures that allow for full basic expenses in the personal exemptions and standard deductions, respecting and valuing all work, monetary policies that do not abuse everyday people, are good places to start.


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Education and skill development are certainly important, but there is ample evidence that those alone will not change the financial realities of many people. A shift in the business practices of companies who depend on welfare to supplement their employee wages, and of financial institutions that are designed to make money off of low and middle income people would help a lot more.

Andrea McAuslan,

Marlboro, May 22

Consider being a vegetarian

Editor of the Reformer:

As a concerned citizen, I think everyone should be a vegetarian. I believe that it is important to consider vegetarianism for many reasons. I want to bring to your attention to why everyone should either stop eating meat or only eat meat that has been ethically raised. According to People for the Ethical Treatment for Animals, "One of the top 10 reasons for being a vegetarian is that it’s the best way to help the environment." This means that it’s very good for the environment because you are killing less animals. When I thought about it, I realized that I wanted to convince other people to be vegetarians like me.

What is in a hamburger, and what does it take to make it? Well, that’s a very interesting question. According to National Public Radio, "For a quarter pound of meat you need 6.7 pounds of grain, 52.8 gallons of water, 74.5 square feet for grazing, and 1,036 Btus of fossil fuel energy." You need a lot of resources to make a hamburger to feed one person while the same resources can be used to feed about five people. According to PETA, "Producing one hamburger uses enough fossil fuel to drive a car 20 miles." That means that if we didn’t eat meat, we could move around a lot more because we would have more gas. Also according to PETA, "cows must consume 16 pounds of grain to convert them into one pound of meat." This simply means there would be a lot of grain if we didn’t eat meat. Not only would there be more grain and other natural resources if we chose not to eat meat animals would live better lives as well.

The way animals are treated in meat industries is very unfair. According to Michigan By Review, "In today’s factory farms, animals are crammed by the thousands into filthy windowless sheds." This means that there are a lot of animals suffering for us to have meat. This also means there are too many animals in small spaces without a lot of room to move. According to PETA, "In some industries they test products on the animals that don’t really matter." This means animals are being tested, hurt and even killed for things like new nail polish colors. This represents how we treat animals. Also according to PETA, if the animals are sick they kill them in a cruel, and inhumane way instead of making them better.

According to PETA, "One of the top 10 reasons to be vegetarian is that it is the best way to save the earth." Another one is: "Slim down and get energized." Another reason to be vegetarian is," To be a healthier, happier you."

People who think about their dietary life should take into consideration the advantages of vegetarianism. One of the advantages to being vegetarian is that it makes you stronger. "A winning formula for athletes from Olympic arenas to NFL stadiums, vegetarian athletes are dominating their meat eating competitors." This means that vegetarian athletes are better in sports.

I have read a lot about this, so I know that the counter argument would be that if we did not eat meat, the animals will overpopulate the earth. This argument is based on the idea that the delicate balance of the ecosystem ensures the survival of us all, but I disagree because predators help maintain this balance by killing off the sickest and weakest. So, as you can see, everything would be fine if everyone was vegetarian.

Now there are some simple solutions to this issue. This includes things like eating less meat or launching a protest to shut down meat industries. Also, eating meat only from farms that raise animals ethically could really help the environment. Animals that are outside and with other animals are healthier and happier.

I hope you consider what I said and become a vegetarian.Being vegetarian can help the earth. It can also help you!

Ernie Brunton,

Academy School, April 21