Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Sid Salter: Warren's Stop Has Few Parallels to RFK's Delta Visit

The rather nondescript email from activist Marissa Barrow of the “Progressive Change Campaign Committee” arrived in my email inbox on March 18 with the subject line: “Elizabeth Warren parallels RFK’s 1967 tour of Mississippi Delta.”

 Upon opening the email, I was greeted with a series of comparative photographs – some color photos showing Democratic presidential contender and Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren visiting with Mississippi Delta residents in Cleveland in 2019 alongside black-and-white photographs of the late U.S. Sen. Bobby Kennedy visiting Delta residents in 1967.

The attempt to compare Warren’s 2019 visit to the Delta with Kennedy’s 1967 visit seems exceedingly shallow and contrived – in a way almost politically and morally blasphemous. First and foremost, comparing the state and nation’s political and social climate in 1967 with that of today is telling.

There was true danger confronting all concerned when Kennedy made his pilgrimage to Mississippi in 1967 to see the poverty he’d heard Senate committee testimony about from activist Marian Wright for himself. Kennedy and those traveling with him risked being targeted for violence in the Mississippi that existed in that era.

Likewise, the impoverished African American Delta families who allowed their homes to be used as backdrops for Kennedy’s visit faced perhaps even more raw danger from drawing attention to Mississippi’s inequalities from white supremacists. When RFK visited the Mississippi Delta, it was considered by many Mississippians as a political provocation rather than a humanitarian mission.

But the fact is that federal government efforts to deal with poverty and hunger in America were still in their practical infancy. Food stamps began as a pilot project in 1961 during the administration of President John F. Kennedy with a dual purpose – to feed the hungry, yes, but also to provide a destination for surplus farm commodities.

At the beginning, the program nationally served less than 150,000 people at a cost of $13.1 million. By 1964, some 425,000 people nationally were served at a cost of just over $30 million.

RFK’s visit indeed did bring a greatly heightened level of national awareness to poverty and hunger in the Mississippi Delta and in the Appalachian South, but by October of 1967 national food stamp use was only at the 2 million mark. Still led in that day primarily by segregationist elected officials, Mississippi was a very reluctant participant in the food stamp program. But by Fiscal Year 2015 in Mississippi alone, food stamps or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provided about $0.92 billion in food benefits to a monthly average of 636,322 people in Mississippi.

For the latest year of available statistics, an average of 582,658 Mississippians received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits or food stamps each month. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that number represented 83.4 percent of those Mississippians eligible to receive those benefits. The SNAP program pumped $810 million into Mississippi’s economy.

Federal dollars make up about 42 percent of all state revenue in Mississippi and federal transfer payment account for 26.3 percent of all personal income in the state. Does Sen. Warren seriously think that in a nation where Social Security and Medicare are already in mortal fiscal danger, the Mississippi Delta’s poverty can be cured by more social programs?

And how to pay for those promised new programs? Warren pitched her “wealth tax” plan – the so-called “net worth” tax. Perhaps nothing about her 2019 visit to Mississippi was more discordant with the Kennedy’s philosophies than that.

Even when touring the poorest region in the poorest state in the union in 1967, Bobby Kennedy was a pro-growth capitalist. Warren’s 2019 tax policy proposals smack of nascent socialism.

Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at sidsalter@sidsalter.com.


12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why has relocating these masses of poor people from a poor state like Mississippi (where they have no chance of ever doing well) to wealthier states where there are bountiful resources and JOBS never even been discussed ?

Dee Ray said...

I'm not sure what you mean, 8:26, by 'relocating these masses', but over the years following agricultural mechanization, thousands of the 'masses' willingly relocated to states to our north. Many returned quickly and many more have come back since then.

What is meant by 'they have no chance of ever doing well'? Turn that cap around. They have the chance as anyone else. Many are in management and leadership positions. Many are in professional occupations that we need not list.

My dad and others threatened 'us boys' within an inch of our lives if we even got close to the courthouse where Kennedy appeared in '67. His mission was viewed as political provocation and he was largely unwelcome. Of course, due to white guilt and short memories, a whole lot of folks now claim they welcomed him with open arms and supported his efforts at voter registration, etc. Among those are the descendants of Senator Eastland, one of the most staunch segregationists ever to have taken a breath of Delta air.

There is similarity and direct correlation between the visits of Pocahontas and Senator Kennedy. And that similarity is the fact that both made the trip in order to garner minority favor, specifically votes. Pocahontas gives not one whit about this state or anyone residing herein.

Anonymous said...

Pocahontas is going nowhere fast. Nobody cares.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I rather like 8:26's proposal.

Cbalducc said...

I’d like to know what state the first anonymous has in mind. The days of unskilled labor being paid good wages is long past.

Anonymous said...

The best comment I heard last week about her visit was that she had to have driven through Indianola and Pocahontas on her way from Greenville to Jackson!

Anonymous said...

12:47 Bet Lamar Adams could've pulled it off.

Anonymous said...

I know it will be a shock to most of you, but some States have succeeded in reducing poverty. Of , course some have increased poverty to Depression levels.

Here's some good news! You know no longer have to go to a library to find out how that happened? The bad news is you will have to read more than a paragraph.


Anonymous said...

She should tour the Indian reservations. They're the ones that really got screwed over by the white folks!

Another Anonymous said...

12:47 - I can answer that. Thousands of unskilled minorities caught buses and trains headed north in the sixties through the eighties. Most, who were serious, found work, many in the auto industry in Detroit and other northern and midwest cities. Are you totally unaware of that?

You may also be unaware that thousands of unskilled workers are hired in this state today and trained to perform complex industrial tasks at excellent wages. It pretty much all depends on attitude, work ethic, willingness to learn and personal presentation during interviews.

You obviously know nothing of labor supply and wages.

Anonymous said...

Any Dem who draws the similarity is admitting their own failure. The fact that E Warren came back 52 years later to tour the “same” poverty proves the Great Society-esque welfare programs don’t work. JFK, LBJ, RFK, BHO....doesn’t matter who leans on our pockets to fund this crap, it isn’t getting the results they promise.

Anonymous said...

When Kennedy came to the Delta on his mission of mercy, Salter was in Dr. Dentons watching Superman and Sky King. But of course he studied at the feet of Jerry Mitchell for thirty-five years.

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