Soviet Russia’s food shortages were frequently held up as proof of the Communist system’s failure to provide for its citizens. But here in hyper-capitalist America, tens of millions of people are going hungry.
Scenes like this are all too common across America today, as food banks report record demand amid skyrocketing grocery prices. The US Census Bureau estimates that nearly twenty-five million people went hungry in April alone, thanks in part to the slashing of pandemic-era food stamp benefits.
Such queues are breadlines in all but name. Tens of millions presently do not have enough to eat in a country with a $25 trillion GDP, all while Congress debates the possibility of attaching new work requirements to an already inadequate and paternalistic food assistance program. Effectively, ordinary Americans are being hit with a three-punch combo of soaring food prices, benefit cuts, and fiscal policies explicitly designed to drive up unemployment.
As one commentator succinctly put it: “1) Too many people have jobs so the [Federal Reserve] raises rates to boost unemployment in the name of taming inflation. 2) People lose their jobs, making them need food stamps. 3) Politicians demand those same people get jobs to be eligible for food stamps, but the jobs are now harder to get.”
Want, cruelty, waste, it’s all here — the whole needless cycle symbolized by long lines outside of food banks in urban areas where there is more than enough to eat. God bless the free market.
On January 22, 1992, America’s newspaper of record published a front-page report detailing the long lines still appearing in Moscow and other Russian cities as hungry citizens sought out bread. Several weeks earlier, the USSR had finally collapsed, and breadlines – much as they had during the Cold War – persisted as the de facto symbol of the country’s dysfunction and crippling economic inefficiency.