Food stamps and priorities Updated: Thursday, November 28, 2013 KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – Food banks across the country are struggling to help millions of Americans put holiday meals on their tables for Thanksgiving and Christmas. On Thanksgiving eve, Tom Van Howe has a few thoughts about priorities and the growing gap between the rich and just about everybody else. - - - It’s probably not the best time to have slashed food stamps by five billion dollars.Most of us, at one time or another, see – or think we see – people taking advantage of the system, but for the most part people use those stamps to put food on their tables, simple as that. The U.S. Agriculture Department says 15 percent of Americans, roughly 50 million people are considered “food insecure.” Food banks are astonished at the demand, they’ve fallen behind, they’re scrambling like never before to catch up, and we’ve reduced food stamps by five billion dollars. Just for the sake of perspective, this is coming from a government that lost nearly seven billion dollars in the early years of the Iraq war. Not misspent, although there was a lot of that too, but lost. Gone. Lining someone’s pockets. The Pentagon said, given enough time, they’d find it, but they never did. The cash had been flown into Iraq in 20 C-130s in shrink-wrapped bricks. There was no accounting for it, presumably a lot of people got very rich. Did anyone’s head roll? No. Did anybody go to prison? No. We brought $55 billion in cash to Afghanistan, $55 billion to win the hearts and minds of the people. Nobody is certain where it all went. We just don’t know. Over the past decade, tens of millions of dollars of cash has been regularly delivered to Afghan President Hamid Karzai. It arrives in suitcases, backpacks, and shopping bags. We don’t know how much in all, certainly enough to keep him in fancy hats and robes and we don’t know how it’s been spent. Mind you, these were regular deliveries. Ostensibly the money was meant to buy influence for the CIA, but some of it instead fueled corruption and empowered warlords, many of whom have ties to the drug trade or the Taliban. Anybody called to the carpet? Not as far as anyone knows. JP Morgan-Chase just agreed to pay a fine of $13 billion for the fraudulent way it bundled and sold bad mortgages and securities leading up to the great recession six years ago. The company lied repeatedly in an effort to cover its losses and JP Morgan wasn’t alone; all of Wall Street was lying, cheating, stealing and paying themselves bonuses. Remember AIG and Lehman Brothers? Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, all of them, they were embroiled in an obscene scandal that left millions impoverished, that destroyed trillions of dollars of the world’s wealth. Anybody pay for this? Anybody go to jail? Nope. For the record, in the case of JP Morgan-Chase, the longtime chairman and CEO is still the chairman and CEO. JP Morgan’s stock is up 23 percent for the year and the $13 billion fine will most likely be paid by stockholders, but what gets everyone into a dither is food stamps. None of this is to suggest that law enforcement in general doesn’t still have a grip on things. Last week a 24-year-old trouble making McDonald’s worker up in Iron Mountain was convicted of spitting into a snack wrap and serving it to a cop. He got two-and-a-half years.