Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Bread Bags Became Political

The State of the Union Speech happened last night. And the GOP sent Iowa U.S. Senator Joni Ernst to offer their rebuttal. She said mostly what you would expect her to say: cut government spending, balance the budget, reduce taxes.

But she continued her long-running meme about Iowa values and smalltown populism. Her farming family "taught us to live within our means" and there was a strong reliance on family and friends to make things work -- with the help of $460,000 in federal farming subsidies between 1995 and 2009.

Don't get me wrong. I don't have a major problem with farm subsidies. My own family has benefited from them in the past. In fact, many farmers -- including corporate farms -- benefit from farm subsidies. But it always bugged me a bit when my father and his friends would rail against welfare recipients while simultaneously receiving federal farm-related subsidies. But that's a discussion for another day.

But I'm here to write about bread bags. I don't know much about Joni Ernst's latest speech, but I know that she wore camouflage print low-heeled shoes (they were talking about it today on "GMA") and she used to wear bread bags over her shoes on rainy days:
We were raised to live simply, not to waste. It was a lesson my mother taught me every rainy morning. You see, growing up, I had only one good pair of shoes. So on rainy school days, my mom would slip plastic bread bags over them to keep them dry. But I was never embarrassed. Because the school bus would be filled with rows and rows of young Iowans with bread bags slipped over their feet.
I've been on the road working all day, but I've heard plenty about the bread bags all day.

Some people have never heard of this -- despite having been raised on smalltown Iowa farms.

I'm not one of those people. I've heard of people -- usually old women -- wearing bread bags over their shoes.

I grew up in smalltown Minnesota -- just over the border from Iowa. It was a farming community. And I'm less than a year younger than Joni Ernst. I never saw any kids wear bread bags to my school. But maybe that's the difference between southwestern Iowa versus southeastern Minnesota.

But I currently live in urban Iowa with my husband and youngest son. He currently has one pair of shoes -- I'm not sure if it's currently in good shape. It probably needs to be replaced soon. He usually uses one of my extra pairs when we have a special event to attend. But we don't cover them with bread bags. Maybe we should, but a size twelve shoe doesn't fit too well within bread bags.

But we reuse shopping bags for kitty litter and we pass clothing down from one son to the other. Unfortunately, that particular recycling trick is not really an option anymore now that my youngest son is outgrowing my oldest boy.

Incidentally, here are some of my favorite tweets related to Joni Ernst's bread bags:

Incidentally -- and having no relevance to this particular issues -- Sen. Ernst is from the same county as the famous Villisca Axe Murder House.

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