For a jobless, struggling South Carolina man, reality isn’t a political debate. Entitlement society? Opportunity society? Steven Murdock sees little of either.

by Eli Saslow

Stephen Murdock in his home. In the 14 months since he lost his $11-an-hour construction job, his options have been whittled down to this morning routine of cold calls to friends and neighbors. His weekly unemployment benefits had expired. His food stamps had been trimmed to less than $50 a week. His bank account was in the red, his hot water was turned off, and he no longer had health insurance to treat a pinched nerve or bouts of depression.  As South Carolina prepares to hold its Republican primary, the economically depressed state already has revealed a definitive issue of the 2012 presidential campaign: How can government best serve a record number of jobless and poor?

He awoke to his alarm on Monday morning at 6, just like always, even though his handwritten schedule for the day read only: “Find something to do!” Steven Murdock, 39, poured himself a cup of coffee and rummaged through the defrosted Thanksgiving leftovers in an otherwise barren refrigerator. He grabbed the phone that bill collectors were threatening to turn off and made his first call of the day.

  • World Hunger Education
    P.O. Box 29015
    Washington, D.C. 20017
  • For the past 40 years, since its founding in 1976, the mission of World Hunger Education Service is to undertake programs, including Hunger Notes, that
    • Educate the general public and target groups about the extent and causes of hunger and malnutrition in the United States and the world
    • Advance comprehension which integrates ethical, religious, social, economic, political, and scientific perspectives on the world food problem
    • Facilitate communication and networking among those who are working for solutions
    • Promote individual and collective commitments to sustainable hunger solutions.

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