Tag: food stamps

The Food Stamp Gambit

Recently, at one of Sal 11000 Beta’s events, we were asked to engage in an activity. We were told that the average food stamp benefit was about $150 per person per month, which works out to about $6 per meal for a family of four. We were then given a newspaper ad for a grocery store and asked if we could feed a family of four on a food stamp benefit. This is apparently a big thing now in social justice circles.

Of course, the food stamp benefit is supposed to be supplementary. You’re not usually required to feed a family on just that. For most of the poor, they have some additional cash they can devote to food.

But even with that, the exercise completely backfired. It didn’t persuade me that you couldn’t feed a family on food stamps; it persuaded me that you could. It became immediately obvious that if you bought food in bulk and concentrated on staples that $6 per meal was adequate. Granted, you couldn’t afford luxuries like deserts or soda. But, to paraphrase O’Rourke, the biblical injunction is to feed the hungry, not wine and dine them.

This shouldn’t have surprised me. We feed my family of four for about $800 a month and that’s with only some basic economization and a few luxuries. And one of the biggest problems the poor have right now is obesity, not hunger.

(The latter problem has been a problem for people saying we need to increase anti-poverty spending. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to argue that tens of millions of Americans are going hungry when obesity rates are highest among the poor. What they talk about now is “food insecurity”, or the stress of not being sure that they’ll have enough money/benefits to go around. That’s shifting the goal posts a bit.)

When faced with this, the social justice crowd turns the tables and says that, since luxury foods are a rare treat for food stamp families (as they should be) the real problem is “shaming” of people who buy them on food stamps.

Look, I think the current efforts to restrict food stamps so people can’t buy things like soda are a bit misguided. But it’s not ridiculous for the public to get a little up in arms about what is being bought on their dime. Food stamps are intended to keep people from going hungry, not to replace the food budget or create the kind of “food security” that comes with working. And while poor people shouldn’t be humiliated, being on the public’s dime should be associate with at least a little bit of shame. Shame is not a bad thing; it’s often what motivates people to do better. I know people who’ve spent some time on food stamps … middle class people who lost jobs or had some other crisis like a divorce. They did what was necessary but they also got off them as soon as they could. Why is that a bad thing?

Telling people there’s nothing wrong with being on food stamps or any other form of welfare has been a growing emphasis on the Left. But this doesn’t “empower” the poor; it disempowers them by asserting that they have no control over their life and no choice but to be on the dole.

Obama Admin comedy gold..

That comes from Obama’s Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack when he equates food stamps with a stimulus:

Every dollar of SNAP benefits generates $1.84 in the economy in terms of economic activity. If people are able to buy a little more in the grocery store, someone has to stock it, package it, shelve it, process it, ship it. All of those are jobs. It’s the most direct stimulus you can get in the economy during these tough times

Someone should ask this moron how much every dollar government took away from people so it could then turn around and give probably less than 50 cents on the dollar – cost of government employees processing that money – in food stamps to people actually ended up costing us. I bet you that when all is said and done the number is big time negative. But why allow those facts to crowd/beclown the narrative?

I have to laugh, because otherwise the option is to cry at the stupidity of these people. Think anyone in the LSM will point out Vilsack is an economic illiterat douche? Not holding my breath.

UDPATE: In the comments below CM keeps pretending that since I only pointed out great economists had already disproved this broken window fallacy, that it was all nonsense, but didn’t actually write a dissertation about the proof myself, that there are no facts to substantiate my point that this is all bogus, so I figired I would show him some facts about how government job creating usually works out, and then do it while focusing on his enviro-fetish. Take a look at another great example of how well< a href="http://www.komonews.com/news/local/127844048.html" target="_new">government job creation works out in the real world:

Last year, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn announced the city had won a coveted $20 million federal grant to invest in weatherization. The unglamorous work of insulating crawl spaces and attics had emerged as a silver bullet in a bleak economy – able to create jobs and shrink carbon footprint – and the announcement came with great fanfare. McGinn had joined Vice President Joe Biden in the White House to make it. It came on the eve of Earth Day. It had heady goals: creating 2,000 living-wage jobs in Seattle and retrofitting 2,000 homes in poorer neighborhoods.

But more than a year later, Seattle’s numbers are lackluster. As of last week, only three homes had been retrofitted and just 14 new jobs have emerged from the program. Many of the jobs are administrative, and not the entry-level pathways once dreamed of for low-income workers. Some people wonder if the original goals are now achievable. “The jobs haven’t surfaced yet,” said Michael Woo, director of Got Green, a Seattle community organizing group focused on the environment and social justice.

“It’s been a very slow and tedious process. It’s almost painful, the number of meetings people have gone to. Those are the people who got jobs. There’s been no real investment for the broader public.”

The only people surprised by this result are the big government believers in the whole “broken window economic model” which is at the center of Vilsack’s idiotic claim that food stamps programs create jobs. Any job government creates will cost too much, produce too little, if any, in value, and basically waste resources that would have better been utilized elsewhere. In fact, I would not be surprised that if studied a guy wasting $1 million dollars whoring, drinking, and drugging for a weekend will produce more real wealth and economic growth/stimulus than government getting its hands on that money and doing whatever with it.

BTW, this isn’t the only horror story about government money going to create green jobs going awry. There is that Solar energy company in MA that got a ton of stimulus money and which Obama talked so much about when selling this idiotic patronage bill that just recently went belly up. Of course, the political and academic class that believe in this green nonsense, blamed capitalism for yet another pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking dumb idea not working.

If you really want to see government at work, look at the USPS for your example.