-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
The Food Stamp program, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is a target for Republicans who voted to cut $40 billion from the program. The reasons that Republicans have given are so divorced from reality that one can reasonably suspect their true motivations lie elsewhere. The primacy of fantasy in the GOP has been recently evidenced by Michele Bachmann who sees signs of the End Times, a wished-for global apocalypse.
First up on the list of fantasies is by Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Arkansas) who said “the food stamp program [grew] exponentially because the government continues to turn a blind eye to a system fraught with abuse.” In reality, SNAP participation closely tracks the long term unemployment rate, prolonged by Republicans. The sale of SNAP benefits for cash, called “trafficking,” has been cut to $1 in every $100 of SNAP benefits. The reality is a one percent abuse rate, the fantasy is SNAP is “fraught” with abuse.
The next fantasy is that able-bodied people are getting food stamps instead of working. The reality is that 83% of all SNAP benefits go to households that include a child, an elderly person, or a disabled person. The average individual gets $133 a month in SNAP benefits. It is ridiculous to imagine that a person is going to quit their job for $133 a month that can only be spent on food, but Republicans bear ridicule well.
The next fantasy is that SNAP recipients use their benefits to buy cigarettes and alcohol. The SNAP program uses Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards, similar to debit cards, that can be used in the supermarket checkout line only to purchase food. The Right likes to point to Jackie Whiton, a Peterborough, New Hampshire, store cashier who declined to accept an EBT card as payment for a pack of cigarettes. In reality, the EBT card contained state assistance money, not SNAP benefits, which can be used to purchase tobacco products. The store she worked for has a policy of accepting EBT cash benefits. In reality, Whiton was fired for violating the company’s policies.
The Republican war on programs that benefit Americans in need isn’t based on a philosophical commitment to small government. If it were, the $20 billion in farm subsidies, a welfare program for agribusiness, would be near the top of their hit list. According to a Greenberg report, the Republicans “are very conscious of being white in a country that is increasingly minority.” The report goes on to say that the “race issue [is] very much alive.” There you have it. Obama is taking their money and giving it to “Those People.”
H/T: Dave Johnson, Paul Krugman, Dottie Rosenbaum, Amanda Marcotte, Brian Tashman, WMUR.
559 thoughts on “Food Stamp Fantasies”
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There is much talk about “PC”.
Here is the better reality, “SC” … socially correct.
“We got your back” means a lot more when people who care about social injustice say it.
Think of a target on your back when certain politicians say it.
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CHARTS: The Hidden Benefits of Food Stamps
Research shows the much-maligned aid to the poor buys broad economic and public health gains.
—By Christopher D. Cook
Fri Oct. 25, 2013
The toughest union thug in my local was an ex-Franciscan nun who had grown up and later taught in a tough section of NYC. She worked at my school and helped us get our first contract. She feared no one! She was also one of the best teachers that I ever worked with. Year after year, she took more than her share of children with learning difficulties and behavior problems. She spent countless hours talking with parents in an effort to help them help their children. She’d even drive into Boston at night to meet with the parents of Metco students at Boston Public Library. She did that so the parents didn’t have to take time off from work or to drive twenty miles to attend a teacher conference. Some thug, huh?
Hey, I was a union thug so I resemble that remark!
Don’t you remember that it was union thugs who ruined education in this country by scaring away all the fine male teachers and leaving the profession in the hands of incompetent female educators?
“Don’t you remember that It was union thugs who ruined education in this country by scaring away all the fine male teachers and leaving the profession in the hands of incompetent female educators?”
Yes I do now that you mention it. Now it is possible that sometimes a particular Union might gain a members animus because that member feels it did not offer the member the protection it should. As a former Union Delegate I well remember the anger of certain union members that their personal quirks were not supported by the union. Who knows what motivates some people?
Didn’t you know that ideology is more important than child hunger. If poor parents can’t afford to feed their children….why should we care?
bfm, We spend more money on education per student than any other country and get horrible results. More money is not the answer.
“bfm, We spend more money on education per student than any other country and get horrible results. More money is not the answer.”
And sometimes we hire incompetent teachers who blame the teachers union for not protecting their incompetence.
Tina, As long as you know that there are people who value your perspective, then I’m happy. Elitists get their jollies condescending. The hypocrisy of some is they profess to be the champions of people in need. As long as they know their place and use the back door. I grew up ethnic, blue collar in New England. The WASPS tried to make us feel that way, and I confess sometimes did. I never forget from whence I came. I suggest you read the posts and get the flow. Then, when comfortable, just make a comment. Some of the posts are light hearted. But, read those posts about the fight @ the football game. You must have a thought on that. Ciao.
Why should we care about the plight of poor children?
I have never understood why people who claim to care about the country and claim to believe that competition made the country great would not demand that we care for children and take strong measures to give children the best chance to grow up healthy with a sound education.
I suppose, if they think at all, they must believe that the ones who survive neglect will be the strongest.
It is often a mistake to think of human beings as a resource. But imagine a farmer who told us he ignored the crop on the theory that the plants that survived would give the best fruit.
I don’t see how anyone who cares about the competitive position of the country would not also be deeply concerned about the welfare of all children.
Tina, I’m glad you’re back, and this inspiring story shines even brighter w/ all the negativity and sniping here. Please keep coming back, not just on SNAP stories, but anything that interests you. Do not be intimidated, there are good folks here who will have your back. Your voice and perspective is DESPERATELY needed.
Hi Nick.. thanks for your words.. It is a bit hard to be intimidated through a blog.. you know, choices… I can just choose to exit. BUT…. (lol, no Bob the caps are not locked just a little dig your way as deserved). here I am.. Ahh, I see the pic did not come through with my reply.. :o( Always helps to put a “real” person with a story… or are “some” of the people here just talking statistics and so on.. well, for those of you that are paper pushers… we are “real”.. thus, the above story of millions.
The Republicans’ War on the Poor
The GOP is pushing to decimate food-stamp programs, punishing the most vulnerable just out of sheer spite
By Elizabeth Drew
October 24, 2013
The way the program to provide the poor with the bare minimum of daily nutrition has been handled is a metaphor for how the far right in the House is systematically trying to take down the federal government. The Tea Party radicals and those who either fear or cultivate them are now subjecting the food-stamp program to the same kind of assault they have unleashed on other settled policies and understandings that have been in place for decades. Breaking all manner of precedents on a series of highly partisan votes, with the Republicans barely prevailing, the House in September slashed the food-stamp program by a whopping $39 billion and imposed harsh new requirements for getting on, or staying on, the program. The point was to deny the benefit to millions.
Hardly any other federal undertaking – with the exception of the Affordable Care Act – has attracted more hostility from the far right than the food-stamp program. As recently as the mid-Sixties, actual hunger and starvation existed in this country on a significant scale, particularly in the Deep South and Appalachia. In 1967, Robert F. Kennedy took a widely covered trip to the Mississippi Delta, where he was quite evidently shocked at the sight of listless babies with distended bellies who were unresponsive to his touching them or trying to get them to laugh. That same year, a group of doctors took a foundation-sponsored trip to Mississippi and reported, “In child after child we saw: evidence of vitamin and mineral deficiencies; serious untreated skin infestation and ulcerations; eye and ear diseases, also unattended bone diseases secondary to poor food intake; the prevalence of bacterial and parasitic diseases. . . .”
In the years after these devastating revelations, two farm-state senators of different philosophies on many issues – South Dakota Democrat George McGovern and Kansas Republican Bob Dole – joined together to strengthen the program and extend it to more people in need. Over in the House, Thomas Foley, a Democratic congressman from Spokane, Washington – a major wheatgrowing area – and later House speaker, was the real legislative hero of the program.
Even before he became chairman of the Agricultural Committee in 1975, Foley had the insight that the way to politically protect food stamps – both in his fairly conservative committee and on the House floor – was to combine the program with agricultural subsidies in the farm bill that came up for renewal every five years or so. The idea was classic if benignly intended log-rolling: Members from urban areas, where unemployment and the need for food stamps is relatively high, would grudgingly vote for the farm bill, while representatives from parts of the country with agricultural interests would grudgingly vote for food stamps. There was a certain substantive as well as political logic in linking nutrition support to farm surpluses – it helped unload excess commodities, while at the same time it could help feed the poor. Grocers also supported the food stamps as a way of selling more goods. (One of the program’s greatest fans today is Walmart, which has the distinction of having customers and employees on food stamps.)
In 1979, 12 years after the original report calling attention to the appalling hunger in the Deep South and Appalachia, the Field Foundation sent another medical team to roughly the same areas, and it found that despite no sizable improvement in the condition of poverty, there had been a dramatic reduction in hunger and malnutrition as a result of food stamps and other nutrition assistance. The data shows that while a significant number of nonelderly households left the program as their income improved, the group whose participation had increased the most was the working poor.
“Food stamps are largely responsible for the near-elimination of the severe hunger and malnutrition that was widespread in many poverty-stricken areas,” says Bob Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and a bearded, Old Testament-like figure who ran the program during the last two years of the Carter administration and is passionate about it. “Were it not for this program, we would see a lot more chronically hungry people and more illness related to malnutrition and undernutrition.”
Food stamps are far from an extravagant benefit. The average allocation is $1.40 per person per meal. (Try it some time.) A few years ago, the program was renamed SNAP, for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, to give it a more positive facade, but that headed off not a whit of anger at the notion that hordes of freeloaders were getting benefits they didn’t deserve or were electing to become dependent on food stamps rather than get a job…
The House’s deep slash to the food-stamp program, combined with outlandish restrictions, arose from various impulses. There was, obviously, the long-standing animus within the Republican Party toward poor people, and that’s been substantially intensified as a result of the transformation of the party, whose center of gravity has moved south and west. Moreover, a minority of the party in the House, backed by powerful and wealthy outside interest groups, has seized the reins by throwing terror into the ranks that if they don’t conform to the Tea Party’s agenda, they could face defeat in a primary challenge from the right in the next election. Bob Dole’s and George McGovern’s time is long gone. Neither the Senate, nor the House, nor American politics are anything like they were in their time. The Republican Party in the Senate contains no Jacob Javits, the late New York senator who fought to protect food stamps. Among the Democrats, there’s no Edward Kennedy to champion the causes of the poor, to even enjoy doing battle for them. One of the few unabashed liberals, Tom Harkin of Iowa, is retiring after five terms. Harkin was born into modest means, which he has never forgotten – he needed no lectures about bootstraps.
Frank Somerville KTVU
Journalist · 64,688 likes..
The woman on the left is a mother from Miami who was so desperate to feed her hungry family that she was trying to steal a lot of food. The woman on the right is Miami-Dade County Police Officer Vicki Thomas. Officer Thomas was about to arrest Jessica Robles but changed her mind at the last minute. Instead of arresting her, she bought Robles $100 worth of groceries: “I made the decision to buy her some groceries because arresting her wasn’t going to solve the problem with her children being hungry.” And there’s no denying they were hungry. Robles’ 12 year old daughter started crying when she told local TV station WSVN about how dire their situation was: “[It’s] not fun to see my brother in the dirt hungry, asking for food, and we have to tell him, ‘There is nothing here.’” Officer Thomas says she has no question that what she did was right: “To see them go through the bags when we brought them in, it was like Christmas. That $100 to me was worth it.” But Officer Thomas did have one request: “The only thing I asked of her is, when she gets on her feet, that she help someone else out. And she said she would.” And guess what? The story gets even better. After word got out about what happened people donated another $700 for Jessica Robles to spend at the grocery store. And then best of all a local business owner invited her in for an interview and ended up hiring her on the spot as a customer service rep. She started crying when he told her: “There’s no words how grateful I am that you took your time and helped somebody out. Especially somebody like me.” And to think it all started with one veteran police officer trusting her “instinct” instead of going “by the book”. Courtesy WSVN.
The woman on the left is a mother from Miami who was so desperate to feed her hungry family that she was trying to steal a lot of food. The woman on the right is Miami-Dade County Police Officer Vicki Thomas. Officer Thomas was about to arrest Jessica Robles but changed her mind at the last minute. Instead of arresting her, she bought Robles $100 worth of groceries: “I made the decision to buy her some groceries because arresting her wasn’t going to solve the problem with her children being hungry.” And there’s no denying they were hungry. Robles’ 12 year old daughter started crying when she told local TV station WSVN about how dire their situation was: “[It’s] not fun to see my brother in the dirt hungry, asking for food, and we have to tell him, ‘There is nothing here.’” Officer Thomas says she has no question that what she did was right: “To see them go through the bags when we brought them in, it was like Christmas. That $100 to me was worth it.” But Officer Thomas did have one request: “The only thing I asked of her is, when she gets on her feet, that she help someone else out. And she said she would.” And guess what? The story gets even better. After word got out about what happened people donated another $700 for Jessica Robles to spend at the grocery store. And then best of all a local business owner invited her in for an interview and ended up hiring her on the spot as a customer service rep. She started crying when he told her: “There’s no words how grateful I am that you took your time and helped somebody out. Especially somebody like me.” And to think it all started with one veteran police officer trusting her “instinct” instead of going “by the book”. Courtesy WSVN — with Taty Cruz and Eddie Brill.
Rick, as for making new ppl feel welcome, on Oct 13th, slightly after 10 pm, you told me to go pay my taxes and to be quiet 🙂 🙂 next thing you know, ppl will be telling me the world is round!
That looks pretty neat, LK. And a surprisingly big name cast too.
There is a Flatland 2: Sphereland.
Also, It seems to me that there is another movie version of Flatland because I saw it but it wasn’t as visually interesting. I would have remembered the fractals.
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