In praise of food stamps

The father of the today’s food stamp program was George McGovern, a liberal Democratic Senator from South Dakota who is remembered for running for President in 1972 in opposition to the Vietnam War, and being defeated in a landslide by Richard M. Nixon.  He and Senator Robert Dole, a conservative Republican Senator from Kansas, co-sponsored the Food Stamp Act of 1977, which establishes the food stamp program in its present form.

An experimental food stamp program existed during the Great Depression, and a food stamp program was revived during the Great Society era.  First the government gave away surplus food, such as cheese.  Then there was a program for poor people to buy their own food, using government stamps that could be bought for less than the face value.  The problem with that was that some Americans were too poor to afford food stamps.  Even with food stamps, malnutrition and even starvation existed in the United States.  This was addressed  by Senator McGovern’s and Dole’s bill, which gave the food stamps to any eligible family.   This is an achievement to be proud of.

I remember back in the 1990s when Newt Gingrich talked about “McGovernite” morality.  He and McGovern, make an interesting contrast.  George McGovern served his country bravely in wartime, married and was faithful to his college sweetheart, never took drugs and was respected even by his political opponents.  Newt Gingrich avoided military service, cheated on at least two of his three wives and was despised even by his political allies.  But Gingrich had the audacity to set himself up as an arbiter of morality, and there were people who took him seriously.

Click on Newt Gingrich’s Dodgy Attack on Food Stamps for comment from Business Week.

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One Response to “In praise of food stamps”

  1. Atticus Finch Says:

    Newt surely is not moral. It’s too bad food stamps are abused and in many cases lead to complete dependence on government. Something about redistribution of wealth by the government bothers me, but it’s better than people dying of starvation. I wonder if private charities and generous donations would be enough to support those who can’t feed themselves. We waste about 40% of the food in this country right off the farm – seems like something could be done there. Anyways – no chance Newt wins the GOP – he has too much baggage. At least I hope…

    Like

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