Posts Tagged ‘Food Stamps’

Why the rage against food stamps?

November 8, 2013

Why the rage against people who use food stamps?

I read an article on-line in the Chronicle of Higher Education about a women who had been struggling for 10 years as an adjunct college professor teaching history and most of the comments condemned her because at times she had signed up for food stamps to get by.

Image: Bloomberg Asks Fed Gov't For Permission To Ban Food Stamp Purchases Of Sugary DrinksThis woman was not the stereotypical “welfare queen.”  She was devoted to her vocation as a teacher, and made sacrifices to pursue it.  Yet the comments said she and her daughter deserved to suffer for not having chosen a more lucrative profession.

I think the reason for the rage is that there are a lot of people who want to believe that they are in control of their lives, and nothing bad will happen to them if they never make an incorrect choice.

I remember the part of Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff in which he tells how fighter pilots, whenever one of them died in a crash, would sit around and discuss the crash, until they had determined to their own satisfaction that it was due to a mistake in judgment or execution.  The fact was that nobody exercises 100 percent correct judgment and that even pilots with the right stuff can die in crashes.

In the U.S. economy, people with a good work ethic can crash.  I have a friend, also an adjunct college teacher, who has had to apply for food stamps and unemployment insurance to get by, even though he never thought he would.   I’ve been told that volunteers at community food banks here in Rochester report the same thing.  Most of us are on thinner ice than we like to think about.


Who are the real makers and takers?

September 12, 2013


Hat tip to Jobsanger.

In praise of food stamps

January 24, 2012

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.

Food stamps and dog whistles

January 24, 2012

Double click to enlarge

Newt Gingrich on a number of occasions has called President Barack Obama the “food stamp President.”  An interesting choice of words.  Not the “unemployment President” or the “foreclosure President,” but the “food stamp President.”  Does he mean to imply that it matters less that so many people are unable to find work, and have lost their homes, than that there is a program to make sure poor people get enough to eat?  He said President Obama has “put” people on food stamps, but Obama didn’t write the law.  Would Gingrich have him refuse to administer the law as written?

Juan Williams, among others, asked Gingrich if he wasn’t appealing to a negative stereotype of black people.  Gingrich’s reply was that he would be happy to appear before the NAACP and lecture the delegates on why hard work is better than food stamps.

A few facts:

  • More whites than blacks receive food stamps.
  • Nearly half of those who get food stamps have jobs, and still are poor.
  • Most black people have jobs.
  • Jobs are not to be had for the asking (to put it mildly).

The expression “dog whistles” refers to coded words that are understood by a small group but unnoticed by the general public.  When President George W. Bush referred to the Supreme Court being wrong on the Dred Scott pro-slavery decision, members of the Right to Life movement understood him to be alluding to the Roe vs. Wade anti-abortion decision, since they frequently compare the two.

Newt Gingrich’s remarks can’t be called “dog whistles.”  Their appeal to racially prejudiced white people is not hidden or subtle.  It could not be more plain and obvious.

Many conservative Republicans seriously wonder why so few African Americans leave what they call the “Democratic plantation.” But then a lot of them probably think that the average NAACP convention delegate needs to be lectured on the desirability of hard work.

Newt Gingrich also thinks there is a serious problem with overpaid janitors.  In my biased opinion, the average janitor contributes more to the well-being of the American people than Newt Gingrich ever has.

Click on Newt and the Food Stamp President for comment from The Economist.

Click on Real Racists Do Real Things and On Looking Like a Ghetto Crackhead for Ta-Nehisi Coates’ comments.

Click on Slowpoke Comics archive for more cartoons.