Food Stamps

Are food stamps good or are food stamps bad? Yes.
Also known as a Link Card and various other bureaucratic names.

Why are food stamps good?
They provide a (supposedly) temporary means to provide food to individuals and families in times of distress.
In many cases, particularly for the elderly, they provide the only nutrition to which they have access.

Why are food stamps bad?
Well, they are not really so bad as much as they are exploited, misused and often miss their target.
And on top of everything else, as they are structured, they are a public relations disaster for the needy.
How so?
Everyone has a story about standing in line, agonizing about the relative merits of the cost of ground chuck versus the cost of ground beef.
In front of you is someone who rather appears as if they need a gym membership rather than more food.
They have a large cart heaped full of shrimp, cakes, sugary drinks, microwaveable meals and various empty calories.
Out comes the Link Card or Food Stamps (or whatever the state names them to not sound parasitical) and the bill comes to $376!!!
And half the time as you watch them, they push their cart to a car far nicer than yours wearing clothes far nicer than yours.
Think this is anecdotal or "My neighbor heard from a friend..."?
Ask any checkout clerk. They will tell you horror stories. Wedding cakes with food stamps.
Can't buy dog food with food stamps? "Honey run back and get an extra pack of hamburger."
(Caveat: There are many recipients who very scrupulously count every penny & buy the best value canned vegetables and cheap cuts of meat.)
And this is on your dime. Your tax money.
And this IS a public relations disaster for the truly needy.
How can anyone expect a citizen to view this process rationally or generously?
It's almost as though the people who hate and despise food stamps wanted to structure it to appear as exploitive
of taxpayers as possible to hasten its demise. Well it's working.
And it seems they managed because that's the impression bystanders get.
But why would those who don't think the deserving poor deserve anything allow the program to continue?
Because contrary to the intent of the program as administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture
to channel America's agricultural surplus to those who need it most,
it has now become a multi-billion dollar program to channel billions of tax dollars to those who need it least.
The multinational food processors.
Remember, there are only two cents of wheat in a three dollar loaf of bread. The bag costs more.
How does that benefit American farmers?
(It does benefit American farmers who also have shrimp farming operations in Thailand. All none of them.)
Did you know one half the apple juice in America comes from China?
(Betcha didn't know Washington State- famous for its apples- was in China.)

How to remedy this?
Improve it. Triple its capacity.
Are you nuts? You just said how maladroit it is. What gives here?
Food Stamps have a sister program called WIC (Women, Infants, Children).
Guess what can be bought under this program?
Oats, flour, milk, butter, cheese, nuts, sugar, salt, vegetables, fruits, peanut butter, chicken, hamburger, fish, noodles, orange juice, eggs.
Any problem here yet?
What can't be bought?
Cigarettes, alcohol, Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Lobster, Shrimp, Filet Mignon, prepared meals, candy bars, Slim Jims, soda pop.
This look sensible yet?
Convert all of the Food Stamps program to WIC parameters.
Do you know what would happen?
First, you could feed about three times as many people on the same dime.
This wouldn't hurt the supermarkets because a dollar spent is a dollar spent.
Second, the shopping basket of the recipient would more closely match the shopping basket of the taxpayer.
Very important in getting the payers on board. This would go a long way towards nullifying any undue resentment.
Third. If you're unemployed, you don't need a convenience meal.
You are home with nothing to do, so you can cook. Turn off the TV, get off the phone.
If you can't cook- learn- it is a useful life skill.
Granted, the disabled or infirm need to be considered, but a lot of able-bodied folks receive food stamps and should at least have to boil water.

Full disclosure:
This author received Food Stamps for a few months when his leg was shattered.
An insurance settlement was in the works and these were required to be paid back along with the hospital bill.
In the meantime, he and his two children lived it up.
Real cheese instead of Velveeta.
This author has a confession.
He bought a delicacy. Pecans. But not the shelled ones. The ones you had to shell for yourselves.
That's the way it should be. I had time on my hands.

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