Thursday, May 27, 2010

$73 Billion for Food Stamps?

40 million Americans are using food stamps. At a cost of $73 billion (with a B). Something is just wrong with this when 13% of the country leaches money to buy food. I am assuming that those 40 million don't have cars, dvd players, computers, iPods, and Playstations. Because afterall, food is a necessity and why would you want to spend your money on play things if you need to eat? Oh yeah, because our welfare state has bred it in to some people. Its disgusting!

Put $73 billion into perspective. For 40 million people, that is $1825 a year. About $150 per month, per person. Our family's food budget is just under $100 per month per person. And we eat out fairly regularly. And I wouldn't consider us anywhere close to poor. If this isn't a bloated government welfare program, then I don't know what is.

The stigma of using food stamps has all but disappeared too. At one point in our nation's recent history, people were for the most part ashamed to use food stamps and tried to hide it as much as possible. Since the adoption of debit cards, it has made it less obvious that anyone is using food stamps. Plus, the government has gotten into a large ad campaign to "encourage" people to sign up for food stamps. What irks me is that probably 75% of the people on food stamps don't need it or are there because of conscious choices they made.

Case in point, when I was going to college, there were quite a few couples I knew who were living in subsidized housing and getting food stamps. And they had chosen to do that by going to school that they couldn't afford and not wanting to lower their standard of living below what they were accustomed to in their parents home. Every now and then my friends would offer us milk and cheese that they got as part of their allotment because it was too much for their family. I don't think my wife and I ever took any of it, even though that sure would have helped our food budget at the time.

So what would I do? Scrap the whole program. Why should the government be in the business of providing food for people? But, but, but ... then people will starve .... Uh, no. They won't. They may get their priorities in order and not buy the latest movie on Blu-ray and instead feed their family for a couple of days. Perhaps they will cut back on the beer and buy Wheaties instead (their both made from the same stuff, one just has more nutritional value and you don't have the hangover the next morning). There are lots of charities that provide food for the poor, and can feed a family for a lot less than $150 per person a month.

So, am I a heartless cretin? If you rely on food stamps, you probably think so. However, in my mind (and in practice) I can separate what are legitimate roles of government (blowing things up, printing money, and building some roads) and what should be the role of private charities. Unfortunately, I only get to selectively choose which charities I donate to. I don't get to selectively fund government programs.

1 comment:

  1. AMEN! I always hated shopping in a way that stretched our budget to its breaking point only to see someone with the food stamp budget making poor food choices (nutritionally and volume wise). I hated that people didn't 'get' that taking more home from the store than then needed and passing it around was wrong. And, I hated when any shopper in front of me paid for food with their Food Stamps and then the latest full priced DVD with their own cash. Then, as I pushed my basket out to our very old, but reliable car I would see the same people loading up there car. What were they driving? A brand new (with paper tags) mustang convertible. Um.... if you're driving a brand new anything, you're not 'poor'. You're making poor choices. There is a difference.

    Anyone who thinks I'm heartless for saying these things, should go through the sacrifices we went through to live within our means. They weren't pretty. After that person walks a mile in our struggling shoes, then we can talk about who is heartless and who isn't.