The government has a problem. Most Americans realize that sticking a gun in someone’s belly and telling him to hand over his wallet is a crime. It’s also immoral.
That is what the welfare state does. But it justifies this because Congress voted for it. Add a badge to a gun, and theft becomes legal. But it does not become moral. Just because voters have a majority and can hire a man with a gun and a badge to do the stealing doesn’t make theft moral.
Politicians sell stolen money for votes. The more people who will vote for loot, the more votes politicians can get.
Food stamps are based on taxpayer money. The money is handed over to huge agribusiness firms in the name of helping the poor.
Some Americans still think it’s a stigma to get food stamps. So, politicians are always looking for ways to reduce or eliminate this stigma. If they are successful, they can buy more votes.
California’s food stamp bureaucrats think they have found a way to reduce the stigma of food stamps. They can’t eliminate it, but they can conceal it. A rose by any other name is still a rose, and the same is true of food stamps. But the bureaucrats keep trying.
The food stamp program has been given a new name. It’s now called CalFresh.
Someone who uses food stamps is no longer just trying to milk the voters. No, he’s just trying to be a healthy eater.
The 250-pound lady lady who fills her shopping cart with chips, soft drinks, and candy bars is a healthy eater, deep down inside. She pays with CalFresh, not food stamps.
The rebranding of food stamps is the latest in a series of efforts to increase participation in the federal program, which offers qualifying families an average of $200 per month of food benefits in California.
More than 3 million Californians receive the benefit every month. However, participation has typically lagged behind most other states. In 2007, the most recent year for which federal estimates are available, fewer than half of the eligible California residents were receiving the benefit. Only Wyoming had a lower participation rate.
In California, the program used the term “food stamps” for more than 40 years. However, the paper coupons that inspired it were replaced years ago with a card, which looks and functions like a debit card.
Congress got in on the act first. It renamed the food stamp program with a snappy new name: SNAP. That stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
The change in names has not fooled the general public. The voters still know that food stamps are welfare handouts from taxpayers. But it makes the bureaucrats who administer the food stamp program feel better about themselves.
The name change in California was made only after the Department of Social Services used focus groups to test names. SNAP was not snappy enough.
Department Director John Wagner said the name chosen by Congress did not test well in local focus groups because it suggested a welfare program rather than a health and nutrition program.
The fact that it is a welfare program made it imperative to change the name.
“I think that CalFresh better captures the goals of the program as well as conveys the rich tradition of our great state as a leader in agribusiness,” Wagner said.
The goals of the program are to subsidize poor people (get votes) and abgribusiness (get PAC money).
“Advocates for low-income families welcomed the rebranding.” Rebranding. Why, it’s Madison Avenue in California!
“We really needed something to capture how the program has changed,” said George Manalo-LeClair, senior director of legislation for California Food Policy Advocates. “There are new ways to apply, new rules to improve access for working folks and a wonderful EBT [electronic benefit transfer] card to deliver benefits.”
The federal government pays for the benefit and for half the cost of administering the program. The state and counties pay the rest.
And it’s great for the economy, according to the welfare state bureaucrats who make $90,000 a year administering the program.
Federal officials estimate that every $1 in benefits generates as much as $1.84 in economic activity by increasing business for grocery stores, farms, transportation companies and other firms. The benefit also boosts state revenue by freeing up income that would otherwise be spent on food, enabling beneficiaries to spend more on purchases that are subject to sales tax.
Who says that crime — I mean the welfare state — doesn’t pay? That’s pre-Keynesian thinking. Money is taken from taxpayers, which somehow does not reduce economic activity, and is handed over to agribusiness firms and poor people, which makes us all richer. Food costs are higher, but everyone is richer.
If you think this makes no sense, you are probably a Tea Party fanatic. Your opinions are not welcome in Washington or Sacramento.