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Making Food Stamps More Tasty Politically

Written by Gary North on March 23, 2012

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.

Continue Reading on articles.latimes.com

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11 thoughts on “Making Food Stamps More Tasty Politically

  1. SEAN MURRY says:

    no matter what they call it is still food stamps.

  2. An handout is a handout.

  3. Food Stamps, CalFresh, SNAP or what ever it is called needs to be limited to what items can be purchased. Start with what items cannot be purchased: chips, candy, snacks, sweets [all kinds], soda [regular and diet], any other item that causes a person to be overweight. Limit the meat consumption to the likes of chicken, hamberger. This is to lower the governments monthly allotments for costs. This will also stop Food Stamps, CalFresh, SNAP people from putting items like lobster in the shopping cart.
    Those that pay taxes to pay for those programs cannot afford lobster. So why is it if you are supposedly poor can you afford to put it in your shopping cart? I say put in your cart because a person on Food Stamps, CalFresh, SNAP are not paying for it themselves.

  4. 2WarAbnVet says:

    You know, of course, that that there is a massive federal "Department of Euphemisms" working very hard to make government ineptitude sound palatable?

  5. Paul Trombley says:

    No, not "food stamps" but 'food debit card'.

    Now, let's recall the term, warfare state, and try to figure out how much work it would take to adapt the essay. I don't think it would be difficult. For example:

    Change "[t]hat is what the welfare state does" into 'that is what the warfare state does'.

    Change "[f]ood stamps are based on taxpayer money" into 'the military's weapons are…'.

    Change "[t]he money is handed over to huge agribusiness firms in the name of helping the poor" into 'the money is handed over to defense contractors in the name of defense'.

    Change "[w]ho says that crime — I mean the welfare state — doesn’t pay?" into '[w]ho says that crime — I mean the warfare state— doesn’t pay?'.

    And so on. It's interesting how welfare statism, crony capitalism, are warfare statism go hand in hand. (HT to M. Rothbard for opening my eyes to this fact.) If you don't believe this you're probably a conservative, a federalist, or a flagwaver. If you simper, sneer, or smirk after reading this, you're probably a progressive, too. Of course, all progressives are conservatives, as those reactionaries in Wisconsin have demonstrated with their angry, wild-eyed protests, their occupation of the legislature's building, and their recall campaign.

  6. http://www.petition2congress.c...

    Go to this website and sign the petition to vet Obama and check into his eligibility to be president. The lame stream media never vetted him in 08 and neither did congress.

  7. icetrout says:

    How long can this keep up ?

  8. Spikeygrrl says:

    A handout is a handout whatever you call it.

  9. Bushwick Bill says:

    No, not 'food debit card', but "nutrition empowerment card"

  10. BushwickBill says:

    until default

  11. cedricward says:

    Let's see now….all you righteous folks who are against a program that keeps people from starving because the government YOU ALL ALLOWED TO EXIST due to your lack of GETTING INVOLVED in your local, state and Federal politics that has driven the ENTIRE POPULATION into poverty (YES, you will soon be in poverty when the economy collapses) by supporting criminal, thieving banksters and corporations that give their top management outrageous bonuses even when they lose money and politicians who SELL THEMSELVES TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER now think you are so ABOVE IT ALL that you can call your fellow citizens a drain out of your pocket. I wonder if ANY OF YOU realizes just how much YOU ARE SUBSIDIZED in your life style by the government edicts that give YOU tax breaks and/or incentives that allow you your lifestyle.
    How many of you who employ others are willing to pay them a living wage or treat them like human beings. Not many I suspect. But you're always complaining how your costs are increasing. But that's because YOU ALLOW this government to print money until all outstanding money loses value requiring suppliers to raise their prices to maintain the same income. So instead of raising YOUR PRICES, you CHISEL YOUR EMPLOYEES on their wages or lay them off thus reducing THEIR ABILITY TO CONSUME.
    Educate yourselves about Austrian Economics at MISES.ORG and other websites that speak THE TRUTH about economics and HOW THE WORLD REALLY WORKS.
    As to Gary North…Gary is a RELIGIOUS RIGHT WING CONSERVATIVE ZEALOT who would probably let his mother starve if she was down and out and asked for a handout, just like people who are down and out of luck through NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN are doing when they are starving and can't feed their kids.
    I have no qualms about limiting the type of foods that people should be able to buy with food benefits to only basic meats and vegetable and baking goods for bread as long as it's not limited to hamburger (total fat crap tainted with E Choli) or Spam. Packaged foods in boxes are mostly CRAP, but canned and frozen foods are okay, frozen being best, but many poor folks don't have a freezer to buy in bulk.
    Pretty soon most of you righteous complainers are going to be starving with the rest of the poor. YOU JUST DON'T KNOW IT YET BECAUSE YOU ARE STUPID, UNEDUCATED AND BIGOTED AND THINK YOU ARE BETTER THAN OTHERS!