Monday, November 30, 2009

Food Stamps are all the Rage During Funemployment

Via Memeorandum

The New York Times reports there are so many people receiving "nutritional aid," (nee food stamps) the stigma once associated with being on the dole is fading fast.  Consider this the latest sign of hope and change during the Obama administration.   The program is so successful it is growing in leaps and bounds:

It has grown so rapidly in places so diverse that it is becoming nearly as ordinary as the groceries it buys. More than 36 million people use inconspicuous plastic cards for staples like milk, bread and cheese, swiping them at counters in blighted cities and in suburbs pocked with foreclosure signs.
Virtually all have incomes near or below the federal poverty line, but their eclectic ranks testify to the range of people struggling with basic needs. They include single mothers and married couples, the newly jobless and the chronically poor, longtime recipients of welfare checks and workers whose reduced hours or slender wages leave pantries bare.
The Times is quick to point out the effort to remove the stigma was a bipartisan one undertaken during the Bush administration.  Does anyone recall the Times pointing out anything positive during the Bush years?  I certainly don't.  There was nearly full employment during the Bush years too, but the liberal media was loathe to acknowledge it at the time.   The bipartisan effort to reduce the stigma led to a name change from food stamps to nutritional aid and changed the form of delivery to an inconspicuous card swiped when purchasing groceries.   These efforts cleared the path but the numbers have actually "soared" during the recession.   Hallelujah!

Mickey Kaus points out the Times front page piece goes out of its way to avoid informing the reader  how much the program has grown recently:
 (Amazingly, the Times never bothers to tell readers by what percentage the program has grown recently, though it barrages them with unassimilable stats from select counties and tedious anecdotes.) The paleoliberal undermessage of today's NYTpiece is basically: 'Hah, hah, you conservatives and 'values' Dems. When times are tough all your stigmatizing of welfare goes out the window.' Americans are learning to to love the dole.'
Interesting aside, Jonah Goldberg sees the same dynamic in the Democrats' strategy to institute nationalized health care:
The Democrats sincerely believe that nationalized health care, in one form or another, is the best thing for America, and that if they can get it passed, voters will fall in love with it. Politically, there is a real danger they’re right. Americans are loath to relinquish entitlements once they’ve secured them. That’s the Republicans’ gamble.
But Goldberg counters the Democrats gamble is that voters will revolt over exploding deficits, increased taxes.  Inevitably an explosion in growth of a cash-like welfare program such as food stamps will stress depleted federal, state and local budgets leading to increased taxes, decreased growth and ultimately voter revolt.  The Times, however, sees nothing but blue skies as do the federal officials involved in the program:
Although the program is growing at a record rate, the federal official who oversees it would like it to grow even faster.
“I think the response of the program has been tremendous,” said Kevin Concannon, an under secretary of agriculture, “but we’re mindful that there are another 15, 16 million who could benefit.”
One could well imagine a successful administration boasting that fewer people needed such assistance under their programs, here we see the opposite.  Of course, no one  wants to see anyone go hungry especially not in a land where so much food is wasted by nanny staters worried about trans fats.  In Pennsylvania helping low income families obtain more nutritious diets is listed as the chief purpose of the plan.  The application has an advisory for those who might qualify for immediate benefits and a completely confidential voter's registration form (pg 8):

Interestingly enough the Times makes no mention of migrant or seasonal farm workers in their article.  It's all folks just like you and me:
This is the first recession in which a majority of the poor in metropolitan areas live in the suburbs, giving food stamps new prominence there. Use has grown by half or more in dozens of suburban counties from Boston to Seattle, including such bulwarks of modern conservatism as California’s Orange County, where the rolls are up more than 50 percent.
Despite the efforts of the Times to create this impression, they include an interactive map showing increase in food stamp participation by county.  The table below the map shows the areas where as many as 49% of the population relies on food stamps.  Only four of the first 15 voted for McCain and often not in the overwhelming percentages as those counties that went for Obama.  Moreover, Many of these counties have high unemployment numbers and with the exception of areas heavily populated by Native Americans have seen little or any of those magically  "created or saved" jobs the administration loves to boast about.  I have researched this a bit and put together a table to illustrate:

Perhaps this administration should concentrate on taking the "un" out of unemployment so that fewer need to rely on food stamps and other forms of government entitlements.

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