Republicans Plan to Cut Food Stamps as Homelessness Rises in the US

Even though poverty is a difficult, many-faceted problem, the US stands out in how openly it hates the poor, even as its economic system looks increasingly designed to produce more of them.

The Republican party, doing the bidding of members of the 0.1% and ideologues who treat poverty as the result of the lack of a work ethic, have made cutting the food stamp program a top priority. An overview from Huffington Post:

Democrats have warned that after passing a tax bill that adds to the national debt, Republicans will say it’s all the more urgent to cut Social Security and Medicare.

While overhauling those popular programs is a long-term Republican goal, in the near-term conservative lawmakers are more eager to cut food stamps.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), founder of the House Freedom Caucus, told HuffPost on Tuesday that the influential bloc of conservative Republicans will push for “welfare reform” legislation next year that would add new restrictions on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits…

He said the basic idea would be new restrictions on able-bodied adults ― even if they have children ― along the lines of a bill he introduced earlier this year. Robert Rector, a welfare expert with the conservative Heritage Foundation, said Jordan’s bill would cut SNAP spending by 20 percent over 10 years, which would amount to more than $100 billion….

Roughly 42 million low-income Americans, of whom 44 percent are children, receive monthly SNAP benefits that can be used to buy food in grocery stores ― making it one of the U.S. government’s biggest and most expensive economic safety net programs.

Jordan and Freedom Caucus chairman Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) talked about the idea with Trump earlier this year, and Jordan said the president is enthusiastic about it…

Republicans have used resentment toward the food stamp program ― established in 1964 as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty” ― as a political weapon since at least the 1970s. Ronald Reagan, during his 1976 presidential run, would tell audiences of a “strapping young buck” outrageously using food stamps to buy steak.

Before we turn to this Republican implementation of one of Lambert’s rules of neoliberalism, “Go die,” note that Democrats are all with the bogus premise that Federal deficit spending is a problem, and therefore budget cuts are necessary and desirable. Since neither party will cut military spending or corporate pork, the only thing left to cut is social safety nets. So don’t kid yourself about the Democrats. They’ll make cuts, but slowly and with feigned regret, while as we can see from the quotes in the HuffPo article, the Republicans make them with glee.

It only took a few minutes on YouTube to find this priceless clip in which a Fox reporter, with a straight face, tells viewers repeatedly that the rich suffered more in the aftermath of the crisis than the poor. Since when is a decline in paper wealth as big a deal as going from poor to desperate?

The Republican canard is the claim that the food stamp program is full of modern welfare queens, slough-offs who need to get off their couches and find work. First, as readers know all too well, there is plenty of un and underemployment in the US. People would not be accepting debilitating warehouse jobs at Amazon if there was adequate demand for workers. Nearly 95% of the jobs created when Obama was in office were part time or contract work. Those willing to work can’t necessarily cobble together the equivalent of a full time paycheck.

Second, many jobs pay only the minimum wage, which is below a living wage for a family even with two earners, and below a living wage even for single people in virtually all cities in the US. And what are people in the boonies told to do? Move to cities to get work, even though they seldom have the personal connections to help them land a job there, and often don’t have enough scratch to fund a relocation (as in have enough money to put down a deposit on a rental).

Third, in keeping with the fact that many jobs don’t pay a living wage, people who are employed are also on food stamps. This article by Peter Van Buren, a former State Department employee who fell into low-wage work after he became a whistleblower and was fired, is important reading. Key section:

20 mega-companies dominate the minimum-wage world. Walmart alone employs 1.4 million minimum-wage workers; Yum Brands (Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC) is in second place; and McDonald’s takes third. Overall, 60 percent of minimum-wage workers are employed by businesses not officially considered “small” by government standards, and of course carve-outs for really small businesses are possible, as was done with Obamacare.

Keep in mind that not raising wages costs you money.

Those minimum wage workers who can’t make enough and need to go on food assistance? Well, Walmart isn’t paying for those food stamps (now called SNAP), you are. The annual bill that states and the federal government foot for working families making poverty-level wages is $153 billion. A single Walmart Supercenter costs taxpayers between $904,542 and $1.75 million per year in public assistance money. According to Florida Congressman Alan Grayson, in many states Walmart employees are the largest group of Medicaid recipients. They are also the single biggest group of food stamp recipients. In other words, those everyday low prices at the chain are, in part, subsidized by your tax money. Meanwhile, an estimated 18 percent of food stamps (SNAP) are spent at Walmart.

Yves here. Do you think the Walmarts of the world will raise wages to compensate for the loss of the food stamp subsidy? No way.

And let’s look at another population that disproves the “If you are broke, you must be lazy” myth. From a must-read Guardian tory on farm suicides:

We were growing food, but couldn’t afford to buy it. We worked 80 hours a week, but we couldn’t afford to see a dentist, let alone a therapist….

Since 2013, net farm income for US farmers has declined 50%. Median farm income for 2017 is projected to be negative $1,325.

Another sign of rising stress: homelessness is up for the first time since 2010. From the Wall Street Journal:

In an annual report to Congress released Wednesday, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development data shows the homeless population was 553,742 in 2017, a 0.7% increase from 2016…

HUD Secretary Ben Carson said rents are rising faster than incomes in major cities, “forcing too many of our neighbors into our shelters and onto our streets.”..

One in four of the nation’s homeless population could be found in New York City or Los Angeles County, according to the report. New York City had the largest homeless population with 76,501 people, a 4.1% increase from the prior year. Los Angeles County counted 55,188 people living in shelters and on streets, a 26% increase over the prior year.

A key difference between the two major metropolitan areas: in New York, 95% were found to be living in shelters, while in Los Angeles County only 25% were in shelters.

Yves here. I question that 95% claim. The homeless often avoid shelters save when the weather is very cold because shelters are perceived to be unsafe. During the brief life of Occupy Wall Street, many homeless people came and camped out in Zucotti Park because Occupy Wall Street provided free food and staying there at night was perceived to be better than going to a shelter. When the encampment was cleared out, some churched opened up to allow the former Zucotti Park denizens sleep there overnight. Our Outis did night duty regularly at one of those churches because they needed people to act as de facto guards, particularly to keep men from trying to force themselves on women. And this was a real issue; I recall Outis describing various safety-related incidents in which he’d had to intervene.

Back to the Journal:

Sizable year-over-year increases in the homeless population were registered in several California jurisdictions, including the Sacramento area, 47%, the Oakland area, 36%, and Orange County, 11%. Among major California cities, San Francisco was an outlier, with a 2% decline.

The Seattle area, another West Coast region that has struggled with high housing costs, saw an 8.5% increase in its homeless population.

So if more of the working and unemployed poor have food stamps cut, one of the results will be more homelessness, of the visible sort that the Feds were able to count, and the under the radar type of people living in cars.

And as I said, don’t expect the Democrats to do much, save for a few bona fide progressives who run on the Democratic party ticket. They also think the well-off deserve their high incomes, and while they express more concern about the poor, they are loath to spend any chips.

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66 comments

  1. JBird

    As one whose family has made use of food stamps and pantries I am going to say that is this is just straight-up evil. It’s not anything like Nuremberg, that’s silly, but…at those food pantries…

    There is never quite enough to feed everyone. Everybody gets at least some food, but that thin bag doesn’t even last half a week and often that one bag is all you get a week and they really don’t want non-locals from another town especially if there’s a pantry there too. It’s not that they don’t want to feed anyone, but that are trying to help as many as possible especially children. Driving up hoping to get something and the choices are interesting as in dried yams and canned beets. Although there have been times when it’s been “who died? Steak and eggs and unwilted lettuce for everyone?” That’s like every once in a very great while. As for food stamps. Here in California, eighth largest economy on the whole planet, you max out at ~$40 per week. If you can qualify, and if you have a job you likely don’t or are having your generous stamp benefits reduced.

    So this talk about cuts really bothers me when I old people, children, and often people who obviously are in poor health having to take some damn dry yams, canned beets, and some hummus. The old, the young, the sick should not have to depend on the randomness of what a pantry has. I have had some bad times but there are always people worse off. I have been fortunate for a few years.

    So donate if you can. Preferably money as the management can get more out of cash than an equivalent can of food. They can wheedle and beg to suppliers and also just buy in bulk what they need when they need it.

    And a 2% reduction in San Francisco’s homeless population? I don’t want to give any aspersions, but I really, really do not see how that could be.

    One final thing. Three million Americans have as their only source of income, certainly regular income, food stamps which is why you hear of some Americans living on two
    dollars a day. Standard family of four gets five hundred a month max or six thousand a year. Ain’t it great to be an American? I really am going to stick around so I can stop seeing some boney bent old lady standing in line for scraps. That and at least the legal, financial, and political equivalent of tumbrels.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      We’ve been there too JBird. We remember the USDA ‘surplus’ food giveaways every couple of months, that happened a few decades back. Being in a rural area then, a crowd of many of our neighbours would congregate to get some dried milk, macaroni noodles, and especially, the cheese blocks. I loved that cheese! Melt some over a slice of homemade bread. Oh boy! You could almost hear the cholesterol having a party along your arterial walls.
      Curiously, that is a happy memory.
      What will todays’ poor have to remember with any joy?

      Reply
      1. wilroncanada

        I live in the Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC Canada. The local soup kitchen (I hate to use the term because they do a lot more than that) has served more than 35000 meals this year, one-tenth of them to children. More than 500 children have come through their doors.

        One of the large service agencies in Victoria, called Our Place, started in a church basement by a friend of my wife and me, has served more than 745,000 meals this year. It is one of several service agencies doing the same work in the same small city. In addition to meals, they provide shelter, haircuts, clothing, counseling, drug treatment. Most of the volunteers are themselves current or past users of such services. Virtually all of this is supported by continuous fundraising, more often than not from other poor people. The wealthy turn their backs, or support Christian fundamentalists in building mega-churches.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          I remember being in the High School “Service Club” of one of the Chamber of Commerce affiliated organizations. We did some good for the poor and others. I’m wondering, since you mentioned organizing your charity work in the basement of a church, if any of the Chamber of Commerce affiliated organizations do ‘good’ any more. The American Chamber of Commerce looks to have become a lobbying group, for the rich. We did small scale acts of kindness, and proudly associated ourselves with the local business community. Now what?
          Good for you and your friends. Community and comity.
          Happy Holidays.

          Reply
  2. Chris

    Thank you, Yves for keeping the sunlight on this. Your politicians are without doubt some of the most immoral people on the planet. Yet, I am sure they sleep just fine.

    That deficit keeps on giving…

    Get out of there, if you can

    Reply
  3. ambrit

    I’ll chime in here before I slide on off to work at the Chicken Palace.
    We tried to get on SNAP this year. Here in Mississippi, a particular family of two, with one getting $408 a month in Social Security and the other earning $8.50 an hour, with an undefined weekly schedule, were at first given some help, but then, later, deemed too wealthy to receive any food assistance. Our initial ‘try’ was based on roughly a thirty hour work week for me. That got us all of $39 a month in SNAP benefits. When I was ‘upped’ to just under 40 hours of work a week, (getting certified to run a forklift does wonders for ones’ perceived worth to a retail organization it seems,) we crossed some threshold, and became the spiritual successors to Reagans’ “strapping young bucks.”
    If I were a cynic, I would view the Opioid Crisis as a feature, not a bug. Said crisis is conveniently sidelining a large part of the potential ‘foot soldiers’ of any revolutionary movement. As the North Vietnamese are supposedly to have strategized, a stoned enemy doesn’t fight very well.
    Peripherally, I am seeing a lot more “lower middle class” matrons coming in to shop at the Chicken Palace than at the beginning of this year. If this trend continues after the holiday shopping season, I’ll give a shout out.
    Stay warm. We’re looking forward to a rare snow day tomorrow.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      Oh, and something for the Zeitgeist Watch.
      I talked to a mechanical contracting firm down on the Gulf Coast about a plumbing job advertised on Craigslist. Money was mediocre, but better than I’m making now. So far, so good.
      Then the killer; “Are you willing to work out of town?”
      Me; “So, this is an out of town job. Where, roughly?”
      Them; “Well, up in Kentucky or Tennessee.”
      Me; “Okay. What kind of per diem?”
      Them; “Per diem? Where have you been? That’s not even on the table.”
      Me; “Uh huh. I have to fund my own relocation. Who does get per diem?”
      Them; “Job foremen and managers. Get with one of them, and maybe you can split the rent on a trailer.”
      Me; “I tried that before, and ended up clearing little money overall. I think I’ll pass up this golden opportunity. Oh, and I know Spanish.”
      Them; “D—n! Why didn’t you say so?”
      Me; “Because I thought that you all were hiring Plumbers, not Interpreters.
      See you around.”
      Years ago, when I was younger and stronger, I would have taken a chance on such a job, in the hope of racking up overtime hours and thus making out all-right. Now I’m older and, hopefully, wiser.
      Happy Holidays!

      Reply
      1. John Zelnicker

        @ambrit – Good morning – Off topic, but I wanted to thank you for the kind words in your comment on the B’ham meet-up post.

        I have been wanting to get in tough with you IRL. If you are agreeable, I can be reached at banjo (twenty three) at comcast dot net (replace the words with digits).

        Best to you and yours for the holidays. And the same for all of our hosts and commenters.

        Reply
          1. John Zelnicker

            @ambrit – I just noticed that I wrote I wanted to “…get in tough with you…”; rather than in touch with you. :-) Not enough coffee.

            Reply
            1. ambrit

              Too cool Mr. Zelnicker. Tipo Typo strides again!
              We have been having snow since before dawn here. A couple of inches of accumulated precipitation over everything now.
              I’m a tea man myself, but this morning makes me wish that I were part of the opioid generation for my morning joe. I know that those living in the Great White North are laughing out loud at this, but, a few inches of snow are shutting this Southern City down, at least for the morning.
              Stay warm Mr. Z.

              Reply
  4. Utah

    My sister and her veteran husband were on food stamps for a while. They had two kids and were both in school. He got a 25 cent raise- roughly an extra 40/ month we figured, and they lost their 600 in snap benefits.
    I would really like to see a tiered snap benefit program. You get an extra 40 a month from work and lose 40 in benefits until you make enough that you can actually afford food. But that’s dreaming in “conservative” red states like mine where our representatives hate the poor and needy.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      Not really snark, but, being a veteran, does your brother-in-law have any feel for how close his fellow veterans are to insurrection or asymmetrical warfare?
      Stepped benefit reductions, as Social Security does it for working “retirees” would be the way to go. Are SNAP benefits purely State controlled, or does the Federal Government have input into the qualifications for access? This might be Dr. Frankensteins’ Legislative Monster.

      Reply
      1. JBird

        In California the distribution of aid such as SNAP, Medi-Cal(Caid), housing is dis-coordinated between Federal, State, County, and even regional governments and agencies. It makes finding, understanding, and maintaining whatever aid you qualify for an exciting dystopian game. Even the amount of help available can change counties and regions with the poorer areas having less and the richer more. It’s a not a stupendous amount but still.

        You also get to choose your problems. The poor areas of the state have worse healthcare but better housing and no work, but in places where there is work, there is no housing aid available (well, there is but you can wait a decade on a list. If it is not close.) but fairly decent healthcare. So possibly go homeless or maybe die of some unknown illness.

        Reply
  5. Kurtismayfield

    During the Obama administration, job numbers and the unemployment rate were fiction:

    Obama’s unemployment rates lies

    Mr. Obama’s claim of a robust jobless rate takes no account of the record 92.9 million Americans no longer in the labor force. The labor participation rate was 62.7 percent in December, a 38-year low that recalled the “economic malaise” of the Carter presidency.

    Now the people on SNAP are “refusing to work”

    Tax cut will benefit everyone except Democrats

    Democrats believe boosting welfare — free health care, subsidized housing and food stamps for able-bodied adults who refuse to work — is the road to growth. Republicans believe giving money back to folks who earned it is the better path.

    It is amazing how the narrative changes as soon as the Democrat President is out of the office.

    Reply
  6. The Rev Kev

    Denying SNAP benefits to 42 million low-income Americans, 44 percent of whom are children, meaning nearly twenty million children going without food? And when eventually the international community finds that America has an epidemic of children with rickets and malnutrition, what will the ruling parties say then? That it was all the parent’s fault. Does anybody here remember Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Freedoms_(Norman_Rockwell), particularly his Freedom from Want painting?

    Reply
    1. RUKidding

      And when eventually the international community finds that America has an epidemic of children with rickets and malnutrition, what will the ruling parties say then?

      That’s easy. They’ll say: our work here is done! Success!

      Isn’t it the 1%’s goal to starve the poor until they die? Sure looks that way to me. This is not snark. I’m talking cold hard reality.

      Reply
      1. nonclassical

        …appears those who are not contributing to rising GDP are intended gotten rid of-considered burden upon “society”…don’t know how anyone can see it differently…

        Reply
      2. Romancing The Loan

        I’ve been thinking that this is the elite plan to deal with global warming/natural resource exhaustion for a while now: the poor of the first world being reduced to third world standards (and facing population declines in the bargain) will save a lot of carbon emissions without the rich having to give up their self-driving car fantasies of endless leafy suburbia.

        This plan will not meet with success, nor should it.

        Reply
    2. fajensen

      what will the ruling parties say then?

      God Wills It! Now go ye forth and fight the Infidels, the Defilers and the Heretics so that God may have mercy on ye! Onwards – For Glory and Markets!

      Worked last time Europe had too many people (and still works for our “allies” in the War on Terror, Saudi Arabia, if one swaps some words). Just need some leaded drinking water. Oh – We have that, I see.

      Reply
    1. nonclassical

      “20 mega-companies dominate the minimum-wage world. Walmart alone employs 1.4 million minimum-wage workers; Yum Brands (Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC) is in second place; and McDonald’s takes third. Overall, 60 percent of minimum-wage workers are employed by businesses not officially considered “small” by government standards, and of course carve-outs for really small businesses are possible, as was done with Obamacare.”

      This from Yves fingers movement decade ago, to “contract workers” (elucidated by Ambrit, others), as well as fact “small business” has been conflated with mega-chain stores…

      Important considerations both…thanks, Yves

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        My battered ego thanks you for the mention. What drives a lot of my commenting is an almost visceral feeling that ‘things’ have gotten visibly worse for the “average” worker over my lifetime. My father was almost a technocrat, and fell behind when he attempted to dare to succeed at business. Not only was that a fraught gamble, but he wasn’t really ready for the sheer volume and intensity of venality and greed that he encountered. Previously, he had to give up being a big city building inspector because he had some ethics that he would not jettison. As a small contractor, he would turn down jobs when the customer demanded sub standard materials, the customer often implicitly breaking the building codes thereby. Other contractors gleefully snapped up those rancid contracts. Not all of the other contractors were bent, but enough to drive what Dr. Black aptly described as a “Criminogenic Environment.”
        Well, I’ll keep on grumbling until the final arbiter of our fates comes a-calling for me. (I sort of hope that that dread visitor conforms to Terry Pratchetts’ vision.)
        Happy Holidays!

        Reply
        1. nonclassical

          …Ambrit-we don’t do “murka” or holidays, or nationalism (or “religion”-prefer Joseph Campbell)…considering ourselves (wife from Europe) denizens of world.

          ….dad was PhD, Stanford, both Physics and Chemistry, taught university level (his first love) but finished career as major military industrial complex CEO for star wars program….Kwajelein – missile intercept. Quite unbelievably he was Elwood P Dowd (“Harvey”) type, who loved his work, but family more-enough to overlook some of own principles…knew Oppenheimer, etc..was surprised when after bombs dropped on Japan, blueprints were in local newspapers.

          Those of us who have done university Poly-Sci have wealth of comprehension of fact things are not for better…pinpoint 911, coup, for answers:

          Michael Ruppert: “Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil”

          as well as his oft-mentioned Paul Thompson, “The Terror Timeline: Year by Year, Day by Day, Minute by Minute: A Comprehensive Chronicle of the Road to 9/11–and America’s Response”

          Naomi Klein’s, “The Shock Doctrine-Rise of Disaster Capitalism” (Sept. 11, 1973)

          and Adam Curtis’ “The Power of Nightmares” (youtube)

          all best always,

          nonc

          (have enjoyed your commentary over some time)

          Reply
  7. RUKidding

    I live in Sacramento and can confirm that the homeless population here is really high and getting higher.

    Sacramento used to be a low cost of living area in CA. Now the cost of living has risen, albeit not as high as the coastal cities, especially San Francisco & the Silicon Valley.

    Our newish Mayor, Daryl Steinberg, has – thankfully – made homelessness one of his main issues, and he’s gotten some federal grant funds, plus he finally got the County to kick in something like $30million, to add to the City’s something like $50million to start working on better solutions for dealing with the homeless. First up is “just” another, much needed, but still woefully inadequate, shelter. But Steinberg is looking at more holistic solutions that work towards enabling at least a segment of the homeless population to get back on their feet and potentially find some sort of job and housing.

    This will take years, however, while reductions in SNAP benefits – already pitifully inadequate – will reallly hit some people very hard. There is a pretty decent, but still inadequate, network of food pantries, plus clothing closets, and similar in this town, and believe me, they’re always full of people in need.

    I personally support several food pantries, as well as supporting a friend who runs a food ministry. I give the friend whatever cast-offs I can, plus food when I can. My co-workers and I have also supported several families over in Napa, who got wiped out in the recent fires there.

    I’m all for pitching in and doing what I can, but my ability to support homeless people is limited. It’s galling to know that I’m likely going to be hit with higher taxes, while these – family blog – in the 1% take in EVEN MORE of the pie. Un-familyblog-believable.

    My loathing of them, and their toadies in what passes for our “government,” is equivalent to the heat of a 1000 burning white hot suns.

    I’d say: how DARE they? But they do, and clearly, they intend to DARE even further.

    Caveat emptor.

    Reply
    1. nonclassical

      …see hear…”intend dare even further”…rid “society” of “burden” of poor….

      This constitutes war…and “Pinkertons” are already deployed complete with satellite surveillance…

      Incarcerated “labor” in privatized prisons appear another win-win-win for “Shock Doctrine-Rise of Disaster Capitalism” (Naomi Klein) exploiters…from September 11, 1973 which Klein documents, to September 11, 2001 coup….

      Reply
      1. Allegorio

        ” to September 11, 2001 coup….” was America’s Reichstag Fire. Interestingly enough, George W. Bush’s grandfather Senator Prescott Bush was President of Brown and Brown, Hitler’s banker. Why did the American (and British) plutocrats support Herr Hitler? He was their bulwark against Communism. You know, the Communism that advocates for the working class and the poor. Mass incarceration, the opioid crisis, never ending war, these are indeed forms of genocide. The Bushes the Rockefellers et alia were big advocates of Eugenics.

        The oligarch’s have decided that the surplus labor population is no longer necessary. Better to have your workers across the ocean in China were they won’t be so troublesome. What to do with what’s left of the American working class. You guessed it, mass incarceration, opioid epidemics and war namely cannon fodder. Kill three birds with one stone.

        If you feed them, they’ll just breed! Therefore cutting social safety net programs is the prudent thing to do. It has nothing to do with deficits. This country can easily afford to feed everyone. It is about eliminating the underclass, the genetically undesirable. If you do not believe that this is the way they think you have never mingled with them.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          I have mingled with ‘them,’ albeit in an inferior role. You are almost right in your accusations. With most of those I observed, the ‘eugenics’ meme was ‘understood.’ Like a social disease, it was never mentioned by name, but communicated in code. Basic, unvoiced assumptions about how the world ‘should be run’ are conditioned into us all. I’m at the near bottom, but I sometimes thank the Deity that I grew up in a socialist inspired home.
          See you at the barricades!

          Reply
        2. nonclassical

          …”Brown and Brown”…(Smedley Butler days)…then “Brown Bros. Harriman”, then another form (all CIA banking attached), then prior Sept. 11, 2001 coup, “Deutche Bank”…(follow Allan “Buzzy” Krongard, Michael Ruppert-CIA, Deutche, to “puts” placed against United and American, prior)…

          (Ruppert’s, ““Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil” spells it out, names names, defines questions gone buried)..

          Reply
        3. jrs

          if they didn’t want them to breed, you would think they would at least be better advocates of free readily available birth control for all than they are.

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            The quest for ‘ultimate control’ extends especially into the realms of reproduction. This way, a small group can maintain real control over a half of the population.
            I’m a patriarch, small ‘p.’

            Reply
  8. Peter Pan

    The value of the SNAP benefit program extends beyond providing food for those in need. That value goes to grocery stores, transportation companies, food distributors and farmers. They all provide employment (jobs, jobs, jobs).

    Aside from large corporations that benefit indirectly from SNAP, there are some large corporations that fit the description above that benefit directly. I suspect that many of these large corporations that benefit directly and/or indirectly will have something to say to congress critters about cutting SNAP benefits.

    Lastly, if SNAP is eliminated, I hope the voters will revolt against this stupidity and get rid of the congress critters (R’s & D’s) that support the deterioration and/or elimination of the social safety net.

    Reply
    1. Vatch

      Lastly, if SNAP is eliminated, I hope the voters will revolt against this stupidity and get rid of the congress critters (R’s & D’s) that support the deterioration and/or elimination of the social safety net.

      Whether or not SNAP is eliminated, the voters should vote against the politicians who support the deterioration and/or elimination of the social safety net. But will they? People need to vote in the primaries, not just the general election. And of course, millions don’t even vote at all. The oligarchs love it when people don’t vote.

      Reply
    2. Massinissa

      “hope the voters will revolt against this stupidity and get rid of the congress critters (R’s & D’s) that support the deterioration and/or elimination of the social safety net”

      Who will they vote for, then? Most of the people running against the congress critters support the same stuff. This rot has contaminated most of both parties.

      Reply
      1. howseth

        But would the Democrats cut SNAP benefits though if they hold the majority? Do you really believe there is no difference here that will affect the lives of people?

        Reply
        1. jrs

          there is *some* difference, but on particulars like that it is really hard to say, would Dems cut SNAP, I don’t know, maybe depending, but in a sly underhanded way if they did probably. Remember Bill Clinton and the end of welfare as we know it? Well yes more children are in poverty because of that. Mothers look for impossible to find non-existent horrible jobs and more children are poor.

          Would Dems have passed this particularly awful tax cut? Now on that one probably not. Or appointed the particularly horrible people Trump has. No probably not so bad. But given Clinton on welfare, it’s hard to see Dems as really being advocates of the poor.

          Reply
    3. fajensen

      The value of the SNAP benefit program extends beyond providing food for those in need.

      Indeed! One of the drivers behind the success of the social democratic movements “back in the day” was that industrialists needed many, healthy workers, they appreciated the value in not getting tuberculosis or worse just by walking down the streets and they did not like the costs of the kind of security needed so that poverty would not come kicking down their doors.

      Now? Everyone thinks they can manage whatever comes mostly on their own initiative, because they got “Tech”. Brazil, Pakistan and India shows that it is possible to be very wealthy in the middel of an teeming ocean of malnutrition suffering and preventable disease, without poverty intruding inconveniently.

      One only needs an effective and brutal security apparatus with no accountability layered on top of a caste system so the police knows what to attack. Hence, we get Identity Politics to create the castes and “War on WhatEvah” to create the security state.

      In the end it is the people who need to revolt. If voting worked, we would not be where we are now, with Hepatitis thriving in the streets.

      Reply
  9. Carolinian

    As I pointed out here the other day some of Alan Grayson’s statements re Walmart as welfare queen have been debunked.

    http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/dec/06/alan-grayson/alan-grayson-says-more-walmart-employees-medicaid-/

    Which is not to say that some Walmart employees are not getting food stamps and Medicaid–an accurate number seems hard to pin down via web search but it may be in the range of 15 percent–but the notion that all of their “associates” are on public assistance is not correct. Food stamps are based on household size, total household income and tangible assets so could be used by employees in a wide range of low wage service jobs. It could be time to raise the minimum wage.

    As to Repubs opening up this new front in the class war, they probably figure there’s nothing to stand in their way. In a country where the politicians of both parties all belong to the same group the poor have no champions.

    Reply
    1. Pat

      Could be time? It is well past time. Frankly it needs to be increased beyond the $15/hour which is the top number being discussed today. That said, Walmart deserves it title as a welfare queen.

      How many of those employers of low wage workers can strong arm local and state government into tax breaks?
      How many of those low wage employers had revenues of 482 + billion dollars in 2015? And even though profits were down a fourth quarter profit of 4.8 billion?
      Who has been known to campaign against minimum wage increases? Although in all fairness they were forced by circumstances to start raising some of their wages in certain stores above minimum wage.
      Whose policies for suppliers pushed many business to offshore their operations, sometimes disastrously, thus creating even more minimum wage workers?

      The funny thing is that I fully expect more than a few Republicans to be getting calls from their Walmart friends. One of the things that has a much larger effect on Walmart’s profits than you might expect is…wait for it… food stamp cuts.
      Walmart is not alone, see Amazon, see McDonalds, or pretty much every major corporation where the workers have ceased to be human beings and are mere numbers in a spreadsheet under costs to be controlled or shed.

      Where we agree is on your final paragraph. Personally I believe that it is the rare politician who is not a warrior in the class war on the side of the minority – the top.

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        There are many retailers now who operate on Walmart’s business model. I’m not sure their sheer size has much to do with it. If there were no Walmart it would likely be replaced by another company doing the same thing.

        Which is why I would contend this is a government policy issue and the minimum wage is the fairest way to address it because it would apply to everyone. Walmart was, for a brief time, advocating an increase (not $15 I’m sure). They might in fact favor an increase that would hurt their smaller competitors more than them. And despite what people think they do have competitors….lots of them.

        Reply
  10. Darius

    I for one welcome our new Chinese and Russian overlords. Unlike the atavistic American overlords, they aren’t dripping with hypocrisy about freedom and democracy.

    Reply
    1. JBird

      Yeah, it is the hypocrisy that is the salt on these wound.

      So much comfort for some while many just get the pain with bonus lying.

      Reply
    2. jgordon

      If you actually went to China you’d ser that it’s a much more free and open place than America is. You wouldn’t realize just how micromanaged and controlled everyone is in America until you’ve spent some time in China. I’ve come to the opinion that the Chinese are a strong and independent people who are used to looking after their own affairs while Americans are more like a bunch mewling babies who would perish the moment the government stopped coddling them. Naturally at this rate it won’t be difficult for China to take over America as strong societies always dominate the weak, and I’m rather interested in the social cleansing programs they implement when it happens.

      Reply
      1. pretzelattack

        the people trapped in cubicles are used to looking after their own affairs? given all the suicides doesn’t seem like they control their own destinies.

        Reply
  11. IHateBanks

    Need some input from the commentariat. Which is a better use of resources? My wife and I raise most of our own meat, and can raise more than we currently do without much more labor. But it is not inexpensive to do so.

    Better to donate the cash to a food pantry, where they can buy 2 chickens(or pork chops) with the same money it takes me to grow, process and donate 1 chicken? Or provide the pantry with half as much “healthy” meat? Healthy meat……oxymoron?

    Reply
    1. Wisdom Seeker

      I’d check with the food pantry to see what they’re able to accept. There might be requirements on food sourcing.

      But “healthy meat” is not an oxymoron, especially (IMHO) for teens and 20-somethings. And if the meat you produce suffers less than the mass-market variety, you’re saving two awful animal lives for the cost of one.

      Reply
    2. Wukchumni

      We keep about $500 worth of food on hand in case of something awful coming our way, such as the year w/o a summer in 1816, or other malady along those lines-an insurance policy.

      We seldom eat much of it, as the variety is nothing special and it’s mostly canned goods, and as the use by dates come and go, it turns from a way to ward off starvation, into a gift for the less fortunate in our community, as we donate it to the food bank.

      We turn it over every couple years in this fashion…

      Our food bank doesn’t care about use-by dates, but no dented or rusted cans.

      Reply
        1. JBird

          If you’re talking about the caldera, if it blows it’s game over. It would be worse than the Toba super-volcano, and that left at most ten thousand people. Yes, there are a lot more people now than there was 73,000 years ago, but I think a year’s supply won’t save anyone from being long pork for the roving cannibal gangs. :-)

          Reply
  12. Jeremy Grimm

    Consolidation of the media followed with attacks on the Internet. Job destruction followed by cutting food subsidies. Didn’t even the most insane Roman Emperors know the importance of maintaining their Panem et Circenses?

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      The present bunch of ‘Masters of Everything’ are too young to remember the 1930s and how close Capitalism came to being liquidated. Curiously, the ‘Panem st circenses’ were generally for the City of Rome. The hinterlands weren’t an immediate potential threat as was the ‘Mobile Vulgaris’ of the city. So, stretching an analogy, the City today could be considered the power centres close to the Capitol and Beltway. Or, the DoC and Wall Street.

      Reply
  13. Wukchumni

    If the GOP was around a few thousand years ago, they would have made off with all the loaves of bread, telling the assembled hungry mass that they ought to learn how to fish.

    Reply
    1. leapfrog

      Yes! And as Yves told us a few years back in a story here, Rand and Hayek were hypocritical users of safety nets (Social Security/Medicare) themselves.

      Reply
  14. barrisj

    “Fox reporter” is none other than pompous, Blimpish Stuart Varney, oleaginous host of a Fox Bidness News show, and one of the more reprehensibly reptilian imports from Britain. Watch a few minutes of his show and it will send you to the vomitorium.

    Reply
    1. Synoia

      Hmm, there is a good word for him in the English lexicon. Starts with “W” end with “r” and rhymes with Anchor.

      Reply
  15. Vickie Stewart

    I have actually read Ayn Rand’s books. She praises hard-working people who are always paid high wages in compensation for their hard work. Her corporate heroes put money back into their companies, build quality products, and financially reward hard-working employees. Today’s commentary bypasses this two-way street in Ayn Rand’s books and cherry-picks only half of her story.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      Sorry to disagree, but Rand peddled the most amusing kind of ‘self reliance’ pablum for mainly arrested development personalities. Community is what drives societies and human civilization in general. Cherry pick the plot lines of Mz Rands’ writings I may, but the hard right wing cohorts cherry pick the opposite way from we socialist types. Roughly speaking, true no holds barred rightist Libertarianism is predicated upon a strict Darwinism that leaves the majority of the human race to die from preventable things. So, for every noble and successful Galt we will have thousands of Little Nells. That’s not a world that I would like to live in. However, we’re quietly slipping into a Neo Dickensian Age today. Get your Gulch ready. Social hurricanes on the horizon!

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        It’s a novel experience, with an occasional nugget that rings true today…

        “Then you will see the rise of the men of the double standard–the men who live by force, yet count on those who live by trade to create the value of their looted money–the men who are the hitchhikers of virtue. In a moral society, these are the criminals, and the statutes are written to protect you against them. But when a society establishes criminals-by-right and looters-by-law–men who use force to seize the wealth of disarmed victims–then money becomes its creators’ avenger. Such looters believe it safe to rob defenseless men, once they’ve passed a law to disarm them. But their loot becomes the magnet for other looters, who get it from them as they got it. Then the race goes, not to the ablest at production, but to those most ruthless at brutality. When force is the standard, the murderer wins over the pickpocket. And then that society vanishes, in a spread of ruins and slaughter.”

        Francisco d’Ancona

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          Good sir. I find this nugget to be not just ironic, but almost perverse for Rands’ writings. Thanks for pointing this out.
          I find Rand to be dealing in a basic “us versus them” mindset. Many call this “the law of the jungle,” without thinking that mankind struggled endlessly to climb on up out of that decidedly un-sylvan environment. The quote you supplied almost rises to parody, of its’ own source material.
          I guess that I’ll have to secure a bottle of bourbon, a bag of Qaaludes, a case of chips, and sit down to reread “Atlas Shrugged.”
          Happy Self Oppressing Underclass Religious Cult Festival Holidays!

          Reply
  16. Adam Eran

    As awful as the Republicans are, it’s worth remembering that it was Bill Clinton who “ended welfare as we know it,” throwing roughly a half million adults off of food stamps. Before that “end” occurred, 76% of those who needed public assistance got it. After: 26%.

    Reply
    1. DHG

      Bill Clinton is no Democrat he is a Republican in the way he ran the country. The republicans will rue the day they touch the third rail. FS is a drop in the bucket in the overall budget of the feds.

      Reply

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