Defending Food Stamps Ignores Reality

At the outset I should say I don’t understand why they are a priority for conservatives. Food stamps are a drop in the bucket compared to social security and Medicare. It seems to me that the food stamp program, because its spending has been increasing so horrifically in recent years, is an easy target. Meanwhile, the coming entitlement-driven fiscal apocalypse looms large.

But since food stamps are an issue right now, I might as well point out that they are not a good idea if you want economic growth, more jobs, and productive people. Jordan Weismann argues in the Atlantic that people can’t help that there are no jobs available or they have to take care or relatives or go to school—“taking away their meal tickets won’t fix any of those problems.”

The fact that Weismann throws college in there as a legitimate reason to not get a job to support oneself makes me wonder if he even believes what he is saying. Weismann never mentions that people who qualify for food stamps often do so in order to keep their cable or satellite dish, or to continue their cigarette habit, or do anything else since money is fungible. The idea that people who get food stamps really can’t afford food is nonsense. They simply get to free up their budget for other things. People often face hard choices in how they make money and spend money. Why should the Federal government be utilized as a crutch to keep people from dealing with reality—especially since none of them are in danger of starving?

Weismann also doesn’t mention the growing amount of money devoted to advertizing food stamps to people who don’t know or care about them, including to illegal aliens.

But what bothers me most about Weismann’s piece is that he presents a vision of helpless people who have to sit around and wait for “the economy” to recover. But we are the economy. Unless all of us kick into gear there will never be a recovery. What is really horrific is that Weismann is in favor of the minimum wage law that is making it impossible to offer more jobs in this economy. No, that wouldn’t be pleasant, but it is the only way we can build a prosperous future. America never became wealthy by food stamps or minimum wage laws.

More people sitting on their behinds and getting food stamps means economic recovery will never happen.