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Right Wing Dickhead Wants to Humiliate the Poor

I’d never heard of Brion Mclanahan until I read this column by him at the Daily Caller. I hope I never hear of the asshole again. In one of the most disgusting articles you’ll ever read, he advocates for the public humiliation of those who receive food stamps and other forms of public assistance.

Dharma-style food stamp reform would have four basic components. First, the federal government would create a government “brand” of essential food items such as milk, cheese, meat, cereal, vegetables, bread, peanut butter, beans, juice, soup, baby formula, diapers, etc., and would package the items with simple black-and-white labels and basic descriptions. The word “Government” would be stamped across the top in bold letters so everyone would know it was a welfare item. These items could be manufactured by major companies through government contracts, thus not creating a net loss to private industry. Because competition is not an issue, taste and quality, with the exception of the baby formula and baby food, would not be a top priority…

Fourth, anyone who accepts government aid would have to submit to a monthly tobacco and drug test. Food stamp recipients are, after all, wards of the state. They are slaves to the government and should be reminded of that fact. If a recipient is found to have tobacco or drugs in his system, he would be dropped from the program. People on government aid would also lose the privilege of voting. That way they couldn’t vote for greater benefits or easier terms (most of them don’t vote, but now they couldn’t).

While I believe the federal food stamp program to be unconstitutional, immoral and a state issue, the simple fact is that the program is not going away. There are more people on the dole now than at any other point in United States history, and with more Americans seemingly fine with the idea of taking government handouts, as Mr. EBT and Jesse Jackson have shown, the numbers will continue to grow. My reform measures might seem draconian to some (and the antithesis of the free market), but they would hopefully have the desired result of reducing food stamp rolls so we could eventually eliminate the program and let the states handle the issue. Before accepting food stamps, people would have to carefully consider whether they want to face the loss of voting privileges, the humiliation of shopping at government stores and using government food, the inability to smoke or do drugs and the added inconvenience of having to make two or three stops for their groceries should they choose to buy snacks with their own money. Plus, tax producers would no longer have to knowingly be face to face with people at the check-out who are on government assistance but have nicer cell phones and accessories than they do.

There should be humiliation and pain in government assistance. Every time someone accepts food stamps, they are spitting on the principles of independence, and they, not the taxpayers who fund the program, should be reminded of that fact.

I’ve got a better idea. I say we submit Mclanahan to humiliation and pain. It might give him an ounce of human compassion. What an asshole.

Comments

  1. d cwilson says

    Setting up special government stores? Mandatory drug and tobacco testing?

    More small government conservatism in action.

    I’m surprised he didn’t call for branding a “G” on their forehead so that taxpayers will know to shun them.

  2. grumpyoldfart says

    What about a bullet in the head for everyone earning less than $20,000 per year? Much cheaper.

  3. Who Knows? says

    It might give him an ounce of human compassion.

    It wouldn’t help. The guy has no soul, no heart, and no human decency. I’d call him a sociopath, but he has none of the superficial charm characteristic of the mental disorder.

    He’s just your common ordinary asshole.

  4. Sastra says

    If this guy is serious (and I’ll assume here he is), then this rather tends to confirm my ‘theory’ that the religious/conservatives translate political issues into family issues, and consider a country to be just like an individual’s own home. That’s what they’re familiar with, so it’s the handiest analogy to use when dealing with difficult and complicated problems. Simplify them.

    Why do I see this? Because Mclanahan suggestion about how to deal with the poor sounds just like a not-unreasonable solution to a different sort of problem: what do you do when your kid is a healthy and able-bodied adult, but won’t go to school, won’t get a job, and won’t even help out around the house? And, in addition, he’s spending all day drinking, smoking, taking drugs, and making a mess for his mom to pick up. You can’t starve him. But hey — don’t make it easy for him. Help him shape up into the adult he is. Tough love. Yeah.

    I suspect that insensitivity on this level requires a lack of imagination which is practically criminal. Re-framing welfare as being just like enabling a free-loading young adult — and advising a tightening of the screws to bring ‘him’ (or her) to their senses and make things easier around the house for the parents — will appeal to the simple-minded who crave simple solutions which sound familiar to the hard thought and study and choices needed to address the many, many causes of poverty. Act like you would if this were like something you could imagine happening in your own house, with your own kid.

    Oh, I think Mclanahan an asshole, sure. But I do think he’s also being stupid in a peculiar way.

  5. Pteryxx says

    First, the federal government would create a government “brand” of essential food items such as milk, cheese, meat, cereal, vegetables, bread, peanut butter, beans, juice, soup, baby formula, diapers, etc., and would package the items with simple black-and-white labels and basic descriptions. The word “Government” would be stamped across the top in bold letters so everyone would know it was a welfare item. These items could be manufactured by major companies through government contracts, thus not creating a net loss to private industry. Because competition is not an issue, taste and quality, with the exception of the baby formula and baby food, would not be a top priority…

    Obviously this dude’s never shopped at Wal-Mart.

    Image link

  6. dave says

    If this guy is serious (and I’ll assume here he is), then this rather tends to confirm my ‘theory’ that the religious/conservatives translate political issues into family issues, and consider a country to be just like an individual’s own home.

    Absolutely. This was made explicit in a conversation I had elsewhere on drug-testing welfare recipients. “My house, my rules” was a common refrain. “If Im going to pay for it, theyre going to live by my rules.” And “I dont want that shit happening in my house.” These are exact quotes.

  7. andreasschueler says

    When you think it is just not humanly possible for Republicans to sink any lower, some asshole like this comes along and proves you wrong.

  8. Chiroptera says

    He’d have a real rockin’ idea if he’d add mandatory cavity searches!

    Food stamp recipients are, after all, wards of the state.

    Uh, no, food stamp recipients are not wards of the state. This clown needs to do more than just run his copy through spell check.

  9. Chiroptera says

    I’ve always thought that if poverty and hunger were a wide spread problem, then the government should subsidize free rice and beans for everyone.

    But not in specially marked “ha ha, you’re poor” packages:

    anyone can go into a supermarket and pick up x pounds of rice and x pounds of beans every day.

    But I really really really like rice and beans, so maybe it’s not the poor I’m thinking of.

  10. Aquaria says

    You know…

    Hugo Chavez has a program similar to this in Venezuela. The poor can go to government facilities that look sort of like a convenience store, only stuffed with food people actually need that’s good for them, and get X number of items depending on the size of their family, for free or low-cost.

    Without the humiliation. And without removing all flavor from the food to “punish” the poor.

    When you make Hugo Chavez look compassionate, you’re fucking up.

  11. Cliff Hendroval says

    There are more people on the dole now than at any other point in United States history, and with more Americans seemingly fine with the idea of taking government handouts, as Mr. EBT and Jesse Jackson have shown, the numbers will continue to grow.

    I’m not sure what Mr. EBT refers to, but I’m sure that he has a perfectly good reason to throw a reference to Jesse Jackson in there. I’m just surprised he didn’t throw in Al Sharpton, ACORN, and the New Black Panthers as well.

  12. davidjordan says

    Maybe I’m in the minority, but I consider getting food stamps and unemployment humiliating already. I sure as hell don’t want to be on the government dime. I’d rather have a job that pays enough to live my meager life in peace without having to drag myself to various gov offices to sit around in a room with people being “educated” on how to write a resume or how to fill out applications. Not to mention biweekly reporting on my activities, keeping logs of every single application, resume filled/mailed out, interviews, days I didn’t look for work and why. Not to mention the fact that the two systems, Food Stamps and Unemployment don’t talk to each other. I’ve had to spend $5 and an entire day of NOT looking for work, sitting in an office on the south side of Chicago to be told that as long as I collect unemployment, I do not qualify for the services that are offered by the Food Stamp administration that are geared towards helping me to find a job.

    Assholes like him have no idea what its like to be living on the government. I get HALF of what I used to make. HALF of Minimum wage is even harder to live on than minimum wage. But he’d also rage if I went back to college and became one of those librul elites while looking for work.

  13. Mr Ed says

    Let him not starve but give him neither comfort nor succor. He shall be the least among you, lower then the lowliest of your animals let him know shame.

    Matthew 7:15 New Republican Bible

  14. Weed Monkey says

    First, the federal government would create a government “brand” of essential food items such as milk, cheese, meat, cereal, vegetables, bread, peanut butter, beans, juice, soup, baby formula, diapers, etc., and would package the items with simple black-and-white labels and basic descriptions. The word “Government” would be stamped across the top in bold letters so everyone would know it was a welfare item.

    I suppose this would do: image

    The text says
    “Rolled 4 grains
    EU aid
    Not for resale”
    in Finnish and Swedish.

    Luckily it’s the same stuff Raisio sells under their own name, can’t complain about quality even if the packaging is hideous.

  15. lizdamnit says

    @davidjordan,

    No, no you’re not in a minority. Our safety net, such as it is, is no picnic, and anyone who’s done time with it knows this deeply. I have yet to meet these monsters of entitlement that the Right seems to think are flooding the country. I’ll even be nice for a moment and presume that there might be a teeny amount of aid recipients somewhere that are complacent with living like that, simply because any large group of people is bound to have at least one asshole. But most people who find they have to turn to assistance experience just what you describe.

    And again, you are right on the problem of higher ed being painted as an elitist-factory, when for many of us it’s the only route *away from* life on assistance programs. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t…It’s chilling how being “not-wealthy” is not just a defacto crime anymore, but that attempting to fix this is considered suspect.

    @Cliff Hendroval in 16, I’m guessing “Mr EBT” is the Electronic Benefits Card that SNAP (food stamps) now uses, as opposed to the extra-humiliating monopoly money packets?

  16. iknklast says

    Perhaps there should be pain and humiliation for anyone who drives on the roads, or flushes the toilet into the local wastewater treatment plant, or turns on lights that are provided through a municipal power company. There should be pain and humiliation for anyone who eats food grown by farmers who receive government subsidies to keep the price low, or fills their tank with gasoline that is government subsidized, or sends their kids to public schools. There should be public humiliation for anyone who attends a symphony that receives government funding, or a football game at a public college (or high school), or who receives medication that used government dollars for R&D. After all, those things are an assault on the idea of independence and self-reliance, and if you take them, you are a true parasite.

    Wait a minute – humiliating 300 million people? Wow, that’s a huge job! Perhaps if people could just get a bit of perspective, and cease demonizing people who have found themselves in a bit of a tough spot, whether temporarily or permanently down and out.

  17. lizdamnit says

    oh, wait, MR. Ebt is some sort of crappy viral character, but it does reference the card. Because goodness knows viral videos are the same thing as lived experience of real people.

  18. lizdamnit says

    And pardon the three posts in short sucession, but if one clicks thru and looks at the comments, there is some rather delicious petard-hoisting going on. Kinda salves the wound from the original piece of crap article….unless it *is* satire, as some Daily Caller commenters suggest. If that is the case, well played!

  19. zxcier says

    The worst part is that this class warfare bit is actually working. A friend in school working at Walmart puts up facebook posts lauding drug testing and other such measures for her welfare customers, who are only marginally less well off than she is. The whole “well I got mine” schtick becomes just sad when laid forth by someone who doesn’t really have any, but still wants to berate those with even less.

    To be fair, there are some people who game the system and have no problem living on welfare. I’ve seen enough trashed out trailer homes with bigass satellite dishes, and I’m sure in her job she sees it plenty. But, most people have pride and don’t want to be in that situation. And in the end, once it determined that someone needs the safety net we have, providing them benefits does not confer the right to then determine how they live their lives and run their family.

  20. Aquaria says

    Our safety net, such as it is, is no picnic, and anyone who’s done time with it knows this deeply. I have yet to meet these monsters of entitlement that the Right seems to think are flooding the country. I’ll even be nice for a moment and presume that there might be a teeny amount of aid recipients somewhere that are complacent with living like that, simply because any large group of people is bound to have at least one asshole. But most people who find they have to turn to assistance experience just what you describe.

    My former boarder gets to dance the public assistance tango. His crime? He needed a new kidney when he was only 20 years old. So for these past 8 years, he’s had to live like he’s a leper, because if he works, no insurance company will cover him, and he needs thousands of dollars of meds just to live.

    He’d rather work. He wants to work. He can work–most of the time. But as long as he needs more coverage than any private insurance company will give him, he has to stay on the government dole. And only a moron could think they don’t fuck with you all the goddamned time when you’re on public assistance and go out of their way to hate on you and humiliate you.

    It’s humiliating, from start to finish. It’s designed that way because a bunch of bigoted scumbags think that paying $1 per $500 out of their paychecks every month to feed people would kill them.

  21. says

    I agree we need to reform the food stamp program, but why do we need to punish the people who are on it? I know people who are on them and they work multiple jobs at minimum wage which is too low for them to buy enough food for their families. I work and get student loans and Im considering food stamps (Ive just been too proud to get them yet)

    IDK about the rest of the country, but in Louisiana there is a huge problem with people abusing the food stamp system, and its really a pretty common sight to see someone buy several packs of soda, chips, dip and nothing at all healthy using their EBT card then drive away in a Cadillac. That said the solutions not to punish everyone on food stamps, instead shouldn’t we just make better more en-forcible rules that make is so food stamps can only be used for real necessities like fruit, vegetables, meat, and milk (and maybe toilet paper and toothpaste). Seems like if food-stamp type assistance was only good for healthy food it would reduce costs both with that program and in the healthcare system, so win-win :-D

  22. naturalcynic says

    I do believe that his proposal is perhaps too modest, at least the part where the children of food stamp recipients get only slightly upgraded diet. The kids should get the finest feed. How else would they get to the proper tenderness to be served as hors d’oeuvres at Tea Party tea parties.

    Oh, I thought he was kidding.

  23. davidjordan says

    @28

    If you limit items that are allowed to be purchased, you contribute to the humiliation of being on food stamps. I’m miserable enough without having someone I don’t know tell me exactly what I am allowed to eat. Are you going to make sure that those with varying dietary restrictions, be they physical, allergies, or religious are given special dispensation on what their card is allowed to purchase? Your limiting is only one step short of the what the whackjob wanted to begin with honestly. Those who HAVE, dictating to those who DONT HAVE.

  24. jnorris says

    A piggyback off Mr Ed at #19:

    Luke 19:24-25, King James Republican Bible.
    24 “And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas.’ 25 (But they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas.’) 26 ‘For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.

  25. harold says

    IDK about the rest of the country, but in Louisiana there is a huge problem with people abusing the food stamp system, and its really a pretty common sight to see someone buy several packs of soda, chips, dip and nothing at all healthy using their EBT card

    Can’t speak for Louisiana, but I spent about ten months in Houston in 2010. I certainly saw a tendency for people to buy, not exactly those snack items, but the foods that provide the most calories and superficial edibility for the price. That included things like buying vast numbers of cartons of eggs when eggs were on sale, but also buying a lot of junky “juice” products or bakery products when those were on a big sale.

    then drive away in a Cadillac.

    There seems to be a persistent obsession with the idea that food stamp recipients drive “Cadillacs”.

    1) The food stamp program is supposed to be means tested. Although I think this would be obsessive and obnoxious, if you really think that you see a food stamp recipient driving an expensive late model car, you can always take down the license plate number and report it to social services. They might investigate.

    2) I can’t speak for Louisiana, but in Houston, almost everybody has to drive. I know for a fact that people paid $8 an hour full time in Houston often need cars to get to work. Such people would probably qualify for food stamps, and also have a car. It might even be a very, very old Cadillac. It would not, in my experience, tend to be a luxurious car. Even people who don’t work would have a hard time getting around without a car in most parts of the Houston area. It would be pretty hard to FIND a job there, depending solely on public transit. Public transit is good in some areas, but not that great overall.

    3) The Cadillac brand has been stereotypically associated with African-Americans (even though I usually see older white people in them). Therefore, references to “Cadillacs” are often perceived as a coded way of saying “those ‘minorities’ have got it too good and I want to stick it to them”. To avoid this effect, next time you’re making up a fake story about seeing a food stamp recipient’s car and being outraged, say that they were driving a “Lexus”. Unless the coded racism is intentional, of course…

    That said the solutions not to punish everyone on food stamps, instead shouldn’t we just make better more en-forcible rules that make is so food stamps can only be used for real necessities like fruit, vegetables, meat, and milk (and maybe toilet paper and toothpaste). Seems like if food-stamp type assistance was only good for healthy food it would reduce costs both with that program and in the healthcare system, so win-win :-D

    I more or less strongly agree with this. I don’t agree with extreme restrictions, but I do actually agree with a system that strongly encourages healthy food choices. I think that this would make the system MORE expensive, though. I believe it would be worth it, as obesity and related issues are major, expensive health problems in the US.

  26. dogmeat says

    Maybe I’m in the minority, but I consider getting food stamps and unemployment humiliating already. I sure as hell don’t want to be on the government dime.

    No, you’re not in the minority by a long shot. My wife was on unemployment last year after being laid off. She was battling rather obvious signs of depression as she dealt with being out of work for the first time since she was sixteen and not having multiple job offers thrown at her within a day or so of submitting resumes. I was trying to figure out how to broach the subject of counseling when she got the job offer with her current employer.

    Increasingly I’m of the opinion that something within Republicans stifles, or outright kills their empathy. They honestly seem to have no ability to even think about taking a single step in “the other guy’s shoes.” It seems to me that the conservative mindset is convinced that all of the problems of the world are caused by lazy, stupid minorities. The t-shit seems to have gotten it right, to a conservative it is easier to believe that 150,000,000 people are lazy than that 400 are greedy.

  27. says

    I more or less strongly agree with this. I don’t agree with extreme restrictions, but I do actually agree with a system that strongly encourages healthy food choices. I think that this would make the system MORE expensive, though. I believe it would be worth it, as obesity and related issues are major, expensive health problems in the US.

    Then pass a fat tax and make it for everyone. The poor are not your fucking pets.

  28. d cwilson says

    The whole “well I got mine” schtick becomes just sad when laid forth by someone who doesn’t really have any, but still wants to berate those with even less.

    The roots of that attitude go way back. Most people in the pre-Civil War south didn’t own slaves, but they were willing to fight and die to protect the institution. Why? Because even the most dirt poor white guy who could barely feed his family could look at the cotton fields and say, “Well, at least I ain’t a slave”.

  29. Ellie says

    Cadillacs? Seriously?

    Mr. McClanahan is typical of those who say, “I’ve got mine, Jack. Now root hog, or die.” Unfortunately, there are many who agree with him, not realizing that tomorrow, it might be them applying for the EBT card — or more likely, their mother or grandmother. Yes, old people do use food stamps when the SS doesn’t go far enough, but I’m sure he’d like to shame them also, for having the audacity to live so long.

    As far as the healthy food thing goes, here’s what the USDA says:

    http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/retailers/eligible.htm

    Since the current definition of food is a specific part of the Act, any change to this definition would require action by a member of Congress. Several times in the history of SNAP, Congress had considered placing limits on the types of food that could be purchased with program benefits. However, they concluded that designating foods as luxury or non-nutritious would be administratively costly and burdensome. Further detailed information about the challenges of restricting the use of SNAP benefits can be found here:

    Report — http://www.fns.usda.gov/ora/menu/Published/snap/FILES/ProgramOperations/FSPFoodRestrictions.pdf

  30. Chiroptera says

    travisdykes, #28: IDK about the rest of the country, but in Louisiana there is a huge problem with people abusing the food stamp system, and its really a pretty common sight to see someone buy several packs of soda, chips, dip and nothing at all healthy using their EBT card then drive away in a Cadillac.

    I keep hearing about things like this, but I’ve never seen it myself.

    But I personally don’t really care if some people manage to run a successful scam on the system. It’s sort of like the idea we (are supposed to) have for our judicial system: it’s better for an non-needy person to get undeserved benefits than it is for a needy person to be denied a basic necessity.

    I would rather have out social assistant programs err on the side of allowing a few parasites to leech of the system if we can guarantee the maximum number of needy get their needs met in a way that respects their dignity.

  31. zxcier says

    @38 And most importantly, some people at any level will take advantage of a system. I’d bet that the large defense contractors used in our wars have scammed more off the govt than the entire cost of the food stamp program.

    2010, $64B in benefits to 41M participants
    2010, $247B in defense contracts, no idea how much is illegit but it’s in the same range..

  32. Pteryxx says

    It’s already easy to slant the system towards healthy foods. Instead of subsidizing corn syrup and highly processed garbage that’s already got fat advertising budgets and profit margins, subsidize raw ingredients and vegetables so the prices go down. Combined with incentives to even have actual grocery stores in low-income areas (which tend to be food deserts) and exposing kids to real food in school lunch programs, and most of the “problem” of food stamps going for crap would take care of itself.

    There still needs to be coverage for deli and prepared meals though, because some of us poors don’t have access to kitchens or refrigerators. Snack food’s handy that way since it doesn’t go bad.

  33. davem says

    News to me that peanut butter is an essential food – I seem to have survived most of my life without it.

    Perhaps what he really meant was ‘cake’.

  34. Musca Domestica says

    Weed Monkey says:

    March 2, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    First, the federal government would create a government “brand” of essential food items such as milk, cheese, meat, cereal, vegetables, bread, peanut butter, beans, juice, soup, baby formula, diapers, etc., and would package the items with simple black-and-white labels and basic descriptions. The word “Government” would be stamped across the top in bold letters so everyone would know it was a welfare item.

    I suppose this would do: image

    The text says
    “Rolled 4 grains
    EU aid
    Not for resale”
    in Finnish and Swedish.

    Luckily it’s the same stuff Raisio sells under their own name, can’t complain about quality even if the packaging is hideous.

    I would like to point out that this is not part of a similar plan that was outlined by the lovely gentleman in the actual blog post. In Finland, there are no foodstamps, government benefits are paid in cash, so the humiliation is restricted to the offices you have to visit and the papers you have to fill, to get them. These EU-aid products are distributed separately by different organisations. You have to give your name and state a reason (unemployed/student), and give the number of family members. No ID is required. The availability is sporadic, as it’s not a fixed program, and it is dependent on the amount of grains the country has available (the grains are traded for products with the EU). The products are identical to products sold at retailers, but marked so that they cannot be resold.

    We do have people who would prefer a more humiliating model, though, so in that we are not so different. Yay.

  35. says

    I saw Ed’s header and thought, “Don’t they all?”.

    Aldi accepts EBT and I shop there without ever seeing anyone humiliated by the transaction. From two carts back, an EBT card looks like any other debit card–which they also accept.

  36. lizdamnit says

    Travisdykes at #28, and anyone else who may be thinking along those lines…

    I’m in the same boat you are. I *do* qualify for SNAP because my pay is so low and the loans looming over me so large. Now, noone forced me to do this, I undertook my career so I can have a shot at being better off than I was as a kid. I trot around academia every day. I hear people saying this, knowing they make the same pay I do. Please think carefully.

    “its really a pretty common sight to see someone buy several packs of soda, chips, dip and nothing at all healthy using their EBT card then drive away in a Cadillac. ”

    Aside from the now-fetishized Caddy, think this over. What else is available in those stores? What is that produce section like – are there really tasty healthy fruit and veg or is it a wilted out of date “lip service” section. Are those folks going home to a kitchen at all, let alone one stocked with the stuff you need to turn ingredients into food? And remember, healthy stuff goes fast. Fruit spoils, especially in warm climates, and eggs/dairy type stuff needs consistent refrigeration. Also, think that’s SOP for people, chips and dip? We’ve all had junk food days now and again. That may not be their pattern.

    As for the rest, poor people know all about nutrition – they just don’t get a fair shake at access to it. If things are bad enough you need help affording groceries, you do not need the extra monitoring such as you proposed.

  37. harold says

    Then pass a fat tax and make it for everyone. The poor are not your fucking pets.

    You probably couldn’t understand my comment. People who have been really poor, by American standards, do have a hard time affording healthy food.

    You cherry picked a line that supported making healthy food affordable for poor people, out of a comment that, to anyone with a third grade reading level or above, had the opposite meaning of what you imply, and twisted it, so that you could indulge in infantile fake outrage.

    You also seem to think that trying to say “fuck” all the time like an aging British rock star makes you look cool.

    Now, I normally wouldn’t do this, but I know that your next comment will be something with a lot of “fuck” and a lot of words like “cupcake”, the kind of stuff that you probably proudly used to make somebody cry at your British boarding school or whatever produced you. Just to demonstrate how easy it is to do that –

    Fuck you, Pattycakes. Take your assumed privilege and shove it sideways up your ass. Also take the putrefying carcass of a large feral pig that consumed radioactive waste shortly before death, had multiple skin diseases, and died constipated, and also shove that sideways up your ass. In addition, I will now address you as Twinkles, Special Snowflake, and Frat Boy Wonder. And I assure you, I can keep it coming. I just usually choose not to, because I think it’s stupid.

    If you would like to comment on something I actually said, fairly interpreted and not misrepresented, which should be easy given that I am an extremely articulate writer, be my guest. Otherwise, take your misrepresentations and fuck-laced declarations of superiority, and shove in after the feral pig.

  38. Weed Monkey says

    Musca Domestica

    I would like to point out that this is not part of a similar plan that was outlined by the lovely gentleman in the actual blog post. In Finland, there are no foodstamps, government benefits are paid in cash, so the humiliation is restricted to the offices you have to visit and the papers you have to fill, to get them.

    You’re certainly right.

    At the moment the EU aid bag includes some useful stuff like flour, crisp bread and macaroni. Last time there was also something absolutely vile: a pouch of “just add water” mac’n’cheese. Ingredients said there was less than 3% cheese, the rest was just pasta, thickening agents, food colouring and flavours. (those things didn’t work too well, it was still a grayish, almost but not quite translucent goo) I tried a forkful just to know what it was like, and threw the rest away.

    The EU aid is delivered via existing organisations that do this kind of work, and while the organisations usually are religious, I’ve never had any proselytising from them. Just the EU bag of dry goods every month, and bread and other consumables every other week (that are donated by local grocery stores when they are close their expiration date. (Once they dumped on my lap as much crisp bags from Lidl as I could carry. After tasting them I didn’t wonder why they didn’t sell. They were hideously orange, and tasted like shit))

  39. Michael Heath says

    dogmeat writes:

    Increasingly I’m of the opinion that something within Republicans stifles, or outright kills their empathy.

    This is an infection within conservatism, not necessarily Republicanism. I concede it’s getting easier to conflate the two given the disappearance of non-conservative Republicans, but it’s important to distinguish the two because conservatism continues to also infect the Democratic party as well, just not at nearly the same rate.

  40. harold says

    Increasingly I’m of the opinion that something within Republicans stifles, or outright kills their empathy. They honestly seem to have no ability to even think about taking a single step in “the other guy’s shoes.”

    Or they never had any. The question is why we have so many of these types of people at this time in history.

    Instead of subsidizing corn syrup and highly processed garbage that’s already got fat advertising budgets and profit margins, subsidize raw ingredients and vegetables so the prices go down.

    Yes, if something is going to be subsidized, it is better for it to be healthy food.

    To fully clarify in case anyone isn’t usernamed after a Dutch bank couldn’t understand my comment.

    Foodstamps are humiliating in and of themselves and I would strongly support a system that provided the same or better benefits, but not in a humiliating form.

    Virtually nobody wants to be obese and eat monotonous, nutrient poor food to survive (recent research indicates that appetite is not controlled solely by caloric intake, so when diets are low in nutrients by calories are not restricted, obesity may be promoted). Perhaps some people are not aware of “food deserts”, the income distribution of obesity, etc.

    Yes, I proudly support the idea of “socialist” programs that would give people a more realistic chance to enjoy a healthy diet, if they want to.

  41. says

    I’m on food stamps. I do my best to eat as much fruit and veg as I can stand (or afford, whichever comes first). Yeah, I do occasionally buy something totally junky and bad for me. I feel like I should be able to have a treat now and then. What’s wrong with that? And why should a person on food stamps not be allowed the occasional splurge?

  42. harold says

    I’m on food stamps. I do my best to eat as much fruit and veg as I can stand (or afford, whichever comes first). Yeah, I do occasionally buy something totally junky and bad for me. I feel like I should be able to have a treat now and then. What’s wrong with that? And why should a person on food stamps not be allowed the occasional splurge?

    1) Food stamps are a lot better than being hungry. I grew up on welfare due to my mother’s severe health problems. I am grateful for it. I was able to get an education instead of starting work in a sweatshop at the age of ten.

    2) You should be able to buy whatever you want.

    3) Some people find it embarrassing to use food stamps, and it would be better if there were a program that didn’t have that aspect, but provided the same or better benefits, but still, food stamps are a shit load better than hunger, and I defend that program.

    4) It is good that you can have access to all the fruit and vegetables you want, not everybody in this country does. Not everybody who doesn’t is on food stamps, but there is a correlation between being poor and not having adequate access to health food. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_desert, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_determinants_of_health

    Apparently, if I say that I want people to have access to healthy food, that is interpreted by some as implying that I want to tell people what to eat. What I want is for people to have the choice.

  43. harold says

    I concede it’s getting easier to conflate the two given the disappearance of non-conservative Republicans, but it’s important to distinguish the two because conservatism continues to also infect the Democratic party as well, just not at nearly the same rate.

    I’ll probably get flagged for too many comments now, but this is a great point.

  44. Chiroptera says

    harold, #48: To fully clarify in case anyone isn’t usernamed after a Dutch bank couldn’t understand my comment.

    I had to google “dutch banks” to see who you were referring to. I’m so disappointed: I was hoping the Dutch had a bank named “Weed Monkey.”

  45. Akira MacKenzie says

    For the last six months I’ve been employed by one of the private companies that manages the maintenance of EBT cards for about 11 states, including my own, as a call center operator. During that time, I have dealt with SNAP, TANF, and Childcare recipients each and ever working day.

    Most of the time, the calls I take are pretty straight forward: “What’s my balance?” “What day do I receive my benefits?” “My card was lost/stolen/damaged and I need another.” However, many times each day, I have to deal with a caller in a very bad situation: a bedridden woman who can’t go to the local office to pick up a new card. A caller who is at the store and can’t use their card anymore because a vindictive relative or lover got ahold of their personal information, called in early posing as them, and cancelled their card out of spite. (Yes, we have to do it, we have no way of knowing that they AREN’T the person in question A weeping elderly woman who had her card stolen and the entirety of her monthly benefits used up. I hear unemployed people who don’t have jobs or anymore benefits trying to get by on $16 of food stamps a month just because they’re single! Most of the time, there is absolutely nothing I can do. Our company handles the card, not the benefits. I have to refer them to the local office.

    The only problem is that contacting the local food stamps office in the states I deal with (most of them are in the Red States of the South) is a nightmare in and of itself. Welfare office are being closed down. Caseworkers are being laid off. Most of the time they have to leave a message on someone’s voice mail which is never returned. People fail to renew for the benefits because they miss interviews they couldn’t conduct because they couldn’t get in touch with a local worker in time or because they didn’t even know they had to have renew their benefits in the first place. In the states with benefit call centers, clients have to wait on the phone for hours until they speak someone who will send them to my call center for an issue that only they can remedy. I personally think that the officials in these very Republican, very Conservative states are deliberately trying to make the process of getting and keeping food stamps difficult if not impossible.

    This job is taxing to say the least. I leave my cubicle each day feeling angry and depressed.

    While I’m yet to hear from any vocal Cadillac owners, I have read that only 32 cents of every dollar spent of benefits actually goes to the “poor.” More and more of it is ending up in the pocket’s of so-called “middle class.” If that is so, can we really call them middle class anymore? The cost of living get’s hire and hire while wages remain flat. I work 60 hours a week on just a little above minimum wage and I live from paycheck to paycheck and it’s getting harder and harder to do that as food, health care, and gas prices continue to climb. (Meanwhile, the CEO of my company took home a $240 million bonus last year on top of his lucrative salary.)

    I personally think that if we were to take a long, serious look at our nation’s economic situation, you’ll find that the the average American is is far, far, worse financial shape than the perpetual optimists in the media and progressive politics are willing to admit.

    The American lower class are a lot bigger than we think, are in deep shit trouble, and those in power are not willing to help them beyond throwing them a pittance.

  46. Weed Monkey says

    Chiroptera:

    I had to google “dutch banks” to see who you were referring to. I’m so disappointed: I was hoping the Dutch had a bank named “Weed Monkey.”

    Sorry, I don’t know what you mean.

  47. Azkyroth says

    Maybe I’m in the minority, but I consider getting food stamps and unemployment humiliating already.

    One of the unspoken undercurrents of a lot of this sentiment is that poor people are intellectually and morally inferior, such that concepts like “dignity” and “self-respect” aren’t meaningful to them.

  48. Pteryxx says

    harold:

    You do sound mostly reasonable now, compared to your #32 when you said you agreed with restricting food stamps to “real” food, but I find it telling that you can read (and quote) this:

    I’m on food stamps. I do my best to eat as much fruit and veg as I can stand (or afford, whichever comes first).

    and think it said this:

    4) It is good that you can have access to all the fruit and vegetables you want, not everybody in this country does.

    When someone can’t always afford them, can’t always stand them (the cheap ones aren’t always the tastiest) and has to put a constant effort into it, I wouldn’t call that “access to all the fruit and vegetables you want”. Might want to pay more attention to what other people are actually saying here, bud.

  49. sunsangnim says

    I used to work in a non-profit residential facility for adults with cognitive and physical disabilities. A few of the residents in the home received food stamps. Each one got $10 a month. Each week we would spend several hundred dollars on groceries, so the EBT cards made a very tiny contribution.

    What kind of asshole wants to drug test people with Down Syndrome or brain damage so they can get $10 a month for food?

  50. bigjohn756 says

    First of all, I don’t like your terminology. I like my dickhead, and, I don’t know what I would do without my asshole. Let’s just call a guy like this a piece of shit which has no value to humanity.

  51. Pteryxx says

    Akira: I can’t stop thinking about this. Can I ask for more information, or even just for you to vent at me, over on TET?

  52. says

    I am surprised they didn’t make poor people wear second hand clothes and special hats with which we could recognise them with.

  53. says

    “Once they dumped on my lap as much crisp bags from Lidl as I could carry. After tasting them I didn’t wonder why they didn’t sell. They were hideously orange, and tasted like shit.”.

    What, you never had Cheetos before?

    Akira MacKenzie:

    $240 million? Is there supposed to be a decimal point in there, somewhere?

  54. Doc Bill says

    How much things don’t change!

    I remember hearing these same arguments against welfare recipients in the early 60’s. There was a great howl of protest when Johnson embarked on the Great Society.

    “Good for nothings living high on the hog on government welfare!” Of course, the “good for nothings” were all black. The blacks were lazy while the poor in Appalachia were noble. Nothing like blatant racism. It was horrible then and it’s horrible now.

  55. Who Cares says

    @Harold:
    Ing. most likely (until 2003/2004) stands for the dutch title ingenieur which is equivalent with bachelor. Note: no ‘of science’ appended which would be the title ingenieur but then shortened to Ir.

    And now back to the topic.
    As someone who has been on government welfare I really wanted to do a ‘face meet keyword’-style action. Does this Mclanahan not realize that most people on welfare do not want to be on it but have a job that pays enough to live on. At least I’ve never met anyone who thought they were better of on government welfare, even the person referred to in post #27 only stays on it because he would be screwed even more if he’d take a job.

  56. harold says

    Pteryxx –

    I do not entirely understand why you are persisting in deliberate misinterpretation of what I am saying.

    In this particular context, I see a very, very serious ethical problem with this kind of misrepresentation, which I will detail below, after I have fully clarified that there is misrepresentation.

    You said –

    You do sound mostly reasonable now, compared to your #32 when you said you agreed with restricting food stamps to “real” food

    I do feel that I was mildly unclear in one part of comment 32. On the other hand, I feel that the other parts of that comment make my attitude obvious.

    What I said in comment 32, in the only part that could be mildy unclear, was –

    I more or less strongly agree with this. I don’t agree with extreme restrictions, but I do actually agree with a system that strongly encourages healthy food choices. I think that this would make the system MORE expensive, though. I believe it would be worth it, as obesity and related issues are major, expensive health problems in the US.

    I used mild language because I had taken the individual I was talking to to task for racism above that, and also because I come from a perspective of caring about public health, and caring about poor peoples’ lack of access to healthy food. Also, bluntly, perceive a right winger who says “make them eat healthy food”, although objectionable, as far better than a typical right winger who would wish to cut off all assistance.

    Nevertheless, it is very clear even in comment 32 that I defended the dignity of people who receive food assistance, and that I do not support restrictions on choice but rather, availability of more choices.

    An honest person who had a problem with the idea of restricting choice would have addressed the comment I responded to. Instead, an excuse was found to attack my critical response for not being “pure” enough – and distortion was required for that.

    And you’re keeping it up, and getting more obnoxious.

    When someone can’t always afford them, can’t always stand them (the cheap ones aren’t always the tastiest) and has to put a constant effort into it, I wouldn’t call that “access to all the fruit and vegetables you want”. Might want to pay more attention to what other people are actually saying here, bud.

    This is a rather extreme example of projection.

    Anyone with a third grade reading comprehension could tell that I have repeatedly made the point that people who receive food assistance often can’t afford healthy food, throughout this discussion. You are the one who needs to pay attention to what other people are saying.

    Now let me tell you why, beyond the triviality of lying about what someone else plainly said in a public forum that everyone can read, I find your behavior here unethical.

    If you wanted to vent outrage by taking on actual unfair and regressive statements about food aid recipients, you could have critiqued the article Ed drew attention to, or the comment that I responded to, which you ignored.

    Instead, you chose to try, using misrepresentations of others’ remarks, to find someone else who is defending dignified food aid, and to try to exclude that person for not being “pure” enough.

    As it happens, I am about the purest possible supporter of strong, dignified social assistance programs you could ever find, but for whatever reason, instead of addressing the actual right wing material that was there for you to address, you chose to join in, in a distortion and nitpicking of my remarks, with the apparent goal of reducing the number of those who support universal access to high quality healthy food to those who meet some half-assed standard of purity. And ironically, you’re trying to exclude the wrong person, even within that.

    If my analysis here is correct, and to some degree it is behaviorally correct, this is not what poor and struggling people need or want. Take if from me, a former welfare kid. What people deserve is adequate, dignified equal access to healthy food, healthcare, education, employment opportunity, etc. When my family was on welfare during my childhood, we did not want support for these things to be restricted to a tiny number of people who meet some self-declared standard of coolness or whatever it is that you think gives you the right to distort my comments and inaccurately project your own tendency to deliberate misreading of others onto me.

    It does seem that we actually agree on the issue of food aid, so let’s stop the misrepresentation. I’m willing to drop it here.

  57. says

    these right-wing ideas about welfare also fall on fertile ground elsewhere, unfortunately.

    Here’s a cartoon from Taiwan, with the title “Social welfare sucks”. It tells the story of two boys. One always industrious and hardworking, the other lazy and living off of his parents.

    When the lazy guy’s parents stop paying his lifestyle, the government (the blue-green alien like figure) comes in and tells the industrious guy to pay for the lazy guy.

    Have a look at the cartoon, even if you don’t read Chinese, the moral behind the story and how welfare just enables freeloaders should be obvious..

    http://www.wretch.cc/blog/wretchcomic/12950005

  58. Akira MacKenzie says

    democommie:

    Nope, that is how much our glorious boss got. $240,000,000.00 Without getting into details that would leave me jobless if my identity were known (employers don’t like when the wage slaves are dissatisfied with company policy), my employer has its fingers in many pies: EBT, pre-paid debit cards, online bill payment, and other financial functions.

  59. Aquaria says

    That said the solutions not to punish everyone on food stamps, instead shouldn’t we just make better more en-forcible rules that make is so food stamps can only be used for real necessities like fruit, vegetables, meat, and milk (and maybe toilet paper and toothpaste).

    You’re a moron.

    Look, you’re ASSUMING that people who are getting food stamps:

    1) Have a regular grocery store near where they live, or even a convenience store that sells fresh produce.

    2) Have a refrigerator to store your precious vegetables.

    3) Have a damned stove to cook them with.

    4) Have utensils to cook with and things to eat off of.

    5) Know how to cook–anything.

    That’s a lot of goddamned assumptions, you judgmental asshole.

    And just who the fuck are you to tell someone what they can buy with their food stamps? How do you know those people you saw buying chips hadn’t saved up or were doing without something else to buy for a kid’s birthday? Even if all they’re doing is buying junk for themselves, that’s their business! Who are you to say what someone should eat, or why? It’s none of your goddamned business!

  60. Akira MacKenzie says

    Democommie:

    Whoops! I just double checked. The Big Boss got around $24 million. You skepticism was well founded. My bad.

  61. matty1 says

    The idea of non cash ‘you can only buy approved stuff’ benefits freaks me out but if you are already using a food stamps system that ship has sailed. I believe you shouldn’t judge someone who chooses to buy burgers instead of veg but I also believe you shouldn’t judge if they want to buy newspapers or clothes or even ‘bad’ items like alcohol or cigarettes.

    How incidentally do the unemployed in America pay for such frivolous luxuries as heating and running water if benefits are restricted to food?

  62. llewelly says

    “I’ve seen enough trashed out trailer homes with bigass satellite dishes …”

    uh, any satellite dish much larger than a dinner plate is probably an ancient piece of trash. People have them because (a) they can’t afford to upgrade, (b) they were given it when a friend upgraded, (c) they got it cheap used, (d) they’re getting their satellite illegitimately, and whatever trick they are using won’t work with new equipment.

  63. llewelly says

    First, the federal government would create a government “brand” of essential food items such as milk, cheese, meat, cereal, vegetables, bread, peanut butter, beans, juice, soup, baby formula, diapers, etc., and would package the items with simple black-and-white labels and basic descriptions. The word “Government” would be stamped across the top in bold letters so everyone would know it was a welfare item. These items could be manufactured by major companies through government contracts, thus not creating a net loss to private industry. Because competition is not an issue, taste and quality, with the exception of the baby formula and baby food, would not be a top priority…

    Sounds like a near clone of the Mormon welfare program. The only missing piece is to talk the recipients into working in dreadfully mismanaged factories which make the food.

  64. Chiroptera says

    Maybe every single person over the age of 12 should automatically recieve every month — oh, I don’t know what a fair amount would be — let’s say $100 a month in food stamps, and every minor $75 or something.

    Wouldn’t solve most of the problems that people are discussing here except that this would take out the stigma aspect!

    I doubt that economic demand for food would go up much, so this shouldn’t screw up the prices all that much.

  65. llewelly says

    And just who the fuck are you to tell someone what they can buy with their food stamps?

    Poverty is caused by immorality. If welfare recipients are not forced to follow a specific moral code, they’ll continue being immoral, and they’ll be on welfare forever.

    It is immoral to have expensive medical conditions.
    It is immoral to have a job that doesn’t pay a living wage.
    It is immoral to have poor parents.
    It is immoral to be a loser; losers are all communists anyway.

  66. llewelly says

    It is immoral to have expensive medical conditions.
    It is immoral to have a job that doesn’t pay a living wage.
    It is immoral to have poor parents.
    It is immoral to be a loser; losers are all communists anyway.

    Explanation here.

  67. Michael Heath says

    dogmeat writes:

    Increasingly I’m of the opinion that something within Republicans stifles, or outright kills their empathy. They honestly seem to have no ability to even think about taking a single step in “the other guy’s shoes.”

    Harold piles on:

    Or they never had any. The question is why we have so many of these types of people at this time in history.

    Yeah, Abe Lincoln has to be one the most unempathetic leaders in American history. Ditto all those Republicans who’ve voted for civil rights. As I noted in my response to dogmeat, a case can be made for conservatism but not necessarily for the legacy of the Republican party. To conflate the two is to misdiagnose the disease whose symptoms are currently most evident within the Republican party but for seventy-five+ years more evident in the Democratic party (Jim Crow years).

  68. Michael Heath says

    Harold,

    I hadn’t read your response @ 51 prior to posting @ 76. I predominately post a comment if I have a reaction to the last post read rather than continuing to read through the entire thread. A cost of doing so is illustrated with my redundant post @ 76.

  69. says

    Akira MacKenzie:

    Thanks for getting back on that. As if the lamefuck was worth 1/10,000 of the $24M he DID get.

    I would love to see an executive order requiring that every member of the U.S. Congress eat, on camera, a welfare meal a week, until they grow some empathy or spines.

  70. Michael Heath says

    I grew up working in my dad’s two grocery stores from around 1970 to 1985. I vividly remember the economic down-turn of the late-1970s through early-1980s. Horrible food inflation combined to high unemployment had a big impact on people’s spending habits.

    This period was the rise of generic food products, which eventually faded to a much smaller market share in the mid-1980s as the economy reversed course. During this period’s downturn our single busiest day of the month became the first Tuesday of the month, which was when most people received their food stamps. No other day was close. It used to be every Friday when people got their paychecks, with the second biggest day being Saturday.

    I also recall a program back then called WIC, which provided supplemental food assistance to pregnant women and IIRC, young mothers. This program did restrict these people’s choices by listing on the coupon what they could buy, IIRC it was mostly dairy products like milk and cheese along with eggs. We sold a lot of 2 lb. bricks of Kraft Velveeta. These people also had food stamps.

    I’ve always been politically aware so of course I monitored whether I observed anyone abusing food stamps. It was a very rare event. People predominately made wise choices and there were few customers who appeared to have obtained their food stamps fraudulently. Of course my observations might not represent the general population since I lived in a small rural working class town. Everybody tends to know each other’s business in such places so there’s probably more peer pressure not to cheat. I certainly don’t claim such places do a better job of developing moral people.

  71. Chiroptera says

    Michael Heath, #79: This program did restrict these people’s choices by listing on the coupon what they could buy, IIRC it was mostly dairy products like milk and cheese along with eggs.

    I think they’ve been relaxing the standards a bit. I recall seeing a sign on the supermarket not too long ago on a product that said that that product was now eligible for WIC.

    I can’t remember what it was — a bag of organic rice or a jar of spaghetti sauce or something — but I do remember being surprise that a food assistance program would have had listed it as ineligible to begin with. (I wasn’t familiar with WIC at the time.)

  72. scotlyn says

    Plus, tax producers would no longer have to knowingly be face to face with people at the check-out who are on government assistance but have nicer cell phones and accessories than they do.

    When I read this sentence I thought – no way this isn’t a Poe!

    I’ve seen enough trashed out trailer homes with bigass satellite dishes …

    See, that sentence can’t help but transpose itself in my mind into Dogwhistle – “trailer trash with bigass satellite dishes.”

    And what really gets to me is the attitude that poor people must spend all their time acknowledging at every minute the absolute miserableness of being poor. Choosing the fun, entertaining or joyful option – should it somehow come within reach, whether through a second-hand market, leftover from a more prosperous time, from friends or family, or by carefully saving up – is simply not allowed.

    Poor people – you doin it rong! You got so little already, it’s true, but we just won’t rest easy until you have even less!

  73. Drolfe says

    Poor people, just like women, are smart enough to make their own decisions.

    We went to nearly 800 comments when we talked about this last year at this time.

    FWIW, Harold,

    That said the [solution's] not to punish everyone on food stamps, instead shouldn’t we just make better more en-forcible rules that make [it] so food stamps can only be used for real necessities like fruit, vegetables, meat, and milk (and maybe toilet paper and toothpaste)[?] Seems like if food-stamp type assistance was only good for healthy food it would reduce costs both with that program and in the healthcare system, so win-win :-D

    I more or less strongly agree with this.

    The reason people jumped on your initial response was that you more or less strongly agreed with this quoted comment. And then disclaimed basically all of it. I.e., the first sentence is stupid, and you don’t agree with it, and the second sentence is wrong and you don’t agree with it (making food assistance only work for healthy, i.e., expensive food wouldn’t reduce costs of the program. You say as much. Fraud is a negligible cost in the welfare system (see my comments in the linked thread), so making more and better rules would be cost negative given they are unnecessary, and thus harmful to the program (more administration, less food for starving people). I understand that it feels bad to be jumped on by allies, but you know SIWOTI is a powerful reflex. I don’t think it had anything to do with purity, just the normal reflex to wrongness around here. (Rightness is a moral issue for a lot of freethinkers.)

    But seriously, Travisdykes, welfare queens driving Cadillacs and young bucks buying t-bone steaks? Really? Reagan’s poisonous, racist politics will never die.

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