An extraordinary occurrence took place last Friday. Congress let a temporary $5 billion food stamp stimulus from the 2009 Recovery Act expire. We can’t recall ever hearing of a federal program becoming smaller. Can you?
As a result, one in seven Americans, or about 47 million people, who are dependent on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for their daily bread, will find their loaves a little lighter. This amounts to about a $36 per month cut in food stamp benefits for a family of four. How will they get by?
“Families will either buy less food or they will buy cheaper food,” said food expert Marion Nestle. “Food stamps don’t last the entire month. People will have to make much more careful choices in order to make the money go as far as it can.”
According to Census Bureau data, nearly 1 in 2 Americans are now living at or near the poverty line. Perhaps this is why SNAP spending has doubled over the past four years to almost $80 billion a year. But, unfortunately, when something expands this fast there’s got to be some waste and fraud involved.
Indeed, we don’t want anyone going to sleep on an empty stomach. Especially kids, the elderly, and the disabled. That’s why we contribute monthly to our local rescue mission. But, in general, we also believe it isn’t the government’s job to give people money to buy KFC or other nonessential items.
More importantly, this is but one example why you shouldn’t rely on the government for anything. Not for free food, free drugs, or to pay for your retirement. Because once you’ve organized your life in this manner, and become completely dependent upon their promises, you’ve made yourself significantly vulnerable.
At a moment’s notice the flow of gravy can run dry. All it may take is an election and a new political party coming to power. Similarly, the tide of public opinion can quickly reverse…thus twisting politicians to reverse an expected benefit.
Where food stamps are concerned, plenty of intelligent and able bodied individuals have been tempted out by the poisonous apple of government onto the outer spans of a brittle tree branch. As a consequence, they’ve become reliant on the government to eat. But now that the branch is bending and cracking they have an unanticipated problem to deal with.
The expectation of a certain food allowance has suddenly changed. They must figure out how to pay for their food. Like Nestle said, they will have to buy less or cheaper food.
They may also need to figure out how to make more money. This, we believe, is a positive consequence of reducing food stamp payments. For we are confident this will prompt plenty of good people to become self-supporting through their own contributions.
Stunting the Lives of Millions
Obviously, anyone can lose their job and run short on money. Surely everyone’s made a mistake or two before…we’ve made more than our share. Hence, through no fault of their own, 47 million people unwittingly turned over their free will to the giving hand of government.
Despite the best of intentions by government lawmakers, food stamp dependents are now having the rug yanked out from under them. Regrettably, this is the way it goes in a fickle democratic system. Naturally, there was no foresight this day would come. With hindsight, it should have been acutely obvious.
You see, when the government enacts a new system of benefits they tilt the world up on end in unnatural, irregular ways. Through policies of forced benevolence and mandatory philanthropy entire segments of the population have been stunted in ways they never would have without them. Living off the dole becomes a way of life.
However, when things break down, those living at the margins are the first to get squeezed. You wouldn’t expect Congress to cut their cushy healthcare and retirement benefits would you? They’ll be the last ones to lose their remunerations…right before the whole ship of state collides with an iceberg.
Quite frankly, we welcome the day. We don’t doubt these leaders are saucy and clever fellows. Certainly they knew what they were doing…right? It’s high time the scoundrels get what they deserve.
for Economic Prism