Food is one of life’s vital essentials. Procuring enough food to meet one’s daily needs is a rudimentary survival requirement. So, too, people’s ability to sustain themselves is essential to a functioning economy.
Hunger, for sure, is a great motivator. Obviously, some of the great advances of humanity have been inspired by an empty stomach. Moreover, some of the recurring moments of human drudgery are tolerated to earn one’s daily bread.
For this reason, economies that are more open and free generally allow more people to feed themselves. Conversely, economies that are overloaded with corruption, arbitrary property laws, and authoritarian governments generally have more people who are hungry. In this respect, an increase in the number of people who are unable to provide their own food may signal that an economy’s breaking down…and that government fraud and central government meddling may have something to do with it.
According to the most recent U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics for September 2011, over 46 million people are now on food stamps. This amounts to nearly 15 percent of the total U.S. population – an increase of 65 percent since just 2008.
What gives? How come so many people are reliant on the government for food to eat?
We’ll offer some thoughts on this in a moment…but first, for both comedy and tragedy, we’ll turn our attention to some good old fashioned election year populism on the matter…
Something Is Going Seriously Wrong
Here at the Economic Prism we’re not above finger pointing. Nor are we above name calling. In fact, we delight in them and embrace them whenever and wherever possible.
That’s why we got a good laugh last week when Republican presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich called President Obama “the finest food stamp president in American history.” The irony, of course, is that Obama likely finds Gingrich’s name calling to be a compliment. For in the present era of bread and circuses, free food from the government is demanded and expected.
Sometimes, however, the food stamp program doesn’t always meet all of these demands and expectations. Occasionally it falls short. When this happens, people go mad…
Last week, for instance, following a seven hour standoff at a state food stamp office in Laredo, Texas, Rachelle Grimmer shot her 10- and 12-year-old children in the head. Then she killed herself. Apparently, Grimmer was distraught because her food stamp application had been denied.
We don’t bring this up to make light of this tragedy; but rather, to highlight the fact that something is going seriously wrong. That is the burden of what follow…
Teach a Man to Fish
The government loves to meddle in the lives and private affairs of others. This, at least, is what our observations and experiences have demonstrated. The government, and its cadre of do-gooders, is averse to individual freedom and liberty. They’ll do everything they can to resist fellow man from finding his own way by his own means.
Often times the government’s intentions are well meaning. Food stamps are issued to provide food to people so they can eat. Isn’t that a good thing?
On surface, the answer is yes. But below the surface unintended consequences simmer.
By making more and more people dependent on the government for their food, the government is, in effect, crippling them. The assistance being provided, in many cases, is doing more harm than good.
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime,” goes the English proverb.
In our home city, the Long Beach Rescue Mission helps people help themselves. In addition to meals, they teach people to fish…so they can become self-supporting through their own contributions. And they do so entirely through private donations. No government funds are sought nor accepted.
Politicians, unfortunately, have missed this axiom entirely. Instead, like most of their plans, they’ve set up a program that makes people reliant indefinitely. Nonetheless, politicians refuse to acknowledge that their schemes cost too much and often fail or backfire. They just keep pouring more and more money into them.
What’s more, once the government’s balance sheet is larded up with so many programs that several generations have become reliant upon them, they borrow money to pay for them. After that they print money to roll over the debt.
This, no doubt, is the unfavorable place we currently find ourselves…and there’s no turning back. When confidence is finally lost in the money printing scheme, and prices skyrocket, food scarcity will skyrocket too.
for Economic Prism