Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Food Stamp Program Helping to Reduce Poverty Increase Entitlement

Well, as noted, if Obama's reelected we can expect a big new push for the expansion of the welfare state.

The system works, apparently, via New York Times, "Food Stamps Helped Reduce Poverty Rate, Study Finds."

Enrollment in the food stamp program grew substantially during the recession and immediately after, rising by 45 percent from January of 2009 to January of this year, according to monthly figures on the U.S.D.A. Web site. The stimulus package pushed by President Obama and enacted by Congress significantly boosted funding for the program as a temporary relief for families who had fallen on hard times in the recession.

But the steady rise tapered off in January, when enrollment was down slightly from December, a change in direction that Ms. Dean said could signal that the recovery was having an effect even among poor families.

The program’s effects have long been known among poverty researchers, and for Ms. Dean, the most interesting aspect of the report was the political context into which it was released. In a year of elections and rising budget pressures, social programs like food stamps are coming under increased scrutiny from Republican legislators, who argue that they create a kind of entitlement society.

In an e-mail to supporters on Monday, Representative Allen B. West, a Florida Republican, called the increase in food stamp use a “highly disturbing trend.” He said that he had noticed a sign outside a gas station in his district over the weekend alerting customers that food stamps were accepted.

“This is not something we should be proud to promote,” he said.
And I think that's key.

UPDATE: Okay, this story is now trending at Memeorandum, and David Dayen at Firedoglake makes the argument that welfare programs make poor people "richer." See, "Food Stamp Program Crucial to Alleviating Poverty":
The simple axiom here is that giving poor people money will help make poor people richer. We’re a wealthy enough country that we can afford to do this, and the result benefits not just the poor, but the economy. A family that can gets their food needs taken care of can purchase other items and contribute to a local economy...

The Great Recession has been horrible, but it’s also been a test of new ways to deliver broad social benefits. And the old standby of cash-transfer programs that expand as needed has won out.

You don't make people "richer" by giving them government handouts. That makes people dependent on the largesse of the state. But progressives love increasing state power, and if there's an attack on the evil capitalists in there too, well, then you've got a pro-dependency winner. See Eschaton, "Give People Free Money":
We give a lot of free money to rich people in this country. Much of the money we give to not rich people in this country we do so because they've paid for the insurance policy (unemployment, social security). Food stamps are a not so terrible substitute to free money, but the aren't quite as good as just giving people the money. That only crazy bloggers are willing to suggest "give money to people who aren't rich" as a pretty good solution both for poverty amelioration and boosting the economy generally tells us that our political system is basically not capable of responding to the country's problems and needs.
Wrong again.

First, there's no such thing as "free" money, and second, we've been giving the poor billions of dollars of "free" money for decades --- with little return on the investment in terms of poverty reduction.

Progressives hate individual initiative --- and they embrace government expansion as a lever to increase state-socialist power.

When I read the arguments in favor of increasing state dependency I don't even consider these as comments authored by my countrymen.

More at Memeorandum.