Tuesday, November 03, 2009

You get a food stamp, you get a food stamp, everybody gets new food stamps!

The headline declares: Food Stamps Will Feed Half Of US Kids. But this is actually understating the findings. That prediction is based on stats collected in "1968 through 1997", according to which:
Overall, about 49 percent of all children were on food stamps at some point by the age of 20, the analysis found. That includes 90 percent of black children and 37 percent of whites.
So that's already happened. It's in the past and present, not the future.

Pause: Almost all black people (at least under the age of 60 or so) have been on food stamps. I read this article hours ago, and my mind is still metabolizing just that little snippet.

But (moving on) you can't just project that similar stats will be seen in the future. Income inequality has gotten worse, not better. And then came the latest financial / economic crash, which siphoned billions out of poor and (disproportionately) minority households (I forget where I read just how many billions, but it's a big number), and looks to be headed for a yet more spectacular sequel before too long.

Well, I've been working on not ending on downers, so here's a joke:

You might be living in a fundamentally unjust economic system if....


Voter said...

If what? Government is taxing people who can afford food and giving food stamps to those who need it. Isn't that what you want?

Toby said...

What I want is for everyone to be able to live a productive life and engage in fulfilling work, and not rely on hand-outs in order to survive.

Given that we do not live in such a society, then, yes, it is better that there are programs like food stamps, to keep a lid on the number starving on the streets or stealing bread. But this is just treating the symptoms of injustice, not addressing the underlying disease.

Voter said...

I disagree that it's given that we don't live in such a society. THe fact that not everyone lives a productive life does not mean that everyone is not able to live a productive life.

Most any individual is able to better himself in this country. That's why we have legal and illegal immigrants.

Toby said...

Most any individual can win the lottery. That's why so many people buy tickets.

It is true that it is possible for any given person to get a good job (dunno why you equate that with "bettering" oneself). This possibility is open even to someone from an impoverished background, etc., etc.

But those can only be exceptions. The contemporary American economy cannot allow a scenario in which everyone feeds themselves without recourse to hand-outs. It could not survive if everyone had a good job. It both requires an impoverished underclass (including impoverished workers), and works to ensure that this underclass exists.