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If another nation was doing this to our children, we'd be at war.
July 3, 2013 6:15 AM   Subscribe

"The story of American families facing food insecurity is as frustrating as it is heartbreaking, because the truth is as avoidable as it is tragic. Here in the richest country on earth, 50 million of us — one in six Americans — go hungry. More than a third of them are children. And yet Congress can’t pass a Farm Bill because our representatives continue to fight over how many billions to slash from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps. The debate is filled with tired clichés about freeloaders undeserving of government help, living large at the expense of honest, hardworking taxpayers." Bill Moyers spends an hour with two of the creators of the documentary "A Place at the Table."

"A Place at the Table" is a recently released film from the same production team that made "Food, Inc." There's more information, videos and activities at the tie-in Take Part website.
posted by jbickers (76 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite

 
If more than a third of the people that go hungry are children, that means that there are 2/3s that aren't. I wish that starving people in our country weren't broken into "we should care about them" and "it's their own damn fault" based on age.

People in the USA are starving. That's criminal, no matter what their age.
posted by xingcat at 6:24 AM on July 3, 2013 [47 favorites]


An adult, on the other hand, ostensibly has access to options lacking to a child. I don't think it's a matter of who we are supposed to care about, but rather who is supposed to be able to care for themselves.

One of the issues I has with the idea of "freeloaders" is...who cares? Seriously, if all you want out of life is a roof over your head and food, then I think enough of us make enough to make that happen. No one wants a bare subsistence life. Everyone would strive for more, and again, if not, who cares? To have a guaranteed minimum expectancy of needs is fine by me, since but there but for the grace of God and all that.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:33 AM on July 3, 2013 [45 favorites]


One of the issues I has with the idea of "freeloaders" is...who cares? Seriously, if all you want out of life is a roof over your head and food, then I think enough of us make enough to make that happen. No one wants a bare subsistence life. Everyone would strive for more, and again, if not, who cares?

John Calvin cares. That's who the people with the freeloader talk are responding to--that and the desire to feel righteous.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:36 AM on July 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is more conservative false pride at work in America. I wish the angry self-righteous voter could follow each food stamp dollar to find out how much it ends up propping up their own livelihood. Then they might begin to doubt that money ever comes from God.
posted by Brian B. at 6:41 AM on July 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


Oh good, we've once more devolved into a race between the "have nots" and "have even less" instead of the the real fight that should be fought.
posted by DU at 6:42 AM on July 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


This movie has been in my Netflix DVD queue since it made the film festival rounds last year, so I finally got to see it when it mailed out last week. The stats are astounding.

Per the movie, the portion of school lunch program funding that is actually spent on food is between 90¢ and $1 per meal. The latest re-authorization of the Child Nutrition Act resulted in "The Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act" which, over ten years, would raise this by 6¢ per meal. A large mocha Starbucks costs more than a week of lunches for these kids.

Over half the bill was paid for by cutting Food Stamps. To paraphrase the movie: food was taken from hungry adults and pushed across the plate to hungry kids, and they called it reducing hunger.

Near the end of the movie is a plea to make this issue a top priority for anyone seeking reelection. If a government can't find a way to guarantee that it's people are being fed, then what good is it?
posted by ceribus peribus at 6:48 AM on July 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


At least we have enough money to support an army big enough to protect the situation, or it would be even worse.

(Why, why, why can't America get its head around the idea that helping one American helps all Americans in the long run? It's not like it's a difficult idea.)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:50 AM on July 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sharing is a hugely difficult idea for some.
posted by agregoli at 6:53 AM on July 3, 2013 [14 favorites]


Does it discourage individual initiative to feed children? Is it socialism to help those with nothing?
posted by gallois at 6:57 AM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Total care, from conception to birth.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:58 AM on July 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


Good food is like a good defense: it has to be universal, shoulder to shoulder, mandated for all, paid for by all, so that we all can reap the rewards of a universally healthy country. Every American ought to be issued a SNAP card that buys enough actual food to keep that person healthy and strong and smart and ready to fight if need be. Every boy ought to be Boy Scout material, Eagle Scout material, public service material, soldier material, with a mind and body built on a lifetime of healthy eating of homeland produce. It just makes good conservative, hawkish, old-fashioned, American sense. God bless our fighting forces and God bless America.

At least that's the way I'd sell it to the fuckers who would try to take money from food programs.
posted by pracowity at 7:00 AM on July 3, 2013 [34 favorites]


Why, why, why can't America get its head around the idea that helping one American helps all Americans in the long run?

Possibly you're confused--the problem as I see is it that the bulk of Americans are uninterested in helping all Americans, as opposed to only the Americans who they personally feel are good/worthy/deserving.
posted by MeghanC at 7:01 AM on July 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


Gotta pay for the NSA (hello chaps if you're reading)
posted by GallonOfAlan at 7:04 AM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


If another nation was doing this to our children, we'd be at war.

But the other nations ARE doing this to our children! I don't see any other nations stepping up to fund American school lunch programs either. I think we should definitely spend the money on invading them right away. We can start with Canada and Mexico first since they're closest and both have social welfare programs for their kids BUT NOT OURS DAMNIT!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:05 AM on July 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Possibly you're confused--the problem as I see is it that the bulk of Americans are uninterested in helping all Americans, as opposed to only the Americans who they personally feel are good/worthy/deserving.

The idea that there are any Americans who think that there are children unworthy of food is, frankly, appalling.
posted by jetlagaddict at 7:05 AM on July 3, 2013 [16 favorites]


The part of the film that I wish conservatives would watch - actually watch, and listen to the words, and open their ears and eyes to - is the story of Barbie, the single mother who was unemployed and on food stamps, then got a full-time job. Once she got a job, things got measurably worse for her and her kids, because suddenly she was making "too much money" to get food assistance (even though still living at a poverty level). So goddamned frustrating to watch. The discussion about freeloaders is an incredibly frustrating red herring, because it's not about freeloaders. It's about people who are working, and working damned hard, but can barely survive despite how hard they are working, because the system is rigged against them.
posted by jbickers at 7:06 AM on July 3, 2013 [29 favorites]


Why, why, why can't America get its head around the idea that helping one American helps all Americans in the long run?

That one American you help might be black.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:07 AM on July 3, 2013 [26 favorites]


The idea that there are any Americans who think that there are children unworthy of food is, frankly, appalling.

Once they're safely out of the womb, it's up to them to pull themselves up by their own diaper pins, like any patriotic, gawd-fearing American.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:15 AM on July 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Eat the rich I say.
posted by ishrinkmajeans at 7:15 AM on July 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Does it discourage individual initiative to feed children?

The overwhelming majority of the initiatives are from private individuals, but the problem is that whenever they start making a dent, the government uses it as an excuse to make further funding cuts. It's basing a country's food security on charity soup kitchens. The government should be forced to learn that nothing else gets funded until basic food needs are met.
posted by ceribus peribus at 7:16 AM on July 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


You know who else thought entire sections of the populations were unworthy of food?

No, seriously, it really was that asshole.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:17 AM on July 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


Mitt Romney?
posted by ishrinkmajeans at 7:18 AM on July 3, 2013 [13 favorites]


Why, why, why can't America get its head around the idea that helping one American helps all Americans in the long run?

That one American you help might be black.


Then why all the futzing around the African continent and its [actually lessening] share of hungry children instead of all those billions being spent at home?
posted by infini at 7:32 AM on July 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Per the movie, the portion of school lunch program funding that is actually spent on food is between 90¢ and $1 per meal. The latest re-authorization of the Child Nutrition Act resulted in "The Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act" which, over ten years, would raise this by 6¢ per meal.

Schools are reimbursed at a rate between $2.86 and $3.03 for a free lunch, depending on the percentage of needy students at their school. To qualify for the additional six cent reimbursement (for all meals, not just F/RP), schools had to prove their compliance with the new nutrition standards set forth under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. And that six cents may or may not actually go to purchasing food.

There are several bills floating around that are attempting to repeal the nutrition standards because Republicans hate anything that even remotely smacks of a nanny state. You can't tell my children to eat more vegetables! Michelle Obama is fat! She should take her own advice!

Except don't spend SNAP funds on junk food!

That would be BAD.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:57 AM on July 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Isn't helping the needy only a side-effect of the farm bill, which subsidizes farmers? That's how I always understood it anyway.
posted by rebent at 7:58 AM on July 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Helping one American helps all Americans? That's an empty platitude. If I give $20 to a banker or a homeless guy it doesn't "help all Americans". It helps that guy. And if you're part of the class of guys who already are rich why would you want to give money to poor brown people? Yeah it might help the overall economy in 10 years but you, personally, will be worse off. The rich people's aversion to equitable wealth sharing is as completely logically justified as it is dispicable.
posted by ishrinkmajeans at 7:59 AM on July 3, 2013


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:SNAP_Benefits_Paid_2005-2012.png


To the extent the the number of unemployed represents some sort of proxy for the approximate demand for SNAP assistance, and the number of unemployed has decreased 7.4% from May 2012 to May 2013, all other factors being equal, what's the problem?


What is the appropriate rate of growth going forward given the recent 5 year CAGR of 20%?
posted by otto42 at 8:00 AM on July 3, 2013


The "United" States of America.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:07 AM on July 3, 2013


Eat the Rich.
posted by homodigitalis at 8:07 AM on July 3, 2013


Then why all the futzing around the African continent and its [actually lessening] share of hungry children instead of all those billions being spent at home?

Because you can be damn patronizing about Africans (as though they are a single monolithic entity) not being able to care for themselves in their own countries... but it's a little harder to feel superior when you're forced to confront the fact you're doing the same thing at home.
posted by WidgetAlley at 8:07 AM on July 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


To the extent the the number of unemployed represents some sort of proxy for the approximate demand for SNAP assistance, and the number of unemployed has decreased 7.4% from May 2012 to May 2013, all other factors being equal, what's the problem?

employed ≠ living above poverty line
posted by Thorzdad at 8:08 AM on July 3, 2013 [17 favorites]


The current Farm Bill fiasco is something else entirely. There were actually two, the House's failed Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (HR 1947), and the Senate's Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act (S 954).

The former was worse but had a cooler acronym than the latter (FARRM vs ARFJ). HR 1947 made huge cuts to SNAP. S 954 isn't quite as bad ($4 billion compared to $20 [TWENTY!!!] billion), but any cuts to nutrition assistance are detrimental to society.


Random factoid I just found on Wikipedia that made me laugh, bitterly: Senator John McCain (R-AZ) criticized S 954 for containing a catfish inspection program that he believes duplicates one that is already conducted by the Food and Drug Administration.

Because that's the only thing wrong with it.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:16 AM on July 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Seriously, if all you want out of life is a roof over your head and food, then I think enough of us make enough to make that happen. No one wants a bare subsistence life.

Well no, no one wants a subsistence life. But billions of people live in poverty, and while they CANNOT THRIVE in the sense of having secure sources of decent-quality food, housing, medicine, etc., they DO THRIVE in the sense of having a lot of children, most of whom remain in the poverty cycle.

Daniel Quinn has written some interesting stuff about this, including an explanation of why birth control will never work to counteract explosive population growth (which is fueled by explosive increases in food production).

I don't see how these problems could ever be solved on a mass-society scale, but who knows what the future will bring with regards to high technology.

It looks to me like the key is to work towards creating self-sufficient/sustainable tribes and communities while the rest of society heads towards some kind of collapse or strange futuristic transformation.
posted by gray17 at 8:26 AM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thorzdad's statement that "employed ≠ living above poverty line" is a very important point that I will repeat simply to ensure that more people see it.

If you pull your bootstraps hard enough to leave the ground, but then actually rip them right off your boots, you end up flat on your ass with ruined boots.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:43 AM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Except, gray17, birth control, in combination with improved rights and opportunity for women and solid social safety net policies for families, totally has worked to counteract explosive population growth. In nearly every industrialized nation where women have been given access to education, economic opportunity, political power, family planning resources, and adequate health care for themselves and their children, birth rates have dropped to replacement level or below. The birth rate in Sweden, for example, where school lunches are free for ALL children, is 1.90 children per woman.

Giving hungry children access to healthy government-subsidized food is correlated with decreased population growth over the long term in nearly every country where it has been tried.
posted by BlueJae at 8:48 AM on July 3, 2013 [19 favorites]


The part of the film that I wish conservatives would watch - actually watch, and listen to the words, and open their ears and eyes to - is the story of Barbie, the single mother who was unemployed and on food stamps, then got a full-time job. Once she got a job, things got measurably worse for her and her kids, because suddenly she was making "too much money" to get food assistance.

Over here in the UK, Conservatives are using stories like this to explain why they should cut welfare. It ain't fair that people on welfare are doing better than people in work, y'see.

So, yeah. Maybe don't show it to them.
posted by dudekiller at 8:50 AM on July 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Giving hungry children access to healthy government-subsidized food is correlated with decreased population growth over the long term in nearly every country where it has been tried.
posted by BlueJae at 8:48 AM on July 3 [+] [!]

More free lunches and lower birth rates are the result of economic growth.

That is, economic growth is correlated with more free lunches and economic growth is correlated with lower birth rates, but we can't quite say that the correlation between free lunches and birth rates is anything more than spurious.
posted by otto42 at 8:59 AM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


If I give $20 to a banker or a homeless guy it doesn't "help all Americans". It helps that guy.

This is obviously false.

If you give $20 to a homeless guy, what does he do with it? He immediately spends it - thus benefitting the place where he spent it. And then that person, business or organization will spend that money, and so on.

So there's a general benefit to the economy that's some multiple of that $20.

This is a lot less true of the rich, who don't spend every penny that comes in.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:08 AM on July 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


The idea that there are any Americans who think that there are children unworthy of food is, frankly, appalling.

Several of them even post here!
posted by winna at 9:09 AM on July 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm aware of many parents who complain that their children get 'worse food' and less meal choices than children in another school in the same district. That's fine, I guess, but the main problem they have isn't that their children are getting less, it's that the other school has a larger percentage of students receiving free and reduced-price meals so POOR KIDS ARE GETTING BETTER STUFF FOR FREE THAN MY KIDS WHO ARE PAYING FOR IT.

These are hungry kids who are possibly getting their ONLY meal at school. Kids! I don't even like kids but I can't imagine being a stingy jerkoff who thinks that poor people should be happy with scraps.
posted by elsietheeel at 9:22 AM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


The idea that there are any Americans who think that there are children unworthy of food is, frankly, appalling.

Several of them even post here!
posted by winna at 9:09 AM on July 3 [+] [!]


One of them would be me. Aside from hating poor people, we are also racists and homophobes, like Alec Baldwin, but without his ability to avoid being labeled as one by other progressives.
posted by otto42 at 9:22 AM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Then why all the futzing around the African continent and its [actually lessening] share of hungry children instead of all those billions being spent at home?

White man's burden only applies to foreign indigents.
posted by elizardbits at 9:22 AM on July 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Good food is like a good defense: it has to be universal, shoulder to shoulder, mandated for all, paid for by all, so that we all can reap the rewards of a universally healthy country. Every American ought to be issued a SNAP card that buys enough actual food to keep that person healthy and strong and smart and ready to fight if need be. Every boy ought to be Boy Scout material, Eagle Scout material, public service material, soldier material, with a mind and body built on a lifetime of healthy eating of homeland produce. It just makes good conservative, hawkish, old-fashioned, American sense. God bless our fighting forces and God bless America.

At least that's the way I'd sell it to the fuckers who would try to take money from food programs.
"
Heh, this is actually exactly how we got a National Student Lunch program - to be woefully underfunded and excessively beholden to agricultural interests ever since. General Marshall, who was then in Truman's cabinet, pushed it through Congress by citing how around 40% of WWII draftees were rejected due to ill heath, bad eyesight, or bad teeth due to malnutrition, how HUGE of a fucking problem that was for him to deal with while trying to fight two wars at the same time, and how fucking cheap it would be for Congress to fix for the next war by just feeding kids.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:38 AM on July 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


Wonder if a different marketing plan would make funding this type of activity more palatable to Americans. Instead of selling it as "feeding the poor" market it as a military expense. Supporting the troops of the future.
posted by Gwynarra at 10:05 AM on July 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


The debate is filled with tired clichés about freeloaders undeserving of government help, living large at the expense of honest, hardworking taxpayers.

The freeloaders undeserving of government help are the American farmers. That's where all of this money ends up. There is a reason "food aid" is included in the "farm" blll and it is not primarily to help poor people, but to help farmers. It's just another subsidy for farmers that prevents them from lowering prices to a level where poor people can afford to buy it.
posted by three blind mice at 10:09 AM on July 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


To the extent the the number of unemployed represents some sort of proxy for the approximate demand for SNAP assistance, and the number of unemployed has decreased 7.4% from May 2012 to May 2013, all other factors being equal, what's the problem?

Oh, good, you again. Let's see how much bad faith argumentation you can spew into the thread this time.

Let's see. Does the number of unemployed represent "some sort of proxy for the approximate demand for SNAP assistance"? Who knows! You sure haven't demonstrated it does, beyond your usual fact-free spherical cow "hypothesizing".

Has unemployement decreased as you say it has? Not exactly. You fudge the U3 number a bit (the change over the time period you cite is much closer to 7.3% than 7.4%, although that's a minor quibble. U6, a much more comprehensive measurement, has decreased about 6.8% over that period.

"All other factors being equal". All WHAT factors? Is anything EVER equal?

However, the most important thing is that you have utterly failed to provide any evidence for your core thesis, that U3 should serve as a proxy for SNAP demand. I look forward to your response which will no doubt be full of handwavy "reasoning" and devoid of actual facts/number.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:09 AM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


This connects with the recent marshmallow thread.

The people who are all saying in that thread "I don't even like marshmallows! Ha ha ha!" Lucky you, to have had the childhood luxury of turning down food, especially "treats" you didn't like. I sat next to a woman on a bus about a year ago who was badgering her tiny child about finishing an ice cream cone. The mom had paid a lot of money for this ice cream cone, and it was lunch. And the kid was getting nothing until dinner, so she had better eat the ice cream. Not because the mom was mean. But because that's what poverty is. The kid was not interested in the ice cream cone. I cried. I could fill this entire page with anecdotes of my own food insecurity, but I just don't have the energy for it.

If you are so ground down by hunger that you cannot keep your hands off the marshmallow/oreo/pretzel in front of you....then you will have a difficult time with lots of other delayed gratification tasks. My, "delayed "gratification sounds so virtuous, doesn't it?

Delayed gratification sounds like having the self control to not buy a beer because you need that money to pay rent at the beginning of NEXT month. Delayed gratification sounds like not eating "a month's worth" of food in two weeks. Delayed gratification sounds like self control and willpower. Delayed gratification sounds like an indication of the strength of certain neurological pathways (and guess what happens to the brain of a child who is "food insecure?" Fewer and less strong neural pathways. Preoccupation with food and other resources. Social problems.)

But really, for a lot of us, "delayed gratification" is being in denial that the one marshmallow is lunch, there isn't another marshmallow coming, and if you don't eat this one now, someone else will. Delayed gratification is saving something special to enjoy later and then playing the roulette game of "will it be there when I go back for it?" So telling parents "work really hard and your life will get better" is bullshit when they can see their poor friends getting full time jobs and then having a harder time feeding their kids. These observations aren't just made by the adults, but by the children as well. Kids notice when their parents aren't eating, kids notice when their parents are sad, and kids can hear the desperate bean counting that attends poverty. Food becomes a minefield for many who grew up food insecure.

Additionally, the USDA has an interesting dual mandate. Sell/promote us Agricultural products and Feed people/keep the food supply safe. See Marion Nestle's work on why this dual mandate is...troubling.

As for the birth control sideshow, birth control that works for women measurably improves lives, for parents and children, and reduces birth rates. So too, does food security. Why does food security reduce birthrates? Well, there may be a lot of reasons. First, ability to go out and GET birth control (especially an injection, which may require travel) is increased if you're not obsessed with food. Second, willpower (delayed gratification!) is improved if you're eating on the regular, so adequately nourished women who cannot get an injection may be more likely to insist that men use condoms, and men who get enough to eat are more able to think through the consequences of short pregnancy intervals. Though condom insistence has a lot of socioeconomic....factors...that I just don't have time or space to address here.
posted by bilabial at 10:18 AM on July 3, 2013 [25 favorites]


And I"m tired of this constant hit and run commenters showing up in all kinds of threads murmuring about less babies less babies... like you don't stop condom distribution, sex education, abortions and the day after pill ?
posted by infini at 10:27 AM on July 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is the War against the Weak again, all legitimatized for the 21st century.
posted by infini at 10:28 AM on July 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Helping one American helps all Americans? That's an empty platitude. If I give $20 to a banker or a homeless guy it doesn't "help all Americans". It helps that guy. And if you're part of the class of guys who already are rich why would you want to give money to poor brown people? Yeah it might help the overall economy in 10 years but you, personally, will be worse off. The rich people's aversion to equitable wealth sharing is as completely logically justified as it is dispicable.

One, people with enough food and shelter don't need help.

Two, strip away any moral reasons, and one simple (if mercenary) fact remains: Poor people are a drag on the economy. For everyone. So, the hypothetical bankers' reasoning is not logically justified - it's bad logic.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:33 AM on July 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


infini, the people tutting about "less babies, less babies" are quite often doing some amazing shaming of people for having fun and doing things that feel good, or worse, for having been victimized in one way or another. Women who have babies because they didn't have access to birth control or abortion should NOT be shamed, no matter whether the pregnancy was a result of fun sexy time, rape, or incest. And once those babies are on the scene, they damn well should be fed and clothed and cared for adequately.

(This also links up really well to our strange drug war, where white guys snorting cocaine don't get nearly the punishment that people of color get for smoking marijuana or using crack. Guess what a drug felony does to your ability to receive SNAP benefits?)
posted by bilabial at 10:53 AM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


However, the most important thing is that you have utterly failed to provide any evidence for your core thesis, that U3 should serve as a proxy for SNAP demand. I look forward to your response which will no doubt be full of handwavy "reasoning" and devoid of actual facts/number.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:09 AM on July 3 [1 favorite +] [!]


It's not a thesis, it's an observation. I'm not writing for a journal, I'm commenting on the interwebs.

If one can't look at the SNAP spending chart in the context of the post's theme and ask "what's the problem with cutting spending?"; then what's the point of the Blue? I know the Blue in general is where liberals go to affirm there good intentions, but doesn't that get boring?

The chart shows spending on SNAP increasing materially from 2008 to 2009. It would appear that increases in SNAP spending and increases unemployment are correlated. It would be common sense as well. (I do not care that much to prove the correlation to you. In any case, it is just an observation and my feelings won't be hurt if you do not agree.) It is my belief that if unemployment decreases, and SNAP spending is positively correlated with changes in unemployment levels, than some of the spending cuts that the left is bitching and moaning about this time is simply a function of there being fewer people that are unemployed.
posted by otto42 at 10:56 AM on July 3, 2013


otto42, did you watch the videos? Did you see how much gap there is to fill? Did you SEE the woman who got a job and as a result cannot feed her children? Did you not hear the guests addressing accusations of "waste, fraud, and abuse?" Did you miss the part where public servants have to turn to food banks on a regular basis? Did you miss the part where charities are meant to be Emergency services, and have come to witness chronic use? Did you miss the part where large employers proudly sign up their employees for public benefits? Did you miss the part where these same large employers get enormous tax relief and make billions of dollars of profits?

How is the question "what's the problem with cutting spending?" not answered by the video?

How, without saying "let the people be hungry" can you suggest that cutting food aid to people is a solution to any problem?
posted by bilabial at 11:01 AM on July 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


And as far as unemployment decreasing, do you have no awareness that so many "good" jobs are being replaced with seriously crappy jobs? By seriously crappy I mean, part time, no benefits, hard physical labor, terrible and/or unreliable hours, unsavory working conditions, and lower hourly wage?

Because those things are important in this discussion. It's one thing to have a job with health insurance that is relatively close to where you live. It's another to now have to drive an hour to a chicken processing plant and stand on your feet for 9 hours a day.
posted by bilabial at 11:04 AM on July 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's not a thesis, it's an observation. I'm not writing for a journal, I'm commenting on the interwebs.

Every single time you are questioned on your specious assertions, you resort to the exact same defense. You can never back up your bullshit, but you dump it anyway. That is most certainly not "the point of the Blue".
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:08 AM on July 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


And as far as unemployment decreasing, do you have no awareness that so many "good" jobs are being replaced with seriously crappy jobs? By seriously crappy I mean, part time, no benefits, hard physical labor, terrible and/or unreliable hours, unsavory working conditions, and lower hourly wage?
posted by infini at 11:37 AM on July 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Not to mention that changes in total SNAP payments are a poor proxy for the number of people applying for assistance. You would find a higher correlation between total payments and program funding levels, changes in max benefit amounts per person, and changes in the restrictions used to prevent people from qualifying.

Let's see a yearly chart of the number of applicants accepted and refused from the program, and compare that to total payments.
posted by ceribus peribus at 12:08 PM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


The idea that there are any Americans who think that there are children unworthy of food is, frankly, appalling.
And totally All-American.

For every dollar you give a poor person for food, a few cents work their way up to the Owners/Shareholders/Executives of large Food Business corporations, and through normal economic multipliers, maybe even more than a fdollar. That's the way the World works. It's why the "trickle-down theory" is as Big a Big Lie as has ever been told. Well, unless you realize that it's the Ultra Rich who are always at the bottom of the trickle.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:11 PM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Every single time you are questioned on your specious assertions, you resort to the exact same defense. You can never back up your bullshit, but you dump it anyway. That is most certainly not "the point of the Blue".

The entire thread is based on a documentary that uses anecdotal sob stories as a call for action.

Resolved:

More people use food stamps when unemployment goes up, mefites disagree.
posted by otto42 at 12:16 PM on July 3, 2013


If they are trying to save money, how about cutting the $200 million per year tobacco subsidy in the Farm Bill? We should not be spending taxpayer money on something that kills Americans.
posted by foobaz at 12:34 PM on July 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I used to be on food stamps, but I couldn't find a job within three months, so I got taken off of foodstamps and had to continue to live without a job OR a source of nutrition other than hoping my friends would spot me lunch. Policies like this mean that the number of unemployed persons and the number of people on foodstamps don't and can't actually overlap perfectly, ftr.
posted by titus n. owl at 12:39 PM on July 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


If one can't look at the SNAP spending chart in the context of the post's theme and ask "what's the problem with cutting spending?"

I guess my question would be, why would you cut spending? If there are more and more Americans who cannot afford food, why shouldn't we, as a country, devote more resources to helping them? I don't even care if mildly-affluent kids get food as a result of my taxes, to be honest-- my taxes get used for a lot of things that entail more waste and corruption. I don't think malnutrition is a great way to encourage kids to be better students, or adults to somehow get better jobs.
posted by jetlagaddict at 12:42 PM on July 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


The entire thread is based on a documentary that uses anecdotal sob stories as a call for action.

Resolved:

More people use food stamps when unemployment goes up, mefites disagree.


You're missing the entire point of the documentary and almost certainly haven't watched the video. And a law enforcement official who has to go to a food bank every month because he can't afford enough food for his family is not a "sob story," it's a fucking national disgrace.

Here's the real point: Whether or not more or fewer people use food stamps, charity-based "emergency services" are not sufficient to keep a populace sufficiently fed, and the government has both a duty to maintain a high level of nutrition among its people, as well as a vested interest in doing so.
posted by jbickers at 12:43 PM on July 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


A large part of our political debate these days seems to be centered on the question, "How did those poor people get all our money?" I think I know who's driving the debate in this direction, but I'll be damned if I know how to stop it.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:09 PM on July 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


The chart shows spending on SNAP increasing materially from 2008 to 2009. It would appear that increases in SNAP spending and increases unemployment are correlated. It is my belief that if unemployment decreases, and SNAP spending is positively correlated with changes in unemployment levels, th[e]n some of the spending cuts that the left is bitching and moaning about this time is simply a function of there being fewer people that are unemployed.

So many unrecognized assumptions are contained herein, I will only address a couple. Citing the percentage drop in unemployment, even if it is the correct one, does not imply a proportional drop in demand for SNAP, since unemployment is not the only reason for needing SNAP. The other assumption is that no other forces are at play (e.g., increasing costs of food items; growing recognition that cheap, unhealthy food is more costly in the long run than more expensive, healthy food; larger immigrant families more often affected than smaller, established resident families). Please be more careful in the theorizing you do. Your lack of attention to detail doesn't speak highly of your concern for the welfare of others.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:24 PM on July 3, 2013


In Georgia so-called "able-bodied adults without dependents" can't even get SNAP for longer than three months in every three years unless they're working. I'm sure it's the same in many other states. Let's not forget that the entirety of the budget for of function 605 "Food and Nutrition Assistance"—which includes SNAP, WIC, and Child Nutrition Programs—amounts to 3.045% of the federal budget for FY 2013. This is budgeted to decrease by $11B over the next five years.

By all means, trot out the story of how you personally witness every time you go to the grocery store a person in front of you, talking into a brand new iPhone with their 'hair and nails did', brazenly buying steak, lobster, and birthday cake on an EBT card a and driving away in a brand new Escalade. Actually don't. Tell that "lazy people getting free food off the sweat of my brow" story walking.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:31 PM on July 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


If I video games have taught me anything, nerve stapling is an effective remedy to drone riots.

And if the last few years have taught me anything, we'll be seeing some drone riots soon.
posted by ishrinkmajeans at 2:01 PM on July 3, 2013


The -wasted- food -alone- in the US is enough to feed 50 million.

Supermarkets throwing perfectly edible food into dumpsters? Crime against humanity.
posted by Twang at 3:49 PM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Corporations are people, too!

Help support corporate welfare.
posted by BlueHorse at 6:07 PM on July 3, 2013


You people ate missing the real reason for the aid cuts- it's not just ideology, though that pays a part. Keeping people worried about where their next meal is coming from is an effective method to keep them from worrying about politics. If you want to keep the poor from rioting, starve them.
posted by happyroach at 7:54 PM on July 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Supermarkets throwing perfectly edible food into dumpsters? Crime against humanity.

I don't know what it's like in the US, but in Canada much about to expire food ends up in soup kitchens (or it does in the ones that I've volunteered in - including a huge chunk of Starbucks muffins et al).
posted by lesbiassparrow at 12:32 AM on July 4, 2013


If you want to keep the poor from rioting, starve them

I believe that it was rising prices of bread that have traditionally led to everything from the French Revolution to what's on TV from Cairo today.
posted by infini at 1:24 AM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Or as I saw in a tweet from somewhere in sub sahara yesterday "bread is a luxury"
posted by infini at 1:25 AM on July 4, 2013


It enrages me to see my conservative friends post "stop the freeloading food-stamp-loving poor - they are abusing the system!!!" - and at the same time, we have corporations raping the system in much more devastating ways by "legal" tax evasion strategies.

Meanwhile, we subsidize corn, which is contributing to the problem in indirect ways (More: Omnivore's Dilemma) by convertinng petroleum to calories. Empty calories making the meat and cereal industries richer, and providing a means for Americans to acquire Type II diabetes and obesity problems.
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 8:27 AM on July 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't know what it's like in the US, but in Canada much about to expire food ends up in soup kitchens (or it does in the ones that I've volunteered in - including a huge chunk of Starbucks muffins et al).

A lot of places in America put the food into a dumpster and then pour bleach into the dumpster on top of the food specifically to make sure that homeless people and other dumpster divers cannot profit by the food.
posted by titus n. owl at 2:02 PM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


karma is gonna be such a bitch
posted by hugbucket at 9:16 PM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


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