Universal Right To Food
April 3, 2020 9:57 AM   Subscribe

 
Good luck expanding them when it took courts intervening to stop SNAP benefits being cut from any able bodied person who wasn't working 20 hours a week.

And I don't doubt that they're more than ready to bring back that rule the second they feasibly could.

Which is tragic because expanding them is absolutely needed right now.
posted by deadaluspark at 10:07 AM on April 3 [10 favorites]




Jeff Bezos just gave less than 0.001% of his net worth to food banks. Am I supposed to clap or something?
posted by deadaluspark at 10:16 AM on April 3 [77 favorites]


The destruction of food during mass hunger to keep profits up is the context in which the phrase "the grapes of wrath" appears in Steinbeck:

“The works of the roots of the vines, of the trees, must be destroyed to keep up the price, and this is the saddest, bitterest thing of all. Carloads of oranges dumped on the ground. The people came for miles to take the fruit, but this could not be. How would they buy oranges at twenty cents a dozen if they could drive out and pick them up? And men with hoses squirt kerosene on the oranges, and they are angry at the crime, angry at the people who have come to take the fruit. A million people hungry, needing the fruit- and kerosene sprayed over the golden mountains. And the smell of rot fills the country. Burn coffee for fuel in the ships. Burn corn to keep warm, it makes a hot fire. Dump potatoes in the rivers and place guards along the banks to keep the hungry people from fishing them out. Slaughter the pigs and bury them, and let the putrescence drip down into the earth.

"There is a crime here that goes beyond denunciation. There is a sorrow here that weeping cannot symbolize. There is a failure here that topples all our success. The fertile earth, the straight tree rows, the sturdy trunks, and the ripe fruit. And children dying of pellagra must die because a profit cannot be taken from an orange. And coroners must fill in the certificate- died of malnutrition- because the food must rot, must be forced to rot. The people come with nets to fish for potatoes in the river, and the guards hold them back; they come in rattling cars to get the dumped oranges, but the kerosene is sprayed. And they stand still and watch the potatoes float by, listen to the screaming pigs being killed in a ditch and covered with quick-lime, watch the mountains of oranges slop down to a putrefying ooze; and in the eyes of the people there is the failure; and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.”
posted by Beardman at 10:20 AM on April 3 [145 favorites]


.... and why not donate directly to the SNAP fund which already has a system in place to get money to people who can then buy the exact food they need directly without overwhelming food banks (and long lines for families) who are not geared for this level of distribution? I have to suspect the tax write off angle plays here.
posted by Silvery Fish at 10:21 AM on April 3 [9 favorites]


(it's more like 0.1%, deadaluspark, and while that may not be significant in terms of his net worth it's still a very large amount of money that will feed a lot of people. it's okay to let people do good things.)
(... and on preview, because as noted before SNAP is subject to the whims of some very nasty people.)
posted by phooky at 10:33 AM on April 3 [23 favorites]


(it's more like 0.1%, deadaluspark, and while that may not be significant in terms of his net worth it's still a very large amount of money that will feed a lot of people. it's okay to let people do good things.)

Came here to say this. Bezos is a piece of garbage and he could give more but people will still benefit from 100 million dollars. I agree that I don't think he needs praise though.
posted by Young Kullervo at 10:36 AM on April 3 [12 favorites]


Jeff Bezos is donating $100 million to food banks.

Any time a rich person gives money to charity, remember that we reimburse them 37%.
posted by Garm at 10:37 AM on April 3 [78 favorites]


Dumping milk as demand declines? I would beg to differ here. Our area has milk delivery, and everyone I've spoken with has only been receiving half their orders because so many households are trying to order extra.
posted by LilithSilver at 10:40 AM on April 3 [12 favorites]


Also remember that the majority of Americans are most likely viewing their financial ruin and housing/food insecurity as a temporary embarrassment brought on by something that wasn't "their fault" and will most likely still continue to vote against universal access to food, shelter and education after this passes.

I want to think otherwise but you know. I am reminded of an essay (by whom I forget) where the author was stabbed in the neck by a random stranger and almost died. He changed the way he thought and lived his life at first but then he gradually fell back into his old ways once the trauma and immediate fear of death resided. America is probably going to be the same way. Maybe not immediately, but 20-30 years down the line some asshole will gut regulations that we will put in place that would prevent this sort of societal/economic collapse again. Humans learn, but we're horrible long-term thinkers.
posted by Young Kullervo at 10:46 AM on April 3 [23 favorites]


Dumping milk as demand declines? I would beg to differ here

The issue appears to be that restaurant buying has fallen off a cliff. Milk being dumped was probably meant for those supply chains, and it's not trivial to switch it over the the household market.

I mean, it's still some Steinbeck stuff, but overall demand really is declining.
posted by echo target at 10:46 AM on April 3 [8 favorites]


Dumping milk as demand declines?

Looks like it's a logistics issue. Orders from schools are down, obviously. If you're a producer who's primary contracts/supply chains/etc. are with schools, you can't just automatically switch to getting those to a retail store or a food bank. There was a similar article going around about toilet paper: mills that produce supplies for schools/restaurants/what have you aren't the same mills that produce for home consumption.

There's also potentially a labor issue here too, as well: if your packaging plant is down on staff, you're going to have excess milk, because you can't just turn a cow off.

(That's not to say that we *shouldn't* be, say, looking towards the government to help provide a centralized solution. But this doesn't look like a simple issue of trying to raise the price by destroying supply.)

On preview, what echo target said.
posted by damayanti at 10:49 AM on April 3 [10 favorites]


Historically, the biggest problem with American agriculture is overproduction. We don't have too little food to go around; rather, we have too much, and this is seen as an economic problem.

Some measure of luxuries will always be scarce, and I'm fine with some people being rich as long as we're not talking "so rich it drags other people down" (lookin' at you, Jeff).

There's just no goddamn reason anyone in this country should go hungry or unhoused. We might not have enough mansions to go around but we have more than enough housing and food to fix these problems.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:51 AM on April 3 [23 favorites]


bezos makes $8,961,187 / hour. he gave 12.5 hours before being reimbursed. yay.
posted by lazaruslong at 10:55 AM on April 3 [19 favorites]


I am reminded of an essay (by whom I forget) where the author was stabbed in the neck by a random stranger and almost died.

That would be Tim Kreider

The sheer scale and scope of what is going on hasn’t really hit people yet, it still feels like it might be temporary, but we’re looking at unemployment numbers that make all previous rates and trends trivia, the collapse of all consumer retail (you should hear the things people tell me go on in chamber of commerce meetings - most places have til June 1st until they fold forever), and a never-ending state of shutdown. Anything is possible now. There won’t be a normal to fall back on, no old routine to follow, things, like a universal free meal program in NYC are happening that I would’ve laughed off a month ago,

As for Bezos, if I may quote Engles “ The English bourgeoisie is charitable out of self-interest; it gives nothing outright, but regards its gifts as a business matter, makes a bargain with the poor, saying: "If I spend this much upon benevolent institutions, I thereby purchase the right not to be troubled any further, and you are bound thereby to stay in your dusky holes and not to irritate my tender nerves by exposing your misery.”
posted by The Whelk at 11:06 AM on April 3 [62 favorites]


because you can't just turn a cow off.

That part is easy, the problem is turning them back on again.
posted by mhoye at 11:40 AM on April 3 [34 favorites]


...the collapse of all consumer retail...

My wife owns a yarn shop and she's in a Facebook group of retail shop owners. Most of them were just scraping by anyway, and even where the landlords are being amenable, a lot of them are planning to just fold and move onto something more profitable. They were on the cusp and this was the nudge that pushed them over the edge.

We're going to lose *a lot* of retail.
posted by mikesch at 11:49 AM on April 3 [23 favorites]


Good luck expanding them when it took courts intervening to stop SNAP benefits being cut from any able bodied person who wasn't working 20 hours a week.

Wisconsin already does this thanks to Scott Walker. You do have 3 months before the requirement kicks in, but then you cannot receive them for another 3 years. If you’re not working those hours because you can’t find a job, then you can go into a training program the equivalent of 80/hrs a month. When you looked at the $ of food stamps, for me at least, it would come out to roughly $2.10/hr in food stamp compensation for that 80 hrs a month. And it’s not even like real money, you’re restricted in what you can purchase.

So... fuck you Scott Walker and you’re legacy. My one reassuring moment this past week was realizing this could have happened when he was still in charge and we would have been truly fucked.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 12:31 PM on April 3 [18 favorites]


Jeff Bezos just gave less than 0.001% of his net worth to food banks. Am I supposed to clap or something?

I don't know. That is entirely dependent how much of your own net worth you are giving to food banks right now.

Look. I agree that billionaires are not nearly pulling their comparable weight in society. And that people like Bezos should not be allowed to accumulate the GDP of small nations as their personal war chests. And when policies about those issues come up for discussion that's when we can bitch about it.

But when one does at least something right can we not just immediately reflexively shit all over it. This bitter axe-grinding "perfect being the enemy of the good" commenting every chance you get are one of the worst things about Metaflter right now. And I really wish you guys would knock it the fuck off. You don't have to praise him. you don't have to comment at all.
posted by Everyone Expects The Spanish Influenza at 12:42 PM on April 3 [30 favorites]


Free lunch is pretty heavy on carbs and junk snacks.
Breakfast looks worse.
posted by Ideefixe at 12:43 PM on April 3 [3 favorites]


I mean, it's still some Steinbeck stuff, but overall demand really is declining.

I agree. Redirecting highly perishable dairy products quickly is not a simple project as others have noted.

Coming a family that works dairy cattle I can confirm that, other than niche organic products and yogurt, demand has been declining for over a decade. People are not drinking milk and eating cheese like they did just a decade ago. Supplying chain restaurants was taking up a big chunk of that lost consumer demand.
posted by Everyone Expects The Spanish Influenza at 12:53 PM on April 3 [9 favorites]


Wisconsin already does this thanks to Scott Walker. You do have 3 months before the requirement kicks in, but then you cannot receive them for another 3 years. If you’re not working those hours because you can’t find a job, then you can go into a training program the equivalent of 80/hrs a month. When you looked at the $ of food stamps, for me at least, it would come out to roughly $2.10/hr in food stamp compensation for that 80 hrs a month. And it’s not even like real money, you’re restricted in what you can purchase.

Oh. Thanks for the reminder that my partner can probably apply for food stamps again, since I think it has been three years since they applied and got that measly 3 months of stamps. But 3 months of a little extra food money is 3 months of a little extra food money, so they should take advantage of that if they can get it again.
posted by brook horse at 12:54 PM on April 3 [6 favorites]


Jeff Bezos just gave less than 0.001% of his net worth to food banks. Am I supposed to clap or something?

A whole bunch of hungry people are clapping (well, eating).
posted by sideshow at 1:00 PM on April 3 [4 favorites]


The way tax writeoffs work for regular schlubs is like, at a 40% marginal tax rate: you donate $100 to charity, deduct $100 from your taxable income, and get a $40 refund at tax time. So the charity gets $100, you're out $60, and the government is out $40. This is a good deal if you think the government should be contributing to the charity, and if it works anything like this at the Bezos-billionaire level, he just made the government give millions of dollars to food banks, which I like.

If things get really bad in the economy, and I assume they will and I suppose Bezos does too, then many people are going to want to soak the rich really hard. He's trying to get ahead of that a little and act like one of the good ones when his time comes. I think they will need to get soaked hard but I also think there are worse things than if we end up with all the world's rich competing with each other to give the most money.
posted by bright flowers at 1:03 PM on April 3 [5 favorites]


> Look. I agree that billionaires are not nearly pulling their comparable weight in society. And that people like Bezos should not be allowed to accumulate the GDP of small nations as their personal war chests. And when policies about those issues come up for discussion that's when we can bitch about it.

But when one does at least something right can we not just immediately reflexively shit all over it. This bitter axe-grinding "perfect being the enemy of the good" commenting every chance you get are one of the worst things about Metaflter right now. And I really wish you guys would knock it the fuck off. You don't have to praise him. you don't have to comment at all.


You don't get to decide which opinions are okay to express here, or when. FIAMO if you don't like where the thread is going. Otherwise, engage with the conversation instead of trying to shout it down.

With regard to the portions of your comment that aren't MeTa -- charity is often put forward as a reason to not use the tax code to compel billionaires to "pull their comparable weight in society." When a crisis that's nearly unprecedented since the introduction of the tax code comes along and the wealthiest motherfucker on the planet is only donating the equivalent of someone with a net worth of merely half a million donating the cost of signing up for a MetaFilter account -- which many folks here will often do on a lark to register a joke account, for fuck's sake -- then you don't get to trot out the "perfect being the enemy of the good" cliche, as it simply does not apply for any existing mappings of present circumstances to "perfect" or "good".
posted by tonycpsu at 1:11 PM on April 3 [57 favorites]


Otherwise, engage with the conversation instead of trying to shout it down.

I wasn't shouting anyone down. In fact I'd like to hear about what people are doing to help. Even Jeff Bezos. And every time someone grinds that axe means that news is less likely for somebody else to participate or comment positively about those contributions. You guys are the ones "shouting people down." Not me.

Just once I'd some positive news to go un-shit on. Just once.
posted by Everyone Expects The Spanish Influenza at 1:18 PM on April 3 [11 favorites]


What "interventions" would let restaurants redirect their commercial shipments to food banks, and be reimbursed?
posted by Baeria at 1:25 PM on April 3


Free lunch is pretty heavy on carbs and junk snacks.
Breakfast looks worse.


You know, I looked at the menus, and while I wouldn't want to eat it everyday - would I do that so my kids or I didn't go hungry? - Absolutely I would. Well done NYC.

I'm also (totally but I don't think unreasonably) speculating that the menu is being largely driven by the "grab and go" / no "sit and eat" element of this - that they don't want a whole lot of food handling or serving issues so actual food options at scale become more limited. As well as of course availability of what can come in bulk and be regularly delivered/stored without a lot of additional refrigeration they don't have on hand if they expect this ends up scaling well beyond their normal clientele. I would expect that if this ends up needing to be a sustained program (for many months) then nutrition would become more of a factor.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 1:33 PM on April 3 [21 favorites]


Actually looking at the menu if I'd eaten there today I probably would have done better - given my breakfast today was a left over slice of cheese and veggie pizza and lunch was...well...see breakfast and repeat...twice.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 1:49 PM on April 3 [4 favorites]


charity is often put forward as a reason to not use the tax code to compel billionaires to "pull their comparable weight in society."

Which is coo-coo, I work for a charity, our revenues have plummeted since the tax cut bill, we've cut back services and laid people off.

If you want more charity, raise taxes.
posted by eustatic at 1:50 PM on April 3 [27 favorites]


The poor are not required, nor should we be assumed to be obsequiously thankful to billionaires who dole out a pittance so that some of us might eat. I'd appreciate it if folks who aren't dependent on SNAP or food banks or free meals not launder their opinions through some tilted simulation of those of us who are.

Opinions will vary, I represent only myself, etc.

(Not speaking to pb here who I believe is despairing of those who get their jollies attempting to publicly bootlick folks who have security to keep the unvetted from getting anywhere near their actual feet.)

Good on the NYC program. Thanks for the Grapes of Wrath quote Beardman; haven't read that since I was a teen surreally visiting mediterranean California in winter from the Midwest. Still hits hard.
posted by to wound the autumnal city at 2:53 PM on April 3 [31 favorites]


People are not drinking milk and eating cheese like they did just a decade ago. Supplying chain restaurants was taking up a big chunk of that lost consumer demand.

The story I learned was that the US government has been propping up the US milk industry since WWII, when it was rapidly expanded to provide calories at home and abroad, where it was shipped in powered form just about everywhere. After the war ended, the demand for milk crashed. And so the US has been in the milk subsidies and dumping game for decades.
posted by BungaDunga at 3:03 PM on April 3 [4 favorites]


I mean, it's not like there's a way to convert milk into a solid product that preserves calories for future use or anything.
posted by stevis23 at 3:06 PM on April 3 [16 favorites]


Wasn’t Irish Cream basicslly invented tot deal with Milk overproduction?

Anyway, in Philly

“ The City, Share Food Program, and Philabundance are providing free food at several locations. Please help us spread awareness of this program to our neighbors by printing this out and posting it around town.
posted by The Whelk at 3:11 PM on April 3 [5 favorites]


Any time a rich person gives money to charity, remember that we reimburse them 37%.

Remember that that 63% still fed people. Nothing to sneer at, even if reasonable people know that income inequality is ridiculous. Can't feed people with platitudes, at the end of the day.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 4:00 PM on April 3 [3 favorites]


On the SNAP emergency-expansion front, gee that sure would be easy to administer if we had Postal Banking.
Make it so the Treasury does citizen business through the USPS.
You pay your Federal tax bills via the Post Office exclusively.
You get your Federal benefits the same way. States could be involved too?
Nothing complicated, just a current-account checking&savings.
The associated debit card is now your EBT/SNAP/housing subsidy/whatever system.
In addition..Need to mass-distribute emergency funds to individuals during a crisis?
Push a button and add $1000 to every account in ZIP code 12345.
(for the fiscally conservative, you can always tax it back later; everyone's annual taxes also go up by $1k. If you didn't need to use the emergency funds, then even-steven. If you're below the poverty line, it's nontaxable income - you wouldn't have paid taxes this year anyway, so yeah you got some free money)
Not to mention all the 'simplify the IRS' folks. A single-W2-filer (just a 9-5 paycheck) with Direct Deposit to their USPS account? Your taxes are automatically done. People will get nostalgic for those colorful Statue of Liberty checks; when their refund just shows up in their account automatically.
Calculating for benefit deductions, disability payments, disaster relief credits - all on your USPS 'bank statement' for electronic filing.

/derail, resume arguing about too much milk.
posted by bartleby at 4:11 PM on April 3 [5 favorites]


It's a weird needle to thread to say thanks for something you're not benefiting from, while also not speaking for the people who are benefiting. But I am thankful that Bezos is donating $100 million to feed people during a pandemic, even though I won't directly benefit, while I'm unhappy with the economic system that lets some starve and others become super rich. Other people can think what they want but maybe we could do with less name calling and kink shaming (???) in response to opinions about charitable donations.
posted by bright flowers at 4:11 PM on April 3 [1 favorite]


Remember that that 63% still fed people.

100% fed people, the "37%" people are throwing around is the income taxes wouldn't have to pay since he'd hypothetically be able to write off his donation amount from his income.

Just goes to show that the most important part of this kind of thing is to be sure to shit on rich people as much as possible, and whatever happens to the actual needy people receiving the donations is secondary and most of the time doesn't matter either way.
posted by sideshow at 4:25 PM on April 3 [7 favorites]


Excellence of capitalism continues to unveil itself.
posted by hilberseimer at 4:29 PM on April 3 [2 favorites]


I mean aren't amazon workers literally being worked into suicidality, permanent injury, and in this circumstance, potential death by pandemic? Bezos is trying not to get guillotined and that's about it.

I don't know. That is entirely dependent how much of your own net worth you are giving to food banks right now.

Hahahahahahaha first of all my net worth is negative like a hell of a lot of Americans, and also, while everyday people are busting ass to help each other out in every kind of way this is a hilarious attempt to gatekeep. But yes, I have personally given more than Bezos when in proportion to our respective situations, not like that's any of your business anyway. And every single person who works at Amazon has given more than him just by virtue of providing their labor.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 4:33 PM on April 3 [51 favorites]


Also classic rich asshole to give to foodbanks, probably run by your friends/fellow rich people. God forbid you just give poor people cash like so many other relief funds. God forbid!

If Jeff Bezos is getting this and feeling discouraged, I'm genuinely sorry. Jeff, I will forgive you if you give more, I promise. Don't give up!!!
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 4:37 PM on April 3 [11 favorites]


inflatablekiwi
“And I made macaroni cheese with yummy Sunday bacon and a toasted topping of cheese and bread crumbs, which the kids completely devoured and I got a literal thumbs up for.”
You had a choice for your breakfast and lunch today in Utah, I’d bet.
posted by Ideefixe at 5:09 PM on April 3 [2 favorites]


A dairy has to keep milking cows - those cows are bred to produce milk whether it's being used or not - so the milk has to go somewhere. If it's not into the supply chain, it goes on the ground because dairies don't have enough storage capacity, nor anyone else. Milk is meant to be consumed relatively quickly, so no one has the kind of storage capacity necessary to store many days or weeks worth of milk.
posted by drivingmenuts at 5:12 PM on April 3 [3 favorites]


Yes, Jeff Bezos gave money to food banks and some people are going to be able to have a meal they otherwise wouldn't, and that's good. No, poor people aren't under any obligation to praise him for that or refrain from criticism for one moment.

Trump sent out 4,000 ventilators, remember. Should we knock the fuck off our axe-grinding about that?
posted by brook horse at 5:12 PM on April 3 [7 favorites]




Also keep in mind that Amazon is in trouble for firing a worker who tried to organize for basic safety protections in its Staten Island warehouse, and even came up with a campaign to smear him in the media:

Not content merely to fire Mr. Smalls, executives planned to exploit him as part of a public-relations strategy meant to deflect attention away from safety issues. Internal notes from a meeting of executive leaders at Amazon obtained by Vice News reveal the company’s general counsel David Zaplosky calling Mr. Smalls “not smart or articulate” and thus a useful tool in its ongoing plan to besmirch unionization efforts.

“We should spend the first part of our response strongly laying out the case for why the organizer’s conduct was immoral, unacceptable, and arguably illegal,” Mr. Zaplosky wrote. referring to Mr. Smalls, “and only then follow with our usual talking points about worker safety.”

posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 5:17 PM on April 3 [29 favorites]


Oh and Mr. Smalls who is "not smart or articulate" is black so there's an extra bit of racism involved
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 5:18 PM on April 3 [30 favorites]


From those links:

The [Exxon] donations of $200,000 to Houston and $50,00 to Montgomery County food banks were announced Friday. Additionally, the Houston Food Bank will receive $50,000 in gasoline gift cards for use at Exxon- and Mobile-branded stations to help deliver food to those in need.

Lol never stop hustling exxon, you misunderstood charity geniuses you
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 5:24 PM on April 3 [16 favorites]


I don't know. That is entirely dependent how much of your own net worth you are giving to food banks right now.

.001% of my household’s net worth is not even 100$. That’s less than my union dues, which is helping organize coronavirus affected workers, and far less than my charitable giving. It’s less than the cost of the fabric I’m using to make cloth masks for others.

The poor and middle class unfortunately give more freely than the rich. We can be glad they are giving money without failing to point out that their charitable giving is falling far short.

I used to believe in charitable giving by the wealthy because I assumed they gave on the level I would like to give or at the very LEAST the amount I give myself. But it’s just not true.
posted by corb at 5:50 PM on April 3 [46 favorites]


.001% of my household’s net worth is not even 100$. That’s less than my union dues, which is helping organize coronavirus affected workers, and far less than my charitable giving. It’s less than the cost of the fabric I’m using to make cloth masks for others.

Exactly. Not to mention any volunteer work. Not going to get into the details, but I provide my community critical services that are worth more than the entirety of my assets every single week, for free. I get to count those as "clinical hours" but I don't actually need them (I'm doing a second practicum because my supervisor opened a new clinic), and I don't get a tax break for it either. That also doesn't include outside volunteer work, or direct cash donations to people in need, both of which probably add up to more than my entire assets. And that's just assets. My actual net worth is more than $50k in the negative, which does I-don't-even-know-what to the percentages.

It would be nice if people didn't assume that poor people who criticize billionaires are doing nothing for their communities.
posted by brook horse at 6:08 PM on April 3 [36 favorites]


I hate to even get within ten feet of this argument, but this 0.001% number is extremely false. If his net worth is $100b, $100m is one thousandth, so you're off by a factor of 100.
posted by value of information at 6:52 PM on April 3 [2 favorites]


$117b and at $9 million per hour, increasing at an average rate of $1 billion every 4.5 days or so. I think that's part of the problem with critizing billionaires - the sheer scale makes your average millionaire look positively poor by comparison. We aren't really equipped to wrap our heads around the magnitude of wealth being hoarded by the top .01%.
posted by lazaruslong at 6:57 PM on April 3 [2 favorites]


FFS. The original comment said this:
Jeff Bezos just gave less than 0.001% of his net worth to food banks. Am I supposed to clap or something?

That Was immediately after someOne posted just that Bezos donated $100 million. That my friends is classic thread shitting.

And saying so isn’t deriding or silencing anyone. This isn’t “poor people.” This is this one comment.

This comment didn’t recognize that $100 million would help a great number of people. It was just to grind a well worn axe that is ground here a hundred times a day. By the same people who dominate and bully in every thread time and time again.

Now. This is an axe I grind myself. I complain about Amazon and Bezos constantly. But $100 million god damned dollars will feed millions of poor people.

You know during a pandemic I’d like see some good news where I can. Regardless of where it’s from. But clearly that is just too much too ask.
posted by Everyone Expects The Spanish Influenza at 7:08 PM on April 3 [10 favorites]


Some of the discussion above raises, to me, some interesting questions.

If Bezos donates $100m to food banks, is his net worth really all that relevant?

Is the quotient of donation divided by net worth the only appropriate formula by which to judge the rightness of the gift?

Assuming the quotient is relevant, what would an appropriate quotient be (if this isn’t the right one)?
posted by PaulVario at 7:18 PM on April 3 [3 favorites]


Anything less than what he's supposed to pay in taxes he's still stealing from the entirety of the American public. It's just, you know, slightly less theft than usual. I'm not cheering for that, and maybe pointing that out is 'axe grinding' but that's because Jeff Bezos has been kicking me and others like me 100 times a day for years, but now, he's going to treat us to a few special days where he only kicks us 99 times instead, and that's supposed to be a positive.
posted by brook horse at 7:30 PM on April 3 [24 favorites]


This comment didn’t recognize that $100 million would help a great number of people. It was just to grind a well worn axe that is ground here a hundred times a day. By the same people who dominate and bully in every thread time and time again.

Dude this isn't middle school and no one is pushing the billionaires into the mud. Or pushing you into the mud. If you want good news in the middle of a pandemic that's your right but you're not entitled to have everyone STFU so your personal mood doesn't get mussed in the middle of a thread about people going hungry.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:36 PM on April 3 [30 favorites]


Also, a tax deduction does not mean that the government is “reimbursing“ anybody anything. The way a tax deduction works is that you essentially get a discount on your tax bill if you make a charitable donation. But that doesn’t create a reimbursement. Assume I have to choose between buying Good X at sticker price or Good Y at a discounted price: I haven’t received a reimbursement when I buy a discounted good. Notably, when you make a charitable donation, you’re on net lessening your income but reducing the effective tax burden on the remainder of your income.
posted by PaulVario at 7:40 PM on April 3 [2 favorites]


Is the quotient of donation divided by net worth the only appropriate formula by which to judge the rightness of the gift?

According to some religious traditions, yes.

(Not saying that anyone needs to agree, just to note that people aren't inventing a new standard just to dump on Bezos.)
posted by Spathe Cadet at 7:41 PM on April 3 [11 favorites]


You know during a pandemic I’d like see some good news where I can
Everyone Expects The Spanish Influenza, perhaps you'd like the daily compilation of "Good News You Probably Didn't Hear About" (coronavirus edition) at Future Crunch.
posted by Iris Gambol at 7:43 PM on April 3 [2 favorites]


THE LARGEST CITY IN AMERICA IS LITERALLY HANDING OUT FOOD TO ANYONE WHO NEEDS IT

THIS IS A COMPLETELY WILD AND NOVEL THING

IT IS ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE MORE INTERESTING THAN ANOTHER ARE BILLIONAIRES BAD THREAD SO MAYBE DOES ANYONE HAVE THOUGHTS ON THIS

posted by phooky at 7:50 PM on April 3 [50 favorites]


Ya you're right my bad sorry

They have pretty good shelf-stable food and vegetarian food/halal stuff; it's basically school lunches but they weren't getting enough takers for those. Decent stuff like PB&J.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:53 PM on April 3 [3 favorites]


Yeah, this is actually amazingly good news and I'm sorry I contributed to overshadowing it. It's kind of scary, because yeah, completely wild that it's happening, but also awesome. I'm really curious to see how it shakes out, in terms of logistics and the response to it, but I'm also so glad right now that everyone in the city will have a guaranteed source of food.
posted by brook horse at 7:58 PM on April 3 [3 favorites]


For what it's worth Philadelphia is doing something similar - anyone can pick up a box of food that's intended to be enough for five days. This is in addition to the school meals.

We also have (and I'm sure everywhere else does too) restaurants that have converted to delivering meals to people in need, running mostly on donations.

Oh, and the school district is giving every(?) kid a laptop . Which was once a trend in wealthy school districts, but we barely have libraries or supplies in our schools.
posted by sepviva at 8:42 PM on April 3 [8 favorites]


I teach at UW-Milwaukee, serving a student base that consists primarily of the striving lower-middle and middle-middle class. Virtually all of them have jobs, and one thing I have learned from this crisis is how many of them work at Walmarts. (You know the deal. The world's largest private employer, paying minimum wage. Most employees had no sick leave benefits. Walmart now gives up to 14 paid sick days if an employee tests positive for Covid-19, but unless and until you get that test, it's show up or get fired.)

I'm so worried for these students, who are working with no protective gear, most of them in stores in the impoverished, racially-segregated areas of the city most heavily hit by the virus. Ten days ago I went to the Walmart closest to me, where a few of my students work, to get groceries and check in on the conditions. It was pretty dire. There was a roll of paper toweling that a worker was supposed to use to wipe shopping cart handles, but there was no sanitizing product to wipe with, so that was pointless. Of course the shelves that were allotted to sanitizing products and wipes were empty. There was still bar soap and a few liquid soap dispensers--but the store had installed a locked plastic-front cabinet around them, of the sort they have in the electronics section. That was very grapes-of-wrath resonant. Better that people spread a pandemic than that they possibly shoplift $2 of soap. . .

Most of the shoppers looked apprehensive, only some were practicing social distancing, and many were walking right up to employees to anxiously ask when diapers would be restocked, or demand they check the back to see if there was any more rice.

Somebody over by the pharmacy area had a very disturbing cough.

And here is the thing that really got to me. I asked all of my students to write a discussion board post about how they were doing, and to include in it one way someone had helped them, or they had helped others. And several of my students employed at Walmarts wrote very heartfelt posts about how, while they worried about the risk of catching the virus at work, and they were especially concerned that they would bring it home to those they lived with, they were glad that they were able to help as essential workers who were ensuring people could get the food and supplies they had to have. They relayed earnest anecdotes of how they had gone the extra mile to help particular customers.

And OK, this is a paid job, not charity. But for the pittance Walmart workers are paid--so low that they qualify for SNAP--it's almost charity. And they don't get the sort of social honor that my students working healthcare-related jobs (mostly doing data entry) do.

I sure hope that in the future, people will remember who was classified as working an essential job--and how they relied on them.
posted by DrMew at 9:09 PM on April 3 [55 favorites]


Links to menus (breakfast, lunch)

Link to tweet with picture of the food
posted by coolname at 12:41 AM on April 4


Every single day we aren't actively working to make the ratio between our richest and poorest closer to 1:1, is a lost day.

Bread and fucking circuses.
posted by aspersioncast at 12:50 AM on April 4 [6 favorites]


[One deleted. Sorry, but let's take a breath, and drop the Jeff Bezos derail now. Your points about the donation vs his net worth are not wrong, it's just that it's been covered and shouldn't continue to take over this whole discussion. Thank you.]
posted by taz (staff) at 5:32 AM on April 4 [5 favorites]


Other than donating to food banks ourselves, it would be nice to have some constructive path forward. I don't live in a state, and my immediate region is overall on the correct side of this issue.

So what can we do? Is there a way to rally for SNAP benefits if you are "Stay at Home" and don't have representation in the Federal Government?
posted by aspersioncast at 7:03 AM on April 4 [3 favorites]


Any Chicago MeFites, my alderman's latest email mentioned that the Greater Chicago Food Depository and Lakeview Pantry are in urgent need of volunteers right now. I was laid off two weeks ago, have no high-risk conditions, and have nothing much else going on in my life at the moment, so I plan to go volunteer next week.
posted by gueneverey at 8:07 AM on April 4 [3 favorites]


Is there a way to rally for SNAP benefits if you are "Stay at Home" and don't have representation in the Federal Government?

One thing I've done is to pay more attention to the shelf labels under products in grocery stores.

If you don't use WIC, items marked WIC or WIC-approved on the shelf are important to leave behind, so that people who need them can buy them and feed themselves and their families.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 2:30 PM on April 4 [2 favorites]


I'm a little uneasy with the idea of avoiding WIC marked items. A lot of effort has been put into destigmatizing SNAP benefits, including making sure benefits apply to things that people not on SNAP also buy. I'd hate for it to be even more of a thing where people not on SNAP feel virtuous buying Kashi instead of plain Cheerios or whatever.

Also it's been my impression walking around the grocery store that it's typically whole classes of items that are unavailable. There might be a good variety of cereal, but the paper products and soap are totally gone or have a very limited selection and you take what you can get.

Does it actually happen in some places that WIC items are unavailable but the non-WIC stuff is there? I honestly don't know and there's no evidence in the Twitter discussion.
posted by bright flowers at 6:00 PM on April 4 [2 favorites]


People can do whatever they want. I'm going to do what I can to help people stay fed. Leaving something on the shelf doesn't stigmatize anyone nor is it "virtue signaling", whatever that means.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 8:41 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


> .... and why not donate directly to the SNAP fund which already has a system in place to get money to people who can then buy the exact food they need directly without overwhelming food banks (and long lines for families) who are not geared for this level of distribution? I

Anecdotal but relevant: I know many families who don't qualify for SNAP but still need food from the food bank to get by.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:58 PM on April 4 [3 favorites]


They sucked his brains out!: What makes the NYC program discussed in OP's post so interesting is that it's no questions asked, universal. You show up and get food. I think it'll work best if people from all groups show up and use the program. That'll make it more likely to stick around and for people who need it to actually use it.

Your suggestion of avoiding WIC items works in the opposite direction. It encourages thinking of certain items as for some "other" people, not people "like us." That's not a good direction to go unless it's actually a problem where WIC-eligible items are running out and people can't get what they need with their benefits.

Of course I'm sure you're sharing in good faith and you don't owe me any evidence. There's just a lot of ideas floating around out there, some good, some well-meaning but not so good. It's important to be cautious.
posted by bright flowers at 6:44 AM on April 5 [3 favorites]




I mean, it's not like there's a way to convert milk into a solid product that preserves calories for future use or anything.

This is a pretty bullshitty thing to say.

Unless you're capable of converting the oceans of milk yourself, then there really is no way to convert that milk into a solid product that preserves calories for future use. Are you prepared to actually accept all that milk and start processing? This isn't something you can just start up with a turnkey kit from Amazon. Companies that process milk already were set up to handle the output from existing supply chains. And it's not like milk will stay viable for very long while they tool up to handle all the excess. It's very unlikely any company was sitting on huge idle plants and equipment, ready to start processing milk that would become available during an unforeseen pandemic.
posted by 2N2222 at 8:39 PM on April 13 [1 favorite]


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