City Journal Summer 2014

Current Issue:

Summer 2014
Table of Contents
Subscribe
Tablet Editions
Click to visit City Journal California

Readers’ Comments

Nicole Gelinas
Food Is the Real Thing « Back to Story

View Comments (31)

Add New Comment:

To send your message, please enter the words you see in the distorted image below, in order and separated by a space, and click "Submit." If you cannot read the words below, please click here to receive a new challenge.

Comments will appear online. Please do not submit comments containing advertising or obscene language. Comments containing certain content, such as URLs, may not appear online until they have been reviewed by a moderator.


 
Showing 31 Comment(s) Subscribe by RSS
7,000 m2 of land is now available for bidding to any serious-minded investor. The land is a wonder to nature
and it is unique and unlike anything I've ever seen. Take a look for yourselves - http://www.bid4-cape-drastis.com
Actually, I saw new figures today for the distribution of the income tax. The number who pay zero (or less) federal income tax has risen from 47% to 51%. Oh dear.
[Welfare (and that’s what all these “entitlements” are) is a drug, and we are addicting people to these subsidies.]

---

Very true. The real problem is that entitlements result in behavioral changes that are compounded with each successive generation, leading to radical changes in the culture in relatively short periods of time. The exploding deficits and debts that we are seeing now are the direct end result of these cultural changes.

Currently, 53% of the working-age population is paying for the federal govt, while the other 47% pays NOTHING. When those numbers flip, the non-contributors are going to begin a process - at the ballot box - of draining the contributors dry, thus leading to ever-increasing numbers of non-contributors. When their numbers reach 60%+ of the population, get ready for all hell to break loose...that is, if it doesn't happen earlier due to the collapse of the dollar.
[FYI - At least half of the people on food stamps are employed, at least minimally.]

Those aren't the numbers I've seen, which say it was less than 30% as recently as 2005. Then again, that was before "hope and change" came to America, so anything is possible. Still, doesn't in any way refute my original contention that beggars can't be choosers. If you're on the public dole, then the public gets to set the rules...period...regardless of the circumstances that led you to being on the dole.

Ignoring the fact the federal govt has no Constitutional authority to provide welfare in the first place, if they're going to steal money from the citizenry to pursue their unconstitutional attempts at social engineering, they could at least have the courtesy of being good stewards of said money.

The purpose of welfare should't be to provide comfort and ease to its recipients...it should be to provide the basic necessities for survival and health in the most cost efficient manner possible. But make no mistake about it: the recipient of welfare should HATE every moment of the experience of being on it...it's that hatred that will serve as the best motivator for getting OFF of it.
RBC raises an issue seldom discussed:

When a $14,500 minimum wage is worth more than $60,000 salary
by Richard Rider, Chairman
San Diego Tax Fighters

12 January, 2011

San Diego -- In November an article appeared in a small Mississippi newspaper that caused a bit of an Internet stir. Many conservative blogs and websites picked it up, but it was ignored by the main stream media.

The article claimed that a single parent (with two kids) making a $14,500 minimum federal wage ends up with more disposable income than if that parent were earning $60,000 a year. The study tallied up the value of all the benefits due such a low income family, while deducting the taxes due by the $60,000 earner.
While the comparison was specific to the state of Mississippi, the figures are probably not too far off what would be found in many if not most states. Indeed, California benefits likely are higher, as is the state minimum wage.

The original source is not available online (the tiny Cleveland [Miss.] Current), but here’s a link to one of the many blogs carrying this story -- which includes the all-important chart: http://tinyurl.com/3a7u7dn

Now let me strongly caution that I have not verified these figures – though they look about right to me. And the comparison makes the perhaps unwarranted assumption that a person qualifies and applies for all the benefits listed. I’d be especially cautious about the accuracy of the taxes listed – that’s a tricky calculation for anyone to make.
One additional factor not included is the possibility of our low wage earner and his or her family qualifying for the notorious SSI cash program – something far too many Americans (including legal immigrants) are eligible for.
Theoretically in a perfect storm that could add another $26,000 to our minimum wage earner’s income. You don’t want to dwell on that thought.

One other factor: The TANF welfare program is supposed to be temporary assistance to needy families. But in California, we let many people stay on the program beyond the normal eligibility time frame. Indeed, with 12% of the nation’s population, California has about 36% of the nation’s TANF recipients – more than the next seven states combined.
http://weblog.signonsandiego.com/weblogs/afb/archives/034662.html

[I’ve delayed distributing this comparison as I wanted to personally produce such a spreadsheet for California. It’s now apparent I’m too lazy to get it done, so I’m sharing it with my readers as is. It is my fervent hope that someone more energetic than I will do just such an analysis.]

But even if this Mississippi study is not completely accurate, it demonstrates that working more hours, or for higher pay makes for little net gain in this range of incomes. And it makes a strong case for working on the side in the underground economy for cash while collecting all the low income benefits. It would be a huge temptation to do so. Welfare (and that’s what all these “entitlements” are) is a drug, and we are addicting people to these subsidies.

This disturbing comparison gives new meaning to the cliché “You get what you pay for.”

--30--
FYI - At least half of the people on food stamps are employed, at least minimally. Food stamps and most other government aid is based on income. If someone is working at WalMart or McDonalds being paid minimum wages, there is a good chance that person is eligible for assistance (Food Stamps, Medicaid).
[Why not stop that freakin war that's causing all the financial problems you are so concerned about. All programs will be drastically reduced, teahers will lose jobs and the country will go to hell in a handbasket before the US Defense Dept cuts funding for a useless war. Disgraceful!]

...

Leftist propaganda.

Defense spending over the past 10 years - as a percentage of GDP - has actually been LOWER than the historical average of the previous 50 years. Furthermore, the average yearly supplemental costs for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is less than $100 billion. The budget deficit - for THIS YEAR ALONE is projected to be about $1.6 TRILLION. Cut total defense spending in half and you get that down to about $1.2 TRILLION.

Finally, defense spending is one of the federal govt's outlays that actually lies within it's Constitutional powers. The same can't be said of Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, which are the TRUE big drivers of our deficits.

Here's a good tip: whenever you hear the Left screaming about "defense", start with the assumption that they're lying.
Food stamp and welfare recipients could offer bartering services. Serving meals for soup kitchens or school lunch rooms, babysitting for moms who want to work and can't afford day care or as weekend relief, grounds keepers and playground attendants to provide safety from predators, light maintenance in schools, churches or community buildings. Let's get away from government wasteful spending and back to a bartering system where skilled worker, drivers, teachers, etc can help where needed and elderly can benefit. Animal shelter help, hospital help, etc. This could work.
What a load of you-know-what. Next it will be coffee, donuts and sugar frosted cereals, hot dogs, bakery items, etc. Why not stop that freakin war that's causing all the financial problems you are so concerned about. All programs will be drastically reduced, teahers will lose jobs and the country will go to hell in a handbasket before the US Defense Dept cuts funding for a useless war. Disgraceful!
As long as a family's spending on soda does not take up an inordinately large share of its budget, this policy will change nothing. Therefore, I too, can support it!
Should public employees be allowed to drink soda on the taxpayer dime, although I won't make stereotypes and generalizations, many public employees or lazy or have menial jobs that involve desk study , the statehouse=soda
[The vast majority of people receiving FoodStamps do indeed have a job.]

Care to back that up with a citation? Don't bother...because you can't.

[The vast majority of people writing on blogs, don't have a job. They just pontificate. (Plus their English is generally clinically feelble-minded.)]

If you're referring to yourself, then I whole-heartedly agree with everything you just said.

[Just my 2 cents.]

Yeah...that's about all your factually deficient, ignorant rant was worth.
@Food stamp user: "The vast majority of people writing on blogs, don't have a job. They just pontificate. (Plus their English is generally clinically feelble-minded."

You're joking, right? What the heck is "feelble"? Substituting emotion for reason, perhaps?

And don't most grammar books suggest putting a ")" at the and of a parenthetical thought? Or have I been away from public education for too long?

And BTW, the comma after "blogs" is not grammatically correct.

Normally I don't care to comment on a person's illiteracy problems, but since YOU brought it up . . . .
In California and an increasing number of states, "food stamps" (kindly called "CalFresh" in California) can be used to make purchases at some fast food outlets and high-priced convenience stores -- to "better accoommodate the needy."

Rest assured that the next complaint will be that food stamp recipients are too often running out of "money" before the end of the month, so we need to raise the dollar value of the allowance to offset their bad judgment problems.
The government does not have a right to tell you what to buy with your money. It has every right to tell you what to buy with ITS money. A call for accountability for public funds is not an assault on personal dignity or freedom.
@arvastar "You want cookies and soda? Get a job."

The vast majority of people receiving FoodStamps do indeed have a job.

The vast majority of people writing on blogs, don't have a job. They just pontificate. (Plus their English is generally clinically feelble-minded.

Just my 2 cents.
way to go Nicole
There's an even better solution - one that would have benefits far beyond those of simple health issues. I propose that the food stamp program be done away with completely and be replaced by a food allotment program.

How it would work is that when you sign up for food assistance, you provide information about those living in your household who will be dependent on the program (i.e., # of persons, gender, weight, age, relevant health issues, etc.). Once this is done, a computer program can easily calculate the caloric needs of the entire family and detail a "shopping list" of items that will fulfill those needs. In the event of notable health concerns (i.e., diabetes, food allergies, etc.), the shopping list can be adjusted appropriately to accomodate them.

Once this is done, the head of the household will receive a bar-coded card that can be scanned at any supermarket. The card would be programmed to allow for two weekly trips to the grocery store. Based on their household makeup, the shopper would have a personalized list of approved items to choose from (e.g., 13oz. peanut butter, 1 gallon milk, etc.) and would be required to select generic brands if they are available. When they get to the checkout counter, they first present the card for scanning, which provides the store's computer with a list of acceptable items. As each individual item is scanned, the computer can approve or deny the purchase. Furthermore, their weekly/monthly purchases can be tracked, thus allowing the store's computer to rejects purchases based on purchase history and caloric allotment.

The benefits of this approach would be manifold. Only healthy foods would be allowed for purchase, thus reducing other peripheral costs associated with unhealthy eating (i.e., obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc.); additionally, it would significantly reduce costs by curbing fraud and waste.

But probably the biggest benefit is the psychological effect it would have on the recipient. It's one thing to have a govt issued debit card that allows you to simply enter a store and basically buy whatever you want...it's another thing entirely to be told by the govt EXACTLY what you can and cannot buy, how much of it you can and cannot buy, and when you can and cannot buy it.

You want cookies and soda? Get a job.

Tired of broccoli and carrots and turkey sandwiches on whole wheat bread? Get a job.

Don't like being treated like a child, with Big Nanny telling you what to eat? Get a job.

Beggars can't be choosers, as choices are the end result of effort and responsibility. If you rely on society to provide for your needs, then don't complain when society sets the rules for the aid provided. And if you don't like it, do what's required to change your circumstances.
The mom on food stamps can't by her son a soda today. Tomorrow ObamaCare won't buy you the pill you need. It will buy you the pill you deserve. Who knew you have totalitarian sympathies?
I wish politicians would quit wasting time on crap like this and get to work solving the real problems we are facing. I guess the economy, our failing infrastructure, and young men dying in battle are too much trouble to think about, and too much real work would have to take place to correct these issues.
Is Gatorade next? It's sugary. But physicians actually order it for babies who are having diarrhea. And what about sausage, ground beef, or other fatty meats? Seems like we're on a slippery slope here.

First, they came for the food stampers. But I said nothing, because I was not a food stamper...
@ FoodStampUser
YES!!! 1,000 X YES!!! Tattoos, Ankle bracelets, Listerine, all non essential items to SURVIVE. You are so idiotic in you nonsensical rant much like all of your kind who want to receive something for nothing!

@ Kathy
That's amazing you have taken the approach to a healthier lifestyle and congrats on your current results! Corn, however, is a (cheap) staple to the human diet which han feed multiple people (CHEAP!). You can thank the agricultural revolution for that. It is also a cheap feed for the animals you consume. IF you are fortunate enough to be able to afford the organic and free range animals you can avoid receiving the spoils of THEIR diets. If you cannot afford it tho, these corn fed animals still support a healthy diet (you guessed it), to SURVIVE!

I agree with previous posts that this is simply a mechanism to make money instead of actually improve the health and lifestyle of these "poor and downtrodden" individuals. However, it's a start!

It's a start to get where food stamps, welfare, gov't subsidy or whatever else you call it SHOULD BE! It should be a means to SURVIVE and that's it! No extras, nothing special, and no flavor!

After that is accomplished, we can move toward the realization that this is NOT a lifetime benifit. Perhaps then, fathers will have more of trade or profession to pass on to their children then a way to manipulate the government to get something for nothing!
Food Stamp User June 09, 2011 at 9:51 PM
Kind of frightening, this attitude I've been noticing lately. Last couple of years. This sort of hostility towards the "poor and downtrodden". Same attitude appears in places like "pajamasmedia.com" which I also frequent. There, it's daily vicious attacks against Social Security and Medicare.

Now it's "soda pop", for Pete's sake. What's it going to be next? Tattoos? Ankle bracelets? Listerine?

What I call the "unseen war" between the haves and the have nots is really starting to heat up. There's a nastiness, mean-spiritness and kind of a clawing, grasping mood afoot. What this portends for the future, I don't know, but it ain't gonna be pretty. Ugh.

We should drop the food stamp program. Instead, pay grocery stores to offer rice, flour, beans and a couple other raw food staples in unlimited quantities (well, within reason) to anyone who wants it. No one will starve -- no one need be malnourished. With this program, the incentive is there to get a job and earn money to acquire more desirable food.
"...every taxpayer dollar that a parent spends on cola—that’s $100 million a year in New York—is a taxpayer dollar that he or she is not spending on milk, chicken, or lettuce."

By the way Ms. Gelinas, I am currently losing weight. I have dropped one dress size by reducing not only the amount of soda I drink, but also by reducing the amount of meat I consume including chicken. I have greatly cut back the amount of chicken/beef/turkey I eat because all of those animals are fed a diet full of corn - corn is the most taxpayer subsidized ingredients in the country. Since corn digests slowly in our bodies, it stores as fat. Animals experience the same result of a corn diet - they become fat; haven't you noticed how unusually large the pieces of meat have been lately? This fattened meat is sold in our supermarkets and being consumed.

Is this new rule proposed by the Mayor really about health, or is it about money? Because if it really is about health - and saving the taxpayers money - the argument should be to end the subsidy on corn - which probably far outnumbers the amount taxpayers subsidize on food stamps.
I think the restriction is reasonable, but as it goes for sugary drinks it must go for candy.
I agree wholeheartedly with Gelinas. I might add that we don't need to be subsidizing bad food choices like soda that contribute to health ailments like diabetes and their associated health care costs - costs that taxpayers end up paying for one way or another.

Bob Gardin
Cleveland, Ohio
"Of course soft drinks should be on the buyer's own dime, along with cigarettes, beer,and wine"

FYI - All the industries listed above have received federal subsidies - or ingredients used to make those items have received subsidies.
Factchecker is dead-on... This is all about an attempt to hit NYers with yet another tax, the soda tax. And by the way, the soda tax does NOTHING to decrease obesity. Why?

1)The "culprit" ingredient in soda here is high fructose corn syrup. And its found in almost EVERY processed food inside the supermarket. Yet there will be no tax on those items.

2)It doesn't stop food stamp recipients from buying soda; they'll just use cash instead and that's what food stamp recipients have been doing. First, food stamps are only good for grocery items and cold prepared foods. Therefore whenever a recipient wants a pizza or a burger they use cash. Second, many recipients regularly use cash on groceries if they buy items in the store that aren't food stamps eligible or when their food stamps run out.

3)The soda tax excludes so many high sugar drinks, I wonder why Bloomberg even bothered with this rule. The tax excludes diet soda, which is just as unhealthy as regular soda.
This is a no-brainer to me. Of course soft drinks should be on the buyer's own dime, along with cigarettes, beer,and wine. Sometimes people need help establishing priorities. Certainly the government does.
Disagree, the REAL reason is that bloomberg wants a soda tax, currently soda purchased with food stamps is not subject to tax, bloomberg and his health commissioner advocate a nanny state in addition to this proposal, of course in states with grocery taxes which I support since government should not be winners and losers the same rule applies.

Soda is cheaper than milk and vegetables, but here is why its an attack on the poor, soda is being singled out for causing obesity and bloomberg's proposal would not ban chocolate milk-shakes and other unhealthy foods.

This will increase fraud, redeeming food stamps for cash, and has nothing to do with wise spending of tax payer dollars, does nicole propose banning white bread and mac and cheese or rather chocolate yogurt.

After all pizza, is just cheese/sauce/flour.

The same idea the Manhattan institute supports in that taxes should be neutral ie, no city subsidies for a company rather lower taxes for everyone, is the same concept here, bloomberg would also ban an athlete from getting gatorade,not shakes.