Thursday, June 14, 2012

Why Are Food Stamps Advertising?

For those of you who haven't noticed, I live in the liberal bastion of New York State. New York, apparently, has decided it's purpose in life is to grow government. Whether it's controlling our trans-fat consumption and now sugar consumption by legalizing sizes and ingredients in food or forcing the people of New York to pay some of the highest state cigarette taxes to stop you from doing something that's none of government's business, New York is second to none when it comes to liberal attitudes.

So I suppose it shouldn't surprise me to hear Food Stamps advertising, and yet it does. It also angers me. I see and hear commercials like this on radio and television regularly:

Think about this, friends. People who are genuinely in need of food are well aware of food stamps. I knew what food stamps were at a young age, even though my family did not use or need them. I was aware of the concept and what the program was help people who are genuinely hungry be able to eat.

Now, as someone who has worked at a retail store (in fact I managed one) and saw how many people used their food stamps on items that were, while technically food (i.e. anything edible) to buy things that were not necessities or even nutritious, like candy, soda, cookies, etc. As a matter of fact, I would go so far to say that I saw more people spend their food stamps on junk food than I saw people buying bread or milk or soup. So, based on this experience over a period of time, one could assume that these individuals indeed were paying for actual food with either their own money or perhaps with food stamps someplace else. Even if the latter is true, clearly these individuals were receiving more than they needed to buy actual food and be certain they did not starve and still had plenty left over to buy Mountain Dew and Oreos.

The reason I tell you that story is to demonstrate the fact that New York is already dolling out more than needed in the food stamp program. But now they're inviting people who presumably already have enough to eat (or else they likely would have sought out food stamps on their own) to apply for food stamps. The commercial I've shown above says "even if you have savings you may be eligible." even if you have been fiscally responsible and put money aside for a rainy day, you might not be required to use it now that it's raining, because instead we'll give you free food?

Friends, the reality of the situation is that the food stamps program has no business advertising. As it is, New York's food stamp program has massive gaps that need correcting, because, unlike other states that limit food purchases like not allowing candy and soda to be purchased. These other states also put other reasonable restrictions like saying "orange juice is okay to purchase on food stamps BUT you cannot buy Tropicana, you have to buy the store brand," which to me is an incredibly reasonable restriction, considering store brand OJ is no less nutritious than name brand.

At the end of the day, I don't have an issue with responsible application of the food stamp program. I do not have a problem with having a program where genuinely needy people can get assistance buying eggs, bread, milk and beef. But if the food stamp program is not only providing candy and soda but is also inviting those who have enough to eat to apply to the program because "I know you have enough, but what if we gave you some free stuff anyway" then that is big government run amuck.

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