On Foodstamps

The New York Times pronounces emphatically today that the stigma of using food stamps has lifted.

Oh?  Perhaps the stigma is gone in the eyes of a New York Times reporter.  Sure, there is now widespread use across various sectors of American society.  But I don't think the stigma's gone in the eyes of the American public.  And even if it is, it certainly hasn't dissipated in my eyes.

Even if I one day end up on food stamps for some reason, let the stigma stand.  It should.  It should not be "okay" to be wholly dependent upon the government for one's food, the most basic element of sustaining life.  The notion of being independent in any meaningful sense is deeply undercut.  It comes down to a point of personal responsibility to keep one's self and one's dependents from ever encountering a situation where one must resort to the government to provide food.

Lest I be called out as a hypocrite, let me state that right now I'm on a variation of foodstamps: federal financial aid comprises part of the package of funds that is paying my way through law school.  But as I said, let the stigma stand - I do find it somewhat shameful that I had to resort to the federal government to move forward in my life.  Still, unlike food stamp recipients, I will actually repay my loans down the line (and I have a plan and a means in place to do so as rapidly as possible).  I also hope to provide private loans to family members and merit-based scholarships to other students at some point down the road to give others a chance to get ahead without going to the government.

Anyway, here's what really bothers me about the expanded use of foodstamps...it's not just the recession that triggered the explosion in their use.  It was "compassionate conservatism" at its worst:

While the numbers have soared during the recession, the path was cleared in better times when the Bush administration led a campaign to erase the program’s stigma, calling food stamps “nutritional aid” instead of welfare, and made it easier to apply.

And, if we needed any additional proof that "Obama is like Bush," we can look to his administration's stance on food stamps:

Although the program is growing at a record rate, the federal official who oversees it would like it to grow even faster.  “I think the response of the program has been tremendous,” said Kevin Concannon, an under secretary of agriculture, “but we’re mindful that there are another 15, 16 million who could benefit.”

Bring us all into the fold.  Please, please take care of us.  Watch over us day and night.  Take care of our health care.  Fix our climate.  And give us our daily bread.