Big Box O’ Welfare


cjones02172018

Republicans love to bash people who receive government assistance. It’s red meat for the hater crowd. It’s always a veiled way to tell your right-wing voters that you share their racist sentiments and all the problems in this nation are the cause of minorities. Hey, it worked for Hitler.

In 1976, presidential candidate Ronald Reagan used the bully pulpit and attacked people on government assistance by describing a “welfare queen” who, according to Reagan, she “used 80 names, 30 addresses, 15 telephone numbers to collect food stamps, Social Security, veterans’ benefits for four nonexistent deceased veteran husbands, as well as welfare. Her tax-free cash income alone has been running $150,000 a year.”

Newt Gingrich, former Republican Speaker of the House, once told a tale of a welfare recipient who used her benefits to fly to Hawaii.

The “welfare queen,” as she was originally dubbed by The Chicago Tribune, really did exist. But she was an extreme example Reagan used to cast all welfare recipients as villains, and by the way, she was probably black. As for flying to Hawaii on food stamps, I’m not sure how that’s done since you can’t use them to even purchase diapers.

Fox News likes to run stories about people using food stamps to purchase lobsters (when I Googled stories about people using welfare to buy lobsters, I got a bunch of results about the welfare of lobsters).

Republicans in several states enacted laws to drug test recipients of welfare. Altogether, they’ve spent millions testing and have had positive results come back from around eight percent of recipients. Most states have discovered drug usage among welfare recipients to be less than one percent. Still, Republicans in other states, ignoring it’s a failed and wasteful system, keep proposing they implement it too. I have a family member on welfare, whose husband refuses to work, who complains about black people on welfare.

The percentage of drug usage in the general population is around nine percent, which is higher than those on welfare. If you listen to Republicans, the percentage of drug users on welfare rivals the percentage of drug users in Aerosmith.

Most welfare recipients work. The majority of welfare recipients are white. Republican-voting states receive the most federal assistance, nine out of ten of the poorest states are red, and 97 of the poorest counties are in red states. If this tells us only one thing, it’s that stupid Republican ideas, like drug testing welfare recipients, are not helping anyone rise up out of poverty.

It doesn’t matter to them if drug testing is a failed policy, or it’s accompanied by the irony that it’s more financially wasteful than people on food stamps purchasing lobsters. A dumb idea is a good political idea if it scapegoats minorites (agh! Illegal immigrants on welfare!). Which brings us to welfare in a box.

The Trump administration is proposing welfare in a box, which Budget Director Mike Mulvaney is calling “America’s Harvest Box.” This stupid plan has stuck in my head the Lonely Island song “Dick In A Box.” The song is less offensive than the Trump policy.

The idea is apparently the brainchild of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, and the administration says it’ll be a lot cheaper to send rice and beans to welfare recipients than allowing them to make their own dietary decisions. The idea is so great, they hid it at the bottom of the budget hoping no one would see it. Dick in a box, indeed.

There are questions. How will the boxes be delivered? How will recipients without addresses receive their boxes? How will it deal with perishables? Even Amazon isn’t shipping celery for a good reason. How will lawmakers deal with outraged grocery stores who will lose millions, maybe billions, from customers?

This idea is as dead in the water as the future career prospects for current Trump appointees. Then again, why are we so eager to go after welfare when there are better targets in the federal and state budgets?

There’s more than one government program for the needy, but SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) is less than two percent of the federal budget. Feeding the poor costs every American family about $36 a year. If it means a child eats, even with my unemployed racist inlaw buying shellfish, I’ll write you a check right now.

Meanwhile, corporate welfare receives much more. The Cato Institute estimates that the federal government spends over $100 billion a year on corporate welfare. Sixty three billion of that goes to Fortune 500 companies. Boeing receives $13 billion. Oil companies receive around $4 billion. Berkshire Hathaway (which owns my former employer, The Free Lance Star), a company with $485 billion in assets, with over $20 billion in profits, and an owner, Warren Buffett, who is worth about $58 billion, gets a billion a year from me and you. I don’t hear any lawmakers screaming for Mr. Buffett to pee in a cup, though his fake-cousin may fail a margarita test.

We get upset over spending $36 a year on feeding people. What doesn’t bother anyone is taking $870 from each family a year to give to corporations. Aren’t we already willfully giving enough of our money to Walmart and Amazon without the federal government tapping us for more? Where is the outrage? Where are the demands for scalps of those receiving millions in corporate bonuses while their companies suck at the government teat? Where’s the outrage at Walmart for receiving federal welfare while not paying their employees enough to get off social welfare? Nobody’s demanding the Walton family to subsist on baloney and government cheese.

This isn’t so much about welfare in a box as it it’s all a bag of….well, you know.

Here’s the video.

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6 comments

  1. Great column (us usual) and thanks for cluing me in on the non-relation of Jimmy and Warren; I’d always thought they were related.

    One suggestion – when you say “ten of the poorest states are red”, a qualifier is needed. e.g., 10 of the 12 poorest states or 10 of the 25 poorest states or, maybe, the 10 poorest states. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I had heard somewhere that the percentage of welfare recipients caught using drugs with these tests was lower than the percentage of Congress people caught using drugs. However, that might have been speculation or conjecture. Mostly because there’s no rule for Congress people to pass drug tests.

    As someone on SNAP, formerly Food Stamps, I can tell you this – we can use the cards for whatever food we please. There’s no rule, yet, saying we can’t buy steak or lobster.

    However, as I’ve told many people, we don’t get a whole lotta money per month. So, we still have to budget & probably pay out some ourselves. Meaning, yeah, someone on SNAP might buy lobster, but chances are good it’s for a really special occasion & we’ve paid for it, in part, ourselves.

    Then again, I did get a cost of living increase on my SNAP for 2018. I’ll be going crazy with that $23 a month, lemme tell ya!

    As for sending people “beans & rice,” or whatever cheap starch they’re considering, it’s beyond ridiculous. The party of small government wants to tell people what to eat? Not to take into consideration their dietary, religious, & allergic needs?

    Yeahhhhh. I’m gonna need you to do me a huge favor & go f*** yourself, mkay?

    Liked by 1 person

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