From the mouths of babes – Krugman gets it right, again

Like many observers, I usually read reports about political goings-on with a sort of weary cynicism. Every once in a while, however, politicians do something so wrong, substantively and morally, that cynicism just won’t cut it; it’s time to get really angry instead. So it is with the ugly, destructive war against food stamps.

The food stamp program — which these days actually uses debit cards, and is officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — tries to provide modest but crucial aid to families in need. And the evidence is crystal clear both that the overwhelming majority of food stamp recipients really need the help, and that the program is highly successful at reducing “food insecurity,” in which families go hungry at least some of the time…

First, as millions of workers lost their jobs through no fault of their own, many families turned to food stamps to help them get by — and while food aid is no substitute for a good job, it did significantly mitigate their misery. Food stamps were especially helpful to children who would otherwise be living in extreme poverty, defined as an income less than half the official poverty line.

But there’s more….Because the economy is not like an individual household — your spending is my income, my spending is your income — the result was a general fall in incomes and plunge in employment. We desperately needed (and still need) public policies to promote higher spending on a temporary basis — and the expansion of food stamps, which helps families living on the edge and let them spend more on other necessities, is just such a policy…

Wait, we’re not done yet. Food stamps greatly reduce food insecurity among low-income children, which, in turn, greatly enhances their chances of doing well in school and growing up to be successful, productive adults. So food stamps are in a very real sense an investment in the nation’s future — an investment that in the long run almost surely reduces the budget deficit, because tomorrow’s adults will also be tomorrow’s taxpayers.

So what do Republicans want to do with this paragon of programs? First, shrink it; then, effectively kill it…

Look, I understand the supposed rationale: We’re becoming a nation of takers, and doing stuff like feeding poor children and giving them adequate health care are just creating a culture of dependency — and that culture of dependency, not runaway bankers, somehow caused our economic crisis.

But I wonder whether even Republicans really believe that story — or at least are confident enough in their diagnosis to justify policies that more or less literally take food from the mouths of hungry children. As I said, there are times when cynicism just doesn’t cut it; this is a time to get really, really angry.

Another one of those times when I wish Paul Krugman was madman enough to run for elected office. Just so I might vote for him.

10 thoughts on “From the mouths of babes – Krugman gets it right, again

  1. Kerri Bundy says:

    If they vote against SNAP, they are obviously a PRO HUNGER candidate. Let us call them what they are.

  2. William Leavenworth says:

    Republican plutocrats will get theirs when they come to depend on the rest of us to defend their vast wealth, and we side with their enemies.

    • Raven Black says:

      Unfortunately that’s not how it really works. Society as a whole has been programmed to respond to a token monetary incentive; “if you defend my billions, I’ll give you a couple of hundred.” In desperation, the poor will turn on each other and fight each other for that begged pittance, while other poors produce that wealth for ‘their’ couple of hundred and then hand the wealth all over to the rich, when with just a little cooperation the poors could turn on the rich, split the billions, cut that useless middleman out of production, and all be better off. But good luck getting that cooperation in a society that programs us to be dog-eat-dog, race-to-the-bottom job demanders.

      The notion of the rich as “job creators” is a great example of this programming, along with the notion that we need and want jobs. We don’t, we need and want *wealth* (ie. enough stuff to survive in comfort). Jobs are simply the model whereby the people who hold all the wealth enslave others with the promise of a tiny share of that wealth (which they then take back as rents, taxes and in exchange for the consumable goods necessary for survival, which we were just paid to produce for them. We produce 10 units for them in exchange for enough money to buy one unit for ourselves, then they enrich themselves further off the backs of other workers with the other 9 units.)

      The novel “The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists” explains it really well, and is available as a free ebook on Amazon.

      • Shanon White says:

        I disaggree.

        Not with you; you’re spot on! But with people who say Terminator could beat Robocop. If you really watch the movies, Robocop is much tougher, particularly in Robocop 2. At least vs the Arnold T-800 model 101. Now maybe the chick TX might have a chance but I really think RC could take her out too.

        Excelent post!

      • Shanon White says:

        So right.. nobody questions that jobs are our number one goal! It’s almost heresy to say no really we want the means to survive and self actualize. “Jobs” are just the model we’ve been brainwashed to subscribe to.

        One thing conservatives miss in their tirade about individual choices and individual “success.” is that people make choices from the options they have to chose from. All of their arguments seem to stem from the absurdly false idea that we all have the same options and some of us just don’t “opt.” for wealth somehow.

        Don’t just consider your choices, question why those are your options.

  3. Laurie says:

    The biggest mistake made over and over when justifying these programs is assuming that everybody WANTS the children to grow up productive and self-sufficient. How would that help promote class warfare? How would that provide a huge pool of consumers of low-cost items? How would that help deliver a perpetually under-skilled work pool that would “justify” slave wages? How would that provide a vast and reliable pool of entrants into the penal system (and its myriad under-industries)? You really have to STOP and think about this. Don’t assume everybody actually wants the same thing. That is why this conversation never does and never will go anywhere.

    • Anna says:

      While I appreciate your profound sarcasm you actually speak the truth. That is their agenda bought and sold by the very corporations who stand to benefit the most.

  4. Marley says:

    I think the Plutocrats and corporations already see the end game and are prepping for it. You can’t push millions(many of whom are former or current military) into abject poverty and not expect the populace to rise up. Most of the things that these last ten years have ushered in-Militarized Police, erosion of civil liberties through surveillance, drones etc…. are about protecting the supposed 1%. They could care less about the fraud and illusion of terrorism, we see this time and time again. Were was the FBI or Homeland security when the brothers in Boston made their preparations? They were busy protecting the people that pay them by monitoring and crushing the Occupy movement. The poor are just a necessary evil to them that are an expendable resource. They are going to mine this country for all it is worth then dump it and get out.

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