Over at TAP today, I talk about the fine line we want food stamp recipients to walk: We don’t like the idea that they may be “mis-spending” public money on nutrient-poor foods like soda, and we also, according to The Daily Caller, anyway, don’t think they should be spending money on expensive fish.
Also, poor people can’t be too young: Part of that DC “investigation” focused on college students getting food stamps, and in March, Salon detailed how disturbed some people were over the fact that young, artsy, hipster types, who’d taken an economic hint in the downturn, were using government assistance to buy locally-grown fruits and veggies and artisanal bread.
The problem, of course, which few people ever point out, is how it’s in our broader economic interest for lower-income people to spend money on food, whatever the food is; how it’s in our broader public health interest for that food to be nutritious; how it’s in our broader interest to promote locally-produced food systems by creating new markets, which is what allowing food stamps to be used at farmers’ markets does; and how it’s in our broader cultural interest to have a group of individuals willing to produce and distribute art for very little, or at least unsteady, pay.
The idea that the government promotes behavior whether it does or doesn’t fund something is beyond the pale for a journalist working at DC, but it’s true. The concept that there’s some neutral ideal that would emerge if we let government get out of the way is ridiculous.