Westword’s Joel Warner razzes me a bit for writing about food stamps when there are obviously bigger issues at play. In addition to the bailout, I noted to Warner that Social Security is a pending financial crisis.
If I could think of a week-long project to protest the bailouts, or Social Security, or the rapid expansion of federal power, a protest that the media would cover, I would do it. But there was an obvious way for me to disprove the claims that a food-stamp budget can only buy unhealthy food, so that’s what I did.
Anybody who wants to read my voluminous writings against the bailout or Social security need merely search my page.
There is a broader point here: the bank bailouts operate on the same principle as food stamps: the needs of some impose a claim on the resources of others. I oppose the bank bailouts for the same reason I oppose food stamps: they violate individual rights. So there is a unity in my various campaigns.
Warner is a fun writer; here I’ll merely highly a few of his comments.
He mentions my “dismally green turkey-stock soup;” ordinarily I add carrots, potatoes, brown rice, and beans to my soups. However, because of the artificial constraint of the seven-day timeline, I had to limit the number of products I could buy. However, even without the extras, the soup was pretty good.
What about the time it takes to prepare meals? I pointed two things out to Warner. First, I suspect that food-stamp recipients, on average, watch at least their share of television, so I don’t feel too bad about asking them to divert a bit of that time to food-prep. Second, my usual routine is to cook a huge batch of something, which my wife and I eat over several days. So the per-meal food-prep time is minimal. I know busy people who cook on one day every week or two, then freeze portions to reheat later.
Are critics of food stamps a**holes? (I’ve committed myself to avoiding profanity on this page, though Westword’s use of it obviously doesn’t bother me.) Warner recorded my answer:
“I oppose the welfare state across the board. With a position like that, people are going to call me an a**hole in general. This will give them one more excuse to do that,” he replies. “But what I think being an a**hole is, is locking someone in a cage if they don’t want to give to the charity you think is acceptable. That is the root of the welfare state.”
Does this need clarification? Let’s say that you wanted to divert all your food-stamp spending to the local food bank. Can you do that? No; it’s illegal. If you write a letter to the IRS saying, “This year I’ve reduced my tax payments to account for my diversion of resources to the local food bank,” the IRS won’t let you get away with that, and the ultimate penalty is that you go to jail.
I was unfortunately unclear in the online comments I left about payroll taxes. I wrote, “I wish Joel would have included a point that I mentioned to him: the payroll taxes, which lop off a combined 15.3 percent of one’s pay check, create a terrible hardship for the poor and middle class. I favor repealing all payroll taxes (at least) for the poor.” However, Warner did note my complaint about “the government’s policy of lopping off a huge percentage of working-class paychecks to pay for unreasonable programs, many of which only benefit the wealthy.”
I’m glad that Westword is around. It publishes some great investigative journalism. I do wish the paper would expand its scope a bit; it tends to cover sex, drugs, and rock and roll at the expense of other important issues. The paper does a fantastic job covering regional media. Given that it is largely an entertainment paper, perhaps we should consider ourselves fortunate that it devotes as much space as it does to important news.