Elitist Snotface Part II: The Great Food Stamp Debate
If I had categories I would just start one called "The Chronicles Of An Elitist Snotface" and be done with it.
Over at her hip new joint, Ivy has a post about food stamps. I was going to comment there, but I'm a week late in doing so, and I have too many comments. Besides, I feel as though I need to defend part of a post I wrote on the 4th of July about the topic.
I said (in part)
the woman in front of me buys four cases of soda, a cake, hot dogs, buns, ice cream, whipped cream, cookies, frozen pizza and twinkies. She pays for this with food stamps. ... The libertarian in me thinks that what she buys is her business. But the taxpayer in me is really ticked off. I think that when we are told that our money is being taken from us by force to feed the hungry, we have a certain level of peace about it because we picture starving children drinking frosty glasses of milk while eating an apple. I personally don't think of cakes, twinkies and Tropicana Fruit Soda as the largesse I would like to provide to the hungry.
Over at Ivy's new place she has this to say:
I also pointed out that it was pretty dang rude to be staring around at what everyone else was buying and their method of payment ... The only change I would like to see with the food stamp program (and this may already exist, I don't know) is to have cooking and nutrition classes strongly recommended, if not required.
So there are two things I want to address from my Elitist Snotface podium. The first is the seemingly-childish issue of looking at what other people have in their carts and why I am nosy enough to do so. Especially when I don't like it when people do it to me. Why do I look at what other people are getting and how they pay for it? Well, for starters, most of the time I'm just staring off into space in the checkout line. Sometimes "space" coincides with the conveyer belt. I shop at one of those stores where you have to unpack your cart to the conveyer in advance of the checkout person. So all your food is splayed out in front of God and everybody just like those pictures of Suri Cruise in Vanity Fair. I don't generally notice other people's food, but when it is really wierd-seeming it does jar me out of my reverie. In this particular example the woman bought a cake from the bakery decorated to look like a giant hamburger. You notice that sort of thing. And then I saw everything else. Jealousy plays into it, because I was there on a limited budget stretching my dollar to get one nice treat for the Fourth. The piles of food this woman had made me envious. When she paid for it with food stamps it made me mad. Still does. And as nosy as it seems to be looking at other people's food, I do so simply because I think it is far more ethical than reading a magazine you don't intend to pay for. This drives me up all four walls when other people do it in line around me. Again, not strictly my business but there you go.
As for teaching nutrition classes to people with food stamps, it sounds like a good idea. But those classes will and do cost more money. The money in the food stamp program is not limitless. Would you rather see more people in need receive food, or fewer people receive both food and an education on its proper consumption? Me personally, I'd rather that more hungry people eat. Which is why I'm firmly in the camp of making food stamps restricted a la WIC. Because being able to by an $18.00 decorated cake with money entrusted to you for your nutrition is not good stewardship. Yes, I know the argument--what if it was her kid's birthday?/Doesn't everyone deserve a treat now and then?--and I counter with this. You can bake a cake for a tenth of that price. You can buy a not-as-fancy cake for half that price. And frankly, I who pay things with money we fight hard to earn, have learned that you can't always get what you want. Treats are nice but they come after necessities. It will always be my belief that Food Stamps should cover necessities. Cakes and candies and fizzy drinks are not necessary no matter how loud PMS screams otherwise.