NY and Food Stamps

I heard an interesting debate this week I thought I'd share here as food for thought leading into the weekend.

In NY the idea is being discussed on banning soda and sugar sweetened beverages from what you can purchase with food stamps.

What's wrong with that?  Allow me to quote from the article linked to above.

Using food stamps to buy sodas, teas, sports drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages would not be allowed in New York City under a new government effort to battle obesity.

So far sounds good especially considering that with ObamaCare we are not also going to be responsible for the costs associated with their health care costs.  If someone makes poor choices in diet it's going to cost us even more money so if we're giving them public money to buy food we should have every right to limit what foods they can or cannot buy with that money.

The idea has been suggested before, including in 2008 in Maine, where it drew criticism from advocates for the poor who argued it unfairly singled out low-income people and risked scaring off potential needy recipients.

The idea of fewer people draining money from the pockets of the hard working tax payers is a bad thing?

In 2004, the USDA rejected Minnesota's plan to ban junk food, including soda and candy, from food stamp purchases, saying it would violate the Food Stamp Act's definition of what is food and could create "confusion and embarrassment" at the register.

Create embarrassment?  Sorry but being on food stamps SHOULD create embarrassment to the point of encouraging people to work harder and support themselves without taking money by government force from the pockets of others.  Being on food stamps should not be something to be proud of.

"I can see the sodas, but suppose somebody's in bad shape and they just want juice?" said Harold Vilson, a 56-year-old Brooklyn resident who said he uses food stamps.

"If people want to buy that stuff, they should be able to. If it's not an illegal product, they should be able to buy what they want to buy."

Someone needs to sit Harold down and explain to him that no one is stopping him from buying what he wants to buy, however if he wants my money via taxes then I can put strings on that money and limit what he's allowed to buy with it.

In fiscal year 2009, New Yorkers received $2.7 billion in food stamp benefits and spent $75 million to $135 million of that on sugary drinks, the city said.

Keep in mind that's not even factoring in Twinkies, chips and other junk food.  That's just beverages.

Case in point...

There still are many unhealthful products New Yorkers could purchase with food stamps, including potato chips, ice cream and candy. Officials said the proposal targets sugary drinks because they are the largest contributor to obesity.


Advocates for the poor expressed alarm about the proposal, which the New York City Coalition Against Hunger said "punishes poor people for the supposed crime of being poor."

"It's sending the message to low-income people that they are uniquely the only people in America who don't know how to take care of their family," said Joel Berg, the group's executive director. "The problem isn't that they're making poor choices, the problem is that they can't afford nutritious food."

They aren't the ones affording anything.  They are getting public money from those of us who work and pay our taxes.

When you really stop and listen to the arguments being made by those defending food stamps being allowed to be spent on anything it becomes very clear that it isn't about protecting the poor and making sure they aren't starving in the streets (the argument you hear from Democrats any time cuts are discussed) but it's about wealth redistribution.  They want to take money and make sure everyone has the same regardless of whether they work for it or if they sit at home eating junk food all day claiming they can't find work.