What Food Stamps Tell Us About the Economy

Big Red Car here.  Ya’ll know what’s cooking in the ATX, right?  I’m not going to tease you.  It’s fabulous.

So The Boss is talking to one of his professorial buddies and they’re talking about the economy.  Ooooh, the economy is not doing very well, Grasshopper.  You knew that right?

So the convo turns to things like — what are some of the obscure parameters and indicators that can shed light on the state of the economy?

So The Professor says — “…take a look at food stamps.  When times are tough, folks still have to eat, Boss.  BTW, Boss you’re looking a bit well fed yourself these days.”  Haha, The Boss is not going to like that, ya’ll.  [STFU, Big Red Car, and get on with the damn story.  Please.]

You can see a bit of discussion on Dr Doug Short’s blog here.

The bottom line is this — we now have almost twice as many food stamp recipients today as when President Obama took office.

While the term Food Stamp President is clearly not a note of high praise and it is a pejorative term, it is unfortunately accurate and true.  President Obama’s policies have almost doubled the number of folks on food stamps.

That cannot be a good indicator for our economy.  We are growing food stamp recipients at the rate of 13.5% per year.  That is NOT the kind of growth we are looking for and it indicates how weak the economy truly is — folks are still struggling to feed themselves.  This is a starvation economy.

The way home?  Let’s create some damn jobs and put folks to work.  When a man can’t put food on his family’s table, society has a crack in its foundation.

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway?  I’m just a Big Red Car.  Feed a hungry person today.  Even if it is you.

 

  • Cam MacRae

    If you look at the line segment from 2001 to date for the # of participants the trend looks reasonably linear, so I’m not sure you can solely finger Obama for that. On the other hand the increase in costs is decidedly non-linear for the entire duration of his reign. Must be a few lobbyists with new G5s.

    • JLM

      .
      The issue of food stamps is not a negative notion — any good hearted chap wants hungry folks to eat. We are a very rich country and there is absolutely no excuse for hunger when we are paying farmers not to produce crops and storing dairy products in warehouses.

      It is also important when looking at long term analysis of any data to remember that the population of the US is growing and when looking at absolute numbers over a long period of time, the trend may simply be masked by the population trend. Makes sense, no?

      In the Obama administration, they have gone to extraordinary lengths to engage in marketing campaigns to push food stamps. This is a questionable strategy from a long term dependency perspective.

      What motivates people to action is sometimes subtle and sometimes not so subtle.

      Beloved and talented #1 son comes home from college, European bacchanal, tough economy, lot of whining — sleeps late, continues to collect allowance, makes serious study of craft beers.

      Allowance gets cut off — finds job and is now big time Investment Banker making “mad cheddar”. As I like to say, he “found” himself. He was in the big bed snoring as I recall not MIA really.

      It is the notion of creating a Nation of dependents on the government — currently at 49% — which is the cause for concern.

      It is an apolitical discussion. I am concerned regardless of who controls the White House or the Congress. In a measure of fairness, I also think Presidents are entitled to note who is controlling the Congress and the American people should be mindful of that fact also.

      In the Congress, both parties are pigs at the trough. The recent “deal” in which Sen McConnell of Kentucky delivered the Republicans testicles to the President on a platter is a case in point. He “earmarked” $3B for a dam for his state in the final legislation.

      Bought and paid for like a Tijuana hooker.

      BRC
      .

      • Cam MacRae

        Indeed. I’m actually with Albert Wenger in that I support moving towards a basic income guarantee. We’re well along the path to automating a majority of people out of work — zero marginal product workers — such that only those (often smugly) referred to as the meritocracy will remain employable. The golden age is over, or at least it will be before I’m lowered into the earth. I just hope we get to the next thing without a bloody revolution.

        • JLM

          .
          I am not in favor of a basic income guarantee. I am however in favor of ensuring that folks have a fair opportunity to succeed.

          When you guarantee outcomes rather than opportunities, you put your thumb on the scale at the end of the race rather than at the beginning of the race.

          Say what you want about Pres Obama but he got a chance to succeed not a guaranteed outcome and it worked out OK for him. That is a fair assessment shorn of the attendant political flavoring.

          America should be very proud that a black man (well, half black, I guess) became President. Attorney General also. This has to say something about how far we have come from segregation.

          Outcomes — no.
          Opportunities — yes.

          This encourages and drives self expression and personal development. In the end, a man’s sense of self-worth is way more important to society than almost anything else.

          High personal self-esteem drives accomplishment and creates a family legacy of accomplishment.

          Are we to create taxpayers or mooches?

          BRC
          .

          • Cam MacRae

            At the risk of sounding like a pinko-commie-bastard, which you can be sure I am not — I think equality of opportunity is unrealistic.

            Most models typically assume social mobility has a uniform probability distribution. It doesn’t. Success depends on many random variables, including your relative intelligence and your willingness to work hard (we could argue until the cows come home about whether this is truly random, but if we agree I had no choice in my being born into the protestant work ethic, we would need to allow the same of those born into idleness).

            This being the case, in the post golden age era opportunity to be productive will only arise for those with very good (and as yet unearned) fortune. As we move further along the path this will comprise fewer and fewer people.

            What are we to do with the mass of unproductive humanity — the zero marginal product workers? We won’t need them to work (indeed it would be counter-productive to put them to work), and as you note above, we can’t allow them to starve.

            (I do worry about how they’ll occupy their days. Hopefully not with the business of breeding. Or war.)

            [I worry even more that I’ll become one of them].

  • Part of it is the fact the Ag lobby is the most powerful in DC. Big power brokers on both sides of the aisle. Big. Dems and Reps don’t agree on much, but they agree on how to fund AG, and food stamps are a part of it.

    • JLM

      .
      The base line eligibility criteria is the market indicator. Too many folks at that level of poverty.

      BRC
      .