February 15, 2018

Is Trump's "Harvest Box" program serious or is he trolling us?

I can't believe this! Look, it's Glenn Thrush — remember him?1at the NYT:
Under a proposal in the president’s budget many participants in the program would be given half their benefits in the form of a “Harvest Box” full of food preselected for nutritional value and economic benefit to American farmers. The cache of cheaper peanut butter, canned goods, pasta, cereal, “shelf stable” milk and other products would now be selected by the federal government, not by the people actually eating it.
Peanut butter?! Isn't that the tell? If there's one thing some people can't eat, it's peanuts. But Thrush isn't quoting from the proposal. He may have come up with the idea of leading the list with peanut butter — cheaper peanut butter — as a way to nudge us to think the idea is — figuratively and literally — nuts.2
Democrats claimed the plan shackled the poor while business groups, led by big food retailers, would stand to lose billions of dollars in lost SNAP business. ...

In reality, administration officials on Tuesday admitted that the food-box plan — which the president’s budget director Mick Mulvaney compared to the Blue Apron grocery delivery service — had virtually no chance of being implemented anytime soon....
You've got to give them some credit for thinking outside the box and coming up with the idea of a box. There's something charming about that.

And I kind of love the optimism in thinking you could solve all the logistical problems: who's allergic to what, who's on a weight-loss diet, who's lactose intolerant, who's incapable of cooking, what to do when people are away from home (or homeless), how to teach people to go through the steps of cooking oatmeal or beans.

Can't computers be programmed to know what everyone needs and wants? Can people be programmed to want and need what the government puts in boxes? Will the Russians hack the computers? Who needs the Russians when our own government is this creepy?

Creepy?! No! It's wholesome as hell! It's like some 19th century charity mission, like: Beth quietly... filled her basket with odds and ends for the poor children, and went out into the chilly air with a heavy head and a grieved look in her patient eyes....
“I don’t think there’s really any support for their box plan. And, I worry that it’s a distraction from the budget’s proposal to cut SNAP by some 30 percent. That’s the real battle,” said Stacy Dean, vice president for food assistance policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a progressive Washington think tank. “The dangers are these other proposals to cut benefits. But all anyone is talking about today are the boxes.”
It is distracting! He knows how to flummox with a box...
_________________

1 As The Hill reported last month: "Former New York Times White House correspondent Glenn Thrush on Tuesday will return to the newspaper after a two-month suspension... to cover 'the social safety net in the age of Trump'.... Thrush, 50, was suspended as the Times investigated allegations of sexual misconduct by four women as young as 23, including claims of groping and kissing."

2 Yeah, I know. Legumes. So, what do you want — to ding me for misusing "literally"? You annoying pedant. You belong in Footnote 2.

182 comments:

Beloved Commenter AReasonableMan said...

Nanny state.

rhhardin said...

I'm eating oatmeal with peanut butter right now.

I am Six Words or Less said...

These boxes contain food for thought.

-6W

rhhardin said...

If you reduce programs, you also reduce perverse side effects.

rhhardin said...

There's a lot of protein in Thai rabbit.

I am Six Words or Less said...

The poor cannot afford peanut allergies.

-6W

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Poor people don't have peanut allergies or gluten sensitivities. Those are largely made up by helicopter mommies in the suburbs.

I am Six Words or Less said...

Distribution: Amazon Prime for the Poor.

-6W

Tim in Vermont said...

He should have announced it on Boxing Day. We used to get this stuff. They could have kept the powdered eggs, but I guess you could cook with them, but the canned chicken was a personal favorite.

Ralph L said...

The joke was Muskie lost his chance to be Carter's VP in '76 when he went to Plains and asked to see the peanut trees.

Don't most towns have charities that distribute donated food?
Ours had a scandal when the couple that set it up and ran it were found to be a little too well-compensated. Now the homeless shelter set up by the larger churches runs it.

I am Six Words or Less said...

Providing free gruel becomes grueling, eventually.

-6W

iowan2 said...

Teaching people to plan and prepare their own meals, diminishes dependency, hence the left abhors the very notion.

Like the school shootings, no one will investigate the family unit for common factors, like lack of fathers and grandfathers. The answers would suggest solutions the left cannot accept.

Ann Althouse said...

It might not really be that hard to do with computers. You make people sign up through computers and they can either take the standard box or check boxes for

no dairy
no peanuts
low fat
low carb
gluten free
vegan
no cooking

etc.

You don't have to give the govt the personal information unless you want to. These various options would still serve so many people that boxing the things could be efficient.

Tim in Vermont said...

Isn’t Thrush the guy who runs his columns past Hillary before he submits them?

Nancy said...

These boxes are obviously based on WIC packages. Every WIC participant is given a "prescription" for food at their program intake and renewal interviews. Peanut butter can be replaced by dried legumrs, cheese by tofu, cow's milk by soy milk, etc. as appropriate

Ann Althouse said...

I'm wondering what to put in the no-cooking box that would put the non-cookers in the same position as the poor people who would accept the rice and beans regime.

There are some grains that you can just soak and not cook: bulgur and some brown rice noodles. But I'm thinking of some kind of whole-grain crackers.

I am Six Words or Less said...

Thrush causes creamy white lesions, groping.

-6W

Ann Althouse said...

"Teaching people to plan and prepare their own meals, diminishes dependency, hence the left abhors the very notion."

It's seen as intrusive and demeaning to impose particular foods and to expect time to be spent on preparation. Different people have different time to spend on food prep, and you can expect women to do more than their share of this work.

traditionalguy said...

I bet the masses of dying Venezuelans would not be so picky about free food. Most of them cannot remember what it is.

I am Six Words or Less said...

There is no free Gluten Free.

-6W

Darkisland said...

And what is wrong with "charity"?

I do not have half as much objection to feeding people as I do to the idea that people think they have the right to force me to feed them.

I think recipients need to understand that this is charity. Perhaps even a note in the box to the effect "Don't like the food in the box? Go out and get a job. Then you can buy whatever you want."

I do think Bill Clinton had the right idea that govt charity should be limited to those who really need it and should be for a limited time. Exceptions of course for those who really can't provide for themselves.

Whatever happened to the Clinton welfare reform of the 90s?


John Henry

I am Six Words or Less said...

Ah. Boiling water: expensive, costs time.

-6W

Ambrose said...

Don’t shelters and soup kitchens manage allergy issues?

Ralph L said...

It's seen as intrusive and demeaning to impose particular foods and to expect time to be spent on preparation.

Cooking is for the rich and fashionable.

Darkisland said...

The note should also point out that: This food does not come from the government. It comes from money's taken at gunpoint from your fellow citizens. As you eat it ponder this: Why is it immoral for an individual to take money from their fellow citizens at gunpoint but moral when done through the intermediary of government?"

Perhaps even throw in a copy of Bastiat's "The Law" from which that question is taken.

John Henry

I am Six Words or Less said...

You belong in Footnote 2: literally.

-6W

Sally327 said...

Anyone who's ever had any scrounging ne'er do well relatives who constantly hit you up for money with sob stories about how they can't buy food for the kids' breakfast, can you spare a hundred bucks, I'll pay it back I promise (three lifetimes from now maybe), will recognize the thought behind this idea. It can be hard to say no (although that gets easier over time) so one alternative is to buy the groceries directly. It sometimes has a salutary effect.

Ralph L said...

Put bottles of Thunderbird in a few boxes to make them popular.

I won't bring up the ribbing Althouse got over boxed wine.

exhelodrvr1 said...

If the intent of the program is for the government to provide NEEDED assistance to those who can't afford to buy food, but at the same time to not develop dependency on this assistance, then providing the food itself is an excellent concept. The problem would be in the infrastructure that would be needed for that program.

But we know that one of the main, perhaps THE main, goal of the program is to encourage dependency on the government. Remember that the primary goal of a bureaucracy is for the bureaucracy to survive, and if possible, to grow. Its main goal is NOT providing the services for which the bureaucracy in question was formed.

Michael The Magnificent said...

A good friend is a co-owner of a non-profit that, among other things, assembles volunteers to make pre-packaged meals that require only water and heat to make, and meet some international standard for nutrition, in order to feed people in Tanzania.

They usually have a couple of crock pots going with a meal made from these pre-packaged meals, and I have to say they taste pretty good if you like rice with chicken. These meals have a long shelf life, are easy to make, nutritionally complete, and cost a couple of pennies per meal.

This is what we should be feeding our people who cannot afford to feed themselves.

Kevin said...

Clark: "Eddie, Ellen and I want to help you give the kids a nice Christmas."

Eddie: "Oh Clark, I couldn't do that."

Clark: "No, no, we insist."

Eddie: "Oh, no; I'm not one for charity, now."

Clark: "Oh, I know that Eddie. This isn't charity; it's family."

Eddie: "Ooh, I don't know about that."

Clark: "Now, come on; if you don't tell me what they want, I,ll go out and get it on my own."

Eddie: "Oh boy, this is a surprise Clark. This is just a real nice surprise. Just a real nice surprise. Here's a little list. Alphabetical, starting with Cathrine. And if it wouldn't be too much, I'd like to get something for you Clark. Something really nice."

Henry said...

Maybe Thrush could share an office with Quinn Norton when they rehire her.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

My concern is that the contents of the box would be focused less on charity for the poor, and more on charity for big agro.

M Mott said...

You can't limit the choices for the poor when it comes to peanut butter and carrots. But when it comes time to send the little impoverished one to school, choice is a bad word.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Darkisland said...

As you eat it ponder this: Why is it immoral for an individual to take money from their fellow citizens at gunpoint but moral when done through the intermediary of government?

I suspect a fair share would take from this the converse of the lesson you intend.

Rob said...

Eggs are cheap. They’re available even in food deserts. They take practically no preparation. They’re full of protein. It’s scandalous that so many poor people spend the time and money to take their kids out for fast food when they could be feeding them eggs. And other similar meals that are cheap and easy to prepare. Some people need a bit of a kick in the ass. Food boxes seem like the gentlest of kicks.

Sally327 said...

"Eddie: "Oh boy, this is a surprise Clark. This is just a real nice surprise. Just a real nice surprise. Here's a little list. Alphabetical, starting with Cathrine. And if it wouldn't be too much, I'd like to get something for you Clark. Something really nice."

LOL...exactly! As funny as the scene in the first Vacation movie....can you spare a little cash, Clark, sure Eddie how much do you need? About $52,000.

Tim in Vermont said...

I agree with Althouse that nobody should be forced to cook and other people should be forced to pay still other people to cook for them.

I am Six Words or Less said...

Troll, box flummox? Dr. Seuss, stomachs.

-6W

Rusty said...

Ann Althouse said...
"Teaching people to plan and prepare their own meals, diminishes dependency, hence the left abhors the very notion."

It's seen as intrusive and demeaning to impose particular foods and to expect time to be spent on preparation. Different people have different time to spend on food prep, and you can expect women to do more than their share of this work.


Well. It is my dime so the recipients have to expect a little inconvenience.

Paco Wové said...

"It's seen as intrusive and demeaning to ... expect time to be spent on preparation."

One of the great things about being a rich white cishetero male is how all my food prepares itself, instantaneously.

I am Six Words or Less said...

Cheaper peanut butter? Not Jif? Iffy.

-6W

Jersey Fled said...

My socially aware daughter bought me a membership in a program called Hungry Harvest for my birthday. She saw it first on Shark Tank.

Every two weeks I receive a package of fresh fruits and vegetables. And every two weeks a similar package goes to a local food program for the poor. The produce might be a little blemished or undersized, or it might just be excess food that wholesalers couldn't sell. Most of the food is donated.

If there is anything from this week's "harvest" that I don't want delivered, I can select something else.

I get my second delivery this Saturday. My first package had some nice fruit, some potatoes that were a little too small for sale, some Romaine lettuce, some onions, and some Brussel sprouts that I learned to make slaw out of.

My daughter likewise subscribes. If it's good enough for a hipster from NYC, I don't see why it wouldn't be good enough for your average welfare family.

Omaha1 said...

I haven't commented here for quite a while, but all people on EBT are not the same. Many are disabled, including people with Down Syndrome and disabled veterans. The "food box" is not going to work for someone who is unable to cook. My son was born with a syndrome that causes mental retardation. He can't just "get a job," and a box of green beans and peanut butter would be worthless to him. The only thing he can cook is microwave meals. So I use his EBT benefits to supplement our family food budget, and I make home cooked meals for both of us to eat, almost every day. Which is technically illegal since all of his food is supposed to be stored and prepared separately. The rules governing EBT benefits are already very restrictive and nearly impossible to comply with for families like mine. More government control of this benefit is not the answer, and many of the comments here sound like cartoon conservatives just hating on the poor, whether they are "deserving" or not.

Fabi said...

Is Althouse suggesting that poor people don't have private chefs?

Omaha1 said...

...and microwave meals are way more expensive per serving than what I typically prepare, so his EBT benefits are put to much better use by my using them as I see fit, rather than complying with the actual regulations.

Darkisland said...

Blogger Michael The Magnificent said...

A good friend is a co-owner of a non-profit that, among other things, assembles volunteers to make pre-packaged meals that require only water and heat to make, and meet some international standard for nutrition, in order to feed people in Tanzania.

When I was teaching Packaging one of my students who was National Guard brought in some MREs and cooked up dinner for the class. (The Army has one of the world's premier packaging science institutions at Natick Mass)

My recollection is that they did not require water, though I might be wrong on that. I do know that they were self heating.

We got to sample a bit of everything in 2-3 different meal packs. For all the badmouthing of MREs, they were actually pretty good.

Back in the day, in the Navy, we used to occasionally eat C(?) rations when we were at battle stations. What we had was about 30 years old at the time but was still fine. Or at least as fine as they had ever been which was never quite Michelin level.

I also got a case of LERPS once from Seal Team 2. These were freeze dried packages of things like stew. They could be mixed with water and eaten cold or hot. They could also be eaten dry. Not something I'd want to make a life around but not bad.

Good enough for the makers it should be good enough for the takers.

John Henry

Omaha1 said...

OK John Henry, so because my son is disabled he should eat MRE's instead of me being able to buy food for both of us to prepare home cooked meals. Good to know. Since he is just a "taker".

rehajm said...

It's seen as intrusive and demeaning to impose particular foods and to expect time to be spent on preparation

I would think it depends upon your perspective. Passing out those pre boxed Thanksgiving meals at the food bank, the recipients didn't seem to feel demeaned. Even if it is intrusive and demeaning shouldn't that be part of it? Part of the goal is to reduce incentives for dependency. People respond to incentives

Past history has demonstrated the cost of these programs drops dramatically once you audit the eligibility of the recipients and require modest sacrifice of the participants. The recent tax legislation proves how much Democrats demand deficit reduction. Win win.

Omaha1 said...

This is really personal to me. When my disabled son first got EBT benefits I tried really hard to comply with all of the rules. I got him some shelves and his own small refrigerator and marked a shelf in my freezer with his name. But I can't fully comply no matter how hard I try so I pretty much gave up. For instance, if I buy a half gallon of milk, it is supposed to be either "his" or "mine", we are not supposed to share. And I also buy him chips and pop, I guess that is evil because poor and disabled people should not be able to enjoy the things that others do, since they are all "takers".

Darkisland said...


Blogger Omaha1 said...

I haven't commented here for quite a while, but all people on EBT are not the same. Many are disabled, including people with Down Syndrome and disabled veterans. The "food box" is not going to work for someone who is unable to cook. My son was born with a syndrome that causes mental retardation. He can't just "get a job," and a box of green beans and peanut butter would be worthless to him.

I suspect that few people, certainly not me, object to helping people who can't help themselves and are truly needy. This can be done via govt, privately through churches and other organizations or most likely some combination.

John Henry

Leslie Graves said...

It would be an expansion of this program, which my family utilized in the 1960s.

Government cheese:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_cheese

Francisco D said...

ARM:

Giving people EBT cards that allow them to buy pop and candy = compassion for the poor.

Giving poor people nutritious food to eat = Nanny state.

There is a reason that people on food stamps tend to be obese. Talk to a grocery store checker who works the overnight shift. It will open your eyes.

Oh, I forgot. It's our money that is providing them with goods because we are compassionate. If they are incapable of making good life decisions, that cost us in multiple ways, maybe we should make some of the decisions with OUR MONEY.

tcrosse said...

It's seen as intrusive and demeaning to impose particular foods

Hence the resistance to Michelle Obama's school lunch recommendations.

Omaha1 said...

John Henry, the rules concerning EBT are already so restrictive (at least in my state) that they are extremely difficult to comply with, if the whole family does not receive them. More government control is just going to make things worse. The disabled should not be required to eat MRE's because of their inability to get a job. My son did have a "job" at one point but the state was actually paying for him to "work" which seems ridiculous, but that is a side effect of minimum wage laws. He would have been happy to "work" for a dollar an hour but of course that is illegal.

Rusty said...

Beloved Commenter AReasonableMan said...
Nanny state.

Oh. And EBT cards aren't?

You want people to eat? Give them food. If you want people to do drugs, liquor, gamble and eat junk food give them money.

Even for you that should be obvious.

Omaha1 said...

Francisco - my son obviously made a poor decision when he chose to be born with a syndrome that causes mental retardation. So he should serve a life sentence of never being to eat chips or drink soda, which are some of the small pleasures he enjoys now. Right?

Bob Boyd said...

Didn't Thrush get into trouble for bringing a roll of visqueen, a case of cheap peanut butter and 2 spatulas into a co-workers cubicle? Maybe that was another guy. It's hard to keep them all straight...well they're not all straight...but it's the straight ones that are getting in trouble these days...anyway, cheap peanut butter, in the news.

Bruce Hayden said...

"And what is wrong with "charity""

Not, of course, charity, but welfare. Extracted at the point of a gun, and given, as payment for votes, to Dem constituents. Most of us, having worked hard for the money for our own food, don't see anything wrong with imposing conditions on the largess, in the name of reducing future dependency. Identical, in my mind, to work requirements for welfare.

Several problems with the current system. One is fraud. Rampant fraud and corruption. There is a large black market in EBT cards. Last I heard, you could sell your EBT card for 50¢ on the $, no questions asked, with the money going wherever you wished, which often means for drugs or alcohol. Pretty much every tweaker or junkie I have know in recent years has been on food stamps for just this reason. Esp tweakers. I don't think that it is too much to ask that at least some of the EBT money not be spent for those things. After all, the people actually paying for such, the taxpayers, had to work for this money.

And, yes, a large number of recipients (direct or indirect) seem to spend the money on food that is horrible for them. At the Walmart by the house, you see people driving motorized shopping carts, due to their excessive weight, buying chips and soft drinks with EBT cards. And, often with kids in tow who often are just starting to show the effects of this type of diet. It is easy to forget that much of the country isn't obese, and doesn't try to live on junk food. (We were just in Vegas, there was a quarter horse competition at the arena in the hotel we stayed in, and none of the participants, nor their families, living on working ranches, were even close to obese - quite the contrast to that Walmart). Again, as with work requirements for welfare, there is absolutely nothing wrong with imposing some healthy choices with EBT recipients, at the public teat. If that somehow adversely affects their dignity, then all to the better. It Is our hard earned money that they are spending on cookies and cokes, not theirs.

dreams said...

And this.

"As Ed Straker wrote in his discussion of the subject the other day here:

The startling thing about this entire discussion is that liberals are outraged that people on food stamps are being deprived of choice. Liberals didn't care about depriving people of choice when it came to Obamacare, or gun control, or raising taxes. They didn't care even when Michelle Obama, the cultural tsarina in charge of food tastes, tried to tell our kids what they should be eating in school.

Why such a different attitude when it comes to food stamps?"

https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2018/02/food_boxes_instead_of_food_stamps_welcome_to_socialism.html

Omaha1 said...

Bruce Hayden -

"Several problems with the current system. One is fraud. Rampant fraud and corruption."

I'm pretty sure I am guilty of "fraud" since I use my son's EBT benefits in ways that are technically illegal. I.e., I use mostly my own money to buy groceries for the two of us but if I purchase a roast with his EBT card and cook it and eat part of it myself this is "fraud," in spite of my spending my own money to feed him most of the time. If you have never tried to comply with the laws concerning EBT benefits where the entire family does not receive them, you should look into it. It is very hard to comply with the letter of the law, and I suppose that any violation constitutes "fraud" and "corruption".

holdfast said...

“It's seen as intrusive and demeaning to impose particular foods and to expect time to be spent on preparation. Different people have different time to spend on food prep, and you can expect women to do more than their share of this work.”

Ask me if I care. If I’m paying for their food, in the same way that I pay for my children’s food, then I reserve the right to treat them like children. If they want more choice they can pay for it.

Michael K said...

Omaha is pretty defensive,

I hope you got that out of your system.

Now, as to what we can do about the poor and their meal choices.

It's seen as intrusive and demeaning to impose particular foods and to expect time to be spent on preparation.

I guess that why so many kids have to be fed at school.

I gave my grandson a couple of MREs for Christmas. He loves them and will prepare them camping next summer.

He loves anything military. He already has a meal kit that he takes camping.

I don't know what the unit cost is but I think I paid 6 bucks for two of them. At a gun show.

Omaha1 said...

dreams said

"The startling thing about this entire discussion is that liberals are outraged that people on food stamps are being deprived of choice. Liberals didn't care about depriving people of choice when it came to Obamacare, or gun control, or raising taxes. They didn't care even when Michelle Obama, the cultural tsarina in charge of food tastes, tried to tell our kids what they should be eating in school."

I am not a liberal and I agree that depriving people of choice is wrong under any circumstance (except maybe abortion, where another human life is involved). The hypocrisy of some liberals does not justify further government control over the food people choose to eat.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Omaha1,
No need to be insulting.

Pretty clearly your son is someone who this type of program was designed for.

I think you realize that no one is saying that people on food stamps should NEVER have chips or soda. But if someone cannot afford basic foodstuffs, then they shouldn't be spending their food allowance on items that are, relative to their benefit to the diet, disproportionately expensive.

Maybe it's not practical to implement something like this, but it's not inappropriate to discuss different approaches to the issue.

So please stop with the insults.

Francisco D said...

Omaha1,

I perform Social Security disability exams on a regular basis. I see many people who deserve to be taken care of by society because they, through no fault of their own, cannot care for themselves.

There are also many people who suck off the system for generations. If we got them off the government teat, there would be more resources for your deserving son.

Marcus said...

I doubt that this proposal is going anywhere. But, having said that: 1. It is difficult to trade these boxes for opiods, booze or cash. 2. In the case of disabled and the like, simple proof of documentation should be enough to exempt them from this change. 3. Omaha 1, are you saying you are afraid some government official in jackboots is going to come in and check your fridge to ensure no mingling? 4. Althouse, I don't care about forcing them to "cook" and have fewer choices. Too bad. I assume you think that all the food purchased via EBT cards are ready to eat? In my past, I've had to rely on SNAP and it's embarrassing as hell. I got over the stigma of going to the local food pantries when I got hungry enough.

Comanche Voter said...

Donald! Don't take that box from Michelle! Who knows what sort of things are in it?

Omaha1 said...

Michael K said

"Omaha is pretty defensive"

Whatever. If you think that the disabled should be denied government benefits because they don't always make choices that please you, you really are a cartoon conservative.

I said before that I tried really hard to comply with the regulations regarding EBT for my disabled son and it was nearly impossible. I am very educated and I consider myself a "law and order" conservative but to insist that the disabled should never enjoy the small pleasures of eating chips and drinking soda is cruel. What else that they enjoy in their lives should we take away?

Francisco D said...

"Different people have different time to spend on food prep, and you can expect women to do more than their share of this work."

That may be true, but I work longer hours than my significant other and do the majority of the cooking. It' s something I have learned to enjoy now that I live in a condo and no longer have a basement workshop. Basically I have traded home renovation for cooking.

It's not so much a question of time, but interest. My ex-wife was really into cooking after we spent a few weeks in Paris. She took multiple cooking classes and really enjoyed it. After several years, she lost interest and asked me to help more in the kitchen. Luckily, my home renovation projects were mostly completed.

Omaha1 said...

Marcus said:

"Omaha 1, are you saying you are afraid some government official in jackboots is going to come in and check your fridge to ensure no mingling?"

To me it doesn't matter whether or not this could happen. The fact that I am breaking the law bothers me. As it should bother anyone who is knowingly doing illegal things.

And if I was insulting to anyone I apologize. That was not my intention. I just want people to understand that things are not so simple. Poverty is not always a result of poor choices (although I don't disagree that it often is). And adding another layer of government control goes against everything I believe in.

Jim Gust said...

I'm surprised that no one has mentioned the fact that the food box program could, by reducing obesity among the poor, result in dramatic cost savings in diabetes management.

I would not mandate the food box program, but I'd love to see it made optional. I also like the MRE idea.

WalMart will scream bloody murder, though. They get an unbelievable share of SNAP payments.

mockturtle said...

Back in the 1960's, commodity food items were given welfare recipients rather than food stamps. Peanut butter was among the items as well as blocks of cheese,, dried beans, flour, dried milk, dried eggs and some really questionable-looking canned meat. As a school Home-Ec project, another student and I made up a booklet with recipes using these ingredients and some were surprisingly good [well, edible]. I think I still have a copy somewhere.

Later in life as a food bank volunteer I became aware that nobody wanted this stuff any more. Even though we provided classes on cooking dried beans, etc. 'from scratch' no one was interested. They all wanted prepared foods.

AZ Bob said...

I remember the first time I saw someone using food stamps. I was in line at a supermarket. The person in front of me bought a cake. Nothing else. A cake.

The Cracker Emcee Activist said...

Omaha,

You seem to be insisting that your deserving son typifies the EBT recipient. He doesn’t, anymore than the mult-generational, welfare-recipient mother/daughter I saw buying six bags of Doritos with EBT does. You inadvertently make an argument for the Harvest Box idea, though. Rather than feed your son frozen crap, you sensibly prepare good meals that your family can share.

I am Six Words or Less said...

Sauce for goose, gander: needs cooking.

-6W

The Cracker Emcee Activist said...

“Whatever. If you think that the disabled should be denied government benefits because they don't always make choices that please you, you really are a cartoon conservative.”

While I’m all for government (meaning taxpayers) providing food, shelter, and healthcare, for the disabled and elderly, it is emphatically not the government’s (taxpayer’s) responsibility to provide “choices” and “small pleasures” for the same people. God bless the charitable and caring who do, but it’s ridiculous to say government must.

tcrosse said...

To find out what people really want, offer them what they say they want. Works every time.

Omaha1 said...

The Cracker Emcee Activist says,

"You inadvertently make an argument for the Harvest Box idea, though. Rather than feed your son frozen crap, you sensibly prepare good meals that your family can share."

I am making the argument that what I am doing, which seems like common sense, is ILLEGAL under current EBT regulations. Adding more government control and regulations will only serve to further pervert incentives.

Oso Negro said...

I think it would be great to give the poor food instead of money. It would be even better to encourage them to grow vegetable and raise chickens and goats. You know, feed themselves.

Omaha1 said...

If the government sent my son a box of food every month it would be totally useless to him, unless it was microwaveable or instant meals. Under the current laws it is illegal for us to "share" anything purchased with EBT. How will this situation be improved by changing it to send things that are either useless, or of poorer quality and more expensive per serving than what he is currently eating?

Just think about what you are advocating for. I really do dislike that people take advantage of welfare and disability benefits. But adding more intrusive government regulations is never helpful. Any conservative should be able to understand this. Make the qualifications more strict, add tax incentives for working (like the Earned Income Credit), but don't try to control what people use their benefits for. Individuals know better than bureaucrats what they really need, whether or not their choices are pleasing to you.

Oso Negro said...

@Omaha1 - YES! Individuals know better than bureaucrats what they really need. I know that I need to NOT pay to feed your son. Perhaps that choice would not be pleasing to you. Sadly for me, I am apparently forced to do it.

Caligula said...

"I'm wondering what to put in the no-cooking box that would put the non-cookers in the same position as the poor people who would accept the rice and beans regime."

Well, strict "no-cook" will almost surely put one at a cost and nutrition disadvantage. But if you extend "no-cook" to mean "microwaveable" then your options improve.

For example, one-minute oatmeal (in the classic cardboard cylinder) can easily be prepared in a microwave. And so can small quantities of boxed mac-and-cheese dinner. (You can cook long-grain "sticky" rice in a microwave also, but you've got to get the rice-to-water proportion and timing right).

And just think of the possibilities if one extends "no-cook" to "minimal cook," and expect recipients to use a frypan!

BTW, does "no-cook" include fixing a sandwich from bread, filling, and condiments, or would the sandwich have to be pre-made? Is boiling a hotdog before stuffing it in a roll "cooking"?


In any case, the expectation is that these food boxes, should they come to be, will be denounced as "slave food."

Michael K said...

If you think that the disabled should be denied government benefits because they don't always make choices that please you, you really are a cartoon conservative.

It's OK. Really it is. It is not necessary to insult everyone to deal with your guilt.

I see many people who deserve to be taken care of by society because they, through no fault of their own, cannot care for themselves.

There are also many people who suck off the system for generations.


Nobody is accusing you of being one of the second type.

You really are not handling this well.

There is a program for the elderly called "Meals on Wheels" that might be an option for someone like you.

The program provides a warm cooked meal for lunch and another meal prepared for supper.

What Trump and some of the rest of us are trying to do is reduce the fraud.

dbp said...

@Omaha1,

No government program can be a perfect, or even good, fit for all possible clients. This is one of the main criticisms of entitlement programs run by the government--one size rarely fits all. In your son's case, a cash benefit would be the most useful. that this box program doesn't work in your situation does not mean it is a bad idea overall.

Birches said...

So Omaha, you're saying you wouldn't be able to use the food box to cook meals for both you and your son? I think you're complaining about something no one is bothered by.

Khesanh 0802 said...

To make the liberals happy you go with "Diet for a Small Planet" as your guide. Remember that book? Beans and Rice, man. Mud food. How can they complain?

Ralph L said...

I once helped my mother with Meals on Wheels in the 70's. Took a meal to the woman next door to the house the Fords lived in before the WH. She wasn't elderly, she'd had an operation.

The program here is now federally funded.

jeff said...

Oh, how we've come full circle. In rural Georgia back in the 70's the panel vans use to visit the poor homes to deliver food, today it's known as Blue Aprin.

Birches said...

And when people talk about fraud Omaha they are talking about people buying formula with their EBT money and then selling it for cash.

I've known plenty of people on WIC and EBT. They give most families more than they can use. I would hope that this is an opening bid to restrict some of what can be paid for with an EBT card. There could be a couple of restrictions that won't kill anyone.

Omaha1 said...

Birches, I am saying that the EBT regulations are already too controlling. Me using my son's EBT benefits to cook meals for us to share is ILLEGAL and constitutes fraud. I assume that anything that came in a box for him would be illegal for me to use to cook for both of us, although I am sure that is not the intention of the laws enacted to keep people from taking advantage of their relatives' benefits. No matter how much I contribute to our family grocery budget, I am not supposed to use his benefits to add to it in any way. Doesn't anyone understand that the incentives are crazy?

And Michael K, "It's OK. Really it is. It is not necessary to insult everyone to deal with your guilt." What I am guilty of is using my son's EBT benefits to cook healthy meals for both of us, instead of buying microwave meals that are more expensive per serving and less healthy than what I would make. Do you understand that under the current regulations, that is a crime? I am guilty of fraud because I use his benefits in a sensible way that helps him and the taxpayers by keeping him more healthy.

But of course adding more government control, so I can be guilty of more crimes will totally improve the situation.

The Cracker Emcee Activist said...

"I am making the argument that what I am doing, which seems like common sense, is ILLEGAL under current EBT regulations. Adding more government control and regulations will only serve to further pervert incentives."

Trust me, they're unlikely to kick down your door anytime soon.

Francisco D said...

Omaha1,

I don't think that anyone here is denying that they (as members of society) have a financial obligation to help take care of those who cannot care for themselves, such as your son. Since we are paying the fiddler, we should gave some say in the tune he plays.

If you want your son to eat junk food, you have every right. You should pay for it. Our role is to help you with your needs, not to provide 100% of your desires.

Again, I wish there was more money available for your son. We could achieve that by reforming our easily exploited welfare system.

Omaha1 said...

Caligula said

"Well, strict "no-cook" will almost surely put one at a cost and nutrition disadvantage. But if you extend "no-cook" to mean "microwaveable" then your options improve."

Of course microwaveable improves your options, if you live alone and are unable to cook. But if you live with a family member who is able to cook family meals, shouldn't the family be able to use your benefits to supplement the grocery budget, instead of having the EBT recipient eating expensive and less healthy microwave meals by themselves?

Roy Lofquist said...

"no dairy
no peanuts
low fat
low carb
gluten free
vegan
no cooking

etc."

Just give them the box and a bottle of hot sauce. Just like we used to get in the Army.

Birkel said...

Wait? So Althouse believes beggars can be choosers?

I have a hard time wrapping my head around how this is demeaning. We got government cheese, peanut butter, powdered milk and all the rest when things got hard. We were no worse for wear.

It was not great and we wanted to be self-sufficient. So we worked hard and regained our footing. We had incentives toward a preferred end.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Omaha1,
You have been explaining that a box of food sent to your son would be unusable by him, but then you explain that you cook for him.

Clearly you would be able to prepare the food items that are sent to your son.

Omaha1 said...

Francisco, you said

"If you want your son to eat junk food, you have every right. You should pay for it. Our role is to help you with your needs, not to provide 100% of your desires."

Money is money. However I or my son spend it, it is fungible, I could say I am spending my own money on his chips and soda, and his EBT benefits on healthy food for us to share (which is ILLEGAL, as I have mentioned before).

If I was abiding by the current regulations I would only be buying him fresh fruit and veggies, and microwave dinners, and paying for his chips and soda with my own money, but what is the difference? We are still not supposed to share anything and the money will be spent either way.

Birches said...

Birches, I am saying that the EBT regulations are already too controlling. Me using my son's EBT benefits to cook meals for us to share is ILLEGAL and constitutes fraud. I assume that anything that came in a box for him would be illegal for me to use to cook for both of us, although I am sure that is not the intention of the laws enacted to keep people from taking advantage of their relatives' benefits.

Letter of the law vs. Spirit of the law, Omaha. Unless you think there is some Javert like figure ready to come knocking down your door, I hope you realize this is in place to prosecute those who are racketeering off of the US government.

You've said it yourself that you are already "illegally" using your son's EBT benefits to suit your family situation. How does a food box make that any more illegal?

Woman on WIC already have to attend parenting classes. I'm not sure it's a terrible idea to make families on food stamps learn how to cook the things they will be receiving in their food box. A lot of people would probably benefit from learning how to cook rice, beans and oatmeal.

Omaha1 said...

exhelodrvr1 said,

"Omaha1,
You have been explaining that a box of food sent to your son would be unusable by him, but then you explain that you cook for him.

Clearly you would be able to prepare the food items that are sent to your son."

Apparently you missed where I said that what I am currently doing, combining his benefits with my own money to cook family meals, is ILLEGAL and I could probably be charged with fraud. But I'm sure if a box of government selected food was sent to us, there would be no restrictions on how it could be used.

And not everyone who receives EBT benefits has a family member who cooks for them.

Omaha1 said...

Birches, why should I have to break the law to cook healthy meals for my son, instead of spending all of his benefits on microwaveable meals? I don't think anyone is going to break down my door over this, but what if I was critical of our local government and some overzealous prosecutor decided to come after me for whatever he/she could find? I am obviously guilty of violating the law. I don't want to be a criminal, but I am, even though what I am doing is purely common sense.

More regulation and control is not the answer.

Birkel said...

Omaha,
Congratulations on your fine argument with yourself. Good news! You won. Bad news? You lost.

Summarized:
Government has too many rules. Therefore the current rules must remain unchanged.

Say hello to Inga for me.

Big Mike said...

@Omaha1, I don’t see why you would conflate the picayune regulations that surround EBT benefits with outright fraud. The rules are in place because

Francisco D said...

"If I was abiding by the current regulations I would only be buying him fresh fruit and veggies, and microwave dinners, and paying for his chips and soda with my own money, but what is the difference? We are still not supposed to share anything and the money will be spent either way."

Maybe I am dense, but I have no idea what that means.

Are you unable to prepare healthy meals rather than frozen dinners? In grad school, I lived on a $7K stipend and cooked fresh meals because prepared meals cost more money.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Omaha1-

I understand your frustration with the current system. Your son is exactly the sort of person this sort of program should be helping. The way you are handling it is in the best interest of yourself, your son, and the taxpayers. And I certainly understand your frustration with the fact that it is illegal.

I understand that the proposed box program will not improve your situation, in particular it will not make it legal for you to share resources and meal prep, even though you are contributing your fair share ( or more ) of the ingredients.

Will the proposed box program make things worse for you and your son? I guess it gives you a bit less flexibility in that half of the ingredients are being selected for you. But you will still be able to add half of your own choosing. But it will not threaten your ability to feed yourself and your son.

Society will still be providing your son charity. The usual response to charity is gratitude.

Omaha1 said...

Birkel,

I have no interest in winning an argument with anyone. This is an issue I take very personally since the laws currently in place force me to be a criminal unless I totally abandon common sense. Yes, government has too many rules. If you want to enact stricter standards for people to qualify for welfare benefits I am totally behind that, I agree that there is a lot of abuse.

But for the "deserving" poor, whatever that means, they or their families know better than a bureaucrat what they need. What if someone works for a food processing company and gets certain food products free or at a discount? What if they have a relative with a beef ranch and get free meat? Should the government really have control on how their benefits are used?

I understand the resentment of the "makers" against those who abuse the system to obtain luxury goods for themselves. Again, I say tighten the qualifications for benefits. But for those who are truly deserving, and poor through no fault of their own, just give them the money and let them spend it on the things they really need. More government is never the answer.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

It is very hard to comply with the letter of the law, and I suppose that any violation constitutes "fraud" and "corruption"

Are you seriously arguing that refilling millions of debit cards with credits easily converted on the street to cash is less likely to lead to fraud and corruption than giving out boxes full of beans and carrots?

You're getting pushback because you're being illogical, not because people don't want your son to eat.

The Cracker Emcee Activist said...

"I could say I am spending my own money on his chips and soda, and his EBT benefits on healthy food for us to share (which is ILLEGAL, as I have mentioned before)."

Ah, but the chips and soda are your choice and so irrelevant to the government's responsibility to provide for the disabled. You really are arguing against yourself. I admire you for the, no doubt excellent, care you are providing for your son, but you seem to be saying that you're concerned that your sense of entitlement is forcing you into illegalities. it's not a compelling argument.

Gk1 said...

The dirty secret about EBT abuse is the snack food, garbage drink industry does its best to undermine the government putting controls on what is bought with EBT. Living in California I saw the hue and cry during the last recession when Monster Drinks and Rockstar where temporarily banned from EBT purchase. That didn't last long. Within a month that was changed back to being eligible for EBT purchase.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

But for those who are truly deserving, and poor through no fault of their own, just give them the money and let them spend it on the things they really need. More government is never the answer.

So you are arguing for private charity, not government. You can't with a straight face say "I want less government involvement in the government using government guns to take money from Paul and then routing it through a government office for government workers to distribute to me." I mean, I guess you can, because you are, but the point is that this is not sound thinking.

Personally, I don't care what form disabled people get their help in. It's such a drop in the bucket that who cares. Whatever is easiest and simplest for you and your family works for me. I'm just pointing out that you should probably just drop the pretense of logic and go straight to 'this is what my personal preference is so this is how it should be,' because that's what you're in fact arguing.

FIDO said...

and you can expect women to do more than their share of this work.

Madam, if a woman decides 'she don't need no man' and put yourself on the public fisc alone and without help, my sympathy to these self imposed time and labor constraints shrink to sizes which are still barely detectable by science but only with the advent of the electron microscope.

Omaha1 said...

Ignorance is Bliss -

You are certainly correct that the usual response to taxpayer largesse should be gratitude. My son has an IQ of about 60 so he does not appreciate that US taxpayers are helping him to maintain a fairly high standard of living. I am very grateful for the help even though the benefits do not flow directly to me.

And you are probably right that a food box would not change much for us but I don't think we are typical welfare recipients, if there is such a thing. I am fairly well educated and I know how to cook healthy meals.

It just really bothers me that I am committing a crime when I buy a roast with his EBT benefits to share with our family. Since money is fungible I suppose I could arrange things so that everything I purchase for my son is "legal" but it just seems so stupid. I don't want to be a criminal! I just want the government to get out of my personal business. I guess there is a right for taxpayers to dictate how their money is spent but there is something wrong when common sense is against the law.

MayBee said...

There's a charitable program Blessings in a Backpack that does this for school children.
They put together enough food for the child for the weekend, all food that takes little or no preparation, in case no adult at home will help them. When I was at a presentation about this organization (it was seeking a grant) they said often it is the only source of food for the kids for the whole weekend. Nobody is there grocery shopping for the kids, nobody is there preparing meals, nobody is there to bring the kid to McDonalds.

So this really is not a ridiculous idea. Blessings in a Backpack has a lot of support and is highly regarded. Why expanding it to a whole family is suddenly un-liberal is confounding to me.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Omaha,
So you're saying that you are using the system illegally (by the letter of the law, although pretty clearly not by the intent) but that the process should not be changed, because you will use the system illegally (by the letter of the law, although pretty clearly not by the intent).

You don't see the problem with that?

Birkel said...

Omaha:
I know you have no interest in winning an argument. You are not making one. Your feelz are noted.

Your absolute moral authority does not exist.

Say hello to Inga for me.

Sebastian said...

"I suppose I could arrange things so that everything I purchase for my son is "legal" but it just seems so stupid. I don't want to be a criminal! I just want the government to get out of my personal business. I guess there is a right for taxpayers to dictate how their money is spent but there is something wrong when common sense is against the law."

Noted. Good addition to the Tales of the Welfare State, Volume 1001.

Birches said...

Maybee,

Our church provides for an entire school through Christmas break in a similar way. However, we do provide bags of rice and beans because the owner of the food pantry where many of the families go said they always go first. I have no idea where their EBT money goes. but the fact that they are willing to cook rice and beans means I actually don't care that much. They are being more responsible with their food resources than most.

Omaha1 said...

And for those who support private charities, yes, yes, yes. If we were not so heavily taxed by the states and the federal government we could all afford to support the charities of our choice. Unfortunately that is not the reality that we now live in.

Until my conservative/libertarian fantasy comes true, of delegating all charity to the states and private organizations, we are stuck with federal programs, to which admission should be strictly controlled.

Let me shout it once more, then I will shut up. More government regulation is not helpful, and forces reasonable people to commit "crimes" for using common sense and with the best intentions, even with the very responsible and socially beneficial use of government benefits.

The Cracker Emcee Activist said...

"When I was at a presentation about this organization (it was seeking a grant) they said often it is the only source of food for the kids for the whole weekend. Nobody is there grocery shopping for the kids, nobody is there preparing meals, nobody is there to bring the kid to McDonalds"

Admirable, but if no one but the school and charities are feeding these kids throughout the week then why are they left in those homes with those utterly irresponsible parents.

SeanF said...

Omaha, what exactly are the laws you say you're violating by doing what you're doing? I'm thinking it's got to have something to do with welfare, rather than EBT itself, since EBT is really just a payment method.

Gahrie said...

I don't want to be a criminal! I just want the government to get out of my personal business

As long as the checks keep coming.

Marcus said...

"Different people have different time to spend on food prep, and you can expect women to do more than their share of this work."

SO what?
"Food stamp program changes proposed, minorities and women hardest hit."

That comment has no weight in your argument.

n.n said...

you can expect women to do more than their share of this work

Only if couples avoid #TheReconciliation.

Ann Althouse said...

"To make the liberals happy you go with "Diet for a Small Planet" as your guide. Remember that book? Beans and Rice, man. Mud food. How can they complain?"

I sure do remember that book. Complete proteins. Really cared about that for a while.

n.n said...

This could be a way to reduce progressive diseases (e.g. diabetes) and reduce the cost of shared medical expenses. It would also reduce the burden on Democrat-controlled districts, and enable progressive tax schemes while reducing central and single-payer redistributive change schemes.

n.n said...

Trump is using the bullhorns at the NYT.

Paul Snively said...

Well, yes, it would be nice if you didn't use the word "literally" when you're not being literal.

But I guess I'm just another autistic Libertarian...

MayBee said...

Omaha1- I didn't post that to support the private charity, although I think it's a fine charity. I posted it because it is a well-respected charity, and I don't understand how it becomes a horrible thing to do if the government does it.

I mean, my big bleeding heart idea is to send everyone starting off on food assistance a big box of salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, turmeric, etc. Good spices that make a huge difference if you buy an inexpensive bag of frozen fish and want to make a deliciousmeal out of it.

MayBee said...

Admirable, but if no one but the school and charities are feeding these kids throughout the week then why are they left in those homes with those utterly irresponsible parents.

Because there's no will for protective services to sweep through poor neighborhoods and gather up the kids who have utterly irresponsible parents.

I will say, I thought this charity was great but when it was my turn to vote whether they got the grant money, I didn't vote for them. It wasn't a "teach a man to fish" kind of thing, which I would like to spend *my* money on. I thought it helped children, but also made it even easier for adults to completely ignore their kids.

MayBee said...

Birches- now that sounds like a great charity and I agree with you about the rice and beans.

Omaha1 said...

Gahrie,

If you want to cut off benefits to the severely disabled who are unable to work, please do vote for that option, I'm sure it will be very popular. And I supported my disabled son for many many years before he was old enough to qualify for SSI. He has always lived with me in my home, although he could certainly live in a "group home," costing the government thousands of dollars per month, where he would be a victim of sexual predators and people who wanted to take advantage of him in other ways. So fill in the blanks for what I think of you and your opinion.

Birkel,

I don't know Inga and I am a libertarian conservative, living in the reality that we now have of the federal government controlling nearly all of the benefits targeted to the poor and disabled. I wish that were not the case but it is what it is.

OK I lied, I'm not totally shutting up yet. It seems like many Althouse commenters think I am a bleeding heart liberal, which could not be farther from the truth of who I am or what I believe.

We have a food stamp (EBT) benefit, for the poor and disabled, including many families with children. In the distant past many of these needs would have been met through private charities, which I unequivocably support, and which usually included a requirement for the head of the household to work in order to "earn" the benefits they received. But in the world we now live in, most charity has been delegated to the federal government, through income tax.

The EBT benefit which exists now comes with many regulations that violate common sense, if the entire family is not receiving EBT.

My adult son was born with Fragile X Syndrome, which causes mental retardation, and his IQ is around 60. He is unable to attain gainful employment, although if minimum wage laws did not exist, he might be able to earn a few dollars per hour bussing tables or cleaning bathrooms. He is very slow to learn new skills and it would take a lot of one-on-one instruction for him to be able to perform job duties in a semi-satisfactory way. We have not been able to find any employers where we live now that are willing to invest that much time and energy into training him. There are many low skill illegal immigrant laborers that will fill that type of position without the employer having to deal with a person that has mental retardation and autistic tendencies.

I realize that there are many people who take advantage of disability and other laws in order to qualify for welfare and EBT. I wish that this was not the case and I am in favor of tightening the requirements for these programs.

All I am saying is that I am trying to comply with the current regulations for EBT and I am not succeeding. The laws defy common sense. I don't want to break the law, I have no desire to be a criminal. Even though I am not violating the spirit of the law, I am almost certainly guilty of fraud just by using my son's EBT benefits to purchase ingredients for family meals. I could go to jail if an over-zealous prosecutor wanted to press charges against me. Whether this could realistically happen or not is irrelevant.

So sending a box of food would be sort of beneficial to me and my family, in our current situation, but I don't think it would suit every person and family receiving EBT benefits.

My son has very few vices, he likes to watch wrestling on TV and play video games. I pay for his cable and internet. He likes to drink soda and eat chips. I guess some of Althouse's commenters would think he does not deserve those things. Maybe he should sit in the dark, drink water, and look at books that he is unable to read.

n.n said...

There are some strong emotional appeals to continue with an unreformed EBT program.

mikeski said...

many participants in the program would be given half their benefits in the form of a “Harvest Box”

It is quite possible that the 60-IQ-people, or others unable to process a box of staple foods, would be the exceptions that caused the word "many", rather than "all", to be used.

And if only half the benefit is in the Box, the other half is, presumably, unchanged, in some cash/credit form. That means he would still be able to procure whatever "vice" products he desires with that remaining half.

A ton of time is being spent concern-trolling against these straw men.

Won't somebody think of the scarecrows?!

Jupiter said...

Has it occurred to anyone to wonder why "welfare" is the business of the USDA? The reason is that the program started out as a means of getting rid of all the food that the USDA purchased in order to support agricultural prices. So what the beneficiaries got was a box of food. Of course, like every government program, it has grown to where you can barely even see where it originated. Under Tom Vilsack, the USDA became an ATM for Democrats, handing out gigantic cash payments to "black farmers" who had supposedly been discriminated against in agricultural loans. Of course, the vast majority of those receiving 5-digit payouts had never had anything to do with agriculture. It was simply a way to use control of the government to hand money to Democrat voters.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Omaha,
Stop it. The point of EBT is not to provide snacks, it is to provide necessities.

Jupiter said...

"My son has very few vices, he likes to watch wrestling on TV and play video games. I pay for his cable and internet. He likes to drink soda and eat chips. I guess some of Althouse's commenters would think he does not deserve those things. Maybe he should sit in the dark, drink water, and look at books that he is unable to read."

Omaha, you have a very typically female mental failing. You imagine that by saying that something pleases you, you have made an argument in its favor that everyone must find compelling.

cubanbob said...

Perhaps the government ought to consider a PX system for the poor. Put NEXCOM and or AAFES in charge of running stores with only food items that would qualify such as canned, frozen and fresh fruit and vegetables as well as meats, chicken and fish along with the dried staples. Nutritious but not high end foods along with salt, sugar and basic condiments and spices. EBT/SNAP/WIC only to be used there.

Omaha1 said...

exhelodrvr1 said,

"Stop it. The point of EBT is not to provide snacks, it is to provide necessities."

I agree. It's just very confusing trying to separate snacks from necessities. I pay for everything that is not covered by EBT. My son's necessities are provided for. But what is the difference if I use his EBT card or my debit card to buy him chips and soda? And for my son the "necessities" are chips and soda. He would rather have those things than nutritious meals. And it is his benefit, I am supposed to tell him how to use it?

ken in tx said...

Extra sharp bitter cheese and oily peanut butter are two of the items distributed under the old FDA excess commodities program.Maybe the NYT guy remembers that.

Gahrie said...

If you want to cut off benefits to the severely disabled who are unable to work, please do vote for that option, I'm sure it will be very popular.

And because it's popular, that means it's right...right? What makes your son my responsibility?

And I supported my disabled son for many many years before he was old enough to qualify for SSI.

That was your responsibility as part of his family.

He has always lived with me in my home, although he could certainly live in a "group home," costing the government thousands of dollars per month, where he would be a victim of sexual predators and people who wanted to take advantage of him in other ways.

I don't believe in such group homes because I believe it is the responsibility of families to support family members.

So fill in the blanks for what I think of you and your opinion.

Just as long as the government keeps giving you my money you don't really give a shit do you?

Charity should be freely given by private individuals, not taken by the government at the point of a gun.

Omaha1 said...

Jupiter, Maybe I can send my son to live with you. I'm sure he will be happier without my "typical female mentality". Please send me your address.

Gahrie said...

But what is the difference if I use his EBT card or my debit card to buy him chips and soda?

If you use his EBT card, you are using my money...if you use your debit card, you are using your money. Pretty basic.

And for my son the "necessities" are chips and soda. He would rather have those things than nutritious meals.

So would I and many other people...that doesn't give me the right to make you pay for them.

And it is his benefit, I am supposed to tell him how to use it?

No...the government who gave him the benefit is supposed to. And does.

Omaha1 said...

Gahrie, my son is not your responsibility, except that the fedgov is taking everyone's money that might otherwise be given to charity. I'm sorry that you resent contributing to his support but it is what it is. It's no longer voluntary when the government is taking so much.

TestTube said...

The education system has a role to play in this by teaching better personal management and home economics skills.

People graduate from high school -- 12 years of education! -- without learning how to plan and prepare simple, nutritious tasty meals, or to shop wisely for healthy ingredients. They also don't learn how to balance a budget or make wise financial choices, or make basic repairs to clothing, cars, houses, and appliances.

12 years * 180 days per year * 6.5 hours a day is over 14,000 hours. That is more than long enough to teach someone how to take care of themselves.

Gahrie said...

This thread is a good example of why I am increasingly coming to favor getting rid of all the social welfare programs and simply providing everyone with a guaranteed basic income. Instead of jumping through hoops to manage all the different programs, cut the waste and bureaucracy and just cut everyone below a certain income level a check.

we'd probably save money in the end, and people like Omaha1 would have less reason to bitch.

Gahrie said...

I'm sorry that you resent contributing to his support but it is what it is.

I don't. I'm actually quite giving to others.

I resent the government forcing me to support him, and you feeling entitled to it.

Omaha1 said...

Gahrie, I am sorry that the federal government is taking your money and my money to support the disabled. I really do believe that private charities could do a better job of allocating funds and they would not have to do it at gunpoint. That is not the reality we live in right now. I'm trying to do the best I can and I'm sure you are too. I have contributed in a major way to supporting my son since he was born almost 32 years ago. I want to keep him living with me in my home and not in some government supported group home, because he and everyone else will be better off that way. All the best to you and yours. You owe us nothing

Gahrie said...

I want to keep him living with me in my home and not in some government supported group home, because he and everyone else will be better off that way

I agree with this 100%.

Omaha1 said...

I don't feel entitled at all. I did everything by myself until he was 18 years old. Not always easy. When my kids were young I never accepted or applied for any government benefits even though I'm sure we would have qualified. I have always worked and supported my family.

Francisco D said...

"I have always worked and supported my family."

I appreciate how you have endeavored to make a life for your family, despite hardships that are not fault of your own.

I am more than happy to assist with your cognitively impaired son, as are most of the commenters here.

MayBee said...

Omaha1-
I admire what you are doing for your son. I know you are doing it with love.
Thank you for writing more about what you think about the food boxes. I was having trouble understanding why you didn't like the idea at first, but I agree with you that it's way too challenging to try to comply with all the rules and regulations to the letter of the law when you are dealing with the government. I feel the same way when I'm trying to get my whole family signed up for insurance, and that is just a short period of time each year.

Omaha1 said...

MayBee and Francisco D - we are just trying to live our lives in the best way we can. It's hard enough already to comply with the EBT regulations although I really do try. I appreciate your empathizing with us.

Jupiter said...

Omaha1 said...
"Jupiter, Maybe I can send my son to live with you. I'm sure he will be happier without my "typical female mentality". Please send me your address."

Omaha, I have a son of my own to feed. There are people starving in Africa, too. Why should your son have potato chips when there are people starving in Africa?

Jupiter said...

"We have not been able to find any employers where we live now that are willing to invest that much time and energy into training him."

Omaha, who is this "we"? Just how many able-bodied adults are there in your household?

Omaha1 said...

Jupiter, we live in Salina, Kansas. There are no employment opportunities for mentally retarded adults around here. Like I said earlier, maybe my son can come to live with you. Possibly you have a job opening for him. If not then please just go F yourself.

There are two able-bodied adults here, and I am currently seeking part time employment, although thanks to my mother dying I don't really need any money right now.

Omaha1 said...

Jupiter, I would totally support sending potato chips to Africa. It would make them happy.

langford peel said...

I think he was trolling.

Omaha1 said...

yeah I think so too...probably doesn't really want my retarded son to come live with him. I know "retarded" is a bad word these days but it is a medical term, we can't keep making words illegal :-)

FIDO said...

Omaha1

I can't speak for everyone but I doubt any of us care that you have a slice of your sons roast beef.

Further, I don't care if you buy a six pack of soda or two. My heart is not made of leather, no matter what my kids tell you.

Nor, not to put too fine a point on it, does your assigned social worker.

The spirit of that law is you son giving an EBT card to Uncle Louise. It is to stop you from trading an EBT for cash or crank.

There are two issues: one of overregulation. This is real. I get it.

The second is also real: some, in fact many DO abuse the system. Those who pay understand the moral hazard of making thing pleasant or easy for someone to live for free and wish to make that option as unpleasant as possible (think parents with 40 yr old 'children' living in their basements).

So the harsh comments are directed at the later, not people who have unfixable needs or those who respect the law enough to feel bad about it like yourself.

Omaha1 said...

I don't doubt that many abuse the system and I wish that didn't happen! But the additional regulations need to be directed at people entering the "system" not those who are already in it.

My son and I don't abuse his EBT benefit in any way although some of the ways I use food purchased with his EBT card are almost certainly illegal.

Jim at said...

You know, if people have problems with receiving free food? Paid for by the taxpayer?

They can always refuse it and take care of the problem by feeding themselves.

Jim at said...

OK John Henry, so because my son is disabled he should eat MRE's instead of me being able to buy food for both of us to prepare home cooked meals.

Who is stopping you from doing that already? With your own money?

langford peel said...

Wow that photo.

Nobody wants to touch Michelle Obama's Box.

Even if it came from Tiffany.

Francisco D said...

"I agree with you that it's way too challenging to try to comply with all the rules and regulations to the letter of the law when you are dealing with the government. "

That is the crux of the matter, Maybee.

How many different government assistance programs do we have for the poor and disabled?

What do these people have to do but make rules?

My guess is that we do more for the bureaucrats who staff those programs than we do for the people we want to help.

mockturtle said...

My guess is that we do more for the bureaucrats who staff those programs than we do for the people we want to help.

The worst thing about bureaucracies is that they always grow, they never shrink. No bureaucrat ever wants to give up his little empire but wants to expand it. What happened to Trump's analysis of every department that was supposed to identify waste? Hell, we have entire departments that should be eliminated. That swamp needs to be drained.

Omaha1 said...

Jim at...that is what I do...my disabled son has an EBT card and I use it to buy things that he likes. But the stupid laws make it illegal for me to buy a roast and cook it unless it is all for him and no one else can have a bite, no matter how much I spend on his food the rest of the time? Can you explain how this makes sense?

Omaha1 said...

Jim at - We very much appreciate help from the government and other taxpayers but the laws in place seem determined to keep us from using common sense to maximize the value of the benefits that we receive. I know everyone is not like me but as I have said many times here, the things that I do with my son's food benefits are illegal in spite of my using them to contribute to our family grocery budget and helping my son to eat healthy, non-microwaved, home cooked meals every day.

The Cracker Emcee Activist said...

"There are two able-bodied adults here, and I am currently seeking part time employment, although thanks to my mother dying I don't really need any money right now."

Then what are you talking about?

Francisco D said...

@mockturtle,

I have been tempted to read "A Confederacy of Dunces", but I suspect that too many current authors buy into political correctness in order to sell their books. I know that it is not a recent book, but convince me that it is worth my time.

Thanks.

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
n.n said...

The principles of interests are individual dignity and intrinsic value. The former with respect to quality of life and the latter to right of life.

The issue is supplementing earned income through charity or taxation.

The constraint is sponsoring corruption of providers, recipients, and supervisors. As well as efficiency, including logistics.

There is evidence that waste, fraud, and abuse is counted in billions, not millions.

Businesses like welfare for profits. Politicians like welfare to buy the vote. Any reform will need to reconcile the issues and parties.

mockturtle said...

Francisco D: A Confederacy of Dunces is apolitical and is definitely worth your time. You can thank me later. :-)

FIDO said...

I have long held that charity, when given, has given me all the benefit (I feel good) and put only the POTENTIAL of benefit to the receiver.

To wit: If I see a homeless man and I am in the mood, I may give him a couple of dollars. It makes me feel good.

My wife remonstrates with me. "He might buy DRUUUGGZZZ!"

This is totally true. However, the moral onus is on HIM to treat that money respectfully as soon as it leaves my hand.

So Omaha, buy that steak. You keep railing against it but the chance of anyone messing with you is essentially nil and continually beating your breast about this 'jaywalking' problem (you have to want to be caught) isn't evoking as much sympathy as you probably want.

Thank you for the gratitude. Don't buy liquor with the money. Eat what you want and don't sweat it.

Gretchen said...

Omaha1

I think the problem with all of these programs is that there are people like your son, who cannot work. Those are the people 99.99% of Americans believe should have government benefits, for life, and ample ones at that, because providing for people who are unable to work enriches society and values people who don't have the ability to care for themselves. You are handling the administration of those necessary benefits well.

Then there are the people who are able bodied, on drugs, lazy, entitled, or scamming the system. They as always ruin it for people who should have benefits. They diminish society and overburden programs and make hard working people resentful. I can honestly say I have seen people use EBT cards probably 20 times. I cannot think of one time the people purchasing didn't seem able bodied, and almost every time I was shocked at the type of merchandise they were purchasing, often high-end or of limited nutritional value. Not an occasional bag of chips or cookies with mostly healthy food, but cases of soda, expensive items, meats, junk food seafood or baked goods.

The bigger issue is that for people like your son, benefits should be ample, non-intrusive and continuous. For the rest of the people they should be temporary and highly scrutinized, because overuse of benefits by the undeserving threaten benefits for those who really do need help from society.

Gahrie said...

How many different government assistance programs do we have for the poor and disabled?

What do these people have to do but make rules?

My guess is that we do more for the bureaucrats who staff those programs than we do for the people we want to help.


Which is why I'm starting to come around to the idea of getting rid of all the various programs and simply cutting everyone below the poverty level a check every month. We'd probably save money in the end.

Gahrie said...

One of the biggest problems with the Guaranteed Minimum Income is that it would produce a more or less permanent underclass living parasitically off of the productive class. Given human history this would soon produce attempts to eliminate this underclass "for their own good".

Patrick Henry said...

I think the problem with all of these programs is that there are people like your son, who cannot work. Those are the people 99.99% of Americans believe should have government benefits, for life, and ample ones at that, because providing for people who are unable to work enriches society and values people who don't have the ability to care for themselves. You are handling the administration of those necessary benefits well.

I think Omaha1 makes the case for zero government programs and 100% private charity. Government programs are all about the rules to prevent people from "taking advantage". The problem is people are resourceful and will take advantage. Omaha1's example of "illegally" using EBT benefits is a prime example even if what Omaha1 is doing is a net benefit to everyone

Private charity would be far less inclined to such imbecilic bureaucratic (but I repeat myself). An organization that knows Omaha1's family and circumstances is far more likely to meet actual needs. As a country we used to actually do this kind of thing. Through churches (remember those?), private charities, mutual aid societies, etc. We didn't pawn of the poor on "government" but found ways to do it without government. It wasn't any less effective than current programs.

Personally, I'm for ending the federal welfare state all together. But, if we're to use violently confiscated monies (aka taxes) to help others out, I'd be in favor of block grants to states and then states block grants to counties. Get the money and the decision making as close to those with needs as possible. And then audit the hell out of the programs.

For the best explanation of what happens in bureaucracies, I highly recommend the UK series "Yes! Minister" (Netflix?). I'm actually amazed that the BBC let it get produced (but it was during Thatcher, so maybe she asked that it be produced).

Omaha1 said...

Gahrie, Patrick Henry, Gretchen et al:

I took a very large cut in pay when I moved from Nebraska to Kansas. After coming here I applied for EBT benefits for my son for the first time in the 31 years of his life. Until then I had always purchased food for our family with my own earnings. I moved because my husband died suddenly, and I had no family or support system in Omaha anymore. I have not been able to find as good a job here so far. I worked for the county for seven months, but when my mother got cancer and died in 2017, I had problems concentrating on my work and I was making a lot of errors, so I resigned, which was probably to everyone's benefit.

I really do appreciate that we are receiving benefits from the fruit of your labors, to supplement our family's grocery budget. I have mentioned before that my son had a "job" in Omaha, but it was actually costing the state money for him to be "employed". Another stupid effect of minimum wage laws. He was doing piece work but the state was basically paying for him to be supervised for several hours a day. It sounds ridiculous, but his not "working," and instead spending all day playing video games, is actually saving taxpayer money.

I am totally down with the idea of all benefits for the poor being administered through private charities. I could make my son a ward of the state right now, and he could be housed in a group home at a cost of thousands of dollars per month. But guess what I receive for providing his room and board? That's right, nothing at all - even though everyone is far better off with him living in my home with me.

So to summarize, more government control of benefits is not the answer. If you want to keep people from abusing the system then tighten the requirements for entering it in the first place. But once someone has been deemed eligible for a particular benefit the regulations as to how it is used should be minimal, individuals have much better judgment than bureaucrats over how "their" money should be spent.

Gahrie said...

So to summarize, more government control of benefits is not the answer. If you want to keep people from abusing the system then tighten the requirements for entering it in the first place. But once someone has been deemed eligible for a particular benefit the regulations as to how it is used should be minimal, individuals have much better judgment than bureaucrats over how "their" money should be spent.

Which is why I proposed getting rid of all of the programs and just cutting everyone below the poverty level a check every month.

Omaha1 said...

I totally agree Gahrie. The government programs as they exist now do nothing but pervert incentives for people trying to do the right thing.

Omaha1 said...

Perverted incentives - saving taxpayer money by letting someone play video games all day instead of being employed below minimum wage

Allotting thousands of dollars per month for housing for the disabled but zero dollars for family members willing and able to house them

Making someone use food benefits illegally to provide healthy home cooked meals instead of only buying microwaveable food

It is just crazy the way "our" money is spent. I have been a high earner in recent years although I am not now. I approve of a safety net for our most vulnerable citizens but the current regulations make no sense at all.

stevo said...

Those allergic to peanut butter could simply trade it for cigarettes or beer