Posted by: bkivey | 20 September 2011

Want Fries With Those Food Stamps?

I recently came across some information that caused me to do a double-take. It seems that in four states – Arizona, California, Florida, and Michigan – food stamp recipients can use their taxpayer-funded food dollars to buy meals in fast food establishments. Restaurant industry lobbyists are attempting to bring more states on board. The prime mover behind this effort is fast food behemoth Yum! Brands, owners of Taco Bell, Long John Silver’s, KFC, and Pizza Hut.

Most people’s reaction to this development, as well as my own, is along the lines of WTF!? I have on occasion had to avail myself of the dole, including food stamps. The only place I ever spent that money was at the discount grocery store. I didn’t even use those benefits at a convenience store, as I have seen many, many people do. The whole purpose of the program is to provide basic food security to those who find themselves temporarily unable to meet basic expenses. It beggars belief that a person who may well not be able to afford to eat out themselves should have to fund that luxury for someone else.

And it is a luxury. I pack my lunch because I can have a couple of good lunches for the price of a visit to the local burger joint. Advocates claim that because the programs are generally limited to homeless, disabled, and elderly individuals, this allows them to get a hot, prepared meal. I wonder if they even believe what they’re saying. As long as an individual has access to food, especially food that someone else is paying for, that should be enough. There are many options for decent food in a grocery store that don’t require a kitchen. And if one gets tired of cold-cut sandwiches, well, that’s another reason to get off the street. I also find it hard to believe that a person with disabilities so great that they can’t cook is going to make the effort to boogie on down to Mickey D’s. And am I really supposed to believe that just because a person reaches a certain age they’re suddenly entitled to restaurant meals on the rest of us?

It also seems passing strange that a government program should be used to enable people to purchase the type of food that ‘s regularly demonized by politicians. We’re not talking about eating at Chez Nous here. It’s a safe bet that anyone on the dole is also eligible for some sort of government-run health care program. So taxpayers are being asked to enable someone to eat junk food on the one hand and then pay for the ensuing health problems on the other.

I would like to see more restrictions placed on using food stamps. Ask any convenience store clerk or supermarket cashier about the things they see recipients buy. I’d also like to see cards record when they are used for the purchase of fast food, so when a person shows up at the local clinic suffering from the effects of poor food choices, appropriate measures can be taken.

I am not advocating taking food out of people’s mouths, but it’s important to remember that the flip side of ‘help’ is ‘control’. There are people who don’t seem to want anyone on the dole to have to feel like they’re on the dole. Well, discomfort is a powerful motivator. If someone is taking money from others, then those others deserve a say in how that money is spent.

Great Moments in Bureaucratese

While researching this post, I looked at the California Guide to the Food Stamp Program. The first sentence in the ‘Restaurants’ section reads: “A restaurant meals program was launched to allow homeless, disabled and elderly households to purchase hot food.” Isn’t ‘homeless households’ an oxymoron?

Japanese Baseball

I ran across some videos taken during baseball games in Japan, and I noticed that when a ball was hit, a number followed by ‘kmh’ would pop up on the track of the ball. It appears that in Japan, the speed of the ball when it leaves the bat is tracked. In America, we only care about the speed of the ball when it’s inbound to the plate. This made me wonder if cricket pitches and hits might be tracked the same way.

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