Food Stamp Program “Tune Up”, and “Social Program” Costs in Perspective

25 December 2016

An article in the 10-11 December, 2016 Wall Street Journal focused on “staple” products in the food stamp program. The first sentence says it all,” In a rare tuneup to the $74 billion federal food stamp program, U.S. regulators deemed potato chips and ice cream too unhealthy to count as staple foods.”

Well, is comment really necessary? And where do I begin? It is hard just to get past the fact that food stamps is a 74 billion dollar program in and of itself. That is just mind boggling, especially in our affluent, first-world, expanding economy where there is so much job growth, construction, and low unemployment. Next, the fact the potato chips and ice cream were ever considered staple products is… just embarrassing.

Two more references to the article are necessary.  The first is that “more than 45 million people received funds from the program last year.” The current population of the U.S. is about 318 million people. That means that about 14% of our country receives assistance from the food stamp program alone.

Wikipedia lists 79 “means tested” programs for which 2.3 trillion dollars were spent in 2011. These programs include social security, housing, food, training, childcare, and medical programs among others. The 2011 figures do not include the so-called Affordable Care Act. The 2011 figure amounts to a cost for each American of about 7,192 dollars per year. That is just the cost of welfare programs. Is it any wonder our national debt is so high?

Last point of reference from the article is that not only were potato chips and ice cream removed from their former status by the USDA, but “Twinkies can no longer be considered bread and pork rinds aren’t considered a staple meat.”

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