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February 13, 2018 - 8:23am

Today's Poll: Should food stamps be replaced by direct shipment of food to recipients?

posted by Howard B. Owens in polls.
Howard B. Owens
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This seems like an exceptionally bad proposal.

It will create a whole new layer of government for procurement and distribution. Much of any imagined cost savings will be eaten up right there.

It will likely lack the flexibility to meet the challenge of diverse nutritional needs (diabetes, various allergies, dietary preferences for carbs and proteins).

It will cost food retailers billions in sales, which means lower wages and lost jobs (driving up the cost of SNAP as more and more people need to enroll in the program).

Mick Mulvaney clearly is not thinking through all the issues here.

bud prevost
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Throwback to government cheese days...nothing like making poor people's lives crappier than they already are...making america great again..NOT
Why isn't his administration instead focused on fraud and waste in all the government programs? I'm certain there are billions and billions of dollars that could be saved by people being less greedy. Military, medical, education....all areas fraught with complex layers of bureaucracy that make it easy for white collar government criminals to exist. The swamp is still full, just more under the murky layers than above.

Pat McGinnis
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I think if we do it right it could work, would have to be like an amazon shopping cart experiance. An issue would be it takes the money spent out of the local economy though. In theory it sounds good but implementing it successfully would be challenging. Not sure if you would see much savings on a design like that.

tom hunt
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Sounds good on paper, but extremely difficult to implement. The logistics would be a nightmare.

Christopher Putnam
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The system is highly abused. You can read about it every week or so here on the Batavian. People being charged with benefit fraud, and for every person charged there are some getting away with it.
We have to try something new.
Lets start with MANDATORY drug tests, and birth control, for all social services recipients. If you cannot provide food and shelter for yourself you should not be using drugs or breeding.
If your on social services for a medical condition, or a mental one, you could get a waiver from your doctor. If you able bodied, here is your drug test and contraceptive.

Julie Morales
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Sounds like you’re advocating eugenics.

Mandatory birth control…that means vasectomies for all male recipients….right?

Howard B. Owens
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I like the part about just letting babies starve to death because they were born to a now-banned recipient.

Mary Finnegan
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It gets me that in a world where children are starving and some are billionaires that some look down on the poor. There should be universal income, education and health. One world. all equal. I am elderly and handicapped and left to die homeless in a church parking lot due to no fault of my own. No drugs or booze. No help from any program or organization. I get FS and I am a spiritual being. I feed others. I once had a rich father of a man I was feeding tell me that he spent $265 a week on groceries. Then why don't you feed your own son? I am sick of commercials, corporations and money running the world.I am sick of those who think you are below them because you are poor. Try it some time.

Howard B. Owens
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A lot to unpack here ...

First, one of the things I've learned from my study of economics over the past couple of years is the concept of creative destruction. That's a term first coined by economist Joseph Schumpeter in 1942. It describes the consequences of free markets. Free markets means there are going to be winners and losers. Some people/companies rise, displacing others. This creates turbulence and dislocation for individuals even while the economy of the whole society grows.

I've come to view social welfare programs the price free market capitalists pay for free markets.

So in that regard, I agree with you that there needs to be something done by those who don't immediately and directly benefit from free markets. That goes with the Biblical concept that from those who have been given much, much will be asked.

However, that does not mean equality.

While too great of wealth/income inequality is bad for society -- as a conservative, I value a stable society -- any attempt to eliminate inequality completely is socialism/communism. That's the path to dictatorship, and as the Soviet Union demonstrated, doesn't really eliminate inequality. No matter what the economic system, there will be those who try to exploit it for their own gain. So, again, the advantage is to the free market, which is full of pitfalls, but on the whole provides the greatest checks and balances, especially in a free society, against self-serving greed.

Some people are just going to have more than others. That's a fact of life. Ever since humans moved from hunter-gathers to farmers and sheepherders, we've had inequality.

One way or another, whether in a free market or a planned economy, like the Soviet Union attempted, money will rule the world.

Jesus said we would always have the poor with us. The inverse is true, as well. We will always have those who have more than everybody else.

The question is, what are the best policies to smooth out the natural hardships created by a free economy to provide the most stable and prosperous economy possible that benefits the most people? And it is in those margins where most big political, partisan fights take place. But the fact is, free markets, since the rise of the industrial revolution, has meant we've gone from a world where 95 percent of the population lived in absolute poverty to less than five percent today. That's what free markets do: make things better for everybody.

Today's person classified as impoverished lives better than Rockefeller or Carnegie or J.P. Morgan, thanks to free markets.

James Burns
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"I've come to view social welfare programs the price free market capitalists pay for free markets."

There it is.

As a society we need to care for others, not just for the sake of compassion but for the sake of the stability and strength of the society.

When we do it right there is enough for all, however it is never perfect. People at the high and low end of the spectrum both can take advantage of the system or bear more than than their fair share of the burden. A free market economy needs to be managed to work for as the constitutions says, "the greater good", not for the good of any one group or interest.

RICHARD L. HALE
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I can remember, back in the 50's and early 60's, getting surplus food when my dad was laid-off from Doehler Jarvis here in Batavia. We had to go pick it up (can't remember where) There was cheese, some kind of canned ham, powdered eggs and milk, huge cans of peanut butter, maybe flour and sugar, butter. And some food, bread, potatoes etc were bought with unemployment money. And we're still alive !! Pretty sure it would cut down all the fraud....

Brian Graz
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The current Food Stamp system could easily be modified to eliminate the abuse and waste. This is 2018! It's the computer age. All Food Stamp welfare should be via the computerized EBT card and thus can control ALL uses and purchases. [no more Lobster, and Rib Eye steaks]. An EBT card can't be used for beer, tobacco, or rotisserie chickens... so don't tell me the system can't be made to control all usage.

Howard B. Owens
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Do you really think that poor people -- the only people who get SNAP benefits -- are spending the measly amount they get ($194 a month (the average person not on SNAP spends $151 a week on food)) are buying lobsters and steaks in droves?

Set aside the rare reports of such purchases, single instances are hardly proof of widespread use of the program for such purposes. It is not supported by any statistical evidence and it defies any sort of logic.

SNAP is barely 2 percent of the federal budget. The amount of fraud in this tightly controlled and regulated program is about 1 percent.

Do you really think any other way the program is set up is going to eliminate such a tiny amount of fraud and abuse? There are always going to be people that try to find ways to cheat the system. It's called human nature.

The idea that there is rampant abuse in the current program is a myth. It's called straining at gnats.

The fact is, the average person on SNAP eats less well than the rest of us because processed foods and high-carb foods and fast foods are so much cheaper than raw proteins and fresh fruits and vegetables, which is why poor people have greater rates of obesity.

Tim Miller
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Sadly, too many folks fell for Lee Atwater's BS "welfare queen" political advertising, and that glorious St. Ronnie delivered the line perfectly - even if it was a lie. Even more sadly, once they fell for it, they have failed to grasp that it was BS - even after 30 years.

Sure, there is fraud involved with all large programs - if there is a loophole, somebody will find it. But those fools cannot grasp that the amount of fraud is relatively minor (even if a large number for very large programs), and whacking a program due to minor fraud will cause drastic damage to those who need that program.

We are a wealthy nation - the least we can do is take care of those who need assistance.

Howard B. Owens
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Just like the rest of us Ronald Reagan wasn't perfect. But he was a great man.

Too bad, we've lost his idealism about our country.  The country as Reagan saw it is not the country I see today.

Tim Miller
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I'm not sure I can agree with the "great man" statement**, but he was definitely a different breed than those who grew from his (truly) conservative movement. A few years back I listened to a number of his speeches (ironically on Michael Savage), and was very impressed. I may not have agreed with what he was saying, but the arguments he gave were well balanced and argued well.

And then, he got into office... I went to college at the University of Rochester. Some will call it one of those dang East Coast Liberal Arts colleges, but during St. Ronnie's time the Young Republicans were very, VERY strong. There was a major difference between what I saw in Reagan vs. what I saw in the Young Republicans as school. Reagan spoke of lifting all through implementing his conservative agenda. Those Young Republicans? Each one I spoke/listened to had one key return from St. Ronnie's agenda: "I am going to get SO FREAKING RICH!!!!" They did not give one rat's patootie about anybody else - they saw what was happening would make them wealthy, and that was all they cared about. As flawed as "trickle down" was, theirs was even more flawed, as you can guess where their trickles were coming from...

**keep in mind - St. Ronnie brought in Lee Atwater to pollute politics, and foisted the evil marriage of the GOP and Religious Right. We are still paying for both of those.

david spaulding
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Ronald Reagan was a union buster ..... the downfall of organized labor .... some have called him a scab ....... deregulated the trucking industry too, putting small companies out of business..... he may be a hero to you, I find him to be the worst president of my lifetime, well maybe until now.

Howard B. Owens
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You give Reagan too much credit regarding labor unions. Much of the work was done by Jimmy Carter, and the Unions themselves, which were a major factor in factory closings throughout the rust belt as companies went out of business or had to cut costs in other ways to get away from expensive union contracts.

Truck deregulation was all done before Reagan became president. It started with Nixon, advanced by Ford, and finished by Carter.

Deregulation of transportation has saved consumers billions of dollars since.

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