Thursday, April 26, 2007

Vegetable, Dairy, and Politics

Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski is attempting to live on food stamps. He is spending exactly $21 on food for the week.

The funny thing is the former Agriculture Secretary John Block did the same thing in 1983. According to a generally supportive editorial in the Omaha World-Herald on August 7, 1983, some accused Secretary Block of "grandstanding" and "showing insensitivity to the plight of the poor." Interestingly, the editorial described the weekly budget for Block, his wife, and 19 year-old daughter as $58 for the week.

I understand that certain programs are targeted for cuts, and that food stamps do not provide a lavish lifestyle, but are we to understand that food stamp budgets have essentially stayed the same in actual dollars in 20+ years? Or is there some creative bookkeeping and grandstanding going on here on the part of Governor Kulongoski? The story says that $21 is what the average Oregonian food stamp recipient spends on groceries in a week. Could they spend more if they needed to? Where is the media criticism?



Blogger Mahan said...

You may wish to amend the statement to one reading, in essence, that this program is not supposed to provide a lavish lifestyle, or subsidize a lavish lifestyle.

Working my first job as a grocery courtesy clerk as a teenager in the Midway neighborhood of St. Paul, I would bag a purchase made with food stamps, and then help the purchaser put it into their new Cadillac or Lincoln. An abuse of the system? Certainly, but it happened more frequently than I liked to see.

April 26, 2007 12:28 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

Mahan: "grocery courtesy clerk"

Me: If the lifestyle is not lavish, at least the titles for bag boys are!

April 26, 2007 2:26 PM  
Blogger Mahan said...

Oh, I'd have to agree. We made up fancy-dan titles for the other menial minimum-wage jobs that the store had as well; "interactive financial customer service attendant" for cashier, for example.

April 27, 2007 12:25 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

Mona Charen has a column up on National Review Online regarding my food stamp issue.

April 27, 2007 1:36 PM  
Blogger Derek said...

How about "Legal disclaimer specialist for a multibillion dollar consumer lending financial institute"?

April 28, 2007 8:08 PM  

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