Friday, May 01, 2015

Cheese Whiz, Wisconsin

The US economy was destroyed for many of us in 2008. Since then, the jobs being created are low wage service jobs mostly. Poverty is on the rise, as are homelessness, and hunger.

That could only mean one thing to our right wing brethren - it's time to demonize the poor!

All over the country we've seen bills filed in state legislatures, attempting to tell food stamp recipients what they can and cannot eat. (Yeah, I know that SNAP is the supplemental nutrition assistance program, which is the formal name for food stamps. Everyone still calls them food stamps.) This is all based on mythology. Once upon a time some surfer dude in California announced he was buying lobster and steak with food stamps. He singlehandedly turned lobster into the new Welfare Cadillac. Then there are the stories we all hear, from indignant tax payers who have seen "those people" with a shopping cart FULL of soda and chips. Or steaks. Or ____ fill in the blank. EVERYONE has seen "those people." They have brand new iPhones, they have expensive purses, they have ......something other than sackcloth and ashes. 

It's eerily reminiscent of testimony I've heard at the NH House on voter fraud. Dozens of people swear they've seen a busload of "people from Massachusetts" go in to a NH polling place to vote. None of them have a photo or a license plate number for the bus. None of them went inside to speak to the officer on duty or the town moderator. But they saw it! They know! Them liebruls are coming to steal our elections!  I'm not sure how they square that with the outcome of our last election.

The average taxpayer spends about $36 of their federal tax dollars to support the food stamp program for a year.

The average taxpayer contributes $3,174 to military/war spending during that same year. 
The Pentagon can't pass an audit. The Pentagon can't account for at least $3 trillion. The Dept. of Homeland Security has never been audited either. Waste and fraud is epic.  Fraud in the food stamp program is about 1%.

Anyone who is more pissed off about food stamps than the outrageous defense budget is not paying attention.  Anyone who is more pissed off about food stamps than the defense budget is mad about the wrong things. 

Governor LeRamPage of Maine wants to dictate food choices to Mainers who receive SNAP benefits. He wants to ensure that those moochers can't buy prepared foods. Like pickles. Or spaghetti sauce. Easier than trying to bring jobs to Maine, I guess. 

Then there's Wisconsin, where Republican Rob Brooks wants to make sure the poors aren't eating shellfish. This guy has never seen shrimp on sale, one assumes. In fact, one further assumes he's never done his own shopping. His legislation even dictates cheese consumption. In Wisconsin. From the Chippewa Herald:

Rep. Andy Jorgensen, D-Milton, said the bill holds more questions than answers about rationale and implementation. 
To illustrate Democrats' opposition, Rep. Evan Goyke, D-Milwaukee, held a platter of four Wisconsin cheeses.
All four were cheddar. One was shredded and three were in block form. Three displayed flags that said "GOP Prohibited." One flag said "GOP Approved."
The approved cheese was a block of mild cheddar. Two sharp cheddars — one shredded and one block — were not approved. One mild cheddar was not approved because it was too large, Goyke said.
"The stated goals of this bill are nutrition and fraud," said Rep. Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit. "When you look at something like this cheese plate, there's no evidence of sharp cheddar fraud. People are not buying sharp cheddar in order to defraud FoodShare, and there's no nutritional difference. So if those are the stated goals, the bill is not accomplishing either."

As you might expect, there's some pushback:

A coalition of businesses and associations in the food and beverage industry are opposing the bill. A memo to lawmakers from groups including the Wisconsin Cheesemakers Association, Wisconsin Agri-Business Association, Grocery Manufacturers Association, Kwik Trip, Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers and Wisconsin State Cranberry Association says the bill would harm their businesses, "dramatically increase government power" and place checkout clerks in a difficult position.

Cheese whiz, Wisconsin. This idea is no gouda. Only a muenster would pass this kind of legislation. 

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