Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Welfare Queens and Cadillacs

This is not what I think of when I think of hunger in America:
"At first, I thought, 'Why should I be on food stamps?'" said Magida, digging into her dinner. "Here I am, this educated person who went to art school..."
Yeah, art school. Part of me wants to be snarky -- I thought art school grads lived off their parents? But I do realize that young, educated, single people are among the poor, and of course, we shouldn't starve the poor.

The American food stamp program has had a few overhauls since it began in 1962. For example, the program no longer uses stamps. Instead it uses a specialized debit-card system. The eligibility requirements have also changed recently. As part of last year's stimulus package, more able-bodied adults without dependents qualify for the program.

And they're using it... maybe not as sustenance but as a supplement. The hipsters are buying Japanese eggplant, mint chutney, fresh turmeric... suddenly I don't feel like much of an elitist. I survive on macaroni and cheese (but the really good kind of macaroni and cheese).

I think this is the type of news story that's going to outrage many talk radio hosts for hour upon bloviating hour. But here's the dilemma I see: If recipients buy gourmet ingredients, the food is viewed as a luxury. If they spend their allotment on Hot Pockets and Pringles, they're part of the obesity epidemic and will likely contribute to higher health care costs down the road. It's a catch-22 for the Millennial generation.

But it might just replace the old Republican story of the Cadillac driving welfare queen.

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