Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Welfare recipients “are slaves to the government and should be reminded of that fact”

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Brion McClanahan
Brion McClanahan

Be sure to keep this horrible little proposal by The Daily Caller’s Brion McClanahan in mind the next time you’re told that far-Rightists don’t hate poor folks. That is, unless arguing that poor people should be subjected to their own Jim Crow laws for the sake of humiliating them out of seeking welfare is actually seen as the compassionate approach nowadays:

Dharma-style food stamp reform would have four basic components. First, the federal government would create a government “brand” of essential food items such as milk, cheese, meat, cereal, vegetables, bread, peanut butter, beans, juice, soup, baby formula, diapers, etc., and would package the items with simple black-and-white labels and basic descriptions. The word “Government” would be stamped across the top in bold letters so everyone would know it was a welfare item. These items could be manufactured by major companies through government contracts, thus not creating a net loss to private industry. Because competition is not an issue, taste and quality, with the exception of the baby formula and baby food, would not be a top priority. Snacks, soda, cigarettes and beer would not be available through the program.

Second, the government would lease existing store fronts and set up “government stores.” There are typically several grocery store locations that have gone out of business in any given area; these would make ideal settings for the new government stores. The number of store locations would be chosen based on the size of the area and its number of food stamp recipients. The stores would be placed on public transportation routes for convenience.

Third, and most importantly, all food stamp recipients would be required to spend their government dollars at these stores. Private grocery stores and chains, such as Wal-Mart and McDonald’s, would no longer be allowed to accept EBT cards, and the money loaded on the cards could not be withdrawn and used for any other purpose. Each card would have a set dollar amount sizable enough to purchase essential items from the government store. For example, a family of four could expect to receive enough government-brand beans, rice, bread, milk, cheese, meat, cereal and vegetables to last a month with careful planning. In other words, they must be ready to stretch a food budget. Families with babies would get a month supply of formula, baby food and diapers.

Fourth, anyone who accepts government aid would have to submit to a monthly tobacco and drug test. Food stamp recipients are, after all, wards of the state. They are slaves to the government and should be reminded of that fact. If a recipient is found to have tobacco or drugs in his system, he would be dropped from the program. People on government aid would also lose the privilege of voting. That way they couldn’t vote for greater benefits or easier terms (most of them don’t vote, but now they couldn’t).

Receive food stamps, lose some basic civil rights. It all works out.

And of course, it’s all for the greater good:

My reform measures might seem draconian to some (and the antithesis of the free market), but they would hopefully have the desired result of reducing food stamp rolls so we could eventually eliminate the program and let the states handle the issue. Before accepting food stamps, people would have to carefully consider whether they want to face the loss of voting privileges, the humiliation of shopping at government stores and using government food, the inability to smoke or do drugs and the added inconvenience of having to make two or three stops for their groceries should they choose to buy snacks with their own money. Plus, tax producers would no longer have to knowingly be face to face with people at the check-out who are on government assistance but have nicer cell phones and accessories than they do.

Yes, the injustice of it all – poor people with technology! Such a perfectly reasonable rationale for stomping them a little deeper into society’s gutter. I mean, I know how legally and morally criminal it sounds, but it must all make sense in the end, somehow – McClanahan’s got a Ph.D in American history, after all, so you know you can trust his judgment on social policy matters.

What, still not convinced? Well then, here’s his conclusion to really help you make up your mind:

There should be humiliation and pain in government assistance. Every time someone accepts food stamps, they are spitting on the principles of independence, and they, not the taxpayers who fund the program, should be reminded of that fact.

Because what better a way to lower the numbers of welfare recipients than to treat those good-for-nothings like the parasitic societal cancer that the far-Right loves to portray them as?

You know, I do think this calls for a bit of rightful indignation. Take it away, Irish President Michael D. Higgins:

My transcript [Less relevant bit omitted]: (click the [+/-] to open/close →) []

DEPUTY MICHAEL HIGGINS: I spoke about my time in the Midwest and going to the Greyhound Bus Station, and hearing for the first time the phrase “poor White trash”. These people, who – you know, I was there just before the civil rights charter came in – and frankly, the idea that a person would not have one job, but have two jobs or three jobs and work all the light hours that are there and still not be entitled to the basic protection of fundamental care is so outrageous …

So whether you agree with Obama, what he is doing in aspects of his foreign policy – and I might disagree about somethings about Latin and South America – but one of the things I do agree: the idea of there being a social floor below which people wouldn’t fall. That’s the future. I think even the poorest people in the great country that is the United States should be entitled to basic healthcare, and I don’t think they’ll thank the Sarah Palin look-alikes and followers for taking it off them.

You’re about as late arrival in Irish politics as Sarah Palin is in American politics, and both of you have the same tactic. The tactic is to get a large crowd, whip them up, try and discover what is the greatest fear, work on that, and feed it right back and you get a frenzy, and that leads you in time, then, to when you have in fact maybe one of the most gifted Presidents elected – though I happen not to agree with all his foreign policy – but you know, you regard, for example, someone who happens to have been a professor at Harvard as somehow [?] handicapped. You don’t find anything wrong with all this Tea Party ignorance that been brought all around the United States, which is regularly insulting people who have been democratically elected.

[Mild applause and cheering.]

MICHAEL GRAHAM: Deputy Higgins, I’m not going to insult you –

HIGGINS: Oh, I think you should!

GRAHAM: – by bringing up your lack of knowledge of the Tea Party movement, but other than –

HIGGINS: I lived in the United States, and you know one of the interesting things, mate – you know what the big difference, as I listen? I lived in the Midwest, in Willie Nelson country. I was a student there at the end of the ’60s. I was a professor in Illinois way into the ’70s. The magnificent, decent, generous people of the United States with whom I had supper, people I sat on their – ate homemade ice cream with them – the difference between them and the tiny elite who are in charge of war-mongering foreign policy of the United States is just enormous.

So therefore, when you go on your picnic around the country, you’re really not representing the decent United States people who are very proud, correctly, of the person they’ve elected President, as they’re entitled to do.


So rather, be proud to be a decent American, rather than be just a wanker whipping up fear!

Not precisely related, I know, but damn if that doesn’t just spruce you right back up.

(via Media Matters for America and @todayspolitics)

Edit (03/02/12 9:33 PM ET) – Minor transcript fixes (thanks to commenter oklacoma dem at ThinkProgress).