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Wal-Mart and McDonald’s, would no longer be allowed to accept EBT cards, and the money loaded on the cards could not be withdrawn and used for any other purpose.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:
Not precisely related, I know, but damn if that doesn’t just spruce you right back up.
Edit (03/02/12 9:33 PM ET) – Minor transcript fixes (thanks to commenter oklacoma dem at ThinkProgress).