Tag Archives: entitlement

20% of U.S. households are on food stamps

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a report (in PDF format here) that shows just how well our economy is recovering [snark]:

  • As of January 2012, the most recent month available, 46.5 million Americans or 20% (22.2 million) of U.S. households are in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or food stamps program.
  • The average household in SNAP receives $277/month; the average participant receives $132/month.
  • Less than half of the SNAP benefit paid monthly actually goes to  buying food. 
  • SNAP is not supposed to be the only source of food purchasing for a household in the program. SNAP money represents about 30% of their income. The typical SNAP recipient also receives other “government transfer payments”: Social Security (21%), Social Security Insurance/Disability (21%), and child support payments (10%).
  • Households with children account for 71% of all demand for SNAP. The typical SNAP participant is a child under the age of 18; children account for 47% of the program. Surprisingly, the elderly are only 8% of the program.
  • Food stamps appear to be a long-term dependency. Those who were enrolled in the SNAP program in the early-to-mid 2000s remain enrolled for 7 years on average. Over half of those who left the program returned within 2 years.

Writing for ZeroHedge.com on April 20, 2012, Nic Colas of ConvergEx puts the numbers into perspective for us:

  • If the 46.5 million Americans on food stamps were a state, it would be the largest state in the Union.
  • If the adults enrolled in the SNAP program (about half the 46.5 million total) all voted for one Presidential candidate in the Fall, they would represent over 2x the margin of victory in the 2008 election.

Colas also gives us the historical background.

The SNAP or Food Stamps program got its start in the Great Depression — an effort to give some of the surplus produced by America’s agricultural system to the urban poor. The poor could buy “stamps” that entitled them to buy both regular foodstuffs as well as discounted surplus produce. The program went dormant during World War II but President Kennedy resurrected it in 1960, altering it from a pay-for-stamps system to a straight entitlement. With some tweaks and alterations, this is the program we have today – a nationwide system of evaluating those who are deemed to be at risk of food insecurity (typically those making less than 130% of the poverty line) and giving them money to purchase food.

Mindful that long economic recessions have a way of forming permanent habits among Americans, Colas warns that the Food Stamps program has all the signs of becoming a permanent entitlement:

The trouble, as I see it, is that the SNAP program has become wildly successful.  That is not a slam against the people that use it – I personally agree that no one, especially a child, should go to bed hungry in America.  But it’s not hard to see where this program is creeping its way from counter-cyclical stimulus and support to a lasting entitlement program that will be very hard to change.

[...] a large percentage of the population – 20% of households is a big number – is locked into this program.  There are endless studies in the world of behavioral finance that show that people are very quick to budget increases in disposable income as permanent. And don’t forget that by the USDA’s own numbers, most of the benefit is effectively NOT being spent on food.  In the narrowest sense, the money spent on the SNAP program is tiny relative to the Federal budget – $6 billion a month, or a drop in the $270 billion/month government spend.

But this is where I wonder about the long shadow of the last recession.  Have we reached a point where Americans want a clear and potentially permanent social safety net?  And how far should it go? Again, the current SNAP program is a cheap way to provide this, so from a budgetary or societal standpoint it is hard to argue that it breaks the bank.  But what if it is an emblem of something greater?  In many ways I think this is a big chunk of what the November election will be about, and at least the Food Stamp program seems to show that Americans have made up their minds.

Add to Colas’ observations the fact that 47% of SNAP recipients are children — and there is even more reason for us to wonder if new generations of Americans are growing up with a permanent sense of entitlement and dependency on Big Government to provide for them.

~Eowyn

Obamination

H/t beloved fellows Wendy and May.

~Eowyn

Unsustainable – 49.5% of Americans don’t pay income taxes

Today is the deadline to turn in your tax returns.

In honor of this black letter day, I’m re-publishing this post that was first posted two months ago.

If you want a quick answer to the question of why our national debt is nearly $16 trillion and the federal government keeps piling on deficits, this graph says it all. And yet, Obama’s solution is to tax even more the 50.5% of Americans who actually pay income taxes.

Chart of the Week: Nearly Half of All Americans Don’t Pay Income Taxes

Rob Bluey – The Heritage Foundation’s The Foundry – February 19, 2012

This year’s Index of Dependence on Government presented startling findings about the sharp increase of Americans who rely on the federal government for housing, food, income, student aid or other assistance. (See last week’s chart.)

Another eye-popping number was the percentage of Americans who don’t pay income taxes, which now accounts for nearly half of the U.S. population. Meanwhile, most of that population receives generous federal benefits.

“One of the most worrying trends in the Index is the coinciding growth in the non-taxpaying public,” wrote Heritage authors Bill Beach and Patrick Tyrrell. “The percentage of people who do not pay federal income taxes, and who are not claimed as dependents by someone who does pay them, jumped from 14.8 percent in 1984 to 49.5 percent in 2009.”

That means 151.7 million Americans paid nothing in 2009. By comparison, 34.8 million tax filers paid no taxes in 1984.

The rapid growth of Americans who don’t pay income taxes is particularly alarming for the fate of the American form of government, Beach and Tyrrell warned. Coupled with higher spending on government programs, it is already proving to be a major fiscal challenge.

“This trend should concern everyone who supports America’s republican form of government,” Beach and Tyrrell wrote. “If the citizens’ representatives are elected by an increasing percentage of voters who pay no income tax, how long will it be before these representatives respond more to demands for yet more entitlements and subsidies from non-payers than to the pleas of taxpayers to exercise greater spending prudence?”

~Posted by Eowyn

Woman complains about her taxpayer-paid rent-free apartment

In August 2010, there was a near-riot in Atlanta, Georgia, when 30,000 people stood in long lines in the sun in 90+ degrees heat, just for a chance to obtain an application form for a Section 8 public housing voucher. Some had waited in line for two days for the applications.

Like everywhere in America, public (i.e., taxpayer-paid) housing is in great demand in New Orleans.

In the wake of the terrible Hurricane Katrina disaster that put so much of the city of New Orleans under water, the federal government labored to provide public housing for the disaster victims and the poor. According to a report by D. Weaver for Nola.com, Dec. 18, 2007, Department of Housing and Development officials assured residents that the local public housing supply greatly outstripped demand, 1,762 public housing units were occupied and nearly 300 were available or within weeks of being ready at 8 Housing Authority of New Orleans complexes and at other scattered housing authority sites. Another 802 public housing units across the city were being repaired and would be put to use in the coming year.

In addition to the units available or scheduled to open soon, federal and local housing officials said their agencies would provide a total of 3,343 public housing units in the next 4 to 5 years, including nearly 900 units in planned mixed-income developments. The “mixed-income developments” would include 900 market-rate rental units and 900 homes for sale, many of which would be reserved for first-time home buyers, with financial subsidies designed to allow former public housing families to become property owners.

But public housing advocates were not satisfied. They complained that the target of 3,343 public housing units in New Orleans is still a drop of about one-third from the 5,100 units occupied before Hurricane Katrina.

Public housing officials responded that other demands for housing can be met through use of vouchers that can be used for private apartments that are inspected by the government. Nevertheless, housing activists complained that the “poor conditions” of those private apartments “deter renters,” that is, free-loaders.

Regardless of the conditions, many former public housing residents avoid privately owned apartments because they typically face utility and deposit expenses not charged in public housing.

The housing activists, aka Alinsky community organizers, then trooped out a victim of the “poor conditions” of those taxpayer-subsidized private apartments.

Meet Sharon Jasper, a former St. Bernard complex resident, who bitterly complained about her subsidized private apartment, which she called a “slum.”

Sharon Jasper in her well-appointed living room of her taxpayer-subsidized apartment. Note the large-screen TV. (photo by Ted Jackson/Times-Picayune)

Although a government voucher covered her rent on a unit in an old Faubourg St. John home, she griped about having to pay several hundred dollars in deposit charges and a steep utility bill.

Jasper said: “I might be poor but I don’t like to live poor. I thank God for a place to live but it’s pitiful what people give you. I’m tired of the slum landlords, and I’m tired of the slum houses.” Pointing across the street to an encampment of homeless people at Duncan Plaza, she said, “I might do better out here with one of these tents.”

Jasper allowed a photographer to tour the subsidized apartment. She complained about missing window screens, a slow leak in a sink, and a warped back door. The reporter noted that her subsidized apartment “otherwise appeared to have been recently renovated.”

H/t beloved Wendy.

To Sharon Jasper:

I’m one of the suckers who pay for your “subsidized” rent-free apartment, being among the 53% of Americans who still pay federal income taxes. My husband and I paid for our house with decades of hard work and savings. We don’t have a 60″ HD TV!

~Eowyn

How the Left Harm America’s Moral Character

Dennis Prager has an excellent article that perfectly explains why liberals are narcissists — a conclusion I’ve arrived at from experience and observation.

~Eowyn

The liberal entitlement mentality

Ten Ways Progressive Policies Harm Society’s Moral Character

Dennis Prager – July 19, 2011

While liberals are certain about the moral superiority of liberal policies, the truth is that those policies actually diminish a society’s moral character. Many individual liberals are fine people, but the policies they advocate tend to make a people worse. Here are 10 reasons:

1. The bigger the government, the less the citizens do for one another. If the state will take care of me and my neighbors, why should I? This is why Western Europeans, people who have lived in welfare states far longer than Americans have, give less to charity and volunteer less time to others than do Americans of the same socioeconomic status.

The greatest description of American civilization was written in the early 19th century by the Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville. One of the differences distinguishing Americans from Europeans that he most marveled at was how much Americans — through myriad associations — took care of one another. Until President Franklin Roosevelt began the seemingly inexorable movement of America toward the European welfare state — vastly expanded later by other Democratic presidents — Americans took responsibility for one another and for themselves far more than they do today. Churches, Rotary Clubs, free-loan societies and other voluntary associations were ubiquitous. As the state grew, however, all these associations declined. In Western Europe, they have virtually all disappeared.

2. The welfare state, though often well intended, is nevertheless a Ponzi scheme. Conservatives have known this for generations. But now, any honest person must acknowledge it. The welfare state is predicated on collecting money from today’s workers in order to pay for those who paid in before them. But today’s workers don’t have enough money to sustain the scheme, and there are too few of them to do so. As a result, virtually every welfare state in Europe, and many American states, like California, are going broke.

3. Citizens of liberal welfare states become increasingly narcissistic. The great preoccupations of vast numbers of Brits, Frenchmen, Germans and other Western Europeans are how much vacation time they will have and how early they can retire and be supported by the state.

4. The liberal welfare state makes people disdain work. Americans work considerably harder than Western Europeans, and contrary to liberal thought since Karl Marx, work builds character.

5. Nothing more guarantees the erosion of character than getting something for nothing. In the liberal welfare state, one develops an entitlement mentality — another expression of narcissism. And the rhetoric of liberalism — labeling each new entitlement a “right” — reinforces this sense of entitlement.

6. The bigger the government, the more the corruption. As the famous truism goes, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Of course, big businesses are also often corrupt. But they are eventually caught or go out of business. The government cannot go out of business. And unlike corrupt governments, corrupt businesses cannot print money and thereby devalue a nation’s currency, and they cannot arrest you.

7. The welfare state corrupts family life. Even many Democrats have acknowledged the destructive consequences of the welfare state on the underclass. It has rendered vast numbers of males unnecessary to females, who have looked to the state to support them and their children (and the more children, the more state support) rather than to husbands. In effect, these women took the state as their husband.

8. The welfare state inhibits the maturation of its young citizens into responsible adults. As regards men specifically, I was raised, as were all generations of American men before me, to aspire to work hard in order to marry and support a wife and children. No more. One of the reasons many single women lament the prevalence of boy-men — men who have not grown up — is that the liberal state has told men they don’t have to support anybody. They are free to remain boys for as long as they want.

And here is an example regarding both sexes. The loudest and most sustained applause I ever heard was that of college students responding to a speech by President Barack Obama informing them that they would now be covered by their parents’ health insurance policies until age 26.

9. As a result of the left’s sympathetic views of pacifism and because almost no welfare state can afford a strong military, European countries rely on America to fight the world’s evils and even to defend them.

10. The leftist weltanschauung [worldview] sees society’s and the world’s great battle as between rich and poor rather than between good and evil. Equality therefore trumps morality. This is what produces the morally confused liberal elites that can venerate a Cuban tyranny with its egalitarian society over a free and decent America that has greater inequality.

None of this matters to progressives. Against all this destructiveness, they will respond not with arguments to refute these consequences of the liberal welfare state, but by citing the terms “social justice” and “compassion,” and by labeling their opponents “selfish” and worse.

If you want to feel good, liberalism is awesome. If you want to do good, it is largely awful.