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Doctors Say Food Stamp Cuts Could Cause Higher Healthcare Costs

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the unintended-consequences dept.

Government 1043

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Lauran Neergaard writes at the Christian Science Monitor that doctors are warning that if Congress cuts food stamps, the federal government could be socked with bigger health bills because over time the poor wind up seeking treatment in doctors' offices or hospitals as a result. 'If you're interested in saving health care costs, the dumbest thing you can do is cut nutrition,' says Dr. Deborah Frank of Boston Medical Center, who founded the Children's HealthWatch pediatric research institute. 'People don't make the hunger-health connection.' Food stamps feed 1 in 7 Americans and cost almost $80 billion a year, twice what it cost five years ago. The doctors' lobbying effort comes as Congress is working on a compromise farm bill that's certain to include food stamp cuts. Republicans want heftier reductions than do Democrats in yet another partisan battle over the government's role in helping poor Americans. Conservatives say the program spiraled out of control as the economy struggled and the costs are not sustainable. However research from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts estimated that a cut of $2 billion a year in food stamps could trigger in an increase of $15 billion in medical costs (PDF) for over the next decade. Other research shows children from food-insecure families are 30 percent more likely to have been hospitalized for a range of illnesses. 'Food is medicine,' says Massachusetts Representative Jim McGovern, who has led the Democrats' defense of the food stamp program. 'Critics focus almost exclusively on how much we spend, and I wish they understood that if we did this better, we could save a lot more money in health care costs.'"

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1043 comments

Decreased Costs (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45934647)

All of the fat asses will have less food. If they want better nutrition maybe they should get a better job.

Re: Decreased Costs (5, Insightful)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about 6 months ago | (#45934837)

Uneducated single mothers living in slums with 5+ kids should just get a better job. Advice from a white guy sitting in a suburban home in front of his expensive computer.

Re: Decreased Costs (-1, Troll)

Mashiki (184564) | about 6 months ago | (#45934899)

Well they could in many cases, except many people especially liberals throw a hissy fit whenver a bigbox store like walmart wants to open up and provide jobs that pay a wage. Shining examples of that one all over the place.

Re: Decreased Costs (4, Informative)

PlusFiveTroll (754249) | about 6 months ago | (#45934935)

> a bigbox store like walmart wants to open up and provide jobs that pay a wage

I can't tell if this is sarcasm or not?

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-13/how-mcdonald-s-and-wal-mart-became-welfare-queens.html [bloomberg.com]

Re: Decreased Costs (0)

Mashiki (184564) | about 6 months ago | (#45934979)

So you're saying that no wage is better than a wage of somekind at all in the case of the "mother of 5 living in a shithole?"

Math, do it. (3, Insightful)

mosb1000 (710161) | about 6 months ago | (#45934651)

a cut of $2 billion a year in food stamps could trigger in an increase of $15 billion in medical costs for over the next decade

$2 billion/year x 10 years = $20 billion > $15 billion

Re:Math, do it. (3, Informative)

danlip (737336) | about 6 months ago | (#45934669)

And can I say that the way the editors set the link break in the summary made it very easy to miss the "over the next decade" part or that sentence.

Re:Math, do it. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45934679)

You can't really be sure. It was an increase of 15 billion, but probably per year.

The average family on food stamps gets a scant 240 per month. A single person will get about 120. It's really regulated (but not as much as WIC) so you can't buy junk food or alcohol. Yes, there's food stamp laundring out there, but with such small amounts, most people really are using them to avoid health issues related to starvation.

Re:Math, do it. (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45934735)

I see people selling their FS all the time.. Even get offers to buy from total strangers...

Additionally, you can buy all the junk food, candy bars, and ice cream with food stamps... See that all the time too.

Re:Math, do it. (0, Flamebait)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 6 months ago | (#45934795)

I see people selling their FS all the time.. Even get offers to buy from total strangers...

Additionally, you can buy all the junk food, candy bars, and ice cream with food stamps... See that all the time too.

Why are you watching so closely? Your post leads one to believe that you spend an inordinate amount of time at the grocery store. Next time, get the big bag of Doritos.

Try working at a convenience store and see.... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45934841)

how much junk the average welfare case buys that isn't healthy food. Also watch how much cash they bring in to buy cigarettes, liquor, or gambling merchandise (lottery/lotto tickets, etc). It's fucking pathetic.

Now THAT said: Random 'spot checks' at various stores could knock out a lot of these over the next 5-20 years. Just watch for people doing such behavior and permanently ban them from the program. (Obviously no jail time, or they'd get to benefit off the system some more.)

On the *OTHER* hand, the people I ran into who *WEREN'T* abusing them were generally coming into a convenience store to buy ramen because their primary modes of transportation were foot and bus and the particular area did not have any grocery stores offering either late night service, or food priced for the poor. These are the kind of people who need it and for the amount being spent, if it's really 1 in 7 Americans, it's a bargain. (Consider: Every American, assuming 7x the listed rate, would only cost 560 billion a year to feed! Given the yearly budget now, that's a drop in the bucket overall, and combined with at-cost drug manufacturing, could take care of the entire populace for less than a variety of governmental operating costs.)

Just some food for thought. I personally dislike many aspects of government handouts, but between the poor and the financial institutions, I'd rather it go to the lazy degenerates who don't have the power to fuck up the economy, than the ones who DO :)

Re:Math, do it. (2)

lgw (121541) | about 6 months ago | (#45934983)

When I was a student and got most my food at the convenience store, along with the cheapest alcohol money could buy, it wasn't rare for someone to approach me for a food-stamps-for-liquor swap. I really didn't have to go out of my way to notice. That was quite some time ago, however.

Re:Math, do it. (5, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about 6 months ago | (#45934771)

Yes, there's food stamp laundring out there, but with such small amounts, most people really are using them to avoid health issues related to starvation.

If we dropped those subsidies that farmers get for keeping farm land out of production, and also drop price supports that keep food prices higher than they would be, you could plow half of that money into food stamps and probably have something line 4x the impact.

Foodstamps are run out of the Department of Agriculture, who also end up handing out price supports, and land banking payments. The mission of the department is to make sure every American gets fed.

They need to stop working against their own mission. The whole idea of paying farmers not to farm is wrong headed.

If the department wants to tinker with farming, they should fund crop development that provides greater variety in the foods American eat. Instead we live one chicken beef, and wheat and potatoes, essentially a mono-diet.

Re:Math, do it. (5, Insightful)

realityimpaired (1668397) | about 6 months ago | (#45934877)

Foodstamps are run out of the Department of Agriculture, who also end up handing out price supports, and land banking payments. The mission of the department is to make sure every American gets fed.

That's a large part of it. But I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around something that was in the summary: it said that 1 in 7 Americans are on stamps. That's an appalling statistic -- 1 in 7 Americans are poor enough that they wouldn't be able to feed themselves without government assistance?

While I agree that paying farmers not to actually produce food is ridiculous, plenty of other countries manage to feed their people without needing to resort to a program like that. Food stamps aren't the problem, they're the symptom.

Re:Math, do it. (5, Informative)

PlusFiveTroll (754249) | about 6 months ago | (#45934957)

>The whole idea of paying farmers not to farm is wrong headed.

Yet another person who doesn't understand land and soil conversation, and the long term effects of farming on soil health.

Re:Math, do it. (4, Informative)

sumdumass (711423) | about 6 months ago | (#45934991)

Without the subsidies and price supports, you soon would not have many farms growing food. Or are we to ignore the lead up to the dust bowl and great depression in order to make a point that farmers are rich or something?

The Idea of paying farmers not to farm (which doesn't happen much any more since we export so much now) is specifically to stop all the farms from going under when prices fall below the costs of production and concentrating production into a few large factory farms that will create severe shortages when a natural or other disaster takes them offline for a season. Having stable food prices is pretty much a necessity of modern society.

The majority of markup from the costs of food comes from middle men, not the farm. whether it's investors purchasing commodities in order to turn a profit or packaging companies, the majority of the costs go elsewhere. The American farmer only sees about 12 percent of every dollar you spend on food.

Re:Math, do it. (4, Insightful)

starworks5 (139327) | about 6 months ago | (#45934685)

That is only one of the costs, there may be other costs as well, like productivity losses from the illneess, or generally less productivity from less efficient division of labor.

Re:Math, do it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45934745)

Wouldn't productivity imply working? Wouldn't this imply being paid? Which would likely imply not getting food stamps?

Re: Math, do it. (3, Informative)

Adriax (746043) | about 6 months ago | (#45935007)

Depending on the state you can work 40hr a week and still easily qualify for food stamps. That's not saying food stamps have a high max income limit, but min wage is so far below the poverty line it's a joke.
Hell some states are much worse than others, with laws that allow restaurants to pay wait staff $3 an hour. Yes the difference is meant to be covered by tips, but get a bad schedule or just a stingy tipping crowd (fun fact, the more someone makes the less likely they will tip drivers and waitstaff in low end restauraunts) it's not uncommon to take home an average of $4 an hour for a full work schedule.

Re:Reading, do it. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45934687)

The article actually states the $15 billion is the estimated savings on diabetes alone. The total saving would be far higher.

Re:Math, do it. (4, Informative)

jamie (78724) | about 6 months ago | (#45934711)

As the linked article points out, that $15 billion is a simple correlation based on diabetes alone.

When cost savings are almost erased by one disease, maybe someone hasn't thought through the unintended consequences.

Re:Math, do it. (-1)

icebike (68054) | about 6 months ago | (#45934799)

Diabetes isn't a food stamp issue.
To a large extent type two diabetes an educational issue.

Re:Math, do it. (4, Insightful)

whoever57 (658626) | about 6 months ago | (#45934843)

Diabetes isn't a food stamp issue. To a large extent type two diabetes an educational issue.

Yes, if only poor people ate exclusively at vegetarian restaurants serving low-carb meal there would be no problem. It's not like unhealthy foods are cheaper than healthy foods .... oh wait!

Re:Math, do it. (0)

icebike (68054) | about 6 months ago | (#45934921)

Go spin your vegetarian religion somewhere else.

Re:Math, do it. (1)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | about 6 months ago | (#45934931)

The causative factors for the increase, and a benefit ratio analysis, including projections for diabetes alone. Hence, our demographics in the USA most certainly is germane to "a food stamp issue".

Re: Math, do it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45934717)

Low income voters are math-challenged.

Re:Math, do it. (3, Insightful)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 6 months ago | (#45934719)

Unfortunately the summary does a crappy job of summarizing.

The $15 billion increase in medical care that was extrapolated is for one disease (diabetes) alone. Presumably there will be others as well.

Supporting material, read it. (3, Informative)

Two99Point80 (542678) | about 6 months ago | (#45934729)

From the linked PDF: "Thus, diabetes costs alone could nearly equal CBO’s estimate of $20 billion in savings over 10 years from implementing proposed SNAP changes in H.R.1947, in addition to any costs associated with other diseases."

Re:Math, do it. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45934731)

Yup and we're not talking about people going hungry or suffering from health issues caused by not being able to afford healthy food so money is the only thing that matters here.

Accountancy over empathy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45934751)

Are you implying that $15 billion worth of suffering caused by malnutrition is a price worth paying in order to save $0.5 billion a year for a decade?

Wow, the richest country on the planet is actually going to starve lots of its' own citizens in order to save a tiny percentage of the spending wasted on pork barrel projects happily voted through in order to keep politicians in power!

Re:Math, do it. (2, Insightful)

Notabadguy (961343) | about 6 months ago | (#45934857)

Not only does our government not have the money to fund all those foodstamps, it doesn't have the funds to absorb the cost of additional health care either.

Conservatives and Liberals have different spending agendas, but they both want to spend, spend spend. We have no MONEY to spend.

Yes, you should do the math. (5, Insightful)

deanklear (2529024) | about 6 months ago | (#45934863)

You also need to count:

1) Lost worker productivity costs to the economy (most of these people have jobs)
2) Increased welfare costs (these new sick people are the age of parents and caretakers)
3) Increased long term health care costs (these sick people will not disappear in 10 years)

The costs of creating a huge underclass has serious economic implications. Ask any teacher and they will tell you that the kids they have trouble teaching are the ones who don't get enough food to eat, and those who don't live in safe neighborhoods. You know, the ones you're too afraid of driving through.

The fact that there are hungry children in this country should make you feel ashamed about gleefully cutting programs that feed the poor. And you don't even have the math partially right, nor do you seem understand the basic economic facts that operate in all known current economic theory (and common sense): taking care of a population's health (including nutrition) through a public service is much cheaper for societies than only guaranteeing emergency services, unless we start euthanizing the poor in hospital parking lots. That's how two dozen other countries provide 100% coverage for at least half the cost per capita with similar health outcomes.

These new puppet conservatives do not have common sense or common decency, and further, they lack a prime signifier of adulthood: the ability to put the needs of others above their own wants. Why you would want to support them in their quest to keep tax cuts for people who don't need them while gutting basic services to the next generation of Americans is quite mysterious, unless being a parasite of the aristocratic class is something that appeals to you.

And let's face it, that's all the Republican party is. As proof of this fact, name one Republican policy that benefits the poor to the detriment of the rich. Just one.

Christ may have died for the poor, but the GOP fights for the wealthy. It's an odd reality for the party of God, isn't it?

Re:Math, do it. (1)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | about 6 months ago | (#45934911)

Our analysis found that based on current rates of diabetes in relation to poverty in U.S. communities, this increase in poverty could translate to a growth in government and private-sector medical costs for diabetes alone of nearly $15 billion over 10 years

first whine (5, Insightful)

anagama (611277) | about 6 months ago | (#45934653)

I'm pretty tolerant of articles for slashdot, but this seems really far off subject.

second whine (0)

rubycodez (864176) | about 6 months ago | (#45934677)

I see 350 lbs. people buying ding dongs and orange drink with their food stamps. how much does the healthcare for a person 200 lbs. overweight cost?

Re:second whine (4, Insightful)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about 6 months ago | (#45934725)

Look. Get off of your moral high horse and look at the fundamental fact that shitty food costs less. You can buy 4 two litre bottles of soda for the cost of a gallon of milk. You can buy 4 boxes of lil debbie snack cakes for the cost of a lb of chicken. You CAN NOT expect people to live on rice and lettuce because "they are poor, so they don't deserve any better food". At this point, who cares what they eat, so long as they can eat. Once everyone is fed, then we will worry about what they eat. Even then, the solution is education, not persecution

Re:second whine (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45934755)

Even then, the solution is education, not persecution

No, the solution is to prevent idiots from breeding. Education is
already available and has not fixed the problem in many decades.

Re:second whine (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 6 months ago | (#45934819)

No, the solution is to prevent idiots from breeding. Education is
already available and has not fixed the problem in many decades.

There is a certain delicious irony here .....

Re:second whine (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45934947)

There is a certain delicious irony here .....

If you are wondering if you are one of those who should be sterilized,
the answer is yes. Of course we don't really have to be concerned with
you breeding, do we, because you are a faggot.

Re:second whine (1)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | about 6 months ago | (#45934943)

What about high IQ ex-athletes with advanced degrees who are on food stamps due to the economy. I know of such...

Re:second whine (1, Informative)

amiga3D (567632) | about 6 months ago | (#45934757)

I am all for feeding the poor. This country is rich and can afford food for the needy. The problem is the way the program is run. I'd like to see some changes to cut out fraud and also to do something about some of the misuse. Still and all I think we need to maintain a food stamp program. Of all the money the government pisses away this is one thing I think we need.

Re:second whine (0)

x0ra (1249540) | about 6 months ago | (#45934801)

This country is rich ? Then why is all that social crap bought by debt (ie. money you DO NOT have) ?

Re:second whine (0)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | about 6 months ago | (#45934955)

Actually the health, education, and welfare programs are all funded by tax dollars. Its corporate welfare that is requires debt.
;-)

Re:second whine (4, Informative)

sqrt(2) (786011) | about 6 months ago | (#45934901)

You'll be happy to find out that SNAP (aka "food stamps") is already one of the best run programs our government has ever set up in terms of efficency and lack of fraud. [cbpp.org] It is a model for effective solutions to social problems. That fraud is rampant among SNAP receipients is simply a myth--and one that has been deliberatly crafted over generations to achieve certain political goals.

Re:second whine (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 6 months ago | (#45934783)

high horse? I'm talking about economics here, you're whining about emotional response between your ears.

I can expect the poor to eat cheap good food, since I'm paying the health and food bill. better to hand out bland cheap good food

Re:second whine (2)

Stan92057 (737634) | about 6 months ago | (#45934949)

He already told you junk food is far cheaper the regular food. 4 Dollars a gallon of milk.4 kids will go through 3 gallons a week Do you even go out food shopping? 2$ lb a pound for TOMATOES maybe a little less. Prices are skyrocketing and the portions are much smaller. Hell i don,t even buy ice cream anymore and i can afford it its half pumped with air I make my own. I just started seeing peanut butter sold as being light because its also pumped full of air to make it ..lighter. The commercial show cartons of PB floating in the air. How about about lunch meat prices? So stop and look at whats going on around you in the supermarket because you talk like someone who doesn,t do a whole lota shopping. Or you make enough money not to care what the prices are.Buy GOOD Cheap food? LOL Where??

Re:second whine (1)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | about 6 months ago | (#45934975)

But "cheap good food" doesn't exist.
You and I are paying the health and food bill.
Difference is, you'd rather pay more money (in the case were they are hurt,) than let them be fed (and thus not sick, at a lower total cost to us both).

No (5, Insightful)

mosb1000 (710161) | about 6 months ago | (#45934821)

Healthy food costs less than shitty food. Some examples:

A gallon of water costs less than a gallon of soda.
A pound of frozen vegetables costs less than a pound candy.
A pound of chicken costs less than a pound of hamburger.
A dozen eggs costs less than a dozen candy eggs.
A pound of potatoes costs less than a pound of potato-chips.

This is all anecdotal, of course.

Re:No (1, Informative)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | about 6 months ago | (#45934999)

Quart of milk or orange juice cost more than a quart of soda.
Canned vegetables (high sodium) cost more than frozen.
Where I live, high-fat hamburger is much cheaper than chicken.
I know a disabled veteran who is diabetic. He can't afford to eat the meals the VA nutritionist recommends.

Re:second whine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45934825)

Not only is eating healthy expensive, it is also time-consuming: if someone is spending all their time working (as many working poor do) then they don't have time to cook. Or if they are disabled, they might not have time to cook.

Re:second whine (1, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | about 6 months ago | (#45934869)

Apparently your idea is theft, not freedom. What will it do to everybody's health once the economy is destroyed? I can give an estimate but it really doesn't matter. What will it do to the society when everybody is poor because there is no economy left because the rule of law, the governance process no longer applies?

Food stamps, welfare state, military industrial complex, none of it is compatible with the rule of law, with good governance, morality or good economics. These are antithesis to each other. People must not be taught to expect theft to have their lives subsidised.

Re:second whine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45934965)

It saddens me to see you modded as informative. Cheap food (nutritionally) is not less expensive (monetary) than good (nutritionally) food. I certainly can expect people living off of my money to eat a healthy diet. Some states used to enforce this with laws that said you cannot purchase prepared food with foodstamps. We should return to those laws. If you want to buy a box of twinkies, by all means do so, with your own money. When living off the public dime, eat rice, beans, lettuce, cheese, milk, soy, peanuts etc etc in fact I would support an extra credit for purchasing things like milk which is artificially inflated cost wise due to subsidies on its production.

Re:second whine (1)

inode_buddha (576844) | about 6 months ago | (#45934995)

Not in New York it isn't. I can fill up a shopping cart with 100% nutritious fresh stuff for $120 here and eat off that for a month. And thats exactly what I did when I was on food stamps a few years ago. I did all my own cooking. Prepared foods are *always* more expensive.

Re:second whine (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45934747)

A lot, that's why what we need to do is make sure everybody is kept at a proper weight, by force of arms if necessary.

As a side benefit, all of the meal police we'd have to hire would make a real dent in unemployment.

This just in (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45934661)

Doctors and scientist report that it is possible that, talking too loudly could cause testicular cancer. Big foot could be real. The planet could be inhabited by 42 meter cheese eating arachnids. There are a whole lot of things that could happen or might be possible.

Hugh Pickens is a DOLT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45934667)

Perhaps if they ate healthful vegetarian meals, they wouldn't have to worry of all the health repercussions associated with food stamps. I lived with a guy three years ago who was on food stamps. He bought steak while I was eating ramen. His wife/girlfriend/ex-wife/whatever gave him money, and he went out and got CANDY all the time. He was a diabetic. Sat on his butt all day and ate candy and steak on my tax dollars and still was smoking a pack every other day.
 
Or you could go my route and spend $5/day (for one person) and eat collards, rice, beans, etc. Been unemployed for several months and still looking.

Re:Hugh Pickens is a DOLT! (1)

MitchDev (2526834) | about 6 months ago | (#45934695)

Just because you choose to live like an animal (and a prey animal at that)....

Re:Hugh Pickens is a DOLT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45934885)

Just because you choose to live like an animal (and a prey animal at that)....

When you get cancer from all the hormone-saturated meat you eat,
it will be interesting to see if your smugness and laughably juvenile
sense of superiority will remain.

Re:Hugh Pickens is a DOLT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45934781)

Or you could go my route and spend $5/day (for one person) and eat collards, rice, beans, etc. Been unemployed for several months and still looking.

Rice isn't that good of a choice - even if it's brown. If you ate more of the other stuff, you'd never miss the rice. Take a B12 and a D3 supplement if you're a vegan.

Unemployed for several months? In IT?

You're fucked dude. The job market is so tight and employers so unreasonable*, you are pretty much unemployable.

...

* I've been told by employers that if I were any good I wouldn't be unemployed; therefore, I am unqualfied - my previous decade of experience doesn't count.

After 6 months, your "skills" are considered out of date.
Employers demand paid on the job experience.
  Classes mean nothing and no one cares of my projects on GitHub.

My wife, who is in medical, wonders what kind of fucked up industry I am/was in. I am trying to do something else but it's hard getting entry level at 50 years of age. During my volunteering, a retired big shot said, "It's unfair, but they're going to go for the younger guy. It's a fact of life."

I just wish my student loan lender took that into consideration.

OH yeah! DO NOT take student loans to get retrained!

Change food stamps... (3, Interesting)

MitchDev (2526834) | about 6 months ago | (#45934681)

...from a "Dollar amount" to specifics foods or types of food. No $$$, just "Bag of apples/fruit", "Vegetables", "Loaf of Bread", "Milk", "Orange/Apple Juice", etc.

Perhaps have specific Food Stamp distribution centers instead of just about any old store accepting them. Take out the choice and lower the direct fraud (once they get the food from the program, there's not much you can do to stop them selling it if they choose, unless we just set up meal kitchens instead of food stamp, although that has it's appeal as well.)

Re:Change food stamps... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45934773)

Yes, a food stamp distribution center, because such a thing would not not billions a year to operate and wouldn't invite rampant abuse from the people hired to staff it.

Re:Change food stamps... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45934817)

One "not", not two, lest I invite sophomoric nerdy jokes of double negation.

Re:Change food stamps... (1)

bondsbw (888959) | about 6 months ago | (#45934883)

Isn't the whole point of this discussion that it is worth billions of dollars per year to provide nutrition for the poor? Good foods will help their nutrition much more than Cheetos and ice cream, and single-point-of-sale is much easier to monitor than allowing them to do what they want. (It is also easier to enforce that the kids receive the proper allotment and that it isn't sold for drug money.)

Re:Change food stamps... (5, Informative)

icebike (68054) | about 6 months ago | (#45934853)

Take out the choice

The department of Agriculture, which runs the Food Stamp Program, is tasked by law to make sure there is enough food for everyone and that everyone gets fed. Food stamps were born by order of the Supreme Court, not Congress.

I'm pretty sure you won't find much support for having DOA nannies standing at every dinner table to make sure everyone on food stamps eats their collard greens. I'm positive you would accomplish nothing with this approach.

There is no way you can supply food support while at the same time make sure that no budget shifting takes place. They money that might have gone for what people get for free on food stamps will be directed to other foods. Or what-ever. Food stamps were not intended to fix stupid. Just Hungry. You ALREADY can't buy beer on food stamps, stop trying to micromanage the program you apparently know nothing about.

 

Re:Change food stamps... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45935013)

There are some programs like this that already exist. How about a compromise though: You may only purchase unprepared foods (so no pizza, twinkies, ice cream, pop etc.) If you purchase items presently on a farm subsidy you get an additional 15% credit.

This would bolster consumption of subsidized commodities, reduce poor nutritional habits, and generally improve the national and agricultural health.

bad comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45934689)

I like how they compare $2 billion a year could cost $15 billion over a decade, or $16 billion cuts over a decade could cost $15 billion over the same time frame.

From a strictly mathematical viewpoint, the argument does not make sense. Also, if the rate of increase continues, then in the same 10 years, the cost could be 320 billion, which far eclipses the 15 billion in health care costs (which is also an oversimplification).
 

growing up, I always thought... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45934697)

Growing up, I always thought that the goal of civilisation was to alleviate suffering.

On economic grounds, it will cost net $500 million more per year (($2B x 10 - $15B) / 10) to keep people in adequate nutrition. By US budget standards, that's pissing in the ocean.

On humanitarian grounds, there is no question that the money must be allocated.

If society's job isn't to improve the lot of humanity, it has no purpose. If we look only at ourselves, we are no better than apes.

Re:growing up, I always thought... (0, Troll)

MitchDev (2526834) | about 6 months ago | (#45934709)

Welcome to the human race, you've discovered the truth of humanity.

A society exists to help those that contribute to it. Those who refuse to work or be productive and useful generally should be left out.

Re:growing up, I always thought... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45934763)

You assume civilization is the only answer. What if I reject civilization? What if I wish to live off the land like mankind did for countless aeons? You force people to live in this prison-zoo you call a civilization and then give them no alternative, so when they give up you say they can either starve to death or go to prison. Pretty narrow-minded and thoughtless attitude people have, methinks.

Re:growing up, I always thought... (1)

ACE209 (1067276) | about 6 months ago | (#45934785)

Did you take into account that more and more automation in production does call for less workforce.

And maybe the assumption that everybody on foodstamps is refusing to be productive or is generally useless is a bit broad.

Re:growing up, I always thought... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45934787)

Eh, I thought food stamps were awarded based on lack of means, not on conscientious objection to work. There are lots of reasons why people might lack means, such as being born severely disabled or stupid.

But, still, I don't see why anyone should suffer even they willingly don't want to contribute. It just seems so lazy and simplistic - again, it makes us no more interesting than monkeys. Give everyone enough for food and shelter, and treat them decently, and you have a society that's worth contributing to. If you have to force a significant number of people to cooperate rather than convince them, your civilisation has failed entirely.

"Refusal" being...? (1)

Two99Point80 (542678) | about 6 months ago | (#45934805)

That's just an invitation to sweep with a narrower broom. Feel free to refuse it.

Re:growing up, I always thought... (4, Insightful)

sqrt(2) (786011) | about 6 months ago | (#45934833)

There will come a time when people who are guilty of nothing more than being born of mere average intelligence will not have any "meaningful" contributions to make to the scaffolding of society. We're already there for a lot of people. What do you propose we do about them? They're going to get their means of survival one way or another. I'd rather it be a peaceful and orderly process instead of violent anarchy. They may not have the technical skills to be computer programmers or engineers, nor the artistic talent to be great painters or composers, but guns, clubs, and jars of gasoline are technologies they'll readily understand and immediately grasp the utility of in their struggle to exist. Denied the opportunity to participate in the future economy by their unexceptional intelligence, they will not simply lay down and resign themselves to starving to death.

Re:growing up, I always thought... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45934769)

If we look only at ourselves, we are no better than apes.

Don't insult. Apes DO care for each other.

remove health care from jobs and there will be mor (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 6 months ago | (#45934699)

remove health care from jobs and there will be more them. As well getting rid of the no ot for salary worker or having some like a high min pay level say 100K+ + COL to be able to no pay ot

For years places have been useing salary workers working 50-60-80 hours to cover having less workers over all.

The US is a total welfare state (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45934701)

Your multi-billion dollar business go under? Get a huge bailout from taxpayers.
Have five kids with four different fathers? Taxpayers will cover your kids' entire upbringing.
Your bank cause a market crash? Taxpayers are forced to cover your corruption.
Stopped looking for work for a few years? Here's free food and housing courtesy of taxpayers.

"Food stamps feed 1 in 7 Americans and cost almost $80 billion a year, twice what it cost five years ago".

So we've doubled the amount of money we spend on food stamps and we have record numbers of Americans that rely on the government for their food. I wonder which way the vote. When you don't work and get your income from the government (who gets its money from taxpayers) then there is no incentive to look for work. Have some kids, collect some checks, and don't ever look for work. And with all the unemployment and record food stamp usage both parties are now talking about letting millions of illegal immigrants into this country and legalizing the ones that are already here.

And of course cue the screaming. "Corporate welfare is worse than individual welfare". They are both a major drain on society. And individual welfare is now a record drain. There's no incentive to succeed anymore. There's no incentive for personal responsibility. You can have six kids out of wedlock and be rewarded by the state with free food and housing. This happens on such a massive scale that we lose billions annually creating a system that encourages broken homes, unwanted children, and bastard children with no future as productive citizens.

Re:The US is a total welfare state (3, Insightful)

inode_buddha (576844) | about 6 months ago | (#45934789)

There isn't any incentive to succeed when corporate America does everything it can to hold your wage down and ignore the fact that you spent your own money on the education that they are taking advantage of.

And then you have those who legitimately *can't* work due to medical conditions. Not everyone is being a lazy ass. Getting the right wingers to admit this is like pulling teeth tho. I hope to god that someday they are completely unable to care for themselves.

Has it occurred to you that this country is run by some incredibly cheap bastards? Like real wages adjusted for inflation have been stagnant for decades, *regardless of trying to improve*.

Try again.

I found the solution to healthcare costs! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45934707)

Put everybody on food stamps! That should reduce 15 billion in healthcare costs for every 2 billion more in food stamps we spend. Perfect solution.

What!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45934721)

The things people will do and say to toe their party line.

Flat out ridiculous. This system is full of abuse/fraud and needs to be addressed, as do most other government 'programs'.

Opposite is true (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45934723)

It is well known that near-starvation diet contributes to the highest longevity, which is a rough indication of overall health. Vice versa, it is a well known fact that obesity is a never ending source of all kind of medical problems.

So, to say that food stamps will increase healthcare costs it is, at the minimum, dishonest.

Re:Opposite is true (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45934873)

You're not very smart. Ihe idea is that by reducing food stamps you force people on them to buy cheaper, lower-quality food, which means they then will start suffering from more diseases and disorders.

Learn to read before you try to speak, moron.

As someone on food stamps... (5, Insightful)

hedgemage (934558) | about 6 months ago | (#45934737)

I currently get food stamps and they provide the entirety of my food budget. I am well educated and know my way around a kitchen so I can keep myself fit and healthy for well under the $187/month I get. But if I wanted, I could buy candy, coke, and chips and try and live off of that. If you are on food stamps you can NOT simply rely on prepackaged heat and serve meals - you'll either run out of money or not get the nutrition you need. You need to focus on the basics: beans, rice, lentils, fresh fruits and veggies, and only occasionally some raw chicken (forget your love affair with beef, its too expensive). In my view, the problem is with education rather than money. Teach people how to cook and what to cook and they'll be healthy. Barrage them with ads for canned raviolis and Doritos and you'll get people who think that cooking simply involves heating things up. The food stamp program needs to be revised so that you are prohibited from purchasing junk foods just like alcohol or cigarettes can't be bought. In addition to restricting crap foods, allow people to purchase things like vitamins, toothpaste, and toilet paper with their food stamps. Being on food stamps is not fun, but for many people it is not a choice (the elderly or disabled) so lets make the program actually work for the benefit of those who receive the money.

Re:As someone on food stamps... (2)

x0ra (1249540) | about 6 months ago | (#45934839)

This is pretty much the good old: "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime".

Re:As someone on food stamps... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45934967)

That would be great if people could actually fish for free.

Re:As someone on food stamps... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45934859)

You sound like Michelle Obama's poster child. Oh wait you're on food stamps...

Re:As someone on food stamps... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45934903)

Rush is that you?

Re:As someone on food stamps... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45934919)

Well educated AND on food stamps? Even as we approach our sixth Summer of Recovery? Were you ever required to read Bastiat's "Ce qu'on voit et ce qu'on ne voit pas"?

Re:As someone on food stamps... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45934989)

It is good to know you can eat healthy on food stamps. I one question and one comment:

Q. It sounds like you are single and cooking/feeding yourself on 187.00/mo. What is the benefit for a family of 3 or more (ie. single parent two kids)

While not nearly as nutritious these prepackage foods are quicker to prepare and serve and for a hard working single parent. I suspect in many of these families the children feed themselves too. It is far easier for them to open a bag or put something into the microwave than to have to prepare prepare serve then clean up the kitchen after dinner.

I totally agree with lack of education argument and would hope some of the other issues could be address too.

I'm somewhat shocked (4, Interesting)

DiSKiLLeR (17651) | about 6 months ago | (#45934741)

I'm somewhat shocked that 1 in 7 american's is dependent on foodstamps to get by...

Re:I'm somewhat shocked (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about 6 months ago | (#45934861)

I'm somewhat shocked that 1 in 7 american's is dependent on foodstamps to get by...

Why be shocked? Nearly 50m americans on food stamps, and the labor participation rate is the lowest since the 1970's under Carter, but they're a'screamin' that unemployment is going down.

Haha that's a good one (2)

ArchieBunker (132337) | about 6 months ago | (#45934743)

You're telling me that the people who use food stamps spend it on healthy items like fruit or oatmeal? The only thing I ever see people using EBT cards for is buying carts of TV dinners and bottles of pop. Add some potato chips and hotdogs to round it out. EBT should only work on certain items like WIC does.

Re: Haha that's a good one (2)

rickb928 (945187) | about 6 months ago | (#45934923)

That probably had more to do with where you are shopping than you know. Try shopping at a 'supermarket' in a lower income area. See how your choices change from fresh produce and quality protein to frozen everything and variations of junk food.

Cheetos != Nutritious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45934761)

Most food purchases with food stamps are not very nutritious to begin with.

Oh, please (4, Insightful)

Jiro (131519) | about 6 months ago | (#45934765)

Almost any political position is believed by its followers to be something that affects people's lives, and thus can be spun as affecting health care costs. It's just as easy to do it for the other side. Just take the standard political argument and tack on "so it affects health care costs". For instance, conservatives say that the costs hurt the economy. Well, in a worse economy, people have more health care problems (for hopefully obvious reasons). So food stamps increase health care costs because although they provide food (reducing health care costs), they also harm the economy by a marginal amount (increasing health care costs). If the latter effect is larger, then food stamps are a health care disaster.

And it's unlikely that the study which claimed that cutting food stamps increases health care costs by 15 billion took into account the possibility that paying for food stamps hurts the economy and health care costs are larger in a worse economy.

I can claim that gun control decreases health care costs (because it reduces gun violence and victims of violence use hospitals--this has been claimed for real). I could on the other hand claim that looser gun laws decrease health care costs (because people can use guns to protect themselves from criminals and people hurt by criminals use hospitals). Maybe we need stronger drug laws (stoned people don't take care of themselves very well) or weaker drug laws (the drug war sends people to prison where health is bad and they can't earn a living when they get out since they have an arrest record, making them poor, and so more likely to have high health care costs).

How about arguing that censoring video games reduces health care costs? (fewer teens will become criminals if you censor games; less crime means fewer people sent to hospitals by criminals). It's all about disguising a political position as a nonpartisan one, not about health care.

And the costs are not sustainable (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45934767)

as the economy struggled and the costs are not sustainable

How about saving trillions by cutting other unnecessary programs like... oh I don't know... spying on everyone on earth and the long-term war on being middle-eastern that the US seems to keep waging.

Nope. We'll cut food to the poor, because fuck the poor! That's why!

Re:And the costs are not sustainable (2)

ButchDeLoria (2772751) | about 6 months ago | (#45934845)

Well, they choose to be poor. If they'd only pull themselves up by their bootstraps and walk into the nearest Fortune 500 company and give the CEO a firm handshake, I'm sure they could be rich in no time.

Re:And the costs are not sustainable (1)

jd (1658) | about 6 months ago | (#45935003)

Depends. If the handshake is for a rival secret society...

Re:And the costs are not sustainable (1)

inode_buddha (576844) | about 6 months ago | (#45935009)

If I weren't sooo lazy, I'd work a bit harder and BOOM! I'd be RICH! Why, if I weren't so lazy, I could get another job on top of my other two, and work some more! After all, I'm only working 80 hours a week and who needs sleep and recreation!

And we all know that the billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Buffet and all them got where they are by working hard and being honest and forthright people! Anyone can do it!

We all know that all it takes here in the states is to work hard and wealth is guaranteed! Well, if it weren't for the government regulations.

I had a chemical disposal business and the fucking EEE, PEEE, AYE stopped me from disposing in the local trout stream! How the hell is one going to make a living with these communist basterds?! And this bullshit nonsense about children getting cancer and whatnot - why there's St. Judes to help them! Business and profits first and health and well being is just a socialist value! Anyway, cancer was created by socialists to punish the hard working creators and rewards the takers!

And this bullshit of "you didn't build that!" why, the private sector could do just fine building roads and highways and edukating us!

If you're poor, it's all because of your character! Yes sir! If you worked hard have decent values, you wouldn't be poor!

Poor people have poor character and they are stupid! It's all their fault! If they would just pull themselves up by their bootstraps like I did, all would be well!

I tell you, the values in this society have deteriorated. Way back when, those people would be left to starve - as they should - and it allowed for us makers to achieve and better society.

They are not "food stamps" anymore (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45934791)

They are "EBT" cards, and you most certainly buy all sorts of non-nutritional stuff. All the fast food joints around here proudly proclaim "EBT Accepted"!

This should be obvious (1)

jd (1658) | about 6 months ago | (#45934993)

You cannot make money without spending money
You cannot save money without spending money
Cheap solutions can end up very expensive
Expensive but appropriate solutions can wind up costing less

This is all very basic stuff. Sticker price is rarely the only price.

NB: Appropriate is there for a reason. Charging more for a bad product doesn't magically make it a good product. If it did, can you imagine how good bank CEOs would be by now? In fact, there are a number of situations where the normal economic rules invert, where high prices are desirable and price wars lead to ever-higher costs.

Equally, low sticker prices don't automatically mean bad. Think of Linux, which has the lowest sticker price possible and is superb. But that only appears degenerate because of looking at sticker price alone. If you cost the time spent developing and testing, you actually show Linux to be in the fourth category. If you value developer time at typical market rates, Linux probably weighs in at around $1.2 billion. Very expensive, but the TCO of using it is very very low.

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