Pete Vere on America’s Kitchen Calvinism

Pete Vere on America’s Kitchen Calvinism May 15, 2015

He writes over on his FB page concern the latest GOP move in Wisconsin to humiliate the poor:

There are four sins that cry out to God for vengeance: 1) Shedding of innocent blood; 2) Sodomy; 3) Denying the worker his just wage; and 4) ignoring the cry of the widow and the orphan.

The widow and the orphan are used interchangeably with the poor throughout the Old Testament, as God calls Israel to social justice and punishes Israel accordingly when it lacks charity toward the poor and the oppressed. Thus the idea that poverty is a sign of Divine disfavour has never been Catholic doctrine. Rather it is Calvinist.
Yet what bothers me most about these proposed shopping cart gestapos is that they not only ignore the cry of the widow and orphan, the laws actually add to the humiliation of the latter. As Mark Shea puts it, the poor are targeted because they are poor. Somehow, being poor makes them less than human, which is why we must take away even their most basic choices and sources or personal pleasure. It’s the mentality behind factory farming but extended to humans, as Miki might say. How long before Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s concentration camp diet in Maricopa County becomes the national welfare standard?

This is the only explanation I can think of given that (as Kevin M. Tierney points out) the cost of enforcing these laws is multiple that which will be saved by trimming Cheetos from the shopping cart. Nor has anyone, I imagine, calculated the true human costs of removing basic choices from the poor and making them further dependent upon government. The poor have very few choices in life. Yet it is the ability to reason and make choices that separates humans from the mere instinct of animals. This is not about justice and fiscal accountability. This is about manufacturing sheeple by stripping the poor of their humanity.

But at what price?

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  • Dave G.

    I read an interesting article a week or so ago. It was a European publication dealing with the economic problems in Greece, and the issue of paying off of debts. It was written from someone referencing an Orthodox thinker. According to him, the problems with the debt payments and demands for repayment rather than some form of leniency were the fault of the Catholic Church and its emphasis on Christ’s death as a payment to satisfy the wages of sin. Because of Catholic theology, we have all these problems!

    I don’t buy it, for what it’s worth. But I don’t buy the Catholic tendency to want to imagine that the problems we have are usually because of those rascally Protestants. A casual reading of history will show that problems similar to our own were around long before the Reformation. Not that we can’t pinpoint certain influences, good and bad, with various approaches such as Calvinism, but trying to heap blame onto one group probably does more to justify simple hostility to the Faith in general, rather than a particular branch of it.

    • Andy

      I think Mark is referencing the view found in Calvin’s works and how they are interpreted the idea that we are all sinners and the poor by extension are in need of correction – one need only look at the idea of the workhouses – where the poor were “punished” and exploited – for the benefit of those who were given much through the mysterious workings of God.

      • Dave G.

        I think you’re right. My point is don’t overstate the case. Others are more than happy to do the same.

        • Andy

          I agree with you about overstatement.

          • antigon

            Ouch!

      • antigon

        Nonsense Andy. That Catholicism has – like Christ one might note – never seen poverty as a sign of divine disfavor, & that Calvinism manifestly did & does, is not written by Mr. Shea because it is a simple & straightforward fact, but to heap blame on Protestants rather than, as he should, on Catholics who’ve been mean to Dave G!

    • Elmwood

      that’s an interesting idea, one that is similar to the idea that catholicism laid the groundwork for protestantism being fertile ground for the protestant heresies. i think there may be some truth to what this orthodox thinker said. the idea being that, certain western christian ideas–mostly from st. augustine, were taken to an extreme and fuelled these heresies.

      • Dave G.

        I had a church history professor who used to say that Protestantism was a very Catholic phenomenon. In that, I’m sure there is something to what what said about Catholicism’s part in how the West might approach such things as debt. And I’m fine with seeing the influence of Calvinism – and it is there – in issues like our approach to economics. Though it deserves both good and bad credit. I just notice that here lately, in some quarters secular and Catholic, Calvinism is becoming the reason for anything and everything that America has ever done wrong (well Calvinism and Puritanism). That’s the overstating that I concern myself with. Just like the article about Greece. Some truth, but I felt it went beyond and attempted to put all blame squarely on the Church’s shoulders.

  • ManyMoreSpices

    Yet what bothers me most about these proposed shopping cart gestapos

    Oh hi there Professor Godwin! So nice to see you. Why don’t you have a seat and make yourself comfortable. Coffee or tea? Yes, we have decaf. I’ll have that for you in just a moment.

    If your response to people who don’t want to see welfare dollars wasted on poisons that make poor people even worse off than they are is to equate them to the Nazi secret police, well, your argument is bad and you should feel bad for making it. That kind of character assassination is what the Stasi did, you commie.

    Somehow, being poor makes them less than human, which is why we must take away even their most basic choices and sources or personal pleasure.

    This is backwards. No one is “taking away” anything. Poor people are being given money, with restrictions on the use of that money and that money alone. If they choose to buy candy, liquor, scratch-off lottery tickets, or lap dances with money they don’t get from the government, they are free to do so. If they chose to indulge in those things before, they can still indulge in them now. This difference now? They can eat, too. We’re guaranteeing their basic needs. Saying “you can’t buy additional cigarettes with this money that we’re giving you” is not the same as saying “no cigarettes at all.”

    As for the supposed evil of restricting “sources of personal pleasure,” I’ve said this before: once you’ve committed to the idea that we’re handing out welfare in the form of anything other than cash, you’ve decided that you have the right to tell poor people what to do. Giving a housing voucher, food stamps, or heating oil says to the recipient “this money is for your rent, food, and heat. It’s not for slot machines, bourbon, or prostitutes.” And if that’s evil, then every church clothing drive and soup kitchen is evil. Giving clothes or food to the poor instead of giving them the cash value of the clothing or food says “I know better than you about what your needs are. I made chicken soup, and if you’d rather have Pixie Stix, too bad, subhuman. I get to decide what you eat, because you are poor, I am rich, and I hate you.”

    I used to think that the old ladies in my parish who cooked weekly dinner for the men’s shelter were kind. Now I know that they’re a gaggle of Eva Brauns, showing that they think they’re better than homeless men because they make tuna casseroles instead of letting the men spend cash on something else. I used to tutor men for their GEDs at the same shelter. Now I realize the error of my ways. I should have calculated the value of an hour of my time and distributed that money to the students. How dare I teach these men algebra?

    Food for the Poor? I used to think they were a great charity, helping the impoverished in Latin America. Now I know that they’re the Gestapo because they give food, medicine, and shelter to the poor rather than handing them a wad of cash and allowing the poor to spend money as they see fit. More like Food for HITLER, amirite? It’s a hop, skip, and a jump from giving the poor nutritious food aid to putting the poor on trains to Auschwitz. Teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for the rest of his life; give a man a fish, you might as well be giving him Zyklon-B.

    When you ladle out soup, donate a pair of shoes, or devote your labor to building a home through Habitat for Humanity instead of handing out dollar bills, you’re restricting the choices of the poor in the same way that Wisconsin is. They’re just drawing the line elsewhere. A difference of degree, not of kind.

    • Hezekiah Garrett

      But in none of the examples you cite are choices limited to limit choices. Those actions all limit choices to shepherd limited resources to do the most good. You stock a food pantry with tuna instead of lobster because tuna is cheaper, And therefore more are fed on a limited budget.

      So how are Wisconsin’s restrictions going to shepherd resources? Surely you have considered this and have a good answer. I mean, no one here thinks you’re just justifying your hatred for the poor or anything.

      • ManyMoreSpices

        And therefore more are fed on a limited budget.

        You wrote that sentence and yet you can’t figure it out.

        • Hezekiah Garrett

          No, I can’t figure out for the life of me how reducing the food choices of an EBT recipient will feed more people. And I certainly can’t fathom how drug testing is going to feed more people.

          The former is going to increase public cost and deprive the poor of food options. The latter is going to reduce EBT rolls.

          So explain please, because I’m starting to wonder what your game really is…

          • ManyMoreSpices

            You aren’t wondering anything. Your mind is made up, you’re rude, and you’re not going to listen. My game? My game is not playing your game. Be a jerk and troll all you want. I’m not responding until you learn some basic civility that your mother should have taught you when you were four.

            • Hezekiah Garrett

              You started your comments with several paragraphs of snark directed at your host, And you call me rude?

              I didn’t think you had an answer, But I gave you the opportunity.

              • ManyMoreSpices

                Pete Vere is not my host.
                Mark Shea is my host.
                Pete Vere referred to those who disagree with them on this issue as “gestapo.”
                All the Nazi snark was directed to Pete Vere, who set the tone.

                And I have an answer for you – it starts with your misreading of my comment, just as you misread that my remarks were directed at Shea, and not Vere – but you’re not getting it as long as you’re uncivil.

                • Hezekiah Garrett

                  That’s fine. The thicker skinned but on the fence observers of this exchange Will probably judge it differently than you or I though.

                  So for their benefit, I will reiterate that reducing The available shopping options of EBT recipients in the manner Wisconsin proposes, will not increase The number of people aided by EBT, nor will it reduce the cost per recipient*, nor as written will it necessarily lead to greater health outcomes.

                  *It will, in fact, increase the cost per recipient due to necessary regulatory and surveillance changes that must be implemented.

                  But you keep your counterargument to yourself because I’m a dick.

                  Great strategy!

                  • ManyMoreSpices

                    The debate over restrictions on food stamps (for lack of a better term) is layered. There are a lot of alleys that we can charge down. I’d like to focus on the argument that I made in response to Pete Vere. Vere said: “Somehow, being poor makes them less than human, which is why we must take away even their most basic choices and sources or personal pleasure.” And of course he called those who wish to restrict the categories of items on which food stamp money can be spent “gestapos.”

                    My response to that was not about the difference between tuna and lobster, as you seem to think. My response was that everyone places restrictions on their charitable giving, and normally we don’t consider those to arise out of hatred for the poor. Normally we don’t even bat an eye.

                    If it is wrong to say “you must spend this welfare money on food that has nutritious value” because by doing so you’re restricting choice, then it is also wrong to run a church food pantry or soup kitchen. By stocking and running a food pantry, you’re not giving the poor the cash value of tuna and letting them decide what to do with it. You’re giving them the choice of the food you have chosen or nothing. You’ve got a choice of lasagna, string bean casserole, or baked chicken at the soup kitchen. Don’t like those? Rather eat junk and get drunk? I’m sorry, but the soup kitchen isn’t morally obligated to give you the cash value of the food they would have provided so that you can walk next door to the liquor store and buy malt liquor and hot fries. Yet some people think that we have just that moral obligation when the money we use to help the poor passes through the government. That’s dangerous nonsense, but some people believe it and will call you a Nazi if you disagree.

                    Now, people with a functioning conscience don’t have any problem with restricting the uses of charitable funds. I’m sure you can see why there’s nothing immoral about giving charitable aid in the form of food, clothing, shelter, and medical care instead of cash. But when we attempt to apply the same limitations on government welfare spending everyone (well, some people) loses their minds.

                    The efficacy and efficiency of limiting the use of welfare spending? What should make the EBT cut and what shouldn’t? Those are other, debatable issues, and I’m open to being persuaded that the enforcement costs exceed what we save through waste prevention. Enforcement of the law is as subject to the law of diminishing returns as anything else. But some enforcement is zero cost. It doesn’t cost anything to forbid owners of strip clubs, liquor stores, and head shops from accepting EBT cards. Sorry Cheech, you can’t buy a bong with your food stamps, and I’m not going to Hell for preventing you.

                    tl;dr – On some level, everyone agrees that we may morally limit how charitable funds are spend. There are no differences in kind, only in degree. It’s wrong to assume that those who want tighter restrictions than those you favor do it out of hatred for the poor.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      As a person who has personally and greatly suffered from a so-called charitable person limiting how her charity should be used, without of course making the least effort to understand the “givee’s” actual need (of course, the giver always knows best), I have to disagree with you…

                    • ManyMoreSpices

                      I have to disagree with you…

                      Exactly what do you disagree with? That charity can take forms other than cash? That those who donate can place any restrictions at all on the use of those resources? That a soup kitchen needn’t figure out the cash value of the food that it intended to give out and provide that cash to someone who wants to spend it on a hooker?

                      No one’s “actual need” ever involves lap dances, cigarettes, tattoos, or malt liquor. If you can’t agree that it is reasonable and moral to restrict the use of charitable giving to prevent spending on those items, I don’t know what to say to you.

                      While charitable giving should be tailored to best serve the needs of the poor, that does not mean that every act of charity should take the form of cash so that the recipient can do whatever he pleases with it. Apparently you disagree. Well, that’s fine. You can tell your parish priest that he’s sinning for giving out food instead of giving the poor cash so they can buy what they want.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      I would say that you are not really making a good point when comparing such extreme ways of spending one’s money as hiring a hooker and purchasing food. In many cases, there are a number of different items between basic food and hiring hookers, don’t you think? There are situations that are subject to various opinions, and, unfortunately, various levels of prejudice. One example that comes to mind, although it does not have anything to do with food choices, could illustrate what I am trying to say. Suppose a person is handicapped, on a small disability pension, and also legally blind. Would you accuse her of misusing her government support if she wanted a large screen TV? I have often seen that argument in comment threads such as this one that too many of the poor, while requesting government support, still expect to own, or do own, a large flat-screen TV… Thus there are certainly people who would say that the above-mentioned person would be wrong, that a tv set is a luxury that the poor should not covet. Others, such as myself, would think that she is perfectly entitled to that tv, since she would not be able to see the pictures with any level of clarity (or even see them at all) if she had a smaller set, and her possibilities are limited when it comes to ways of spending her spare time. This is only one example among a multitude of other scenarios… I am bringing it up because in this case I am speaking from experience.

                    • anna lisa

                      Marthe, as far as I’m concerned, the disabled aren’t even part of the equation that we are speaking about.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      As I see it, they are, particularly when their sole source of income happens to be government support, doled out in such a way as to make absolutely sure that they are poor and have absolutely no opportunity to improve their situation due to a number of stupid and inhuman rules they are subjected to (in Ontario, at least), and I don’t mean about their food choices.

                    • anna lisa

                      I am so sorry that this is the case. I hope that there will be change for the better. The disabled should be treated like they are the true royalty of any society. Children and the disabled teach us how to be human beings.

                      I think that’s why the subject of junk food makes me ballistic. It’s like people think the poor are a subclass that deserves to be left to languish in some swamp that they’re used to and think is palatable. “But it gives them JOY!”–say the critics. I can’t be silent without calling b.s. on that one! ( Sorry, Marthe, I know you’re a refined person.)

                      That, and Peter Pan fathers really, really make me lose my cool. If there’s anything I can’t stand it’s having to put up with people who worship the pleasure paradigm. They end up like perpetual teenagers trapped in aging adult bodies.–They need boot camp of some sort.

                      “Oh, but I’m writing music” says my 24, y.o. nephew. In my head I’m thinking, “get. a. job. and write it AFTER WORK.”

                      But I don’t say a word because I’ll be accused of being “Judgmental”, (as I was on numerous occasions on this thread.) The difference is that I have to *live* with family members, and can’t just click a mouse and go offline. I also have to watch my two teenagers admiring him with glowing eyes because they think he’s so cool.

                      Nothing happens in a vacuum.

            • antigon

              Dear Mr. Spices:
              *
              Deeply appreciate this excellent example of civility from which we can only hope Mr. Garrett will profit.

              • ManyMoreSpices

                Sorry boss, but when someone’s first engagement with me consists of a snide accusation that I hate the poor, I’m going to tell him that he’s rude. Because he is. You like him because he’s on your side, but his behavior is detestable.

                • antigon

                  Mr. S:
                  *
                  Telling him so in context of a lecture on civility was especially commendable as I noted, tho I fear this thin evidence – & there is no other – for the propositions either that I am especially fond of nor consider Mr. Garrett to stand behind whatever view it is you think I hold.
                  *
                  Even so, I do admit to finding Mr. Garrett’s contributions often of interest, as, sirrah (as you invite), incidentally do I yours.

            • Marthe Lépine

              Interestting… If my memory is correct, it is not the first time that you have used that argument against people disagreeing with you (in some other comment threads). It is in fact OK that you are personally convinced of the points you are making. However it seems to me that you might be having a problem with other people who are equally convinced that their own opinions are also correct. There is no reason that they would automatically change their minds just because you are convinced of something else. But a discussion such as this can still be useful as a way to see what each others’ opinions may have in common and to examine more thoroughly the reasons other parts of those opinions are differing. A lot of light could come out of such exercise.

              • ManyMoreSpices

                Oh stop with the wordy condescension. Disagreement is awesome, and I’m happy to engage with anyone who does so civilly. But Hezekaih entered this discussion with a snide accusation that I hated the poor: “I mean, no one here thinks you’re just justifying your hatred for the poor or anything.” He’s on your side of this issue so you’re having trouble seeing it, but his behavior is loathsome. And Vere’s was similarly loathsome: likening those who disagree with them on this Nazis.

                I’m not going to engage with those people on those terms, understand? When they’re ready to graduate from the Kids Table and converse with the adults, I’ll talk to them. Anyone who disagrees with me and can conduct himself with basic manners – like you – will get a response.

  • SteveP

    Pete Vere: the widow and the orphan are both cases, not of poverty in general, but of woman and children being bereft of provision and protection. The call is not for social justice but for men, who labor according to Adam’s curse, for men to be generous just as the Father is generous. I look forward to hearing your reports of how you lead your household and your assembly in this call from God.
    .
    Mark: the poor are not targeted because they are poor; the target is whoever is getting disbursements from the public treasury: there’s gold in them there hills.

    • Hezekiah Garrett

      Yeah, that’s why we see so much corporate welfare ending every day!

      • SteveP

        Hezekiah Garrett: your response falls short of a gnomic utterance; care to expand it?

        • Hezekiah Garrett

          The target is the poor, not anyone receiving public funds, as evidenced by the largest recipients of welfare remaining untouched because they have lobbyists.

          This isn’t hard to figure out, but for the deaf you shout, for the blind, you draw big pictures.

          • SteveP

            Hezekiah Garrett: observe piglets fighting over a teat then fall back on your easy answer in denial of what your eyes see.
            .
            More directly: what, under heaven, do you think lobbyists are lobbying for? The answer is: a larger share of disbursement and a larger appropriation to be disbursed. Now take the next step and tell me who is getting milked.

            • Hezekiah Garrett

              Me and you, of courselves, but again, off-topic. If it isn’t The poor being targeted, why is it always the poor being targeted?

              • SteveP

                When coveting is cool, what does it matter of he who has what you covet? It is very well played out: someone wants some of your income and they get it; likewise someone wants part of your disbursement and they get it. There’s gold in them there hills.

      • anna lisa

        I don’t think there is one person here who isn’t utterly disgusted by corporate welfare.

        • Hezekiah Garrett

          So? What does your disgust have to do with anything at all? Can I deposit your disgust to cover that portion of my wages lost to cover corporate welfare?

          • anna lisa

            That was a non statement. I could ask *you* the same question.

            • Hezekiah Garrett

              I haven’t expressed disgust. What on earth Are you talking about?

              • anna lisa

                So childish.
                So much time on your hands to indulge your anger.

                I’m leaving to take my fifth to his confirmation interview.
                Have a nice day Hez.

        • Allowing folks to buy junk foods with EBT is a type of corporate welfare. I’m sure there are lots of “Fat Cats” who love the fact that Cheetos and Coke can be bought with EBT. (BTW I’ve given a few of your comments the one up ’cause it appears to me that you are being unreasonably attacked)

          • Marthe Lépine

            Agreed. If junk food is so bad (as it is), maybe the answer would be to control how the junk food providers seem to proliferate in poor neighbourhood (in a way similar to Planned Parenthood, by the way) instead of trying to control how the poor choose their foods. It might also be a good idea to look into the barrage of advertising presented to the poor through one of the only entertainment media they can (barely) afford to use, the TV… It takes a certain level of education to actually be able to ignore that bombardment of advertising!

            • “It takes a certain level of education to actually be able to ignore that bombardment of advertising!”

              We can’t have it both ways.

              If we want to prohibit buying junk food with EBT, we’re accused of treating the poor as is they’re not smart enough to make their own choices.
              But, it’s OK to do something about TV advertising because the poor don’t have the level of education to properly deal with slick ads.

              • Marthe Lépine

                It is not what I meant. It has been observed that advertising agencies will use psychologists to help them design ads that will make the unwary viewers really think that they are not really living if they don’t get, or eat, this or that product. In addition, much of the ads for junk food are directed at kids. It can be very difficult not to get influenced by such ads, or to constantly hold firm when the kids keep asking things they have seen on tv. I did not mean to say the poor are not educated enough to make informed choices, rather that people can be easily manipulated if the professionals making the ads are really good at their jobs, and that to deal with slick ads takes a special form of education that may just not be available to everyone.

                • So, the poor are not uneducated….just “easily manipulated”.

                  You’re only digging the hole deeper.

                  • Marthe Lépine

                    Everybody can get easily manipulated – rich or poor. With all the complaints I have seen about the current education systems, I would assume that it is reasonable to conclude that critical thinking is generally not too well taught… It is a risk that human beings often find difficult to avoid when faced with professional manipulators (remember the snake in the garden?). Have you ever followed a political campaign closely?

                  • Marthe Lépine

                    To clarify a bit more: Everybody is subject to be manipulated by slick ads, but it seems that the poor are being singled out for condemnation of they dare to allow themselves to be attracted to the promises, or the lures, of our consumer society and to desire some of the same things that other people in better financial situations consider to be perfectly reasonable. As if in order to be “deserving poor”, one has to be able to live like a monk and be completely detached from the desire of possessions (e.g. poverty).

                    • Living within one’s means isn’t “living like a monk”. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, there are many who cannot provide enough food for themselves and their family. It is up to us to help. It is our duty.

                      However, resources are limited; junk food – chips, candy, Cokes – are empty calories and a waste of those limited resources. There isn’t some basic human right to eat Cheetos.

                      I can’t believe that we’re being criticized because we want to provide the poor with nutritious food but not food that is less nutritious than the box it comes in.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      It depends what one’s means are…

        • Andy

          I would beg to differ – I have read many comments supporting the use of our tax dollars to subsidize folks who work at Walmart; have read that our tax dollars should continue to support pool giants so they can drill and not pass the costs on to the consumer. Supporting corporate welfare on this blog is an oft seen action.

      • anna lisa

        I’m sorry, you have the wrong discussion. This is the one for Wisconsin banning fresh seafood for EBT recipients.

  • anna lisa

    For the life of me, I can’t understand why Mark has staked out such an irrational position. *Of course* it’s lacking in charity to stand by and simply watch poor people *starve* themselves and their children with empty calories and all manner of bogus “food”. I watched a documentary of the poor people who are so incapacitated by their obesity and all of the accompanying illnesses that come with obesity, that teams of nurses need to come to them, because they can hardly even *move*. It makes zero sense at all that they can buy liters of soda and Doritos with their food stamps. That’s *not* Christian charity. How about stocking their shelves with organic milk, free range eggs, whole grains, vegetables, salmon and beef?

    Wouldn’t it be better for teams of nutritionists to come into homes to teach people how to *cook whole foods* than give shots and I.V. medications?
    .
    The other elephant in the room is how Mark always discusses women and children, conveniently brushing under the rug the guy who sits on his ass day in and day out, glued to ESPN on his flat screen, smoking crack and using his poor wife and children as human shields for his ridiculous work ethic. How absurd.

    Mark is brilliant, but once he stakes out a position, he’d rather be beaten with canes rather than even consider that he might be wrong.

    • Hezekiah Garrett

      I’m sorry, you have the wrong discussion. This is the one for Wisconsin banning fresh seafood for EBT recipients.

      I’m really not sure where they are discussing assignment of nutritionists and life coaches to the poverty stricken obese. I know I’d be all for that. I am pretty sure Mark would Too.

      If you find the discussion you were looking for, please cone back and let us know . We’ll back you up!

      • anna lisa

        Seriously Hezekiah, what *is* your problem?

        The problem is so, so, so much simpler than your condescending attitude.

        –But I’m a Nazi for even questioning the almighty “poor” and some of their questionable decisions, eh?

        • Hezekiah Garrett

          Are you intimating that I have called you a Nazi? I’ve done no such thing, and I resent your passive aggressive attempts at calumny.

          • anna lisa

            You seriously have anger issues.
            My thoughts on what people can use EBT cards for shouldn’t threaten you to the point of vile discussion.

            • Hezekiah Garrett

              Other than tour repeated attempts to brand me, figuratively, what vile discussion Are you referring to? You post an off-topic rant, I point out it is off-topic, you start going on about how you aren’t a Nazi.

              Enjoy your errand. I’m on my way to a cardiac arrest of a 450lb frequent flier. But he earned all his grocery money, don’t worry.

              • freddy

                God bless you, Hezekiah! Prayers for you in your work today.

              • Vision_From_Afar

                She’s a little sensitive. You have to use small, friendly words.

                • anna lisa

                  See that’s the thing, you guys think you can bully and belittle people into being better Christians like you.

                  • Vision_From_Afar

                    Oh, but I’m not a Christian. I’m about as far from Christian as you can get. I just like hanging out and reading Mark’s rants because we’re starting to agree more and more and it’s freaking me out in a fun way.
                    Hanging out in the comments is just a bonus.

                    • anna lisa

                      “As far from Christian as you can get”

                      Oooooo.
                      Sounds kind of dark and scintillating.

                    • Vision_From_Afar

                      A mead-drinking, moonlight-dancing, Norse Pagan can be scintillating to some, others just find me amusing.

                    • Rebecca Fuentes

                      Whew! So glad to hear yo’re the mead-drinking type of pagan. The other types are scary 😉

                    • anna lisa

                      Hmmmm I can picture it now. There’s also a fluffy little kitten in the crook of your arm.

                      –Pagans aren’t the furthest thing from Christ.

                      My eight year old was peppering me with questions about pagans this very morning while I was trying to herd them all out the door. St. Paul speaks of the “noble pagan”.–Certainly not as “far from Christian as you can get.”

                    • Vision_From_Afar

                      Mock not my kitten, for she is fierce.

                    • Joseph

                      Hey now. I’m a Catholic and I drink mead and dance in the moonlight. You don’t hold the patent.

                    • Vision_From_Afar

                      Never said I did. The more mead-drinkers out there, the better quality we’ll get on the shelves (because most of it is drivel atm, IMHO). See you next full moon! 😀

              • anna lisa

                Does it make you feel good when you put words in other people’s mouths? Have I *ever* said that the poor need to “earn” their grocery money?

        • anna lisa

          btw, it’s a worthy thought process to define *whom* Jesus was referring to when he called someone *rich* or *poor*…

          You might be surprised by the *real* definition.

    • Vision_From_Afar

      Organic milk and free range eggs? If we’re lucky, they’ll only cost twice per volume as compared to soda and chips.
      Whole grains? Wonderbread is cheaper and doesn’t spoil as quickly.
      Vegetables and beef? Given the meteoric rise of beef prices these days, that’ll put most charities out of business quickly.
      Salmon? Did you see the article Mark posted, where Wisconsin is preventing them from buying it even if they wanted to?

      Teaching them to cook? When do these people have time? Those that are not crippled by some un- or under-diagnosed mental issue, or judged unfairly thanks to a non-obvious physical ailment are most likely working so many hours, there’s no time to cook.
      Having the time to learn to cook, the resources to buy the ingredients, and the time to actually cook are all nested comfortably in privilege of wealth that the majority of these people have never known.
      I think Mark isn’t the one who’s decided to die on the “wrong hill”.

      • anna lisa

        “Having the time to learn to cook, the resources to buy the ingredients, and the time to actually cook are all nested comfortably in privilege of wealth that the majority of these people have never known.”

        Ever heard of a crockpot?

        “Those that are not crippled by some un- or under-diagnosed mental issue, or judged unfairly thanks to a non-obvious physical ailment are most likely working”

        Depriving a growing child from the nutrients that are necessary for their brain to develop is serious. Giving them fake food until they are obese and therefore unable to work to support themselves is criminal.

        I suppose if all of the people who have absolutely nothing wrong with them, who don’t work because nobody is making them get off the dole, there would be a lot more money for the poor to eat wholesome food.

        This whole argument reminds me of a line my kid picked up from a TV show.

        “I’m fat because I’m sad, and I’m sad because I’m fat.”

        It also reminds me of my Boxer Benson who loved to run in circles chasing his docked tail. He did it till the day he died and never caught it once.

        • Matt Talbot

          Anna Lisa – you don’t seem to have any real sense of what it is like to be poor in America.

          For one thing, getting fresh fruits and vegetables is virtually impossible in many inner city neighborhoods, particularly if the residents do not have a car. These areas are often called “food deserts” because of this reality.

          For another, most poor people actually work at least part time, and obesity is actually no more prevalent in poor neighborhoods than in rich ones.

          I actually grew up in an inner city neighborhood, in Richmond, California.

          I remember an older kid who lived a few houses down the block from me in Richmond. He had had polio, and had braces on his legs, and eventually he ended up in a wheelchair — but his heart was big and loving and more generous to me than I deserved. His immobility made him a keen observer of the goings-on in the neighborhood.

          I remember sitting on his porch on summer afternoons while he shared his concern for a family across the way that had hit a rough patch; his excitement at the college prospects of the high school-aged boy of the family next door; and his musings over why Mean Mrs. Warner was such a bitter old lady — her late husband drank a lot, and she had put up with a lot from him.

          I don’t think my wheelchair-bound friend ever saw himself
          as a mentor; he just enjoyed my company, and I his. But I learned an immense amount from him about seeing without judging, and about taking whatever situation God puts you in and making the best of it.

          There was Mr. Pender, a retired man who lived next door with his wife. His wife had had a stroke, and I remember her husband would carry her tenderly out to their car on Sunday mornings to take her to church.

          Her heart was as warm and pure as a tropical lagoon. She had a sixth sense about when the streets were getting rough. She’d take me in and give me hot chocolate on rainy winter afternoons, making a point of telling me that she just knew I was going to grow into a very special young man. (She is long dead, and I’m sure she’s praying for me. Rest in blessed peace, Mrs. Pender.)

          From my neighborhood in Richmond you could see, about a mile away and on the other side of the freeway, The Hills and the comparatively lavish homes of middle- and upper-middle-class folks. To us, the people in those houses seemed to live on the other side of an unbridgeable divide. On those rare occasions when we ventured into those hills, we were greeted with cold stares and parents pulling their kids indoors.

          When I began middle school in The Hills, I was shocked by the attitudes of the kids in my school. My dear childhood friends and neighbors were dismissed as “Zulus,” and worse.

          But those kids in The Hills were immeasurably poorer for not knowing the people I knew; they were deprived of the joy of being held by Mrs. Pender; they never sat on a porch and learned from a wise young boy who’d had polio.

          The ongoing emergency in our poorer neighborhoods is our greatest moral scandal. With their grinding poverty and their unconsoled victims and relatives whose bodies and minds have been wounded by violence and the indifference of the rest of America, Richmond and the many places like it stand as searing indictments of our society’s greed and selfishness.

          The violence and the tattered social fabric of Richmond is a poignant expression of the outrage — more than that, the unutterable pain — of priceless children of God who have been told, with words and the bleeding wounds of a million injustices large and small, that they are People Who Don’t Matter.

          If America is to be a truly great nation, we must realize our
          fundamental kinship with all who share our shores. I pray that one day, the God who made us all will break our hearts.

          On that day, we all will be reunited across the gulfs that divide us. We will be so reconciled with one another that we will finally, truly and deeply recognize our
          brother- and sisterhood.

          On that day, the sounds of reunion will echo from the walls of our cities, and we will weep tears of joy in one another’s arms, flooded with gratitude that our long separation from our brothers and sisters is finally, blessedly, at an end.

          • Vision_From_Afar

          • anna lisa

            Matt,

            Thank you so much for writing this. You are so right. I think perhaps that you have misunderstood what I have tried so hard to convey.
            ***
            The following really struck a deep chord:

            “When I began middle school in The Hills, I was shocked by the attitudes of the kids in my school. My dear childhood friends and neighbors were dismissed as “Zulus,” and worse.

            ****But those kids in The Hills were immeasurably poorer*** for not knowing the people I knew; they were deprived of the joy of being held by Mrs. Pender; they never sat on a porch and learned from a wise young boy who’d had polio.”

            ***
            Matt, you hit the nail on the head. I think what I saw growing up in an affluent neighborhood would horrify you.

            It was a different kind of violence and poverty.

          • anna lisa

            p.s.
            Matt–two of my children went to Tamalpais H.S. The kids from the projects in Marin City went there too. What was kind of amusing is how badly the rich white kids wanted to look, walk and talk like the Marin City kids. Nobody looked down on them at all, it was the opposite. Robin Williams once did this funny routine on how his kids, who were trying to be cool, acted like that. (I think they went to Redwood High in Larkspur). One day, my kid came home overjoyed because the black kids, (who all called each other something we would deem morally offensive), started calling my kid *that word* as a term of endearment. He was so thrilled to be considered cool enough to be called that.

            Some things have gotten much, much better, and some things still need a lot of work.

            There is still a lot of violence in Marin City. I used to do some shopping there. A friend of mine asked me why I wasn’t more afraid…

            I think that the idea of bringing in farmer’s markets closer in, (or at least a short bus ride away) and making quality food cost half the price on an EBT card would be money well spent, and would supply an incentive for the inconvenience. It would also put the money in the pockets of local farmers, instead of the corporate behemoth that specializes in loading up food with toxic oils, sodium and sugar.

            Btw, –my daughter goes to school in San Francisco. She won the diversity award at her art school…

      • Peggy

        Oh, stop. Poor people always cooked for themselves before fast food made many of us lazy. Our mothers learned from their mothers. Our grandmothers made do during the Depression and WW2. Are all the poor incompetent? Helpless? Is that what you’re saying? It may be more helpful to hand out cookbooks to the aid beneficiaries.

        And, yes, we help disabled more extensively than those who aren’t working of their own volition or some other reason.

        • Marthe Lépine

          Of course, poor people cooked for themselves before fast food… If my memory is correct, McDonald’s just celebrated their 75th anniversary. Therefore, “before fast food” was a couple of generations ago, at a time when… most women, even in poor families, did not have (or were not supposed) to hold jobs as well as look after their families. That would definitely make a difference!

          • Peggy

            No one is stopped from cooking b/c of McDs. it’s laziness, not just among the poor. There are plenty of frozen family size meals w/meat and veggies in supermarkets. Even under store labels, ie, cheaper. Might not be fresh and perfect, but better and cheaper than McDs. Lots of options to folks of any income or time limitations.

            • Marthe Lépine

              I was just mentioning McDs to indicate how long it has been “before fast food”. And since I was brought up on freshly cooked home meals, with the occasional outing to some of the good French restaurants that could, and still can, be found in Montreal, I have no reservation to admitting that McDs food is rather like “imitation food”. However, thanks to a very profitable advertising industry, there are now many people who cannot even appreciate real food. But it is also a fact that the working poor who need 2 or 3 part-time jobs to survive, or families were both parents have to work long hours, can be easily tempted by the slick ads when they come home from work, often after long commutes, exhausted… It is not always lazyness.

              • Peggy

                If parents care enough, they will at least get frozen family meals from the markets. They are cheaper and healthier than McDs…and not too slow to prepare in most cases. The retail food industries have responded to FF with many options.

                Both my parents worked. Not high income fields. Dad worked evening shifts when we were little. Mom worked nights as a nurse until she retired. At first it was the differential necessary for a large family, then she just got used to that way of life. We had home cooked meals too. 6 kids. Older girls helped as they grew up.

        • Vision_From_Afar

          “Poor people” could afford real food before fast food’s artificially (in terms of ingredients) deflated prices, the stagnation of minimum wage (if kept with inflation, it would be well over $15/hr), and the increase in single-parent households all combined to make a world full of problems utterly unlike what our mothers and their mothers dealt with.
          Failure to recognize that is the largest problem.

          • Peggy

            The lack of marriage before childbirth as well as divorce is the foremost problem among the poor.

            Fast food isn’t so cheap these days. It is not that expensive to get fairly decent meals from a supermarket. We didn’t have steak, lobster or even roasts on a regular basis with 6 kids. Sometimes sandwiches or canned soup. You can make burgers at home cheaper than McDs. McDs for 4 can cost $15-$20 or more. Of course you can feed your family cheaper with supermarket food. Might even have leftovers for the next night. Many professional women who work full time cook casseroles for the week on Sundays. You can do what you are willing to do. There is a way. We have to stop limiting ourselves by saying “I can’t.” I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

    • Except the overwhelming majority of poor people on government assistance AREN’T obese. And the majority of those on government assistance are off it within a few months. How much money is really being saved in health care costs by telling someone not to eat a bag of cheetos for 3 months?

      But yes, always compare poor to drug users. That’s smart and compassionate.

      • anna lisa

        “But yes, always compare poor to drug users. That’s smart and compassionate.”
        –Kevin, I commend you in that brutally honest decision, to stop physically abusing your wife. Poor woman, she has indeed been through so much. Thank you for that honest confession. I too will try to live honestly by all of the words I publish. Thank you for teaching me how to be smart.

        • Joseph

          At least he’s not poor! Those scumbags.

          • anna lisa

            lol, I’m rich in human resources
            –and very poor in assets. Does that qualify me as a scumbag too? 🙂

  • JoseProvi

    Mark, let’s not forget that even though government regulation is evil it is manifestly less evil when it exists to place restrictions on poor people who are already pretty restricted due to their circumstances. It is also much more appropriate and worthwhile for the government to save money by taking away from welfare recipients than it is for them to take from the hard working America loving corporations (who have taken America’s jobs away, but whatevs, free trade rocks!).

    You see Mark unlike the poor, corporations actually work for a living and provide jobs and opportunities for poor Indian and Chinese workers who are willing to work real hard for real little. They also provide jobs for immigrants since those lazy poor people on welfare don’t want to work for $5 an hour. Why must they be punished for their hard work and record profits? If you’re poor you don’t deserve seafood.

    You get seafood when you finally get yourself a job, they’re out there go hustle, and start paying some taxes. In fact you should only vote if you pay taxes so that all these lazy 47% percent stop voting themselves more money for doing nothing but popping out babies and watching tv.

    Oh and I’m prolife, a Knight of Columbus, pray the rosary at abortion clinics

    • Marthe Lépine

      Oh yes, and I would add that one too often forgotten factoid is that abortions are in fact a very useful tool to eliminate a number of those babies being “popped” simply in order to get their lazy parents more money for doing nothing but watching tv (and drinking beer). Can you imagine how dreadful the situation would have been if 50 million more such people had been allowed to inflate the number of those parasites who, when not watching tv, are whiningly expressing their sinful envy of working peoples’ money and possessions (and seafood)?

      • anna lisa

        Marthe, As you mentioned above, we need to approach the whole problem differently. Food companies *should* be held to much stricter standards of health. You are right be upset when human beings are called “parasites”. Even the most depraved of individuals shouldn’t be disrespected this way.

        Let me ask you something. Have you ever known or lived with a master of manipulation? Have you had the distasteful experience of being victimized by the way he/she uses people like a resource? In the case of one such individual that I know, it took a lot of pain to finally confront his pattern of behavior, but once we did, he made an effort to amend that behavior.
        –He just got a job, and the people who have been paying his way are collectively holding their breath. Really, they are almost every bit to blame, for allowing him to slip into his position of entitlement to begin with. He was tempted by the ease in which they permitted his behavior.

        –But even *his* pattern of abuse *pales* in comparison to the *wealthy* master of manipulation that my family has been abused by. His amoral behavior utterly takes the cake and wins the prize, (and there is a path of destruction and human bodies who litter the roadside around him to prove it). Abusers take every shape and size–as do their bank accounts.

        When Jesus referred to “the rich”, he was speaking about people who fill up their hearts with desire for illicit gain, and worldliness, no matter who they hurt around them. The “poor” are their victims. The bank accounts of these “rich”individuals varies from A to Z…

        • Marthe Lépine

          Well, there are good and bad people in every group you can think of. Just because you have had the misfortune of suffering from two really bad (or good at their efforts to be) manipulators does not necessarily mean that there are a majority of those among public assistance recipients. I am sure that there are a number of them, and I agree that efforts need to be made to “root them out” from the system, or even better, to try to convert them. But I would not agree that the entire system needs to be designed as if every welfare applicant was the “enemy” until proven otherwise…

          • anna lisa

            Marthe, I never said that poor people are the enemy.

            I think I’ve become a bit of an expert in human nature after raising so many children (that are *completely* different) I’ve learned a lot about the psychology of what makes people tick.

            –But it’s like my softy side trips me up. My husband shakes his head and rolls his eyes at *me*. He is much stricter than I am, and sometimes has to step in and clean up my messes. The term “give an inch, take a mile” comes to mind.

            One of my worst loser-moves is to give the kid his/her incentive *before* he earns it, because he/she begs me to let them have it first, promising to live up to some promise. I fall flat on my face every time with that one, and my husband just sighs, like I can’t learn the lesson.

            Both my husband and I have no problem giving the whole store away to our children and to charity, and anyone who really needs something, but throwing money at a problem often just perpetuates and accentuates what was wrong to begin with.

            *I’m not on this thread to say “give me half of my money back!!*

            No, I’m here because the system is a travesty. The numbers since 1969 don’t lie. The percentage of the population dependent on it have skyrocketed, as have the percentages of both adult and childhood obesity. It keeps people locked into a cycle of dependence, and kills incentive. It leads to depression, self pity/loathing and people who have given up That so many of these poor people have given up on having better eating habits is all part of the syndrome. It’s so sad. How can a Christian even hint at saying, “Oh let them have their garbage food, that’s the only little pleasure they get!” That. is. a. travesty. That’s not showing that you care! Ask them how happy they are when they feel not only hopeless but *sick* as well.

            –It’s almost funny how much our taxes and healthcare eat up our paycheck. It upsets me that I couldn’t give my son violin lessons when he asked. Little things like that really upset me. One of my sons is home from college, broke and needs his computer to work for his summer job, and his power cord just broke. I can’t help him. Meanwhile, the huge corporation my husband works for pushed everyone’s bonus back a month and a half. It was such a dirty move, and especially for the working mothers who depend on the extra money so they can pay for summer camps for their kids. On top of this disappointment, a headhunter from New York is setting up an interview for my husband with the CEO of another big company. Last year they were pursuing him also. Guess what they asked him?–“ARE YOU READY TO WORK LIKE AN ANIMAL??”–I’m not kidding. I’m not exaggerating in the least. But the thing is that he’s already a work horse. If he took that job he’d have a three hour daily commute, and I’m sure be expected to (need to) work ten hour days to run a big department.

            So imagine our frustration, –any increase in salary to try to fix our problem just makes us have to hand the lion’s share over to the government. We’d still be barely making ends meet, and almost never seeing each other while being squeezed on both sides like a pressure cooker.

            I can see why some people throw in the towel and give up.

            *Government oppression hurts everyone at EVERY level except for at the top.*

            Of course poor people aren’t the enemy!–A government that is *out of control* is..

            • Marthe Lépine

              Sure, some “numbers since 1969 don’t lie. The percentage of the population dependent on it have skyrocketed”… Part of the problem is that we too often look at each issue separately. There are other numbers to look at, such as 1) the number of full-time jobs that have disappeared, 2) the number of part-time jobs that have come to take the place of full-time jobs, 3) the number of manufacturing jobs that have fled overseas, 4) the number of people incarcerated for non-violent crimes (it is said that the US, with 4% of the world population, has 25% of the total number of incarcerated people in the world. Those people have families that they are not in a position to support) 5) the number of bankruptcies resulting from medical costs, 6) the number of young people who cannot find jobs, whether or not they have a good education 7) the number of people victimized by authorities in some areas (for example, look back at the reports on the way minorities are being treated in places where there have also been unarmed black men killed by police)… And many more reasons for people to become, be, or remain poor. All this to point out that “the poor” are not some kind of monolithic entity calling for a “one size fits all” solution. It cannot be said that only the systems put in place by governments to fight poverty are responsible for the problems. It is not just that particular system that keeps people locked into a cycle of dependence. It is all the other systems taken together, and of course spending loads of money on social assistance is not going to make a big difference. There are too many vested interests and not enough political will to tackle an economy that should serve everyone, but actually only favours a few. And ” throwing money at (only one of the problems, the problem of poverty resulting from many of those other problems) often just perpetuates and accentuates what was wrong to begin with.”

              • anna lisa

                Marthe, everything you wrote is true. I have to struggle not to lose hope. It’s so depressing.

                I would abolish the welfare state as it is now,– slowly, with a new system.

                The company my husband works for is doing a complete overhaul of their business. It’s a huge, huge endeavor with so many great minds collaborating. For the last two years there have been consultants and endless meetings. My husband’s boss calls it “lift and shift”. (My husband feels like he has his regular job, and then also “BT” which means business transformation.) They are a global company that is open for business 24-7, so they never shut down. There will however be a moment in time when they go “live” with the new BT, and everyone is kind of dreading it because it’s bound to be choppy at first, and there are going to be pain points. But the overhaul is very much needed.

                Instead of hundreds of billions of dollars being spent on “throwing money at a *problem*” with our current welfare system, I would like to see those hundreds of billions of dollars being spent on investing money in a *solution*.

                I would force corporations to pay a real living wage (let the cards fall where they may) –Something realistic.

                I would invest the money in *****communities****.
                –Welfare allows for that radical individualism where people are “in it” for themselves, and don’t need to answer to a community that depends upon their good will. It creates an Oliver Twist mentality where people are reduced to thinking like animals that need to survive and seek any kind of pleasure to assuage their hopelessness.

                I would gentrify neighborhoods. This is SO important and would employ a lot of people and apprentices. It’s so important that people feel proud of where they live! I would create cooperatives of every kind, including the very important neighborhood watch system. I would create a vast health system where doctors are given big incentives (big tax breaks, forgiveness of student loans etc. )to work in troubled areas. I would provide micro loans and mentoring on business plans, –again, providing tax breaks and big incentives for people from the business community.

                I would treat the drug/incarceration problem like they did in Portugal.

                I would beef up the FDA, and would make many food additives and practices illegal–including many drinks that have no redeemable value, and *only* cause harm to the human body. The grocery stores (subsidized by the gov’t, and also functioning as cooperatives) would only sell foods that have passed rigorous tests for safety, freshness and wholesomeness. I would make this vast system of stores simple, yet so excellent that the people of means would seek them out to shop in them.

                Anyhow, that’s my little flight of fancy–restoring neighborhoods. Helping people find joy in community…Finding a way of rewarding instead of penalizing family formation.

                btw I wish they could make “baby daddies” a giant stigma–like carrying an STD. Tons of PSAs.
                But I digress, and now must go drive a bunch of rowdy fifth graders to a G.A.T.E. event called “the meeting of the minds”…:)

  • Rebecca Fuentes

    The article mentioned junk food a few times, but the only category it specifically mentioned being banned was shellfish–which is definitely not junk food. Some might classify it as luxury food, but fish and shellfish are generally considered very healthy and contribute nutrition to the diet not found in other foods, even other animal products. So while it sounds good that they are limiting “junk food”, I’d like to see a list of exactly what is banned, what is limited and what is being “encouraged”.
    My other concern when people start decided that others can only eat healthy is that different people have different definitions of healthy food. There was a kerfuffle sometime last year about WIC wanting to limit milk to skim milk only, so as to combat the childhood obesity issue. This was a big problem for families who had been told their slim child needed to drink whole milk, and overlooks that some of the nutrition in milk needs fat in the diet to make it bioavailable. There are movements who think milk is unhealthy and unnecessary for anyone over 4 or 5. There are movements who don’t eat grains or legumes at all. There are vegans and vegetarians. There are those who think the Bible is the Great Diet Book. There are those who won’t eat anything canned. Over the past decade, more has come out about whether or not fat and cholesterol are good or bad. Eggs used to be terrible, then we discovered that egg yolks have all sorts of valuable brain-building nutrients. Saturated fat is bad, or maybe not, or it depends on the source . . .
    Who gets to draw the lines between healthy and unhealthy?

  • Vision_From_Afar

    Well, 3 for 4 ain’t bad.

    • Joseph

      I thought it was ‘… two out of three ain’t bad…’ Meatloaf is still on the menu.

  • Marthe Lépine

    I have only read a small part of the comments below yet, but I am already disgusted by the attitude of so many so-called Christians, not to say Catholics (but not all)!
    But here is just one point: Instead of just accusing the poor of wasting the pittances that the taxpayers would be willing to give them on junk food, why is not the government (of any so-affected country) doing something about the intense marketing from the providers of such junk food? Instead of blaming the big people for their eating habits (while it may not yet be proven whether all big people are big because they eat a lot or eat a lot to maintain the big bodies they have been given when created and pushing all big people into well-marketed diets that ultimately make them even bigger), why not begin to regulate the providers of that junk food? That particular problem needs to be tacked from its source, not its end results.
    Another point: I am getting scandalized by the number of advocates coming from the woodwork whenever Mark brings about any post dealing with any aspect of poverty, since most of those particular readers too often seem much too keen on finding excuses to avoid looking at the poor as actual fellow citizens. Despite all the efforts deployed below to claim that the discussion is “only” about this latest attempt, this tie from Wisconsin, to regulate what the poor are allowed to “benefit” from, the real question about poverty has more to do with the current soul-destroying patterns of dealing with the poor, that so often make those poor unable to get out of the system and then are considered “justly” responsible for their situation. ANd I definitely NOT mean to confirm that often quoted opinion that any kind of government welfare backfires and make the situation worse. I an talking about the implicit approval of such things as the destruction of job possibilities with living wages that is one big cause of poverty (as one example not excluding others) in the name of the sacro-sanct capitalism that is supposed to take so many millions out of poverty.
    This is not all I would like to say about all this, but for more you can just re-read the posts Mark has been writing over the last few years about this…

    • Andy

      Yu are so right in people ignoring the inherent dignity of each person – yjr dignity given by God.

  • I can see how prohibiting certain “luxury” seafood might be Kitchen Calvinism, but not allowing chips or Coke or Cheetos to be purchased with EBT seems reasonable to me. As a Catholic, I don’t reject beer or wine out right, so I could see my way to allowing those items once in a while ……except I know if we were to allow the occasional bottle of wine on EBT, some would attempt to take advantage.

    • But what compelling interest is being served by the government imposing such regulation? What purpose is there in banning the consumption of certain foods just because someone is temporarily unemployed?

      • With WIC, only certain foods are allowed; the mother gets vouchers for foods like milk, cheese, beans, cereal (and a few more items). There are foods which can’t be obtained with WIC – I’ve never known anyone to object to this.
        According to the article, two-thirds of the monthly EBT benefits are to be used to purchase foods such as beef, chicken, pork, potatoes, dairy products, fresh produce and food available under the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program. If it were up to me, I’d add the seafood.
        What compelling interest is being served by the government imposing regulations against chips and Cheetos? The same compelling interest that says you can’t use EBT on beer, cigarettes or pizza from Pizza Hut.

      • ManyMoreSpices

        But what compelling interest is being served by the government imposing such regulation?

        Public money is a finite resource. Every dollar that’s spent on food stamps is a dollar that’s not spent on medicine, bridge maintenance, fire engines, etc. If we’re going to take a dollar out of the hospital budget and transform it into a food dollar, that should be food that provides nutritious value, not junk. And certainly not liquor and tattoos.

  • ManyMoreSpices

    I’ve been fortunate enough never to need food stamps, but I can identify at least one area in which I directly received substantial government benefits: subsidized student loans for graduate education. (Of course you can add to that the standard enjoyment of the police and fire departments, public parks, toll-free roadways, street cleaning, U.S. Navy, etc.)

    Funny thing about those government loans: Uncle Sam didn’t say “Congratulations on earning your bachelor’s! Here’s $10,000 in cash. We hope you’ll spend it on graduate school, but if you want to go to the dog track, that’s cool too.” No, they forced me to spend it on accredited education.

    The government restricted what I could spend money on, and yet I didn’t feel insulted that I wasn’t trusted with an unrestricted cash payment. I didn’t feel like I was being treated like a subhuman because the money was given to me in such a way that I couldn’t blow it on a Disney cruise or at a Nevada brothel. I didn’t accuse anyone of hating graduate students because they demanded accountability of the money I was given.

    But suggest that maybe strip clubs, casinos, and liquor stores shouldn’t be eligible to receive EBT payments and everyone loses their minds.

    • Rebecca Fuentes

      If the bill said “No fried chips, candy items, or cookie and dessert items” I think there would be less fuss, but some of the items prohibited or restricted don’t make a lot of sense. The bill ( http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2015/related/proposals/ab177 ) specifically forbids shellfish, while not specifically forbidding anything else. The other restrictions require that 67% of the check be spent on items allowed by WIC (I don’t know if WIC eligible foods are determined by the state or the federal government). Here’s the WIC list: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/publications/p4/p44578.pdf
      I’m not sure how WIC works, as some things can’t be bought in one category but qualify in another (I think). However, WIC funds cant be used to buy bigger bags of dried beans or rice, can’t be used on canned goods that might have added fat or sugar (no baked beans, no refried beans), cans and jars of spaghetti sauce are not allowed, taco and tostada shells are not allowed, choosing “lite” versions of soymilk is not allowed (though that’s less sugar, so sugar in beans is bad but in soymilk it’s good?). Some people on SNAP are not on WIC, but some already are, so it seems like they would get double restrictions–their WIC money is already restricted, and now their SNAP money will be partially restricted.

      • ManyMoreSpices

        If the bill said “No fried chips, candy items, or cookie and dessert items” I think there would be less fuss

        You’d think that, but the entire point of this discussion is that a desire to limit the categories of food that welfare money can buy makes you a hater of the poor who wants to deny them the most basic pleasures… and a Nazi. I’m not making this up; read what Mark quoted. We went Full Godwin on this one. Great job.

        • Rebecca Fuentes

          Less, but not none. 🙂 I see two motivations for limiting the food SNAP and WIC can be spent on (and I don’t see anyone fussing about WIC’s limitations that are already in place). One type of person objects to SNAP recipients getting anything thought of as luxury or unnecessary–no steak! No goat milk! The other type objects to them using it for anything unhealthy, however that is defined. These two objections naturally clash, since what one side deems as healthy is often deemed a luxury by the other, while what one considers to be properly cheap poverty food, the other has classified as unhealthy.
          I end up talking myself in circles over it. People can feed themselves and their children a healthy diet on SNAP, I’ve seen it done. This is provided that they have access to a grocery store with some type of variety. And I personally know people on the other end of the spectrum, who survive on a steady diet of chips, cereal, ramen noodles and boxed mac & cheese. If they have meat, it’s hot dogs or bologna. When I look at that, I really want to see them eat better. I want to see their child eat better. Legislating is one way to do that, but I shy away from turning to new laws as the automatic answer for everything–especially since I don’t have faith in the sense or motives of the lawmakers.

      • SteveP

        Perhaps the shellfish exclusion would make sense to you in light of Wisconsin’s agriculture capability: https://secure.wisconsinaquaculture.com/News_Details.cfm?NID=172&LinkType=57

        • Rebecca Fuentes

          Antibiotics are a concern in most of the meat industry. The bill, and reporting on the bill, claims it wants people to spend SNAP money on healthier food. Shellfish isn’t any unhealthier than any other meat produced in a CFO. Feed lots are disgusting and pig farms are vile, but no one is proposing we ban them from eating beef or pork.

          • SteveP

            Shellfish do not seem to be part of Wisconsin’s aquaculture thus must be imported from some other locality. The restriction might just be a “buy local” writ at a state level.
            .
            Regardless, expecting regulations to be logical, consistent, and factually based is a sure path to frustration. When regulations are published they are usually prohibiting last year’s behavior.

  • Peggy

    I think people who work hard, but don’t qualify for food stamps and who are also not in the comfortable middle class would find it hard to know that they are paying taxes so others who don’t work enjoy better meals and housing than they can afford through their own hard work. The taxpaying working family is not gladly sacrificing to help the poor. Their own limited resources are being taken from them by the government. This difference is significant.