So much misdirected anger.

Over at Daily Kos, Zwoof has seen a rash of chain emails about “welfare junkies” who are “drug-fueled slackers.” Obligingly, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) has introduced the Welfare Reform Act of 2011 to discipline deadbeats on food stamps.

This is old news. It is Ronald Reagan’s “welfare queens” (1976) revisited. It is the Lee Atwater/Roger Ailes revolving door, “Willie Horton” campaign ads from 1988. It is the right blaming hurricane victims in New Orleans’ poor Lower Ninth Ward in 2005 for not leaving town in their SUVs and checking into Shreveport or Dallas hotels until Hurricane Katrina blew herself out. It is conservatives blaming the 2008 financial meltdown on the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act. The government, you see, forced private mortgage lenders and Wall Street to fatten themselves on CDOs built from the “liar loans” they invented and sold to shiftless poor people. In the United Kingdom, it is BBC’s 2010 “The Scheme,” a series critics described as “poverty porn,” depicting welfare recipients that London’s tabloid Daily Mail calls “welfare junkies” (Well, what do you know?) and “foul-mouthed, lazy scroungers, cheats, layabouts, drunks, drug addicts” leeching off “the goodwill of taxpayers.”

In 2012, it is Newt Gingrich again calling President Obama “the best food stamp president in American history” at appearances last week in New Hampshire:

“And so I’m prepared if the NAACP invites me, I’ll go to their convention and talk about why the African American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps,” Gingrich said earlier today in Plymouth, N.H.

Echoing Lee Atwater, Gingrich again denied any tinge of racism in his phrasing. “This is not an attack … It’s not negative, it’s a fact.” But Newt knows his Republican base grinds its teeth to nubs over the thought that a lesser someone, somewhere is getting something for nothing from programs that government thugs force god-fearing conservatives to pay for with money they earned with no help from anyone anywhere since being born in little log cabins that they built themselves.

Which brings us to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program. Food stamps. In 2009, the New York Times reported, “Even in Peoria, Ill. — Everytown, U.S.A. — nearly 40 percent of children receive aid.” In 2009, 94 percent of the program’s budget was spent on benefits. Thirty-two percent of recipients were white, 22 percent were African American, 16 percent Hispanic. Forty-seven percent of recipients were children. Another forty-four percent were nonelderly, working-age adults (ages 18 to 59), and nearly two-thirds of those were women. The rest were 60 years-old or older. SNAP provided food assistance to about 40 million Americans at a cost of $53.6 billion, 1.7 percent of $3.1 trillion in federal expenditures. (FY 2009 budget figures used for consistency among available data sets.)

Just for comparison, the Pentagon had a “base” budget of $515 billion in 2009 to staff and maintain 545,000 facilities at 5,300 sites both in the United States and around the globe (not including tens of billions in GWOT supplementals and other off-budget and “black” budget costs). Thus, it is not easy to determine how much all U.S. security agencies spend on defense annually, nor to separate out how much the Pentagon alone spends just to maintain the offshore portion of our global empire. But drawing on various sources, assumptions, and the fact that one-quarter of U.S. troops are stationed abroad, the Institute for Policy Studies estimated the 2009 costs of our overseas operations (wars included) at $250 billion annually “to maintain troops, equipment, fleets, and bases overseas.”

So, the Pentagon spent almost half of its “base” budget, or (at least) 8 percent of the FY 2009 federal budget to maintain 865 or more military bases scattered among the world’s nearly 200 countries outside the United States. And many of those outposts are in countries most Americans cannot even name or find on a map. Strategic planner Thomas P.M. Barnett (“The Pentagon’s New Map“) calls security America’s greatest export commodity.

Now, if there is something else besides personal weakness conservatives cannot abide, it is deadbeats. So one wonders why they focus so much of their ire on the moral hazard of providing food assistance to American compatriots (mostly children) when they spend five times as much on a wide, multicultural world that sleeps under the very blanket of security they provide, and for which the rest of the world pays nothing.

About the Author

Tom Sullivan

8 Responses to So, Who Are The Welfare Junkies?

  1. spocko says:

    War spending is an ‘entitlement” program that the Right loves. Combined with the “support our troops” and the money that defense contractors put back into the right wing election coffers it is a tough program to touch.

    There aren’t a lot of people who will come to the defense of “welfare queens”.

  2. Freepthis says:

    I’m all in favor of an idea that I heard over the weekend: mandatory drug testing of all politicians. If they want to wast money testing all poor people, than they should step up first to be tested. (I expect the requirements that poor people be drug tested to die quickly)

  3. Ten Bears says:

    Maybe someone should remind Newt “multiple draft deferments” Gingrich that a sizable population of our military families… collect food stamps.

  4. Jim says:

    It would be helpful, and slow the drug flow into the country, if the companies that recieve benifit of the government largesse would be drug tested also. I’d personally pay to see GM tested. Or “Z” or whatever their name is now.

  5. lisahgolden says:

    The Right ought to be thrilled to be feeding those children and their families. Many of those children will be the ones who grow up and serve in the military. They can consider it an investment in their future national security.

  6. Cassandra says:

    I can’t believe how much support the food stamp program recieves online. Of the many people I know who recive this aid I can’t name a single one that is anything less that a drug using piece of crap. That is the God’s honest truth. I wish it were differnt. Half of them are related to me! It sucks and it’s so heart breaking for the children they drag along behind them, but the truth is they are lazy. They don’t want to work and they don’t want to stop using. But those are only the people I know. My sister-in-law gets stamps and uses drugs. She buys name brand food and can even buy birthday cake from the deli at Wal-Mart, meanwhile I’m a school teacher who lives on a budget and buys Great Value and Equate. She said to me once that it would be really hard for her to go to work. She would be losing out.

    • Shufei says:

      I weep for your schoolchildren, who must suffer a “teacher” with such mediocre writing and critical thinking skills that she can not elucidate what “sampling error” is in regards to her particularly worthless little kin group’s exploitation of benefits.

      Look here, sweety. I work my ass off to scrape together 600 greenbacks a month to live on in a poor rural town. I have gone pale and fainting hungry for months before I sucked up the pride and applied for stamps. So I get your smugness, I do. Most folks around here can shine their holier-than-thou buttons better than you, and just as or (I suspect) more drug and disease free. Yet we are all grateful that we don’t starve for the little SNAP card each month. Thank holy FDR, some of us have sense enough to know the hell that the oligarchs have put us all in together, even with the trash like you and your family, and can appreciate the immense value of food stamps for the full bellies at the end of a gruelling day.

      Open your eyes a bit, you even might see the 40% of your school children who are on food stamps with something other than masterbatory smug self-satisfaction. I know, I know, being one of the troglodytes who are all the school districts can now afford to herd brats all day, it’s hard for you to cognitively stretch to encompass a view broader than your petty trailer trash drama. But it really is helpful if you try.

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