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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Let Them Eat Cake....Or Maybe Twinkies, Doritos Or A Plasma TV!

I heard a story yesterday on the car radio that I just could not believe; the talk host was discussing the new trend of colleges encouraging students to jump on the public dole to receive food stamps. I did a little digging and was able to confirm that he was in fact reporting the truth and not some exaggerated fallacy. It is stories like this one that get to the root of the problem in this country as to why we are having such trouble keeping costs in line and making our economy work. Dear reader I am all for providing those truly in need with the means to live if they require it as in the richest nation the world has ever known citizens should not be going hungry. I do take issue though with colleges promoting policies of guiding the next generation directly to the public teat. Millions of students have been to college and survived just fine on food from money they earned and yes I did too. I will admit that there were times where Ramen Noodles filled the gap but everything worked out fine. My issue is not with helping those that need it but instead the message we are sending to those who don’t as this policy just further feeds the entitlement mentality.

At a time when there are millions needing help and the government’s finances are questionable, which is putting it nicely, why are colleges promoting this destructive behavior. Is this just a further degradation of societal think? Is the new agenda in colleges to push public dependence since they have already ripped the heart out of inquisitive education especially in the areas of government and economics? The latest report on food stamps that appeared in the Wall Street Journal and showed a year over year change of 16.2% or almost 43 Million of our fellow Americans require assistance in these hard economic times to feed themselves.

Interestingly the talk show host mentioned universities in Oregon, Texas and New York and the corresponding rate of year over year increase in those states is pretty high weighing in at 13.2%, 24.6% and 13.3% respectively.  Granted the year over year figures are high in many states and population does factor in to the figures but it does beg the question of just how widespread is the push for colleges to get students on welfare is and if it is skewing the figures.

Over the years food stamps progressed from checks to the new slick EBT cards that look and act like a debit card. It used to be if you were paying by food stamps everyone knew, in fact, growing up when I did there was a sort of stigma attached to being on welfare and food stamps. Today however, the stigma is gone and it is almost deemed a right to be able to obtain food via government programs and the government is constantly making it easier and more discrete to utilize. The stigma used to give people the incentive to want to get off of programs like food stamps and unemployment yet in this day and age since there is no social consequence some believe that it pays better than having to work to earn your food.

As I said in last night’s post regarding extending unemployment, concepts like introducing college students who don’t really need the help to food stamps creates a moral hazard. For those that truly require assistance there should be no question as to whether they should receive it or not. The college websites do stipulate the guidelines for qualifying for food stamps and one of them is parental support can disqualify them from participation. Really now dear reader, if you give a kid a choice between getting extra free food and only living on what their parents will give them what are the odds that the student will omit the parental support dollars from the application? After receiving guidance from those  students who have gone before I would suggest that the odds of a student disclosing the information pretty low on the scale. Dear reader, you say you don’t believe that a college student would consider using the food stamps or if they did they would make good food choices then you need to watch this video from Fox News. After viewing it you will see what I mean.

What is even more bothersome is what was discovered here in my home state of Massachusetts that the EBT cards were being used to buy items ranging from booze, slots to plasma TVs and not food, talk about moral hazard. These are only the wasteful things that have been discovered so far, I am sure that there is plenty more out there to be found.

The bottom line is that there are real people out there that need the food stamp program as a safety net and they should have it, but should we be teaching future generations to be dependent on the government for free everything even food? Is this any way to cut back on entitlement spending or even framing the citizens’ mindset toward self sufficiency to reduce entitlement needs? Between the mindset, new expanding programs, and expanding existing programs you should have no doubt that QE is here to stay and that precious metals and other tangibles are your best protection from the growing government spending and the havoc it will play with our currency and standard of living.

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