Saturday, February 02, 2013


Rob Port at Say Anything gets these TANF usage numbers from his state government:

You and I look at this and think: This is a pretty sad picture. Think about a single parent with kids using her TANF to buy clothing, shelter, school supplies, etc.  Maybe some of the money is spent more frivolously, sure, but that would be hard to manage: In 2004 the maximum monthly TANF benefit paid in North Dakota to a single-parent-headed family of four was $573.  And, in case you think it's gotten better since then, TANF benefit levels have plunged by 22.3% in North Dakota since 1996.

So maybe a couple of times a week the recipients eat at McDonald's or a diner instead of in their hovels. Maybe they get chips, soda, and smokes from the service station. And very rarely they rent a movie.

Here's how Port sees it:
48% Of North Dakota Welfare Spending Is On Fast Food, Eating Out, ATM’s And Movie Rentals
...This categories illustrate some very poor priorities among TANF recipients. Roughly half of the total TANF funds, some $5.6 million, is spent on eating out (both fast food and regular restaurants, movie rentals and ATM withdrawals. If we consider that a significant amount, if not most, of the $2.26 million spent inside gas stations (which is nearly 20% of the total) is probably junk food, you get a grim picture of how these funds are being spent. 
Which is to say, on frivolities and luxuries rather than needs.
I'm beginning to think it's a psychological condition. Maybe some of it's upbringing. Maybe some of us are born without a capacity for empathy and by the grace of God avoid the life of aimless crime into which some sociopaths drift, and instead become... well, the kind of person who thinks people on welfare have it too easy and that junk food is a luxury they don't deserve.


  1. bourbaki7:53 AM

    I know its the wrong Dakota, but this made me think of "The Ballad of Hollis Brown". Though I guess Mr. Port must thinks of it as the heroic tale of a man who taking on of those 2nd amendment remedies we here so much about.

    p.s. A pretty sick cover

  2. Sgaile-beairt8:20 AM

    i rectly overheard a (pretty rich) guy complaining that they were buying chips & candy with EBT at his familys store.....iow they are getting paid just the same, getting some of their OWN TAX DOLLARS BACK EVEN!! but they wld rather not have poor people as customers, if that means that poor people have comfort food now & then....just Dont Get It.....

  3. How the fuck is junk a luxury? I mean, MY junk is, but let's be realistic here.

  4. Doghouse Riley8:36 AM

    Not a penny spent on bootstraps! Case closed.

  5. Freshly Squeezed Cynic8:45 AM

    Jesus fucking Christ. What appalling moral midgets these people are.

    Never mind that, in an increasingly strip mall laden America, a gas station might actually be your damn grocery store, as horrific a thought as that is. Never mind that in order to gin up the Angry White Guy readership, he deceptively assumes that all atm withdrawals must necessarily be for "frivolity" (drugs and alcohol no doubt) rather than necessities (its not as if poor people need cash because they find credit difficult to access after all).

    I'm surprised that he doesn't consider medicine a frivolity. After all, good little drones who know their place should work through the pain.

  6. Yeah, let's spend millions nickel and diming poor people to death. Or we could spend that same shitload on closing loopholes and going after the big bastards. It's like a serial-killer is running amok and the cops are really into accumulating traffic tickets.

  7. Poor people are suffering, sure, just not enough.

  8. Jeffrey_Kramer9:19 AM

    Dear Mr. Port: I didn't really want those Big Macs, but I thought it was my duty as a free American to show my defiance of Michelle Obama's liberal fascist "health" jihad. Although I may be poor, I shall never be a slave, shouting the battle SKREEE of freedom.

  9. tim1179:30 AM

    Not to mention that McDonald's prices its Happy Meals at around 3.50, which is almost as cheap as Mom can make a hamburger and fries and the convenience stores sell milk and cheese and are located in the neighborhood.

    Until public benefits restrict the poor to actual Dickensian conditions, conservatives will not be happy "Rush, mega dittoes, hey, I saw one of the local urchins using his sugar ration to put in his gruel. My tax dollars paid for that sugar!"

  10. aimai9:49 AM

    Exactly. A gas station might be your grocery store. In addition people on TANF can hold jobs so if you are a long haul trucker or working at a job that might be two bus rides away you may need to access food while you are travelling.

    The Times published a very good article a couple of years ago about obesity and the working poor and described the daily schedule of a working single mom--by the time she got back from work and picked her child up from daycare McDonald's was really their only option. She and the kid had to travel so far by public transportation, at the end of a late day, that if they tried to wait until they got home to eat the proposed healthy diet of lentils and rice or whatever the googoos think people can manage on their poverty level rates the kid would have collapsed with hunger.

    Not having a car, having to live an hour or so away by public transportation from work or daycare, all thee things make it impossible to brown bag it. Hell, in India where people have tiffin tinned it for years because of cost and caste rules against eating food prepared by strangers there is an entire complicated structure built around getting home cooked food in tiffin carriers to office workers. We have McDonalds and Burger King.

  11. When I go into the gas station to buy chips or tampons, it feels so sinful. I really treasure luxuries like shopping for shitty food in cramped spaces smelling of gasoline.

  12. Fuck it, I'm telling hubby to quit his job. I want a piece of this glamorous food stamp lifestyle.

  13. Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist
    for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of
    the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence.

    A Koch-head. What a surprise.

  14. Watch Dog of the Year: Exactly. What smites me as a rock unto my head about these people is not just the proud pettiness of it all, but the tattle-tale quality. They presumably think it's reportage or vigilant truth-telling, but every goddamn time it's really the most insufferable brownnose geek in the class ratting out some poor putz for teacher's approval.

    In this case, "teacher" is the wingnut trustees who get extra privileges in exchange for keeping members of their own social class in line for the convenience of the bosses.

    You'd think it would be difficult--paradoxical, even--to find people who are both pathetic and contemptible, but we're surrounded by 'em.

  15. FlipYrWhig10:43 AM

    What's particularly noxious here is that the guy builds that percentage by blatant sleight of hand. The percentages on stuff he wants to carp about, like fast food and restaurants, are too low to make anyone harrumph. He only gets the number -- which is suspiciously similar to the famous "47%" remark -- by treating cash withdrawals as a moral problem. Poor people need cash, dude. They don't have credit cards and yet they need to acquire goods and services. Ergo, money.

  16. DocAmazing10:47 AM

    It would be a small matter of organization to protect this honest merchant from the degradation of having paying customers, so that he might enjoy peace and leisure and be unsullied by lucre.

  17. DocAmazing10:49 AM

    He has his conclusion. He just needs data to support it.

  18. dxmachina10:52 AM

    In any one of a number of European social democracies, Mr. Port would have to pay a lot more for his ragegasms. Here, though, he can experience them on the cheap.

    What a country, America!

  19. M. Krebs11:03 AM

    Hey, I've got a solution: Government-run food stores, clothing stores, health clinics, and pharmacies, at which prices are dependent upon the customer's income! No, wait.

  20. chuckling11:07 AM

    Maybe some of it's upbringing. Maybe some of us are born without a capacity for empathy...

    Certainly a lot of it is susceptibility to hateful propaganda. And while it would be useful to study, or more likely make the results of such studies widely known, why so many people lack the capacity for empathy for the poor or the struggling, it would also be useful to study and popularize the reasons why the propagandists propagate such hate. In many cases I suspect the "hey look over there, somebody's getting one over on you" is nothing more than a pickpocket's diversionary tactic.

    Not that I agree that TANF (note to alicu-editors, spell out acronyms on first usage. I eventually figured out you meant "food stamps, but still don't know what it stands for) recipients should be given so much discretionary income. In a more ideal world, food aid would be limited, or mostly limited, to healthy food that could only be purchased intelligently. For example, if one were limited to $600 per month to feed a family of four, it would be wise to go to someplace like Costco and buy in bulk. But that's impossible given the measly way they dole out the benefits. As is, a poor parent has no choice but to make poor choices with how she spends her assistance. And note how all that spending food money irresponsibly benefits some of the worst corporate miscreants while causing great environmental damage. A twofer for conservatives, if only they would think of it like that.

    Of course not everyone has easy access to a Costco and a lot of people would manage a big chunk of money badly. I suspect it would be much wiser to distribute actual food instead of money. That would provide significantly better nutrition, offer an opportunity to educate people on food issues, and cut out a lot of the fraud that actually exists in the program. Of course some would no doubt trade 50 pound bags of rice for Tokay or the like so conservatives would still have something to bitch about, but reform shouldn't really be about them. Getting back to our studies in socio-pathology, they're only interested in punishment, not reform, so who cares about their input unless it's to identify really bad ideas in order to avoid them.

  21. tigrismus11:14 AM

    TANF is "Temporary Aid to Needy Families" and is welfare rather than food stamps, which are now called SNAP for "Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program."

  22. chuckling11:15 AM

    Coincidentally, just after writing that I went over to FaceBook and saw this from one of my FB friends:

    "I make to much money on the books to get medicaid.... WTF? I am always hustling to make a living... always. I do it in a legal manner, always... yet to get on Medicaid you have to make less the 700 a month? I make quite a bit more then that, but not allot if you conclude how much it is to stay alive in this city. I have been paying credit cards... figuring out on how to get out of student loan default- I think that this month I will finally be able to work with them... pay utilities and bills.. and on and on... I see dealers that make 10 times as much as me on welfare... people on public assistance with big screen TV's in there house.... people selling their food stamps... Welfare cases driving fancy cars... So, do I have a right to get mad? I dont know... I guess dishonesty pays in this country... from the bottom of the ladder to the top... wow."

    I know they guy a little in real life. He is a very thoughtful individual; an artist who I know from repeated examples has a lot of empathy for the poor.

  23. tigrismus11:23 AM

    DVDs: cheaper than a baby sitter. And who thinks fast food or gas station food is a luxury? Yeah, sure, I'm ALWAYS having to dodge fur-draped heiresses at the Burger Shack.

  24. Phil Perspective11:26 AM

    Better yet, in some parts of Philadelphia the only thing within easy walking distance is a convenience store(Wawa). Which is the Philly area version of 7-11, basically.

  25. Shared Humanity11:33 AM

    These idiots would never consider visiting any of the neighborhoods where the typical TANF recipient lives. I have spent most of the last year volunteering for a community development non-profit in Chicago, have traveled throughout the city. Many neighborhoods are food deserts. If you don't have a car, the corner convenience store and local service station is where you buy bread and milk, often at ridiculous prices.

  26. stella11:35 AM

    My daughter was four when her father left us with nothing. We were desperate and I was in college. When she was in school some of her classmates got $50 per A grade. My daughter worked hard and got good grades. The least I could do was buy her a candy bar or a happy meal. How much misery and punishment should my child have taken because I wanted to have better earning potential and her father was irresponsible?

  27. bearsense11:45 AM

    Of course, first you must have boots.

  28. I see comments like this all the time--instead of being outraged that the bar for poverty level is set to low there are a lot of otherwise sensible people who become enraged, somehow, with those lower down on the economic scale than themselves. Yes: its hard to get on Medicaid. That's not the fault of people who are on Medicaid but the fault of Congress and the middle class voters who set the bar low in order to make sure that people aren't choosing to "mooch off" government. If your friend has a problem with it he should take it up with his elected officials.

    This is basically the same cry that people make when they find out how difficult it is to get Medicaid/Medicare coverage for Grandma's nursing home without selling Grandma's house. My 95 year old neighbor, bless her heart, sees herself as basically "poor"--and she has been living on a fixed income and not fixing up her house for about 40 years. But her house is worth a literal million dollars because of its location. She could sell it and move into a nursing home and be well taken care of for the remainder of her life but she and her daughter see that house as some kind of natural right--not an asset that needs to be valued in when considering what government benefits she is entitled to. They are extremely upset that the good people, the taxpaying people, can't maintain a middle class lifestyle when the costs of that lifestyle exceed their income.

    Yes, there are 95 year old widows with no house to sell who just "get" Medicaid. What lucky duckies!

  29. If you watch their policy suggestions, you'll see that the goal of the new libertarian right is to make everything into a luxury so we can deny it to people. Hell, they already tried to make medicine a luxury - what do you think the health care debate was about?

  30. Disqus ate my previous comment on this topic. The New York Times ran a very good article a few years ago about a Single working mother and her food "choices." After she left her low paying job and took public transportation an hour to pick up her child at the only affordable daycare she had found for him, and faced another hour and a half trip back to their low rent apartment, she really had no choice but to feed him Burger King or McDonald's because it was the only food they could afford that was located between the pickup and the return home.

    Sure, she could have tried to cook those clever "all lentil" meals and carry it with her all day from the two and a half hour commute (daycare to job) in the morning and back again in the evening but it would have been disgusting and it would have "saved" them not that much. She had to feed the kid before taking him home because they otherwise got home too late for a normal dinner meal.

    Jobs, Jobs, Jobs and Location, Location, Location. People who have to use Public transportation and who also live far from their jobs/school/daycare situations are going to need to eat on the run and that is going to be fast food. That's not because people lack willpower or are making some kind of fool's gold "glamorous" choice.

  31. KatWillow11:58 AM

    I'd like to see a chart of what well-to-do (plus billionaires like the Kocks) spend on food, and where THEY buy it.

  32. It's amazing how low standards for outrage have fallen. Used to be that the "welfare queens" were cruising around in brand new Cadillacs, sipping on champagne. Now, a poor mother buying a Snickers bar and a Redbox rental generates the same amount of consternation.

    Really, though, I have a hard time being flippant about this. I come from a rural town where a lot of people were on public assistance. Due to a combination of urban sprawl and a dearth of public transport, owning a car was not optional. If you didn't own a car, you could really only shop in places that were walking distance, and guess what? Grocery stores weren't centrally located. On the other hand, it was on a major transportation artery, so there were dozens of gas stations and they were all over the place. I'm sure some people did buy groceries in these places - they didn't exactly have a wealth of choices.

  33. Mothra112:01 PM

    Why are they attacking ATM withdrawals? If you have a limited income, making cash purchases makes excellent sense.

  34. "Forty-Eight Percent of North Dakota's Impoverished Are Basically Just Like You"

  35. It's a trick to make his argument look better. Leave off the ATM withdrawals, and the "frivolities and luxuries" only add up to about 20%, not enough to get anyone spitting acid. But Port's audience is fully prepared to assume the worst about the poor, so if he mentions cash he knows they'll assume it's for something illicit.

  36. KatWillow12:06 PM

    Instead of sniveling about some pitiful welfare/food stamp recipient dishonestly selling the stamps, why doesn't this person comment on the Kocks dishonestly buying politicians? On BP dishonestly destroying the Gulf of Mexico? On your everyday "rich" people who live in suburban McMansions overlooking golf courses, and wonder how THEY got their money, and how they spend it.

  37. You make an excellent point about how the outrage has increased yet the benefits have shrunk drastically. We seem to be moving towards a Dickensian shift in attitude on the right where the outcry is that the poor are not in workhouses or in jail -

    - while at the same time they go around touting a "real" unemployment rate of 12% and blame Obama for it, without any sense of irony whatsoever.

  38. chuckling12:16 PM

    He does. Even did it obliquely in the post I quoted, which you would have noticed had you read it to the end. Sniveling? Sad how so often I have to note how so many liberals have such similarly sociopathic attitudes towards the less successful as conservatives; they just better understand the breadcrumb nature of the aid we provide and are happy to contribute a few pennies for the cause.

  39. KatWillow12:18 PM

    When I was quite poor and lived in "East" Oakland (CA) I had a very limited, but fairly healthy, diet. No car: I remember shopping at a supermarket, and weighing everything I was considering buying. Because when I got off the bus I had 5 city blocks to walk to my apartment, and just couldn't carry bags filled with beans, rice, potatoes, etc. That stuff is HEAVY. Imagine lugging 2 gallons of milk that far, plus other groceries, after a day's work and a tedious 2-hour commute. I did eat a lot of potatoes, even tho they were so heavy to carry. Nutritious and so very EASY to cook (bake) and not much mess left over if One ate the jackets, as I did. But I'm not sure poorly-educated and probably exhausted people know much about nutrition.

  40. What you have to remember about these guys is that they divide the lower class into the "deserving poor" and the "undeserving poor." In theory, the difference is based on that old saw personal responsibility. But it's a bit of a catch-22 - responsible people rise out of poverty, therefore all poor people are undeserving.

    And the unemployment numbers are just a weapon to use against the President. Many of these same people believe that anyone can get a job if they really wanted one.

  41. A lot of liberals have the same blind spots as conservatives. No one ever wants to acknowledge that people on the left can be judgmental, but it's true.

  42. JoyfulA12:32 PM

    Nearly nobody without a car, liability insurance, and gas (not affordable on TANF) can go to Costco.

    Distributing actual food rather than money would cost a pile. Just think of transporting tons of food from the producer to many thousands of accessible distribution locations, each of which would have to be staffed and would cost rent. And "money" doesn't go to TANF recipients, who get cards (like credit cards) supplied by JPMorgan, which makes a tidy profit on the business.

    In days gone by, low-income people did receive actual food. In those days, my mother worked in a garment factory for a while, and some of her coworkers who were sole breadwinners for their families received actual food, which unfortunately was in the form of large quantities of "staples." A 5-pound bag of cornmeal is useless unless the recipient devotes hours of time and energy to figuring out what to do with it.

    Personally, I'd rather give poor people cash and a bit of freedom.

  43. PulletSurprise12:38 PM

    This for welfare recipients, and crap like this for the working poor:

    "I give God 10%, why do you get 18%?"

    As for the why: “We make $3.50 an hour. Most of my paychecks are less than pocket change because I have to pay taxes on the tips I make,” she explains. “After sharing my tips with hosts, bussers, and bartenders, I make less than $9/hr on average, before taxes.

    Wonder what Pastor Bell makes.

  44. I'm really, really glad I'm not like that.

  45. I worry that a lot of people on the lower end of the economic scale are not educated--as you mentioned--about nutrition. And even if they were, I'm not sure they'd have the time/luxury to cook nutritious meals.

    I'm someone who cooks every night after taking care of my son at home. I've got it EASY compared to a lot of people. But cooking is WORK. (Work I enjoy, somewhat.) It usually takes me a good hour from start to finish, maybe two if I'm doing a stew or roasting something. In a way, being able to cook nutritionally-balanced meals like this is, in and of itself, a luxury.

    I think I'm gonna see if there are any recipe books out there with stuff that's quick AND easy AND nutritious AND cheap. I bet those four things are harder to put together than folks might suspect.

  46. Tottal12:58 PM

    Which might well contribute to that percentage of "service stations
    (inside)" visits: folks who need gas, but don't have a credit card, will
    go to an ATM to get cash, then walk inside to pay the attendant before
    pumping their fuel. Of course, that level of analysis would require an
    advanced degree in Mr. Port's mind, like perhaps a degree in humanity.

  47. Tottal1:02 PM

    Supposedly Pastor Bell has a full-time job that she won't disclose along with her very own 15-member church. One wonders whether those are somehow related and whether she keeps the other 90% after she gives her very petty, bitter God his (because you _know_ her God is male) 10%.

  48. I should mention I'm a huge fast food-hater. Processed foods-hater. But I think many people depend on this shit for sustenance not because they're dumb or lazy or irresponsible but because it's often quick/easy/cheap.

  49. DocAmazing1:16 PM

    It took over from AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) as part of Clinton's welfare deform. Much of the classic "food stamp" has now been replace by EBT cards (and I don't know what EBT stands for, but I should).

  50. Lee Atwater would be SOOOO proud of Mr. Port. SOOOO proud.

  51. Lordwhorfin1:28 PM

    Dude is practically flat out no making it, and he's stressed and frustrated all the time. That's not sniveling. Yes, he's not thinking big picture in terms of being bitter about people even less fortunate than he is, but that's at least partially a product of anxiety. We gotta work together here.

  52. jdkahler1:31 PM

    And Wawas all have ATM machines (with no fee) making it logical for folks to withdraw cash that they then use to buy food (at a high cost but if you don't have a car...). Same situation in many cities where without a car you have the local corner store/Wawa/whatever as your close by accessible food source. With an ATM. An ATM that allows you to withdraw the money you need to pay the bill there without having to carry cash everywhere. Folks mayo have cars and credit cards can't (or don't want to) understand what it's like for folks living on the edge.

  53. rickmassimo1:36 PM

    And they don't have bank accounts (or their accounts are overdrawn) and they pay their rent in cash.

    All of these explanations are pretty easy when you proceed from a default assumption of humanity. It's only when you desperately need the existence of subhumans to make yourself sound smart and deserving that you come up with moronic "calculations."

  54. The other thing to remember is that this data is for largely rural North Dakota. I feel that this is important, because these complaints make even less sense in the sticks. A lot of small towns don't have 7-11-type convenience stores. Instead, we have places like Love's which are filling stations, convenience stores, fast food restaurants, and any number of other things. If you live on the edge of town (which is mostly lower-class in my experience), you might have far easier access to these places than proper grocery stores, which might be on the other side of a highway in the middle-class part of town.

  55. "TANF (note to alicu-editors, spell out acronyms on first usage. I
    eventually figured out you meant food stamps, but still don't know what
    it stands for)"

    I'm not going to make the obvious snarky link, but come on, man-- you're typing those words on the Internet. A two-second search would've spelled it out for you, and maybe you would've also noticed that it's not food stamps-- although actually that part is kind of obvious just from Roy's article, unless you're totally unfamiliar with how any kind of welfare benefits work, in which case maybe you shouldn't be giving advice about what would be be "much wiser."

  56. tigrismus1:48 PM

    Electronic Benefit(s?) Transfer :-)

    You know, someone above mentions decent cars as being hard to afford if you're receiving assistance... I wonder if buses or mechanics take the cards or if some of that cash is for what even Port would have to admit are non-frivolous? Also yard sale/thrift shop shopping... you could be the most sensible spender in the world and still need cash or to eat while you're away from home.

  57. In WA they are taxed on presumed tips, not actual tips. when you stiff waitstaff they are doubly fucked.

  58. wileywitch1:55 PM

    I've been an in-home caregiver for the last thirteen years. All my clients had housing assistance and payed close to a $150.00 a month out of their approximately $600.00 monthly income. Their food stamps were little more than $130.00 a month. And they had to pay bus fare. If, on occassion, one would buy a six-pack of beer, or a box of chocolates, what of it?

    It really doesn't take much to cheer up a poor person. They're not sitting around bitching that they can't afford a new car this year or don't own a second four-flusher, or can't spend three weeks in the Bahamas this year because they have to pay taxes.

  59. aimai1:58 PM

    If you don't quote the whole post you can't expect people to intuit it. The part you did quote basically says "I have an expensive lifestyle paying rent in a city and I have student loan debts and credit card debt. Other people don't have this problem, or get around it differently. Its the fault of those other moochers that I have debts I can't pay and that the government assistance that I would be offered doesn't help me." I am tremendously sympathetic to your friend, who is suffering, but I'm not sure that his position is that different from the wealthy montrealler who complains that after he has paid for everything he "doesn't make as much money as you think."

    Your friend got caught in the credit crunch and the student loan boondoggle and he has sympathy for himself because that was all beyond his control. He has ZERO reason to believe that people receiving government assistance he isn't receiving don't have it as bad, or worse. "I see dealers...and fraudsters...?" Yeah. That's as may be. But "seeing" people behave criminally isn't proof that they are criminals. And seeing a few people abuse the system doesn't indict the many who have no other choice and simply take the benefits to which they are entitled.

    Slightly higher up the food chain the people who actually make the decisions see a guy who took maxed out his credit cards and took student loans and who (they think) abused the system by not paying it back on time. IF they are wrong to be so uncharitable to him isn't he wrong to be so uncharitable to people lower down in the system than himself? Instead he (and you on his behalf) are simply filled with blind ressentiment against "those others" receiving GA.

  60. FlipYrWhig2:00 PM

    When exactly does he see these "dealers" and cheaters with their flat-screen TVs and fancy cars? I strongly suspect it's all in his head.

  61. mrstilton2:00 PM

    "Watch Dog"? Blockwarte really is one of those things that sounds better in the original German.

  62. fuyioioih2:03 PM

    "she has been living on a fixed income and not fixing up her house for about 40 years. But her house is worth a literal million dollars because of its location. She could sell it and move into a nursing home and be well taken care of for the remainder of her life but she and her daughter see that house as some kind of natural right-- "

    I'd say that she and her daughter see that house as a fairly large portion of themselves.

    What's the longest any of you have lived in one place, and did you rent or own it?

  63. aimai2:05 PM

    I guess I don't get what the point of Chuckling's Friend's FB post is supposed to be? I mean, what is the appropriate stance "liberals" are supposed to take in order to "work together here?" The guy is unhappy with his class position and thinks its the fault of the government for wasting tax money/government assistance on people who are less worthy than himself. That's the argument. That is not a particularly good argument. The government isn't, in fact, supposed to be picking out people who are "good" and rewarding them with government benefits. It has, in its brutal wisdom, determined that it needs only to give a very low floor to the indigent and totally unemployable (under certain restricted circumstances).

    If Chuckling's friend hasn't dedicated some portion of his life to acting politically to strengthen the safety net for everyone then what is he complaining about?

    I'm not arguing that Government help and the welfare safety net shouldn't be increased. I think it should. I think every child should be guaranteed a top flight education, safe streets, full health care and every adult the same things up to the level of their commitment and capacity. Hell, I think everyone should be guaranteed a good job at a decent wage.

    But that being said the current funding is doled out according to a different formula--how is that the fault of the people below this guy? Its obviously the fault of the people with the political will and the social position to vote assholes into power who would rather pay millions for war than millions for social goods.

  64. mrstilton2:09 PM

    a Dickensian shift in attitude on the right where the outcry is that the poor are not in workhouses or in jail

    We're pretty much already there. The outrage will soon be that the poors are living it up in cushy workhouses and jails, paid for with my tax dollars.

    When I think of all the delicious rice pilaf and lemon chicken those moochers are eating on my dime I could just scream, or shoot up a school-room.

  65. wileywitch2:10 PM

    If he's worried that the poor people are shameless about being poor, he can stop now. Being poor--- even working poor--- is such a shame that even when you're perfectly happy with your life you feel a bit of a cretin. I lived like a (smoking) monk for many years, and for a while had a fantasy about putting nothing in my mouth for six months but beans and rice and whatever would provide all necessary nutrients for the day, plus water. After reading Progress and Poverty I realized that if all poor people actually did that, then they would get paid as little as it took to keep them in beans and rice and a ratty roof over their heads.

  66. J Edgar2:11 PM

    So a friend gives a TANF user a ride to a real grocery store. But first, since the friend is almost out of gas, the person pays for some gasoline (and gets the cash for groceries). It's a nice thing to do, and makes it likely that they get a ride in the future and their friend can afford a car.

    In Rob Port's world, these two people are commies making his life hell.

  67. mrstilton2:12 PM

    There's a brilliant career in wait for him at some Christian "creation science" "lab".

  68. He's broke and frustrated, isn't that enough of a point? Seriously, the guy's barely keeping his head above water, I don't he has the time or desire to keep apprised of liberal arguments for entitlement reform. Don't be so quick to judge on a few paragraphs.

  69. aimai2:14 PM

    They are harder to put together than people think and when you try to balance nutrition and issues of obesity you start running into problems. Cheap foods are (generally speaking) high carbohydrate and/or take a lot of processing. Storage can be a problem for staples where you have rats, mice, or bugs.

    I'm a good cook and a clever cook and I know all about nutrition but I've never had to make a balanced diet on 5 dollars a day--or less--for a large family. You can do it but there is always a trade off between storage, cost, time, money, labor and people who lack money often lack the other parts of the equation.

    I bought a fascinating collection on Frugal Living and read it cover to cover a few years ago. The writer--who ended up making a small fortune marketing her frugal lifestyle--claimed to have slowly saved enough from her husband's military income to retire them to a piece of land somewhere rural. The way she did it was to be extremely parsimonious--nothing was ever thrown out, not even spoiled freezer food which she cooked altogether once a week into a stew that she forced on her children. In other words: wastage was kept to a minimum. Also: things were never thrown out but kept and traded later. So she was trading space (which she had in abundance) for future goods and services. Some of her suggestions were valuable and clearly changed her reader's lives. But others were somewhat illusory. Needless to say a lot of what she recommended wasn't really feasible or meaningful in a small city apartment.

  70. Bmaccnm2:17 PM

    Does it occur to Mr Rich Guy Store Owner to sell healthy food in his store? That's the thing about convenience stores- they don't sell FOOD. A few hippies here in the People's Republic of Portland have set up stores in low income neighborhoods that sell decent meat and fruit and veggies- lots of greens the last time I looked. They've been in business for going on ten years, so there must be some kind of market.

  71. aimai2:17 PM

    ****I realized that if all poor people actually did that, then they would get paid as little as it took to keep them in beans and rice and a ratty roof over their heads.****

    Ding ding ding ding. If you lower your expectations your bosses will lower their pay scales. If you put off childbearing your bosses will increase your hours.

  72. aimai2:21 PM

    There was a very powerful story a couple of years ago about a new attempt, paid for by stimulus money, to do an end run around food desserts. I think it was in Philidelphia--people could go to their local public library, log onto the free computers, and order food deliveries from PeaPod or some local grocery store with a computer delivery service. The food would be delivered to the library twice a week. Of course you still had to get it from the library to your apartment but that was easier than going to the grocery store yourself. People were incredibly excited by the possibility of fresh vegetables and not having to drag themselves for hours on public transportation.

  73. aimai2:28 PM

    I am not holding some stranger's facebook post against him--I don't even know this guy. But Chuckling put the post up to prove--what? That an artistic guy with the short end of the stick in this economy is unhappy? Or that he has a point? If so, what point? I'm pushing back against the implicit notion (explicit in some posts) that this is all the fault of unsympathetic liberals or, as the implication of the fb post seems to be, overly sympathetic liberals who give criminals a pass while struggling artists get screwed.

    I'm not at all surprised by his attitude or his unhappiness or even the fact that he's basically regurgitating right wing talking points because of his real life experience of "dealers" and "cheaters" taking advantage of a program that apparently he makes too much to take advantage of. He's a real life example of how easily solidarity (his with other poor people) gets sidetracked by hostility towards poor people. Its why we can't have nice things.

    I know lots of artists who have had trouble making it as artists--they've all had to support themselves doing menial tasks, cobbling together multiple jobs, supporting their families without health care, half on and half off of government assistance. I just don't get the accusation that the portions are so small and the bennies for the bad people are so great. That simply can't be true. He knows it isn't true because he doesn't qualify honestly and he won't stoop to lie or cheat.

    The fraud in the system isn't what is keeping him from getting benefits. We know the real fraud in the system is perpetrated by (in the case of medicaid and medicare) doctors and politicians, not individual users. So why is his lament basically that its all the other users who are "at fault" because he doesn't qualify? Their benefits have ZERO to do with his situation.

  74. Spaghetti Lee2:40 PM

    And where are the Ayn Rand novels and WSJ Op-eds? That should be at least 50% if these crumbums ever want to make something of themselves!

  75. I do have one question.

    What the fuck is TANF? You use this acronym over and over, and never explain what it means.

  76. Spaghetti Lee2:45 PM

    I don't get it either. I don't get how people can be angry, how it can actually weigh on their minds that some poor person, somewhere, is eating at a sit-down restaurant for the first time in a month instead of cold beans from the can again (microwaves are for non-moochers, citizens!) It's a bizarre obsession.

  77. aimai2:46 PM

    What I really meant to say is that diets are healthy only in terms of overall lifestyle and your personal caloric burn during the day. A healthy (peasant) diet for someone who is burning thousands of calories a day in physical labor is not a healthy diet for someone who is driving a cab. A lot of modern "healthy" diets are ways to get around the fact that most people are, perforce, extremely sedentary and have reduced time and freedom for walking or going to the gym. A sorority girl's "salad" lunch isn't enough calories for someone who is in construction and its both healthy and expensive.

  78. aimai2:53 PM

    I agree and I have nothing but sympathy for my friend. She was born and raised in that house and its the only asset she can leave to her daughter. However, it doesn't change the fact that she and her daughter resent the fact that the local nursing home won't give her a "scholarship" of free room and board because they gave all those "Free" spaces to some other widow who didn't have any assets.

    I don't blame her at all--I love her and she's 95 years old and slightly confused about stuff. But her daughter has no excuse--she basically wants the government or charity (and the neighbors) to pick up the slack taking care of her mother so that at the end the house can be left to her.

    Society has made the determination that as long as a person has the money to support themselves they need to use that money--the government only steps in with Medicaid money for the portion of the elderly that are truly needy/destitute. I wish it were different but wishing that were different doesn't change anything and only means that my friend would get to pass on a huge asset to her daughter while the rest of us paid for her INSTEAD OF SOME OTHER WOMAN who didn't have a house to sell.

  79. The electric Google-mo-tron in conjunction with the brainchild of Al Gore known as the Internet are your friends, young Jedi.

  80. What I see is 55.07% being spent on food. Maybe not the kind of food that Rob Port approves of but I thought it was only the socialist, fascist Nany-state that tried to tell us what foods to eat.

  81. This is a pretty awesome idea. Out here in the sprawling mid-west, walking is practically shameful. It's getting better, but the problem underneath that is the lack of actual neighborhoods. Commercial districts are clustered together: if you're lucky, you might live behind the WalMart, but then if you're lucky, you might live behind the WalMart. I'd be interested in anything that short circuits the strip mall mentality.

  82. aimai3:03 PM

    Noted without Comment:

    Coach Bob Grisham, who also teaches psychology and driver's ed at the school, was caught on tape ranting about the cafeteria's "600-calorie" lunches, blaming them on "fat butt Michelle Obama."

    He went on to call the First Lady a "big fat gorilla."

    "Our country is going in the wrong direction, you'd better be aware of it," Grisham told his students. "And people running around like, oh it'll get better, it'll get better. No, it ain't gone get no better until things change."

    Apparently unaware that "it gets better" is the slogan of a campaign aimed at gay teens who are bullied because of their sexuality, Grisham prods students to "call the superintendent and tell her" that "I don't like queers."

  83. Bmaccnm3:05 PM

    "The Frugal Gazette," IIRC. I share your impressions about her parsimony. She was living and writing from rural Maine, very close to where I grew up. Her lifestyle was nothing new to rural New Englanders, except she could drive into Portland to shop every so often, and I didn't know anyone who had a VeHicle dependable enough to go more than a hundred miles round trip. Lots of people at freezer soup, or refrigerator soup, or kept a soup pot boiling on the stove if they didn't own a freezer or refrigerator. This was in the 60s and 70s. It's largely true today, except for TANF and cable TV. My point is that for most people outside of the upper middle class (UMC defined as those who can go to the dentist, and to college) life is brutal and grubby, and always has been.

    Eliminating wastage is a good personal goal whether you are poor or well to do. I find it helps to keep me more morally clear about my work and travel. I worked my way through college and grad school as a single parent, and I know about stretching a buck. But I couldn't have stretched a buck enough to make it through school. Dressing out of Goodwill and driving a beater doesn't make the tuition, it just lets you live while paying the tuition.

    All this is to say that hassling poor people over nickels and dimes while losing pallets full of cash chaps my ass.

  84. Bmaccnm3:12 PM

    Agreed- unless you grow your own greens (doable in an apartment with a fire escape, ask me how I know) daily salads full of fresh vegetables and tender lettuce are a luxury for the working class and out of reach for the working poor.

  85. montag23:21 PM

    I doubt seriously that whiny young Mr. Port would trade his circumstances for the typical TANF client in North Dakota.

    I sincerely hope that he gets that chance, though, at least once in life.

    If he does, I expect that his indignity today would be suddenly and miraculously transformed into demands for dignity.

  86. bekabot3:42 PM

    "Of course not everyone has easy access to a Costco and a lot of people
    would manage a big chunk of money badly. I suspect it would be much
    wiser to distribute actual food instead of money."

    "Personally, I'd rather give poor people cash and a bit of freedom."

    1) CostCo membership costs $50.00 per year, every year. Just saying.

    2) A preference for donating goods or services and not money aligns neatly with the notion that people who don't already have money must never be given access to it, because they'll spend it unwisely or have it taken away from them. This is a notion which was until recently confined to people who were wealthy enough to "meal and board" the servants whom they were unwilling to pay, or to corporations which were large enough to treat or try to treat their employees the same way. That it has taken hold amongst middle-class people is flat-out bizarre. It's an opinion which leads to practices which do not benefit middle-class people and in which they hold no stake.

    3) The Romneys handle things Chuckling's way, which is not surprising, considering their own social standing. What is surprising is that Chuckling accedes and approves. Romney, while still a candidate for President, was asked to donate money toward the relief of the survivors of super-storm Sandy. He wouldn't do it; instead, he bought up a bunch of granola and peanut butter and diapers (from WalMart) and sent that. (There was a certain amount of chicanery involved even in this, but I'm not going to get bogged down in the details. They are available, online and in other places, for those who are interested in them.) The upshot of which was that the New Jersey Red Cross was not happy with Mitt Romney, b/c by sending goods instead of money he had forced the New Jersey Red Cross to spend money warehousing, classifying, sorting and transporting the goods he shipped in. This was money which was then made unavailable for use in other ways, and which the NJ Red Cross felt they could ill afford to spare. But Romney had conformed to a hoary tradition in sending peanut butter and not money: basically he was acting in accordance with the old-style philosophy about how to deal with the help.

  87. He "sees" them on Fox News and in email chain letters and so on... unless we're to imagine that he's personally acquainted with those drug dealers and TV-havers, and has the ability to know that someone's a "welfare case" by seeing how they drive. Being pissed off because you're broke, and because dealing with Medicaid sucks, is natural; but you can be pissed off without deciding to accept every bullshit statement you see about other people as long as it feeds your anger. There's plenty of stuff you can actually see with your own eyes that's worth being angry about, but this guy chooses to recite wingnut legends instead.

    And yet he's a very thoughtful and empathetic individual, because Chuckling says so.

  88. And not picturesquely enough!

  89. aimai4:19 PM

    Everything in American culture is bizzarro world when it comes to the poor or the portion of society which can be kicked in the teeth for accepting a little temporary help. In regular America people want the good life and will work hard for it. In bizzarro world America people have limited, cheap, wants and will not even work to satisfy those and are instead more or less happy to accept living in poverty, having the utilities shut off, starving, eating crummy food, etc... in order to avoid earning substantial sums of money at readily available jobs.

    In regular America people are thought to rise to the demands that society puts on them and to rise to the challenge of autonomy and choice. The more choice the more autonomy and the more autonomy the greater good for society. But in bizzarro world America-for-the-poors no one can be trusted with any agency or choice at all. Being poor, losing your job, having a health care crisis, are all reasons to have autonomy and choice taken away from you because you can no longer handle it.

  90. "Temporary Assistance for Needy Families", formerly known as welfare. It's not exactly an obscure acronym, though.

  91. Anonymous4:36 PM

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  92. (note to alicu-editors, spell out acronyms on first usage. I eventually
    figured out you meant "food stamps, but still don't know what it stands

    Is your Google-fu broken? Because the first result you get when you type in "TANF" tells you what it is.

  93. JennOfArk4:59 PM

    Well, you've pretty much hit the nail on the head there, though in a roundabout way: the poors have already proven that they are irresponsible by being poor. So how you gonna trust them with more than a bare minimum of scratch?

  94. tensor5:13 PM

    I, for one, am glad to see our wingnut-welfare recipients whining about poor people who actually work at real jobs and have to take assistance to avoid starvation. Puts it all into perspective, don't it? And the innumeracy (or outright fraud) he uses to reach his statistical goal puts a nice point on people who whine that the government spends too much on the poors and the olds.

  95. Also, a lot of food assistance programs were designed as a way of disposing of agricultural surplus rather than providing nutrition. For quite a long time, you *couldn't* buy nutritious food or make choices with your WIC benefits or food stamps -- you had to buy certain items, which were invariably loaded with fat, salt, and sugar and just happened to be the byproducts of subsidies to big dairy, big corn and big beverage.

    So people on food assistance grow up eating this shit, it's what they can afford and what they're used to and what they are forced to get, and people get all righteous about poor people eating junk food.

  96. Morgan Spurlock had a TV show a little while back called "30 Days" or something, where people traded places or experienced something that other people did for 30 days. One of the first episodes had Spurlock and his fiancee living on minimum wage in a midwestern city (Cleveland, maybe). She was a trained vegan chef and insisted they not eat processed food or meat, but she was having a hell of a time stretching their food budget with what was available to them. Both of them wound up with nutritional deficiencies within 30 days bad enough to send them to the hospital. And they weren't trying to feed kids as well.

  97. Did he get his training in psychology at the same place Dr. Helen did?

  98. bekabot6:03 PM

    Well, that's not something I'm going to complain about, because when I was on food stamps I was living in the Midwest, in semi-rural country, and there was a lot of nutritious food available, especially during the late spring and early fall. (Though I will say, looking back, that I probably did eat too much corn.) Midwestern tomatoes are second to none. And not only that, but I was within walking distance of an organic food store, a good one, popularly admitted to be the best of its kind outside Akron. My only reason for indulging in all these reminiscences is to point out that these were my personal circumstances, and that they were to a large extent dependent on luck and chance. They weren't comparable to anybody else's personal circumstances, then or now. I would not be able to duplicate them today and would never dream of consulting them as a guide as to how people in general ought to behave.

  99. smut clyde6:09 PM

    I don't know. I can't imagine "Thanks for a Nation of Finks" ever sounding better than in Bill Burroughs' intonation.

  100. KatWillow6:11 PM

    True, I did not read the entire quote-post. The whining got to me about half way thru. You know, whining and self pity are a lot of fun, some of my happiest hours have been spent feeling sorry for myself, and resentful of the good fortune of other, less deserving, people. But I know I'm being absurd, and I keep my internal complaints to myself.

  101. It's MAH TAX DOLLAHS!
    Most of which goes into blowing shit up you've never heard about. I suppose choosing wether to kill some shadowy foe or helping your own is a hard choice for abject idiots.I'll just sit here playing Hades Nebula.

  102. montag26:51 PM

    All true, but a look at his blog entries shows that our Mr. Port is a prolific whiner about, well, almost everything. I'm conflicted about bringing back the draft, but if it meant that Mr. Port would find himself in basic training (where wearing camo was not optional), and therefore would have something meaningful and personal to complain about, that would probably sway my opinion on the matter.

  103. montag27:11 PM

    But, if you're in the business of creating divisions amongst people in order to profit from that division, you're going to incite anger at every opportunity, and you're going to enlist the help of intellectual midgets like Mr. Port. It's just a bonus that they work for you so cheaply.

    If you're a Gilded Age asset-stripper and labor-exploiter, solidarity is your primary enemy. Finding glorified fishfarts like this guy Port is the most efficient way to create those divisions.

  104. " get a grim picture of how these funds are being spent. Which is to say, on frivolities and luxuries rather than needs."

    McDonald's and the crap you buy in gas station convenience marts are fucking LUXURIES?

    Jesus Christ, what is wrong with this man?

  105. I wish these assholes would spend as much time worrying about what kinds of subsidies and tax breaks the wealthiest corporations and individuals in the world get (and what crimes they get away with on a regular basis), as opposed to some poor family spending a couple bucks on a movie rental.

  106. But that allows those filthy fucks the luxury of leather-soup!

  107. chuckling8:09 PM

    Even after all these years, I still marvel at how angry people get on the internet over the smallest little things. Of course having been guilty of that once myself, I may have some insight on the phenomena. Some people, of course, are just angry, angry assholes, but more often, especially around these parts, I think we're just having a bad day in some way and can't help lashing out at a safely distant stranger. My humble advice is to try to learn and recognize whatever your problem(s) are serve as trigger, then before furiously typing out those withering (in your own mind) insults that make you look like such a shit, as yourself, "do I really wanna be angry internet guy/gal? If you really are a decent person IRL, the answer will usually be "no."

    As for spelling out acronyms on first usage, that's both standard professional style and common courtesy. Any writing that requires the reader to use Google is poor writing per se. It's not some nit-picky rule like "don't end a sentence with a preposition" or "avoid split infinitives" It's more like "don't drive on the railroad tracks when a train's a comin," Anyway, don't mean to berate Roy. We all make mistakes. I'm just politely saying, "go forth and sin no more," or something like that.

  108. montag28:10 PM

    I believe it was Michael Parenti who makes the point that poverty is an inevitable and invariable consequence of capitalism (and, let's not forget that feudalism was just capitalism without the patina of democracy). If they are whining about the poor, it's because they refuse to acknowledge that reality. If one is in favor of unrestrained and predatory capitalism, as virtually all of these pinheads are, then it follows that one is in favor of rampant poverty. Complaining that people are poor, but then, at the same stroke, demanding that the poor should behave as the wealthy imagine they should is intended to largely hide from view the root causes of that poverty, and to deny the role of government in ameliorating the extremity of the poverty.

    I suspect our Mr. Port is not wealthy. That he chooses to throw in his lot with the already extremely wealthy means that his influence, however miniscule, works to ensure even greater wealth accumulation by the wealthy (principally through tax avoidance and preferential government treatment). The end result, of course, is that the number of the poor will grow. If our Mr. Port does not find himself in that number, it is not from lack of trying.

  109. jimeh8:16 PM

    The numbers are really too painful for me look at. Much of my childhood was spent in a single parent household in rural Minnesota during the 80s, when welfare benefits were historically high in a state where they were especially generous and where the cost of living was especially low. It was also a poor area that had been hard hit by the 80s farm crisis, so there were a number of families on welfare and the social economic difference between what would have been a median family and ours was not huge.

    Yet, even with that -- essentially the best of all possible worlds for being poor in America -- the unremitting struggle, shame, and obsession with money has left me with raw scars even today. I really can't imagine growing up under that kind of poverty today.

  110. chuckling8:19 PM

    Well, I'd be happy to pay more for better results. And setting up all those distribution locations would employ a lot of people and be good for the local economies, particularly in more rural areas.

    I think of it more as a question of results. The current system is insanely ineffective, at least from the perspective of providing good food for low income people. Of course it's very effective as a profit center for any number of large corporations, for-profit medical care providers, the prison-industrial complex and the funeral industry.

    I don't see providing good food to poor people as punishment. I see it is an providing an opportunity.

  111. chuckling8:29 PM

    I did quote the whole post. The last line is "I guess dishonesty pays in this country... from the bottom of the ladder to the top... wow."

    Anyway, I didn't mean to make such a big deal out of it. Just thought it interesting and apropos to the topic. Eek is a nodding acquaintance IRL, but I only know anything about how he thinks from his numerous posts of FB. That is the first time I recall him mentioning people playing the system. Typically, if he posts anything political at all it's about the horrible treatment the homeless get or something along the lines of "Republicans suck."

  112. cambridgemac8:35 PM

    Actually, I listened to a farmer in NH, whose adult daughter needs expensive lfe-saving drugs not covered by Medicaid, furious that prisoners get free medical care.

  113. chuckling8:37 PM

    Sure, why would I lie? And why would he? Living on New York's lower east side, I think somewhere in alphabet city, I don't doubt he sees plenty of drug dealers and welfare cheats. For me, anecdotal evidence suggests that every single Polish person in the city is receiving welfare. I regularly see guys in their thirties, just off work, paying for beer and prepared foods with their welfare cards. It doesn't bother me though. More like I start thinking I should change my name to chucklingski.

    But again, why so much hate and anger against anyone who deviates even in the slightest from your party line? Good, decent people can complain about how hard it is to get by without being Fox News assholes. Frankly, given the way you've written in this thread, you have far more in common with the ever-angry Fox News aficionados than with regular people, much less those of us who generally agree with traditional liberal values.

  114. chuckling8:45 PM


    Anyway, like most people, I just use the term "food stamps" as a catch-all, even knowing that modern aid programs are more complicated and there are no longer actual stamps. Food plastic just doesn't have the same ring to it, eh. That, and so much of the industrialized food may be very much like plastic, from a chemical perspective.

  115. XeckyGilchrist8:54 PM

    These welfare scolds just resent having to have even the cushy bullshit jobs they have to do for way too much money.

  116. bekabot8:57 PM

    "...particularly in more rural areas."

    It isn't the rural areas which are the worst off. I once lived in a region roundabout the Great Lakes in which there were, within 50 miles of each other, several smallish farming communities (one of them was a college town) where good food was usually available if only because there were whole fields of it growing down the road. There was an orchard in one of these towns which was a family concern: the people who ran the place sold their cider and pears to a large grocery store which was situated one county block away. This grocery store was part of a big chain but, needless to say, the cider and the pears did not get exported everywhere.

    Also within about 50 miles of these small towns, there was a large, depressed, downmarket area of a big city which was a true food desert: the freshest food to be had there was sold through the discount stores. I am not joking. I lived in both these areas, and concluded that being broke in the sticks was no sinecure but being broke in the city sucked beyond measure.

    Thinking of things in terms of results is great, though what you think is going to be determined by the results you want to achieve.

  117. redoubt9:22 PM

    Blockwarte Gauleiter really is one of those things that sounds better in the original German


  118. XeckyGilchrist9:29 PM

    I know, you distill the resentment enough and it doesn't really resemble the human emotion it started out as.

  119. DocAmazing9:34 PM

    That's still the case. WIC distributes all manner of unhealthy crap in service of off-loading agricultural surplus. Children's nutrition is a secondary concern--always has been.

  120. redoubt9:59 PM

    Our Mr. Port--a former Wasilla resident who called Joe McGinnis a "slimeball" for having the temerity to move in next to you-know-who--is, as noted above, on Kochfare.

    Another thing: Kochfare is created by, among other things, the current North Dakota oil boom. Our Mr. Port apparently thinks you ought to work (for Koch) or die.

  121. Freshly Squeezed Cynic10:24 PM

    Interesting that you guys have electronic cards that tell you exactly what the poor are spending, but last time I was in New York the debit card infrastructure was decades behind European "chip and pin" systems.


  122. Big_Bad_Bald_Bastard10:45 PM

    Hey, I've got a great idea... how about we take the billionaire sociopaths who tanked the economy and give them billions of bailout dollars and invite them to the Capitol so they can get a tongue bath from obsequious congresscritters, while we sentence irrepsonsible slutty slut sluts and their bratty brats to life sentences of grinding poverty and scorn?
    Huh? Huh? Guys? Uh... wolverines?

  123. Hate and anger? What are you talking about? You offered his fb post into evidence of something--I still can't figure out what?--and we responded by saying "yeah, people say that shit all the time. Self pity because he doesnt' qualify as poor enough to get some government assistance--and isn't corrupt enough to game the system? Yeah. That's common as mud." I don't even begin to see what this has in common with "fox news" except that the story that "the entire system is corrupt from the bottom to the top" is a kind of "both sides do it" that Fox news does quite frequently.

  124. Viz, to wit, school lunches.

  125. chuckling12:36 AM

    I was responding to Hob, who accused the guy I quoted of being a Fox News zombie spouting wingnut legends and essentially called me a liar. Until this nonsense, you were being quite reasonable.

    I think that on this topic at least, the big difference between me and my critics, is that you all basically buy in to the right wing bourgeois worldview that despises low income people who try to get over on the government. As I noted above, what separates you from the wingnuts is that they want to punish those you despise while you don't mind helping them out. I, on the other hand, think it's great if people, low income people anyway, prefer to game the system. More power to them, I says.

    So my humble advice is to try real hard to understand that everything is not best viewed through a political prism. It's not all black and white, or red and blue. People are complex, they can have complex views, and be inconsistent about them as well. Reducing everybody down to political caricatures and despising them when they deviate from your standards is probably more harmful to you than to them. Learn to appreciate the art of humanity. Not only will it make you a better, probably happier person, it will make you more effective as a political activist as well. People don't like being judged. They like being accepted.

    -- Henry Chucklingski (you can call me chuck)

  126. "Angry"? Not particularly, and I wrote no insults at all, but thanks for the condescending tips. I think you have a few funny ideas about both style and courtesy. Spelling out acronyms is only standard if there's a reasonable presumption that people won't be familiar with them; you wouldn't be chiding Roy if he'd said SSI or CIA. TANF is not some obscure agency, it's one of the two major federal welfare programs; if you either knew anyone who had been on welfare, or were actually interested in welfare policy, you would be familiar with it. If you're not, that's not your fault, but it's a sign that maybe your ideas about how it should be run are not very well informed.

  127. Well, formerly known as AFDC. It was renamed as part of Clinton's big "reform" package in 1996, and the acronym was all over the news then, and has continued to be in the news every time the Republicans come up with some bullshit about how the rules aren't strict enough-- like they did just a few months ago.

  128. The point about it not being food stamps wasn't about whether they are literally stamps or not; it's that TANF is a program that isn't specific to food in any way. There is a totally separate program for that, which is what people refer to as "food stamps." Therefore it doesn't make a hell of a lot of sense for people like Rob Port to complain about people spending the portion of their federal assistance that isn't designated for food on things other than food.

  129. Chuck, I did not call you a liar. I said that I don't think your friend literally "sees" the things he's complaining about; more likely he thinks they're true because there are so many people telling him that shit, because it is calculated to feed the anger of people in his situation. You know-- the kind of propaganda that you yourself were talking about a little further up on this page. And my reasons for thinking that aren't ideological (I don't know what my "party line" is supposed to be), they're based on having lived in the world-- in fact specifically on the Lower East Side for many years. I don't doubt at all that there are people scamming welfare (and, contrary to your attempted mind-reading, I'm not incredibly concerned if they do); but I very much doubt that those people are well-off drug dealers or are driving fancy cars, because 1. people with money to burn are very unlikely to want to spend their time dealing with NYC bureaucrats and social workers just to pick up some extra beer money, and 2. there's nowhere to put a fancy car around there.

    I'm not sure why you're so committed to thinking his statements are literally true, since when you first brought him up you weren't saying any such thing. In fact I still can't tell what point you're actually trying to make-- I don't think anyone can-- and when you keep throwing in extra little inflammatory flourishes like the Polish stuff it makes it sound a whole lot like plain old trolling. Perhaps you'll edit out some of that crap after the fact, as you've done with your comments here in the past, and have a good chuckle at how you got a rise out of everyone. I never realized that's what political activists with a commitment to social justice spend their time doing. How bourgeois of me.

  130. I'm strongly against the idea of an end run around desserts. I think those tasty obstacles should be confronted head-on.

    Seriously though, that sounds like a swell idea and I'd like to learn more about it.

  131. I think the dinosaur-like debit card infrastructure is mostly due to merchants being locked into deals with just a couple of service providers-- or in many areas, just one, Visa-- who are doing very well for themselves and aren't particularly interested in tech upgrades that don't add to their bottom line.

  132. mrstilton4:40 AM

    Nah, Port's not Gauleiter material. Gauleiter were major officials. Like Port, a Blockwarte had no real power or importance. He was just some true-believing little minnow who kept a close eye on the other residents of his apartment building and reported any who failed to return the Hitler salute, listened to the wrong sort of music, said something that could be interpreted as disloyal or defeatist, etc. Nazi Germany depended on them. (So too, mutatis mutandis, did post-war East Germany. And I don't doubt that, in many cases, they were the same people.) That's the thing about the Blockwarte personality; it fits in and it sucks up. Port is a flag-wavin' tea-baggin' American patriot, but can there be any serious doubt which decisions he'd have made if he were a Nazi-era German?

  133. Provider_UNE8:06 AM

    I miss you fucking fucks! Not sure how long the Starbucks AP will think I am *inside the building* but I wanted to say hey! I do have to admit that not being a ubiquitous presence on the intertrons has not been as horrible as I once thought it might.



  134. chuckling8:40 AM

    The result we want to achieve? Isn't that providing good food at low cost to low income people in need? Seems to me cutting out the corporations could have myriad social, economic and health benefits. In some alternate universe where something like that were possible, individual distribution centers could work with local farmers, encourage more production of locally grown crops, give more people in inner cities and rurality healthy options, employ a lot of people, and significantly cut down on environmental pollutants. An eminently sane system along those lines might cost more, but more likely would prove a bargain.

    Does anyone really believe that taking away anyone on public assistance's choice to have a ridiculously expensive (when you consider the big picture) corn dog and big gulp at the gas station and replacing it with a choice to eat good, healthy food is punishment?

  135. chuckling8:56 AM

    I've never edited anything after the fact, not without noting it, for any reason other than to improve readability.

    And as I've said several times, my point was that I found it interesting and coincidental to the topic. Still do.

    Find the rabid response interesting as well. Though in a sad way. Watching liberal commenters act like conservative commenters is always disheartening.

    What's inflammatory about the Polish stuff? I'm not making that up. And I can't say I know for sure whether poor Eek is making up the stuff in his plaint or channelling right wing bullshit, but given what I do know about both him and real life on the margins, I give him the benefit of the doubt.

    But it doesn't really matter. It's interesting whether it's true or whether he's channelling or whether it's some kind of combination of both.

  136. chuckling9:12 AM

    The guy I quoted, btw, is Edward Arrocha, aka Eak the Geek. You can check him out on FB and come to your own conclusions.

  137. I don't get the continued accusation that "liberals" are the same as "conservatives" in their comments here. This seems like that hoary old cliche "you liberals refuse to tolerate my intolerance."

    You can't say why you posted someone else's private FB posting or what point you are trying to make. You agree with your FB friend that lots of people are scamming the government. You end up asserting that the "liberal" position would be to encourage more people to scam from the government, or at least applaud those who do. Your friend, of course, does not take that position. He sees the scammers as preventing him from getting something he is due (government support, help with his financial situation).

    Neither of those positions are the actual conservative position as articulated non stop by actual conservatives. The actual conservative position is that because some people are scammers the entire system should be governed by a determination to prevent some scamming. This is analagous to their specific statements on convictions of the innocent which goes that its better to lock up ten innocent people than let one criminal go free. Since government has no way of figuring out who is "deserving poor" and who is "undeserving poor" or preventing the undeserving from accessing benefits therefore benefits should be kept as low as possible, go to as few people as possible, be as humiliating as possible and possibly be ended altogether.

    There really is no mystery about the conservative position here and it has fuck all to do with whether some anonymous commenters took your anonymous posting about your anonymous friend's vaguebook opinions seriously and handed him the world's tiniest violin or not.

  138. Apologies for the rampant italics. I really only intended to italicize two words. I got carried away with figuring out how to use them but the system won't let me get back in and edit my comment. I hope the italics don't screw up the comments.

  139. tigrismus10:22 AM

    Yes, exactly. I find it interesting that the lesson Port draws is OMG WASTE while the one I draw is that SNAP must be inadequate if folks are having to use TANF money that's meant to help with household necessities, clothes, etc to supplement their food budgets.

  140. But, look, no one is going to ask you "to pay more" for a better outcome. The entire thrust of the fight between progressives and conservatives is that conservatives in this country--and lots of dems too--are always insisting that the taxpayers expect them to "do more with less." We saw the apotheosis of this, or maybe I mean the Nadir, during the last election when Romney's team actually thought (and said) that they would replicate Obama's computer team and ground game "at 20 percent of the cost and a third the time." As it turns out, you can't do more with less.

    But this is the fight we are actually having in the political arena--can we do more with more? Will we even get access to more money for social programs?

    There are a lot of reasons to think that the "distribute healthy goods to poor people instead of giving them money" would have some good effects and lots of reasons to think that its infantilizing, stigmatizing, and might have deleterious effects. But in any event its not on the table except through private/public charities like food banks which are not all that efficient and which are highly embattled.

  141. chuckling10:32 AM

    When I compare liberal commenters to conservatives, it's not about any position on any particular issue. It's about the mindset that causes commenters to treat people derisively for even the slightest deviation from some dogma. It's about political tunnel vision that excludes the possibility of any artistic or graceful vision of imperfect individuals or society. It's about caricaturing, grossly misrepresenting people and creation of cartoonish strawmen to vent their frustrations on. It's the anger and the hate, the total lack of empathy for our fellow human beings. That kind of thing.

  142. Oh, you've discovered people are people? Did you think that people having a liberal political outlook didn't also love a good jape?

    As for "political tunnel vision that excludes the possibility of any artistic or graceful vision of imperfect individuals or society" I can't even figure out what you are referring to there--was your assertion that the polacks are stealin' your tax dollars for their kielbasa roasts a "graceful vision"? It looked like plain old white ethnic racism to me.

    Was your assertion that you knew better than a poor person how to spend money on food all that "artistic?"

    This is a thread filled with people talking about their own experience of poverty and food stamps, their own thoughts and hopes about how to reform a system in a way that respects the autonomy and choices of poor people and you see it as revolving entirely around you and your FB friend's complaint that he isn't poor enough to get the lucky ducky breaks.

    I, personally, would have had no critique of your friend's fb post if you hadn't brought it into the conversation but since you did bring it in I still have no idea why you think its so brilliant, or even so empathy inducing.

    Your friend is among the working poor. He is among the many people who work too much and earn too much to fall below the cut off line for scarce public monies that are used in the welfare system to prevent people from either dying in the streets or rioting in the streets. I have a lot of sympathy for his situation but he doesn't need my sympathy--he needs to organize and fight to expand the medicare/medicaid safety net and bring on single payer healthcare. That is a large, unwieldy, and uncomfortable fight that a whole lot of other people have been having for some time now.

    Not going "ooh, aah, how unfair it is that moochers and losers who make less than 700 a month "get" medicaid" is not a meaningful thing to do be doing, on or off the internet. But if you feel that's what he really needs you can be a pal and post a "like" on his FB page.

  143. It was a big breakthrough here when they created the legal framework for farmer's markets to accept foodstamps.

    w/r/t living near actual farms there are always going to be periods of glut and cheap produce in an area where there is still farming and where farming is not labor intensive (so, low population) but anyplace where poverty is concentrated and urban that simply isn't going to be the case. When I lived in Amherst people who had little backyard gardens would pretty much give away zucchini and tomatoes at certain times of the year--but here in the city there are more poor and hungry people than can sop up the limited surplus.

  144. chuckling11:04 AM

    This is a thread filled with people talking about their own experience of poverty and food stamps...

    Of course if you scroll up, you may note that I started this thread by quoting a person talking about his own experience of poverty and food stamps. Perhaps you're not so much enthusiastic about people talking about those issues as people parroting your own views? And the constant way you demean these people you so much want to help. It's no wonder liberals have been so spectacularly ineffective. You don't seem to respect anybody outside your own very small tribe. It's nice that you want to help these people you despise, certainly better than the conservative approach, but most people don't want help from people who don't respect them.

  145. There is nothing new under the sun and maybe I should post this over at SteveM's NoMoreMrNiceBlog where thanks to Steve's kindness I occasionally perch but here goes.

    I think the thing that bugs me about Chuckling's "just asking questions" suggestion that we move from TANF and EBT to doling out food is that this really isn't new at all. Society has had a "problem" of poor people, poor people's shifltess culture, and poor laws since the dawn of industrial capitalism and the enclosures in England, if not (basically) always. During that time almost EVERYTHING has been tried and we actually know what works for the individual and what works, or doesn't work, for society.

    The settlement house movement, even cooking schools (see. e.g. Perfection Salad by Laura Shapiro all worked with people moving off the farm/subsistence into the cities. One of the very first issues for people was learning how to handle the corruption of urban food sources, how to manage a working life that was industrialized (see, e.g. Sweetness and Power by Sidney Mintz) with few breaks for rest or food.

    The upper classes have always tried, sometimes with serious concern and even love and sometimes punitively, to control the way poor people spend their hard earned money and especially to control the ways in which poor people spend government or charitable assistance. Sometimes this is done out of sympathy and empathy sometimes its just done because it can be done--because the benefits flow from the upper class and are simply another means of control.

    People at the bottom end of the SES (socio-economic scale!) have little room to maneuver and that means that pecadillos, failings, addictions, errors which they in fact share with the upper classes have more deleterious effects. Someone upthread referred to Morgon Spurlock's 30 days at minimum wage, we might also point towards Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickled and Dimed. Both of those works might lead us to argue that the cure for poverty is more money rather than a complete retraining and re-education of the individual using the power of the government purse as a stick rather than a carrot.

    Do I think there is a "culture of poverty" that makes the wretched poverty at the base of this wealthy country sometimes self inflicted? Yes, I do. No one can see interviews with the average man on the street and think that there aren't a shit load of people who don't know the first thing about their health, nutrition, and their lifestyle choices. Jamie Oliver's interviews come to mind, as well as interviews with social workers about cyclical and endemic child abuse in some communities.

    Do I think that there could be many positive ways of dealing with this? Yes, I do. For example rather than forcing government cheese on people a la chuckling I think we might explore ways of encouraging people to trade notional benefits for real education w/r/t food. For example (for a lot of money) you could offer people "credits" in the form of money that could be exchanged at a government run supermarket stocked with good food/green produce at reduced prices with accompanying educational classes in food prep and nutrition. If you came to the store (where there would be babysitting) you could have a one hour class in food prep and buy subsidized healthy food with your EBT card. Your money would go farther, you'd be getting a much needed education in food and health, and you would be able to socialize with other people. I include in this a van service to pick people up and drop them off afterwards.

  146. somebody tell me how to turn off italics? I take it that it doesn't involve repeating < i >?

  147. You keep saying this stuff "You don't seem to respect anybody outside yoru very own small tribe...most people don't want help from people who don't respect them...its no wonder liberals have been so spectacularly ineffective" but I literally can't understand what you think you are saying.

    I don't despise anyone and have never tried to help people I "don't respect." I don't think your arguments are very sophisticated and I think your friend's arguments (to the extent that his private cri de couer constituted an argument and not just a vent) are pretty old hat--is that "despising" you both? That's a pretty radical reading of the text.

    Fred Clark at Slactivist had a great post up the other day linking to a long essay by some guy about something he calls "Priviliged Distress." Basically the argument is that some people experience real distress (for which we should have empathy) at a loss of authority or respect or even a loss of what they expect to happen.

    You put up your friend's post and you expected that we would all go "wow, that poor guy, he earns too much to get access to medicaid." And we didn't. We said "Yeah, true, that's kind of the fight we've been having politically for about a thousand years." You put up a post musing about what Chuckling would do if he were king and how he'd solve poor people's problems by doing X or Y and we said "Yeah, true, that's kind of the fight we'vve been having politically for about a thousand's why your solution seems superficially to make sense but in practical terms doesn't."

    And that, in your mind, becomes "despising" you and all people? The "cause" of "liberal failure" like what? The 40 hour work week? Free School lunches? Civil Rights? Regulations following the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire and the Coconut Grove fire? Those failures that came about because "liberals" despise "the people they are trying to help?

    You are really your own worst enemy. I can't even take your trolling seriously at this point.

  148. whetstone11:26 AM

    I can't remember where I read this or the exact figures used, but a typical fast food meal is actually cheaper than a typical home-cooked meal if you factor in time cost (at not a high salary--something like $10-15 an hour). As someone who is also a slow cook, I get it.

  149. whetstone11:46 AM

    In fairness, North Dakota only has a $1 billion surplus this year, and some of that is probably going to have to go to the moocher hospitals who treat the lazy takers creating that surplus in the oil fields (Disqus won't let me post a link from my tablet, but just Google "north dakota hospitals debt.")

  150. synykyl12:00 PM

    The poor should buy guns. Hollis Brown just picked the wrong target.

  151. Here is a quote from your friend's wiki, he sounds adorable:

    After the end of a romance, Eduardo choose to live "the bohemian life to the fullest" he wrote poetry, provided vocals for various hard-core bands, worked as a street vendor, and eventually found his way to New York City. He began his life in New York as a street vendor, but eventually found himself working in the Coney Island Circus Sideshow. He worked in Coney Island for 15 years alongside some of the greatest sideshow performers of the time. He's covered head to toe in tattoos, the most painful of which is on his inner thigh.
    Eduardo developed and act in which he would get sandwiched between two nail boards and place the two largest people in the audience on his stomach, he could handle weights of up to three quarters of a ton.
    Eduardo has been part of the East Village Art Scene for twenty years, owning his small place in the East Village; as he likes to say: "I barely beat gentrification, get used to me!"
    He returned to College after many years, finished his BA in Political Science in Marymount Manhattan, then doing a final year at the Thomas Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan. While at Cooley, Eak stated he was studying law to represent the freaks but ended up with two years of law school debt and a dream unfulfilled.

    I still don't see why you brought him into this discussion of poverty. This guy priviliged a life of self discovery and self exploration over mere money--he had plenty of chances to have a boring, middle class, worker bee life. He freely chose what sounds like an amazing life. Capitalism is brutal. Cities are brutal. Law School debt is brutal. I empathize with him and I honor him for his choices which *many people I know have also made or were forced to make.*

    However his basic point in the FB post you quoted was that its unfair that someone who did what he wanted and enjoyed a life on the wild side doesn't get his medical tab picked up by the ungracious taxpayers. We all agree that's unfair--but its not more unfair to him than to everyone else in the country. Its not a tragedy that happens to him because other poor people fall even below that cut off of 700 dollars a month. It is a tragedy that is happening to men, women, and children all across the country right now for very obvious political reasons. It happens to other people who are working two and three jobs for minimum wage and not having a particularly exciting and poetic life.

    If anything, to get back to your continued cries that people here are "not sympathetic to people not of their tribe" I'm more sympathetic to this guy because he is a creative, poetic, free spirit. But so what? My empathy and 3.95 will get him a cup of coffee.

  152. Thank you!

  153. D. Sidhe12:34 PM

    I went without a bank account the last two years I was working because I was having some paranoia issues and wanted less paper on me. (Yeah, I know. Ignore it.) Which means check-cashing places, or getting your checks cashed at a bank, assuming they will do this if you don't have an account (they mostly won't) or grocery stores. All of which stack on fees. If we're going to bitch at people about how they spend every penny of assistance, we might want to consider that how they spend every penny of their income is also very important to them. Twenty or so bucks a month (if you're careful and lucky and I'm guessing it's much higher now) out of your paycheck just to be able to spend your paycheck is not nothing.

    Now, you can argue that I was bankless by choice, which I admit I was. I also wasn't starving, because my partner has mostly always made pretty good money. But there are a lot of people who live where there aren't banks, or don't necessarily have the right documentation for a bank account (seriously, I spent most of a year trying to get a new account later and the only reason they finally gave me one was I brought in as proof of residency the fucking mortgage papers we had *with that bank branch*).

    The whole thing reminds me of an uncle once explaining that poor people were idiots for renting because that was just money they were pouring into a hole, and that if they had any sense they'd buy a house. This is a "financial tip" I've heard from allegedly educated people ever since. Thanks, that really helps if you're, you know, not already fucking broke.

    I spend a lot of time yelling at people that "Not everybody is just like you, okay?" I'm delighted you think that's what you would do, or you think if you can do something everybody can. But you are not everybody.

  154. DocAmazing12:39 PM

    I read that story earlier. The pure, undiluted sociopathy of the oil industry is breathtaking.

  155. DocAmazing12:44 PM

    Regarding issues of education in basic food prep and nutrition, I think we overlook a place where it is already occurring: public schools. If nutrition education were made more meaningful (and not allowed to be hijacked by McDonald's and Pepsi) and if Home Ec courses were fun and not punishment, much good could be done. The Berkeley public schools were actually growing some of there own vegetables for a time (they might still be--I'm busy on this side of the Bay, so I miss things)--that's as close as one can get to fundamental nutrition education.

  156. DocAmazing12:45 PM

    Be careful. All that fresh air can change a man.

  157. KatWillow12:46 PM

    The MOTUs are working hard to spread the message that the USAs economic "crisis" is directly caused by Poor People, Elderly, Sick & Handicapped, and of course: "Immigrints"!! Not the fantastically wealthy corporations & people who engineered the financial collapse and now want to profit even more off of it by instituting "austerity"- not on themselves, oh dear me, No! They'll inflict it on the very very poor, and work their way up the financial ladder until the US is another 3rd world economy comprised of THE RICH, the RICHs lickspittles and lackeys, and the peasants.

  158. D. Sidhe12:49 PM

    This is what gets me. Even if these alleged luxuries weren't often the most practical choices you can make on a shitty income (Yes, please do go hunt for a black and white TV), there's also this attitude, as Roy noted, that people on assistance, and the working poor (which is a phrase I still spit every time I have to use: If you're working, you should not be poor!), and families getting child support (No, seriously, "She buys shoes for those kids constantly! With MY money!"), don't deserve even small luxuries or dignities. I don't care if you think anyone's "deserving" or not, in a country where people spend millions on second homes and hundreds on dinners and thousands on wine, I'm not going to begrudge someone with two jobs and three kids a dinner at Burger King or a can of beer or DVD rentals or, honestly, much of anything else. If we're publicly financing a basketball arena next to the football stadium and the baseball field, we can do better than making anyone survive at the intersection of joylessness, worry, and exhaustion.

  159. D. Sidhe1:10 PM

    I'd like to petition for a grant to set this comment up with a position at a major conservative think tank, if only to see if it's possible to actually shame the sociopaths there.

  160. Having hung out on this blog for a while, I've never been sure whether you're just a guy with strong opinions, or you're trolling with whatever crap you think will rile up all those overly sensitive suckers who take things seriously. Thanks for confirming that it's definitely the latter. "What's inflammatory about the Polish stuff?" Yeah, right. And "I've never edited anything after the fact, not without noting it, for any reason other than to improve readability" is a big fat lie, which of course I can't prove, but I doubt I'm the only one who's noticed you throwing out bait with a rant about "Obamney" and then changing it to something totally unrelated. Anyway, I'm sorry I wasted time engaging with you and I won't do it again.

  161. Huh, the Poors are spending their food stamps on fast food! That should be outlawed!

    Who's with me to go give our support to Chick fil-Ay and Papa John's Pizza for their courageous political stands?

  162. Sgaile-beairt2:19 PM

    deserving poor = me & my family.....

  163. Sgaile-beairt2:22 PM

    yes it is actually a health food store, but even health food stores sell snacks ((like oganic chcolate) & chips--healthy chips made of beans & veggies!--so hes complaining about them having YUMMY food at all....

  164. chuckling2:24 PM

    You can't prove it because I've never done it. When I look at your behavior in this thread, all I see is another angry guy on the internet hurling asinine allegations at someone with whom you may have some minor disagreement. Pretty much like all the other angry guys on the internet. Life can be better, dude.

  165. aimai2:25 PM

    Pot meet the fucking kettle.

  166. chuckling2:33 PM

    "You put up your friend's post and you expected that we would all go "wow, that poor guy, he earns too much to get access to medicaid."

    Ummm, no, never crossed my mind. As I've said numerous times, I just found it interesting in the context of Roy's post. Don't think I ever said why I found it interesting. Not sure I know. Just something to do with respect for basic humanity. I know it's hard for you to understand, but every single little thing is not some political comment.

    And what followed? Numerous personal attacks on the guy. Seriously disgusting behavior by professed liberals, imo.

  167. aimai2:34 PM

    See also the imaginary "Obamaphones." A phone program that goes back to Bush (at least) and which aims to cut down on an impovershed and isolated homeless/vagrant population and its suffering is argued to be a "giveaway" to the lucky duckies.

    This argument happens because the upper class is divorced from the reality of poverty in this country and assumes that at base people have stable housing or can access help when they need it. It also happens because at the margins people who are very far down the SES scale are, as we know, truly resentful of what they see as grifting and benefitting by the group just one rung below them. People who are working damned hard to keep their heads above water always know, or claim to know, someone who stopped strugglig and just "took the handout" and they deeply resent those people for the perceived benefits.

    To my mind this is a social and cultural problem which we could (theoretically) tackle with some social engineering. There ought to be ways of creating solidarity across class lines and the welfare/not welfare boundary--the kind that creates in people a blindness to their own advantages and a granular vision of the benefits accorded to "the other."

    I think we could do it by creating a floor that holds everyone up, rather than making it such a lottery/crap shoot. Part of what makes everyone at the margins so hysterical is the lack of transparency, the rumors, the changing rules, the sense that you were "denied" a benifit that someone else got rather than an understanding (or a reliance) on the notion that everyone was offered the same basic subsistence things but that you were fortunate enough not to need it.

  168. aimai2:35 PM

    Slut = Woman who has had one more sex partner than I have.

  169. chuckling2:39 PM

    Well, no. You'll find no anger in my topmost posts, but plenty of anger directed at them, much of it by you. It's true I sometimes get annoyed by these ridiculous attacks, but if they affect me at all, they are much more likely to cause sadness that liberal commenters behave so much like conservatives than to make me angry.

  170. aimai2:40 PM

    The idea of teaching home economics and the entire field of home economics grows out of this early movement. If you haven't read Laura Shapiro's book on the field, DocAmazing, I think you'd love it. As people moved from farm to factory and from rural area (where you were at least close to the producer of your foods) to the city women created the "science" of home economics and proposed turning each woman into a "home scientist" capable of testing her own products--like the new baking powders, or store bought bread. Cooking schools arose for the upper class starting to need to supervise servants who were shopping for food in cities (where products might be adulterated or spoiled) and specifically for the new immigrant class so they could cook for their new masters, or for themselves.

    The Berkeley project is Alice WAter's project and its imitated in (some) other parts of the country but not nearly enough time is devoted to householding and health in grade schools.

  171. Provider_UNE2:45 PM

    You know, Job was a piker for thinking he had a rough row to hoe!

  172. aimai2:46 PM

    I really find this binary thinking of yours kind of weird. Do you really think the world is divided into two kinds of people, conservative and liberal, angry and nice? I am opposed to many aspects of the conservative world view but I know many conservative people who are extremely kind (personally) while holding horrendous policy positions and, similarly, I know many people with great policy positions who are personally horrible and untrustworthy.

    I get that in this binary world, where everyone is either for you or against you, you often feel attacked by people discussing points you've raised and not automatically genuflecting before them. I mean that sincerely, and without snark. I see in your posts a lot of dissapointment that you lack the status and authority to push your ideas on people and have them admired. That's why I referred upthread to Fred Clark's post. I agree with him that people who are suffering from a loss of expected status, dignity, and deference are truly suffering and I think you are truly suffering.

    You have a tendency to project your own anger onto other people and to insist that it is they who are angry and judgmental and not you. A lot of people have told you that on this blog. If you meet one bad driver on the road you can be pretty sure that its the other guys fault but you konw what they say? If you meet a lot of people who drive badly its probably not them, its you. That's pretty common--left or right--you might want to get that looked at by a professional.

  173. Provider_UNE2:49 PM

    I just made arrangements with the dude downstairs to share his wifi as payment for a debt. So once again I will be honored to share this space regularly with you cats and kittens.
    /adding wifi to the dictionary

  174. aimai3:05 PM

    I'd like to add that a lot of the problems poor people--and poor people on government assistance specifically--face is that the very short leash the money they have affords them often tips them directly over from being able to pay for something outright to having to purchase it on credit.

    Take "copays" for medicine? When I was pregnant--a nine month dealio really--I could only buy my prenatal vitamins in 3 month lots, with a copay each time. This is, no doubt, to cut down on the incredible fraud posed to the system of women starting out being pregnant and buying a nine month supply and then not needing the vitamins. The copay didn't matter to me but if I'd been working paycheck to paycheck? 20 bucks copay each time would have potentially broken me, or prevented me from getting the prenatal vitamins at all. We know that copays do that for people with asthma.

    Chuckling suggested upthread, or downthread, that people probably need more money to buy food in bulk, and that's true, but to the system keeping people on a short leash is a feature, not a bug. God forbid that you should be able to use your food money to buy enough food at one time that you might be tempted to feed other people outside your household (thus entering into supportive long term relationships with kin) or stop needing the assistance mid-month and "get away" with an extra bag of potatoes.

    Of course there's been tons of money and social work time spent on trying to jigger a system which supports the poorest up through getting a job instead of pulling the floor out from under them as they become self sufficient but its always against the strong headwind from people who think people chose to be poor and choose to be jobless or homeless because they are too lazy to figure out how to make a job and a home materialize.

  175. So I finally decided to track down some information on the North Dakota TANF program, and it explains a lot about those numbers. Needless to say, the people under the program are not abusing the system, but are rather behaving in the most rational way possible.

    Cash benefits are delivered via a specialized debit card, which is what you'd expect - that's how they track those purchases. The cards are from Visa which (naturally) has a plethora of fees and penalties attached. It's easy to nickle and dime someone when they don't have an alternative. They actually charge a quarter just to check the balance on the card, which you want to do a lot because there's a $10 overdraft penalty if you go over the limit. By contrast, there's no fee for withdrawing cash from designated ATMs. Given all that, why wouldn't you just withdraw the maximum amount so you always know how much you have? That's what I did when I was paid by direct deposit, and I wasn't even being bled.

    That also explains why most filling station transactions are at the counter rather than the pump. Overdrafts at the pump are so common that there's a whole section in the guide just for them. Pay at the counter and you don't get screwed.

  176. aimai3:12 PM

    The same rules apply to an online conversation as to a real life conversation, you know. If you say something you ought to have some idea why you said it and how it supports what you are trying to say. Anything else is kind of weird, like joining a bunch of people who are discussing gardening and shouting "Ooooooh, I love HOCKEY."

    No one made a "personal attack" on your imaginary friend. People tried to figure out the purpose for which you adduced his musings and they critiqued it from their own perspectives with respect to the discussion we were having which was, if you can remember back before all the butthurt, precisely about the right wing assertion that most people on government aid were using it improperly--something your friend's post seemed to support.

    But as for the personal attack thing I don't think you can accuse us of "personally attacking" someone who was not present for the discussion--For all we knew you made him up--that's not a personal attack on you, btw, just a perfectly reasonable assumption that he served as a sock puppet for you. Frankly, I think publishing someone else's FB post during an online discussion, without their permission, is a pretty serious transgression of the norms of friendship. I'd almost prefer you made him up than that you used him here to advance your own incoherent agenda.

  177. chuckling3:19 PM

    You know I'd say almost the exact same things about you, especially the binary stuff and projection.

    This little thread about Eak supports my view much more than yours. After all, I just posted something I found interesting without comment. Since then you've spent how many words telling me what my motivations were. Projecting much?

    Look, it's obvious you have some personal problem here and it's just about to the point you're becoming a stalker. Note these little tiffs always occur under comments I've made, never under yours. You know why they never occur under yours? Because I'm not an angry internet stalker type that can't stand the existence of someone who has a slightly different opinion.

    Again, let's review what I've posted here that you've found so offensive that you've had to hound me so relentlessly.

    1. It would be nice if there were some way to improve the way we provide food aid to the needy, along the lines of providing good food instead of poisonous crap, which was apropos to Roy's post.

    2. I posted a quote that was also apropos to Roy's post.

    Why do those two items make you so angry?

  178. chuckling3:23 PM

    "The same rules apply to an online conversation as to a real life conversation, you know. If you say something you ought to have some idea why you said it and how it supports what you are trying to say. "

    I never heard that rule before. You must not get out much.

    Regarding the FB etiquette, if what I did were some kind of breach, I was unaware and am sorry.

  179. aimai3:40 PM

    Really, you never knew you had to try to figure out what people were talking about before you just began babbling about your own stuff? You must be a charming addition to any social scene.

  180. chuckling3:46 PM

    Stay classy, aimai.

    But again, regarding the FB etiquette, I now do see how that was probably a breach. I just didn't see anything wrong with his post. It was relevant to Roy's post and I thought added depth to the discussion. It genuinely didn't occur to me that he would be harshly judged and ridiculed. How naive was that?

  181. aimai3:47 PM

    I'm not angry. You keep calling me angry but I'm not. I am avoiding cleaning the downstairs closet, though. I'll cop to that.

    AS for the other point, whether my comments on your comments count as some kind of "stalking." I have to think about that one. I tend to see blog comment threads as more like a game of tennis--one person says something and that causes other people to return serve. Sometimes that's great, and fun. Usually at Alicublog its incredibly funny. Sometimes its though provoking and leads to a great discussion where people bring up books they've read, or real life situations, and we achieve either greater clarity or some novel appreciation of things.

    I'm hanging out on the internet today and this discussion of right wing theories about poverty (that state aid is wasted on the poor because they are shiftless moochers) happens to be an interesting one to me.

    I actually think I got sidetracked by your various posts some of which were on topic (how can society better serve the poor) and some of which weren't (here's some private information about a friend of mine which reflects a rather common perception that the deserving people get cheated out of government assistance while fake poors rip the taxpayer off).

    Now I see that your idea of a discussion in real life and on the internet is really more of an idiolect--you say stuff and then I say stuff but they should't be related to each other. They just each stand alone. We have a different set of goals and a different way of expressing ourselves, I guess.

    That doesn't make me a stalker anymore than it makes you a troll--we have different objectives. I'm just hanging out on the internet talking a little treason with my friends. What are you doing?

  182. aimai3:52 PM

    There was NOTHING wrong with his post. His privacy was invaded by your picking his private FB post and his personal feelings about his personal financial situation and broadcasting it. It was "relevant" to Roy's post only in your mind since you have been absolutely unable to explain, although you have been asked numerous times, what point you (you, not him) were trying to make by putting the post up.

  183. I'd also note that McDonald's dollar menu is sort of amazing. For $1, you're given a double cheeseburger, for example. The idea that it represents a "luxury" to get a hot meal that contains meat, dairy, vegetables, and bread is crazy, and fast food places are your best option for such meals.

    Sure, its not healthy, but its a lot more healthy than a bag of doritos from the vending machine.

  184. chuckling4:02 PM

    Whatever. You're really carrying this to insane lengths.

    I humbly suggest you meditate on what's really making you so angry and try to address it. These minuscule differences of opinion are not worth getting so bothered about.

  185. Aimai, he's just trolling. He's not trying to make sense, he's not in danger of convincing anyone of anything, and he's not going to learn a lesson from anything you say. I realize that I was very slow to follow my own advice here, but: you can just walk away.

  186. aimai4:50 PM

    Thank you so much for doing that research. Fascinating and horrible all at the same time.

  187. aimai4:57 PM

    I know, Hob, I know! But I find Chuckling an irresistable lure. An enigma wrapped in a mystery because he's so very certain and he makes such little sense--I try to fit his posts into a coherent framework of any kind and the one I come up with is just kind of sad and sorry and cranky. And then I feel sorry for him. And then I post again. But you are right. I'll go off and play with someone else.

    I do feel sorry for his friend, though. I think I'll go end my own FB account even though I never post on it and have no one linked to it. Its creepy to think that something a person might want to share with their own friends gets broadcast to the winds.

  188. Provider_UNE5:01 PM

    I bet those four things are harder to put together than folks might suspect.

    And right you are! I have some radiatori pasta on the boil (scored from work) which will be mingled with some chili (also scored from work) which will be married to a can of black beans and some rice, which I hope will make a pleasant meal for me and some of my "lower leisure class" housemates.

    I might be what some may categorize a professional cook, (I refuse to ever categorize myself as a chef), but I make my living (at the current time) making food.

    I am lucky that I have the skills to do a decent job at playing Iron chef.

  189. Provider_UNE5:34 PM

    inflict it on the very very poor, and work their way up the financial
    ladder until the US is another 3rd world economy comprised of THE RICH,
    the RICHs lickspittles and lackeys, and the peasants.

    20 odd years ago I came to the same conclusion when I noticed that the quality of the bicycle parts from Taiwan were the equal of the parts created in Japan 10 years prior. A couple of years later the shit was made in Singapore and was as good, and I saw Capital chasing cheep labor around the world.

    Figured that we would be an industrial power again when the Brazilian ruling class decided that it was cheaper to move industrial production to "the states"


  190. bekabot5:56 PM

    "...people who had little backyard gardens would pretty much give away zucchini and tomatoes at certain times of the year..."

    Yep, absolutely. But I don't live in a place like that now — though I do live in a place which is good for a locavore — and I can't count on living in a place like that again. So, what you said.

  191. bekabot5:59 PM

    "Does anyone really believe that taking away anyone on public assistance's choice to have a ridiculously expensive (when you consider the big picture) corn dog and big gulp at the gas station and replacing it with a choice to eat good, healthy food is punishment?"

    Nope, nobody believes that. But then, nobody, or nobody I know, believes that making absolutely certain that a person with no money literally has access to no money is a reward.

  192. I tried one of those recently.

    The sad thing is, they have to include the cheese because the burgers are so overcooked they're unpalatable.

    Yet another price we pay to our Randroid this case, for not making them try to keep e-coli out of the food suppy.

  193. In fairness, WIC can also frequently be used at farmers' markets. Having become established long before their use as a expensive "artisanal" status symbol, the legendary downtown Rochester, NY public market had lots of fresh produce at affordable prices.

    Of course, if such a spot, or the small-town Midwestern truck garden markets, isn't available, then WIC participants are stuck. Hey, the nearest convenience store takes WIC.

  194. ColBatGuano9:46 PM

    Wait, you post something that appears to be a minor variation of a typical Sean Hannity rant, but without any real point and when folks point that out you accuse them of despising poor people. Folks then remark that this is crazy and you go to great lengths trying to prove them wrong. Finally, when your arguments collapse into incoherency, you say the others are taking this too far. Well played sir, well played.

  195. Done, and done.

  196. Well, shit. I forgot that little detail, didn't I?

    ... Wait a minute, if you're such an HTML noob, how are you managing to display <i>?!? I somehow doubt you're using &lt; and &gt;. Oh, Ling was right about ... Nah.

  197. DocAmazing10:37 PM

    At first glance, I read "wifi" as "wife" and wondered just how epic your negotiating skills were.

  198. trentness11:28 PM

    My uncle voted Republican for a long time, and I think considered himself more of a fiscal conservative than a social one. But he happily voted for Obama in 2008 and again in 2012. When I asked him about the switch, he said he had finally realized that the Republicans just had no empathy.